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Washington Watch: What Do People Really Want When It Comes To Relationships?

“What do people really want when it comes to relationships?” Men don’t understand women, according to women. Women don’t understand men, according to men; and nobody seems to get along.

Well, we decided the to get the sexes together to see if we can help things out a bit. Free from WPGC.FM Radio in Washington, D.C.; Janks Morton, producer of the documentary “What Black Men Think”; Krissah Thompson, national staff writer for “The Washington Post”; and relationship coach Ayize Ma’at joined Roland Martin on the set of Washington Watch to discuss this and more.

MR. MARTIN:   Welcome back.

The movie “Think Like a Man,” Steve Harvey’s movie based on his book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, has single men and women buzzing, even married folks.  Of course, Kevin Hart stars in the film with a cast of some of the top folks.

So, the real question is, “What do people really want when it comes to relationships?”  Men don’t understand women, according to women.  Women don’t understand men, according to men; and nobody seems to get along.

Well, we decided the tr- — get – get the sexes together to see if we can help things out a bit.  Joining me now is Free from WPGC.FM Radio in Washington, D.C.; Janks Morton, producer of the documentary “What Black Men Think”; Krissah Thompson, national staff writer for “The Washington Post”; and relationship coach Ayize Ma’at.

Folks, welcome to “Washington Watch.”

It’s very interesting.  A lot of people are saying, “Oh, the book – I like it,” “I don’t like it,” but really, look.  The movies a – a romantic comedy, but it does deal with this whole issue of how folks look at relationships and how we seem to get along.  And so I want to play this clip first off, of Regina Hall.  She plays the cara- — the character Candice.  So, just check out some of the advice she tries to give Taraji P. Henson, who plays the character Lauren.

[FILM CLIP.]

LAUREN:  Why should I have to lower my standards to get a man?  Who does that?

CANDACE:   I’m sorry.  Now, what man?

LAUREN:  I just want my equal.  Okay?  Or, at least an attractive, cultured man who’s over six feet tall, makes six figures and isn’t intimidated by my success.

CANDACE:  Okay.  Here we go.  [Picks up Steve Harvey’s book.]  Let’s do a little research here.  Ah!  This is you!

LAUREN:  Please!  I don’t –

CANDACE:  “Strong, independent and lonely women.”

LAUREN:  — I don’t need some bald-headed man on a book telling me that I am strong and independent.  Honey, that’s – [snaps her fingers] – a given.

CANDACE:  But you forgot “lonely.”

LAUREN:  You are a

CANDACE:  I’m just sayin’.  All this waitin’ for better – it’s makin’ you bitter.

[END OF FILM CLIP.]

MR. MARTIN:  This whole idea of waiting for perfection – Krissah, in your reporting, you know, in “The Washington Post,” this issue of relationships, married, dating, it came up in – in those – in the series.

MS. KRISSAH THOMPSON:  It did.  We did a huge poll with the Kaiser Family Foundation and found that, for Black women, this question of marriage versus career does come up.  Black women see themselves as independent.  They have very high self-esteem, and 7 out of 10 – nearly 7 out of 10 say being successful in their career is very important.  You ask them about marriage – “How important is marriage?” – only 4 out of 10 see – say being married is very important.  So, those two things do kind of have some tension there.

MR. MARTIN:  What’s the deal with this – again, this desire for perfection, which is an act- — absolute joke

[LAUGHTER FROM THE WOMEN ON THE PANEL.]

MR. MARTIN:  — because you’re not going to find the perfect man.  You’re not going to find the perfect woman.

FREE:  No, I think – they’re not looking for perfection, but something you could tolerate – at least –

OFF-CAMERA MAN:  Ugh!

FREE:  — ’cause it’s a little crazy out here.

[CHUCKLING.]

MR. MARTIN:  [Laughs.]

FREE:  Let’s be real.  Let’s be real.  I meet so many men who say, “Why are you single?” and I look at them and say, “Why are you married – and here hitting on me?”

MR. MARTIN:  [Chuckles.]

OFF-CAMERA MAN:  Whoo!

FREE:  So, you know, it goes both ways.  It really does.

MR. MARTIN:  What ab- — first of all, you shook your head when she said “tolerate.”

MR. JANKS MORTON:  Yeah.  Well, the- — there’s this whole concept around, like – especially the [premise] of the book – that Black men are this “less than” — they’re not equal to – po- — component of relationships, which I just take great pause and hesitation with.  And – and when we talk about being single – single is a choice just like marriage is a choice, and I think most people, when they are gravitating to these tine [sic] of – type of conversations, they’re looking to us married folks for answers.

And here’s one that you need to know.  Marriage was never designed to make you happy.  And too often in the confines when you’re single, you’re looking for validation, wholeness, completeness and all these other things from another individual. You’re going to come up short every time.

MR. MARTIN:  You see, I always ask this question when I’m talking to sisters and this whole perfection question comes up.  And I always ask them this very difficult question, which actually is real simple.

MR. MORTON:  Okay.

MR. MARTIN:  According to your perfection and your list, would your daddy make the list?

MR. AYIZE MA’AT:  Not only should you ask the question, “Would your daddy make the list?” but, “Would you make your own list?”

OFF-CAMERA WOMAN:  Umph!

MR. MA’AT:  I think that right there is a pivotal point, because women today are coming to relationships very fragmented, very fractured, and they’re looking for this idea man; but the reality is that they have to work on themselves first in order to be ready to receive a mate when a mate comes their way.

MR. MARTIN:  Now, there’re some things that jump out at me when I – when I look at some sorry dudes.  And in the movie, this is a perfect example of what drives me crazy with some guys.

[BEGIN FILM CLIP.]

WOMAN:  Steve says you have to set the requirements very high before you even get in the car, because you don’t wanna become a chirp-chirp girl.

WOMAN:  A what?

[CUT TO STEVE HARVEY.]

MR. STEVE HARVEY:  “Chirp!  Chirp!”  He just hits the locks, and you hop in.  H don’t even have to open the door.

[CUT TO DATING SCENE.  A COUPLE WALKS TO A PARKED CAR.  THE WOMAN STOPS AT THE PASSENGER DOOR AS THE MAN STARTS TO GET IN ON THE DRIVER’S SIDE.]

MAN:  It’s open.  [He starts the car and chuckles.]  It’s open!

WOMAN:  I don’t go out on dates with guys who don’t open the door for me.

MAN:  Really?

WOMAN:  Really.

MAN:  Seriously?

WOMAN:  Yes.

MAN:  Aw, man!  [The car squeals as he floors it and drives off.]

WOMAN:  [Speaking to herself.]  No, he didn’t!

[THE CAR BACKS UP INTO VIEW AND STOPS BY THE WOMAN, STILL STANDING THERE, INCREDULOUS.]

MAN:  [He looks at his date and smiles.  Just foolin’.]

[END OF FILM CLIP.]

MR. MARTIN:  Okay.

[CHUCKLING.]

MR. MARTIN:  That was a funny scene.

FREE:  Great scene.

MR. MARTIN:  A funny scene; but, boy, I’m shocked that he actually went to the door, because what kills me are cats today –

OFF-CAMERA WOMAN:  They just honk.

MR. MARTIN:  — who will honk the horn.

OFF-CAMERA MAN:  Yeah.

MR. MARTIN:  And I’m serious.  I – I have nine nieces.

OFF-CAMERA WOMAN:  Okay.

MR. MARTIN:  I will hurt some lil’, young punk —

[LAUGHTER.]

MR. MARTIN:  — who honk a horn.  Just lettin’ you know.

FREE:  Now, do – do they go out, though?  Do they wanna go out with –

MR. MARTIN:  Naw, they –

FREE:  — [crosstalk]?

MR. MARTIN:  — ain’t old enough – yet.  But trust me.

FREE:  Oh – [laughs].

MR. MARTIN:  Trust me.  When they start goin’ out, somebody’s gettin’ jacked if you honk a horn.

[CROSSTALK.]

MS. THOMPSON:  But that’s part of the question, though – right, Martin?  Because Black women say that they’ve been raised to be independent, to make sure that they have their own, to take care of themselves and, you know, with uncles and men like you, who’re saying, “Make sure that you’re treated with a certain level of respect.”

MR. MARTIN:  That’s –

MS. THOMPSON:  And that’s what they expect, coming to the scene, and what they’re saying in our poll is, “If I don’t find that, then single I will be.”

MR. MARTIN:  — now – now, here’s what I find to be interesting.  And I kn- — and – and so when you look at single households, we talk about 70 percent of our children being born out of wedlock, and they’re being raised by single women.

FREE:  Right.

MR. MARTIN:  So, are any of these women teaching their sons

MR. MORTON:  They can’t.

MR. MARTIN:  — how to act right?

MR. MORTON:  They can’t.  Tha- — and that’s another thing.  We talk about the marginalization of masculinity over the past 50 years.  You’re talking about chivalry – opening the door, being respectful – all that.  It takes modeling of behaviors of men to impart that into young men to get that.  We[’ve] got a generation of kids that don’t have this positive, paternal influence to teach women, “This is how you” – you know, like I have a daughter – “This is how you’re s’posed to be treated,” and to teach your son, “This is how you’re s’posed to treat a wo[man].”  That’s not happening right now.

FREE:  No.

MR. MORTON:  Tha- —

FREE:  It goes by what you see and what you experience as you grow up.  I actually – I – the guy has to be like my dad.  My dad is loyal.  He’s a family man.  Even though him and my mom divorced when I was 11, he never went missing.  He’s still here.  And so I happen to have great role models as men in my life.  So, I’m lucky for that, but everybody doesn’t have that.

MR. MA’AT:  And the other thing, too, is that a lot of these single mothers out here, they actually grew up in homes where the father wasn’t around as well.  So, there was no model for them.  So, how can you expect them to actually teach their sons to behave appropriately, when they didn’t have the appropriate models around –

MR. MARTIN:  We did –

MR. MA’AT:  — [crosstalk]?

MR. MARTIN:  — a couple of shows on the whole issue of manhood with Bishop T.D. Jakes in – at The Potter’s House in Dallas.  And I do believe that when you talk about relationships in terms of the struggles that we’re seeing, I believe it is absolutely tied to what has happened with the Black family.

MR. MORTON:  That’s exactly right, with –

FREE:  Definitely.

MR. MORTON:  — the highest divorce rates, the lowest marriage rates, the highest single rates, the highest out-of-wedlock birth rate.  You have a fractured community, and we – again, from psycho-sociological, we have no models, and we have no imprinting.  If you don’t have those things, then you’re out there rudderless, sail-less, trying to navigate this relationship dynamic from [a] one-gender paradigm, and it’s going to be – a movie.

MR. MARTIN:  Krissah, I – I[’ve] got to go to you and then Free with the last comment.  Go.

MS. THOMPSON:  You know, there are some real dynamics happening in the Black community, though, when it comes to educational attainment –

MR. MARTIN:  Right.

MS. THOMPSON:  — when it comes to the strides that women are making in the workplace.  There’re some demographic things that are pulling the community apart as well, and so we have to figure out how to deal with those.

FREE:  Yeah.  And I think some people prioritize different[ly].  Some people’s careers are their priority.  Some people, relationships are their priority.  And when it comes to dealing with someone who’s not on your level or your equal, there’s a whole ’nother set of issues besides what you’re driving.  Some people can’t handle it, you know, if you’re doing better than them – especially a man.  A man’s not going to be really happy if you’re bringing in all the money, and he’s – he’s not.

MR. MARTIN:  Well, I tell you what, though.  First of all, I had – I – look, I have no – I had no issue with that.

[LAUGHTER.]

MR. MARTIN:  We – no.

[MORE LAUGHTER, CROSSTALK.]

MR. MARTIN:  Look, I di- — I didn’t have no problem with that –

[CROSSTALK.]

MR. MARTIN:  — ’cause my – ’cause my philosophy[’s] real simple:  “Baby, you get a raise, we get” –

FREE:  “We get a raise.”

MR. MARTIN:  — “a raise.”

[LAUGHTER.]

MR. MARTIN:  “I get a raise, we get a raise.”

FREE:  That’s right[?].

MR. MARTIN:  That’s why yesterday, I celebrated 11 years of wedded –

FREE:  Congratulations.

MR. MARTIN:  — [bliss].  I don’t deal with no drama, because – I’m sorry – it don’t matter.  “You get paid, we get paid.”  And also, if you comin’ in with that list, I’m tearin’ the list up.  All right?

FREE:  Hey.

MR. MARTIN:  Panel, we certainly appreciate it.  Thanks a bunch.  We look forward to having you back.

FREE:  Thank you, Roland.

MR. MORTON:  Thank you.

MS. THOMPSON:  Thank you, Roland.

MR. MA’AT:  [Crosstalk.]

MR. MARTIN:  Folks, be sure to check out “Think Like a Man.”  The producer’s my homeboy, my frat brother Will Packer.  It’s playing now in theaters everywhere, so [we] definitely want to get your thoughts on it.

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