5 Reasons Black Women are Bothered by Lori Harvey’s Dating Decisions

It’s not Lori’s worth we should be discussing; it’s why we don’t see ourselves as being equally owed the same.

Less than 24 hours ago, People Magazine’s reigning Sexiest Man Alive, Michael B. Jordan, went public with his rumored romance with model and influencer, Lori Harvey, sharing a couple of candid photos of the pair all close and personal. The two stayed tight-lipped as whispers swirled this past November after the pair were spotted together during the Thanksgiving holiday. But in the age of social media, an Instagram post pretty much seals the deal, leaving inquiring minds stunned at the confirmation the two were indeed an item. And people were pissed. Not with the pair, and most certainly not with Michael B. Jordan, despite it appearing to be his decision to go public. Nope. People were mad at Lori, and Lori alone. Before God got the news, the blog backlash began. Comment sections flooded with peeved people’s opinions. Memes featuring f*ck boy favorite, Rapper Future Hendrix, were thrown around the thread. Black men left their typical misogynistic comments about genital wear and tear and community cooter, and as always, pretended to commend the women who had more “self-respect.” But more alarming than the men were the women in the comments, vocalizing much of the same vitriol in Harvey’s direction.

One woman even going as far as to refer to Lori as a toilet. Was I surprised? Unfortunately, not. These exchanges are so common; I almost expect them to occur. On the surface, we preach “Black Girl Magic,” but our online behavior proves we’ve yet to master that practice. If you’re one of the many Black women taking Lori Harvey’s dating decisions personally, I might know the reason why.

1.) We’ve been taught that patriarchy prefers purity.

Growing up, some older woman in your life probably gave you the rundown of what she perceived to be the game, and it went a little something like this.

“A man likes a little mystery, a woman that’s sweet and demure. The worst thing you can do is be seen as salacious; no man wants to marry that. Never kiss and tell; keep an air of innocence about yourself. No man likes a woman that’s been in everybody’s bed. Save yourself for your husband’s satisfaction; your purity is the greatest gift you can give him. And remember, marriage is the goal. A man who sees your worth will reward you with a ring.”

I’m willing to bet that no matter your age, no matter your origin or background, if you’re a woman, you’ve heard a sermon similar to this. At some point, you’ve been told that men prefer purity, that women who stray from this perception are of no serious interest to men, particularly those of means. Sis, the lie detector test determined that was a lie. And who are men to define what is pure, anyway? The same men who made a market for lifelike silicone booty molds and sex-dolls with suction. Men don’t prefer purity; men prefer their preferences; in other words, MEN LIKE WHAT THEY LIKE. And guess what, a lot of men like Lori Harvey, and there’s nothing off about that. She’s gorgeous and seems to be a good travel buddy. For men who can handle everything else, that’s more than enough. That checklist your Great-Auntie gave you, throw it away, it’s obsolete. We no longer allow men to dictate what makes a woman worthy; we are inherently valuable; no number of men negates that. If your instinct upon seeing Lori with her new beaux was “OMG, he can do better. She’s been with this guy or that”, but Michael B. Jordan’s extensive dating history didn’t elicit a similar response, beloved you have drunk the Kool-Aid.

2.) Black women don’t casually date; they cling.

We’re all familiar with dating as an idea. But I’m willing to bet that most Black women are unfamiliar with dating as an actual practice. Dating is the casual process by which you get to know a person and assess their suitability as a potential partner in an intimate relationship. Dating is not ‘a date’, or even a couple of dates; dating is an extended courtship where two people agree to engage in mutual activities with no otherwise obligation from one to the other. Relationship experts explain this process should be a group effort, in the sense that they suggest dating multiple people prior to entering any committed relationship. Dating should be engaging, fun, exciting, and stress-free. And most of all, it should be devoid of commitment; anything other than that is an entanglement. But Black women don’t date, we might go out on dates, but more than anything, we cling, and for a few reasons. In the same way we learn that purity is preferred; we learn that dating is a race to a relationship. We also learn to prioritize the male gaze, to excuse men as jealous creatures, easily offended by the site of a love interest interested in another. We’re taught that time isn’t on our side and don’t forget, it’s all about securing the ring. With all that pressure, there is simply no time to date around. You find a guy, you lock that guy down. How has that worked out for us? Not well, from where I’m watching.

This is unfortunate because dating and dating extensively is an integral part of finding healthy companionship. It’s about giving the pretty packaging time to untie itself so that you can assess the actual person in pursuit. When we jump from a couple of meetups to monogamy, we end up watching this raw rollout within the confines of commitment, making situations that should be easily escapable now a lot harder to leave. Dating should be a safe space to explore potential partners without any strings attached, EVEN when sex is involved. And because we’re pushed into purity, many of us don’t know what dating truly looks like; we’re offended by the autonomy, by the physical freedom we personally have been denied. Hence the public lashing of Lori. This 24-year-old woman is dating and dating around, as she should. Just because momma married the first man to take her out and feed her, that doesn’t make a woman who chooses to explore her partner pool immoral or misguided. In fact, studies say she’s more likely to end up with the man she actually wants, not just the one that wants her. Hell, momma probably wishes she’d dated around too.

3.) We deal in double standards.

We give men a lot of grace. Whether or not they deserve it is another conversation entirely. But when it comes to women, especially Black women, it’s one strike, you’re stuck. We know what a double standard is, essentially treating two identical situations as though a different set of principles apply. In this case, we would be talking about labeling Lori Harvey a harlot for her dating history, while Michael B. Jordan’s dense dating record is otherwise ignored. Even when Harvey was publicly linked to Rapper Future, notoriously absent father of eight, it was Harvey who was heralded as having the character deficit, judged harshly for being in association with him. We should all be disturbed by the fact that being linked to this man demotes everyone but him, for the record. Patriarchy sets the bar for womanhood in the ceiling, demanding nothing less than picture-worthy perfection, while the bar for men sits in the sewer. So much so that we don’t even see their sordid behavior as the problem (i.e. “What did she expect?”, “She knew what she was getting herself into.”); it is our response to it that shakes the theoretical table. That is the definition of a double standard. Lori Harvey is doing nothing different than any 24-year-old Hollywood hunk. And if we check the record, Michael B. Jordan has been romantically linked to a roll call of beautiful women himself, and we obviously know there’s nothing wrong with that. The fact that we’re all but ignoring it says we know it’s not an issue. Our issue is with women; we have been programmed in opposition to our own happiness. And God forbid we’ve gotta watch some other woman enjoy what we’ve been told we’re undeserving of; a love that is fun, fulfilling, and free from struggle.

4.) Pretty Privilege is Real.

Look, we can deny it all we want, but looks have a lot to do with Harvey’s impressive love log. Pretty privilege describes a social bias in favor of those seen as beautiful, and because beauty is a social construct, and we live within the confines of a white supremacist society, it thrives off of beauty standards that celebrate visual proximity to whiteness and devalues those seen as undoubtedly belonging to marginalized groups. And yes, there are measurable benefits to being seen as beautiful, both social and economic ones. Pulchronomics, which is the economic study of physical attractiveness, says that being beautiful makes attaining employment easier, it can earn you a lighter sentence in a court of law, even teachers are more likely to invest more into the advancements of students they see as attractive, and there’s even a gap in pay between your average looking worker and those deemed more attractive. “Beautiful people” have used their looks to leverage careers, particularly in the social media age; we’ve seen beneficiaries of pretty privilege make millions from the same content created by those seen as “average.” We would be silly to suggest that Lori’s looks don’t play into her having her way with Hollywood’s most eligible bachelors. And while it’s not her doing, she’s certainly an easy target to blame.

5.) C’mon now, it’s Michael B. Jordan.

Michael B. Jordan is a beautiful man, with a smile like sunshine, and dimples I’d like to sip orange soda out of. But that’s just me. What I’m trying to say is, Lori landed a beautiful man, there’s no denying that. And as much as we may hate to admit it, some of us are jealous as hell. Mind you, most of us had no chance anyway. Not because of looks or anything superficial, but simply because as his celebrity increases, he becomes increasingly out of public reach. That’s not Lori’s fault. In fact, it has NOTHING to do with her. People date their social circle, and Michael ain’t in mine or most of yours. That’s the allure of celebrity, touchable yet out of reach. And social media makes us feel far closer to these people than they actually are. Let’s be real, Lori couldn’t steal a chance you didn’t have, her dating pool is full of public figures because, like it or not, earned or unearned in your unsolicited opinion, that’s what she is. This means her dating decisions come packaged for public consumption. They’re shoved in our faces whether we like it or not. And it’s all fine and funny when it’s a celebrity we’re not personally crushing on, like Sir Future Hendrix the Great Baby Maker. It’s not so fun when we’re married to the man in our minds.

In all seriousness, leave that woman alone. It’s not her fault that patriarchy punishes the average woman by subjecting her to unattainable standards and a timed race to the tabernacle. Patriarchy has oppressed us, and there’s an intersection between being both Black and non-male that makes the dating world a dangerous game. For some of us, it sucks to see this young woman have fun while our realities reinforce that fun ain’t for us. I get it. The last thing oppressed people want to see is one of their own appearing to exist beyond the boundaries of that oppression. Instead of taking issue with our oppressors, we take a torch to those of us who appear to have escaped. It must be a mistake, we tell ourselves. Surely, she’s just as undeserving of happiness cloaked in companionship as we are, right? Wrong. It’s not Lori’s worth we should be discussing; it’s why we don’t see ourselves as being equally owed the same. Because the real gag is we are.

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