Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A New Statistic

No doubt I’ll make some enemies saying this, but I think Sex and the City was a terrible and extremely depressing television show. Yet I’ll forever be grateful for its offspring, the relationship self-help book He’s Just Not That into You and its key message: “You’re not the exception.” If I’d learned that lesson fifteen years ago, I might have been spared considerable heartache and frustration. And if today’s young girls, especially African American girls, learn it now, then they might save themselves from heartache, frustration, and the trap of baby-mama-dom.

No one likes being a statistic. They’re everywhere, and you’ve probably heard them: Low marriage rates. High abuse rates. High clinical abortion rates. High unwed pregnancy rates. High rates of STD contraction. If you’re anything like me, your instinctive reaction is to think positively and reject the doomsday prophecies about your future. You believe in your heart that Mr. Imperfect will change for the better. Maybe he doesn’t like you, so you bend over backwards and do headstands to please him. Maybe he says he doesn’t want to marry you, but you know that once he sees how perfect the two of you are together, he’ll be dying to commit. Maybe he doesn’t support or spend time with any of his other kids, but your pregnancy will miraculously turn him into a responsible human being, complete with job.

Girl, it’s time for a reality check. The “it” in “It can’t happen to me” happens all the time. Pretending it won’t is the worst defense. Here’s an alternative strategy: Hold your ground. A man might try to sweet talk (or trick or pressure) you into sex, unprotected sex, an indefinitely-long non-marriage, or any number of other things that go against your morals or would jeopardize your health or goals in life. Don’t put up with it anymore. Doing so will only work against you.

Yes, it’ll be difficult, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I can’t promise you that your post-jerk-boyfriend life will be perfect. I can’t promise you that you’ll find the man of your dreams, kind and loving, ready to make any sacrifice for your wellbeing. But you’ll be a new statistic: a woman who can walk away from a dead-end relationship before it ever starts. That’s a future worth fighting for.

This post was written for the 2010 No Wedding, No Womb! movement, created by Christelyn Karazin to promote marriage and family to young African Americans. Please stop by the NWNW website to read contributions by other bloggers.