9-5: Always stay gracious. Best revenge is your paper: The Beyonce Paradox


In honor of March 8th: A Day Without a Woman and International Woman’s Day I want to talk about the Beyonce Paradox: Watching a Beyonce Dream in a less than Beyonce World.

***Can I just tell you how in love I am with today? As I am typing this and drinking my beer, Independent Women has come on and its International Women’s Day. We can all go home and rest easy.***

So all the ladies who can truly feel me…

I’m going to utter the single lady sentence no independent 30-year-old is ever supposed to utter: I’ve always dreamed of marrying rich. A poor artist am I, with dreams to spare! Oh, the glorious things I could build and make (and buy) with my doctor-husband’s money (an altruistic gold diggers dream if you will). I know somewhere my mother’s head is shaking in disbelief. A single mother whose marching orders were: always, always have your own money. But mommmmmmm, what if my own money is made by a system that inherently doesn’t value my work? What if marriage isn’t all about love after all but a sharing of resources and values? Boo hoo, little white girl, get your shoes on, change out of those rags we’re going dancing (is what I imagine my fairy godmother would say) that prince is too shiny to be trusted girl. His palace is made of lies, patriarchy and smells of AXE Body spray. Run girl run!!!!!!

Or something like that…

Ok, lets rewind and let the dating record show, I have tested the date rich guy’s theory. I dated a very wealthy heart surgeon whose side hobbies were cheating and lying. My grandma’s wise thoughts on this man were and I quote, “Well…. he would make a good first husband” and we laughed and laughed. Oh, how I miss her laugh because she knew, oh she knew that it would end horribly.

My dad growing up would sigh in defeat as crushes of my artist friends would boil to the surface. I would start with, “Dad he’s so funny and I really like him and I’ve never felt…” He would take a deep sigh, drop his head for a moment and then in his most serious voice say, “Well, just remember Erin, it’s just as easy to marry a poor one as it is a rich one” and then come over and squeeze me until I couldn’t breathe, threatening to put a brick on my head.

I’ve gone on enough dates with this philosophy in mind to know:

  1. I’m too sassy to marry “rich” and 2. The nice, humble, made their fortunes in their 20’s guys are like leprechauns on St. Patrick’s Day. Non-existent.

Drunk, frat guys, wearing green, throwing up in the street? Yes, I have found a lot of those.

I’ve gone on dates with enough engineers, guys with jobs I can’t pronounce and private jets who can front the bill to know, I like my men like I like my money: upfront, gritty and spent with a heart of gold. Fancy Italian just doesn’t taste as good when you’ve been fake laughing and coming up with material like a bad standup act through course three-but-neither is ordering with the worry that you both may not be able to pay rent to keep up with a fancy steak dinner he felt obligated to buy because damnit, YOURE WORTH IT.

Therefore, let the record also show I’ve dated poor guys, I do not discriminate, because they felt more like home to me as I struggled with my own finances, and I fell in love, dammit. To say money hasn’t played a role in my serious relationships is just a lie I tell myself so I can stop taking zquil every night. It always, always comes up. Whether I ask it to or not.

So, with all my single lady evidence before me, I’ve come to only one conclusion: I could care less how much you make, but what you do with your money once you make it, that I care about.

I am at my core a single independent woman. I enjoy my own company and I can sit through my loneliness without diving into the abyss of bad choices at 30. It’s a good place to be.

Hello my name is Erin and I’ve been tinder free for six months and counting.

Hi Erin.

At this point in my diatribe I would like to call on my fairy godmother/legal counsel/single lady for advice as I bow my head and pray:

Oh Beyonce, SAVE ME FROM MYSELF. Beyonce, Queen of all things money and relationships: which piece of advice do you have for me today?

Of all the women, I’ve never met but admired Beyonce is the chief officer of money relations. She talks about money as this other relationship you have in relation to men and to the world of business and most importantly to yourself. She did not make her name from rags to riches, like her Clyde counterpart but to say Beyonce has not worked for her money-from the start to the finish-is just boo-hockey. If sacrifice, sleepless nights, an investment in self, and an investment in society, is not the American dream then I’m not sure what is. She made her riches, she’s given back and then some and now she runs the show. Money is a part of the fabric she weaves.

Her record transcript would read as follows: when men make the money, it gives them power to run the show. Shouting proudly in her Lemonade anthem, “And Keep Your Money, I GOT MY OWN.” In Irreplaceable, her go-to breakup anthem, she proudly states pointing to the left, to the left, EVERYTHING YOU OWN IN A BOX to the left. Yep, in the closet, that’s my stuff, yes, if I bought it, PLEASE DON’T TOUCH. She came out swinging with Destiny’s Child, “Bills, Bills, Bills” asking that whatever man she is with splits the bulk of telephone, automobile bills and not slowly making her pay for things his money should be handling. She really grabs onto this idea of what a partnership looks like and when women earn the expectation is that men do their part. Otherwise, it is not worth the stress. My favorite line about Beyonce, money and relationships comes from my favorite Bey song, “Countdown” saying, “Yep, I buy my own, if he deserves it buys his shit too.”

If he deserves it.

Buys his shit too.

What does he have to do to deserve it?

Not her problem.

We’ve watched Beyonce grow up in front of our very eyes and has she always done it perfectly? No.  She’s struggled, both privately and publicly, having her father as her manager. She’s let brands like Pepsi sponsor her. Pepsi? The thing that is corrupting my teeth as I type this. entering our public schools and drilling holes in the earth into our natural aquifers?? She in some sense is a capitalist in the truest sense of the word. The more money she makes the more she has let trickle down into the webs of society both as charities started in her name and posting bail for those caught in the cross fires of recent riots against police brutality. I can reconcile this capitalistic side because a) Beyoncé’s visibility for young black women and girls in this country is necessary to create a vision of a more equal playing field and b) she has never stopped her mission to give back in a real way. She donated her entire salary from her biopic pic of Etta James to charity. My heart overfloweth with her recent outspokenness as a black woman and what that means for her.

I mean who runs the world?

She’s worked her 9-5 better cut her check! AMEN.

Let me upgrade ya, grade ya. Yesss, Bey, yes.

As an ex once stated as we flipped through her GQ spread, “She’s an earner.”

At that moment sitting on the couch looking at Bey in her underwear and football gear, I had to ask myself, would I look that good standing next to a fridge eating whip cream in my underwear? Just jokes (the answer is a hard no), my serious question was, “Am I an earner?” My answer then was yes and no. We were talking about renting an apartment together and there was never a question of a 50/50 split. But if he suggested a nice place to eat that week and I had to say no, as I was not able to afford it that month, his answer was always, “I got it.” And the same would have been said of me if the situation was reversed.

So, hive members, what is the answer to the Beyonce Paradox? To this idea that women are meant to be independent financially of their men. That women should set their sights towards the top of the pyramid and ask for nothing less on their way up. Make sure you have your own life before you become somebody’s wife the queen says and in the face of International Women’s Day, when we are actively spreading awareness, not buying anything, taking the day off from work, if we can, the biggest question I ask myself at 30 is: how do I stay away from the trap of marrying rich (aka settling) and continue my very important role as earner not just in my relationships but in my contributions to society with my earnings and labor?

The Beyonce paradox is a way to understand our place in the world of economic ownership in this country, in this time and in this place. The truth is: she’s not wrong. We must find a way to take ownership of our money. For it does have value and we all know the more we empower women financially the more we grow as a society because we may be earners but we are contributors at the end of the day. For my table has enough room for everyone and I did not make the table myself.

So yes, we live in a giant paradox. However, I still believe as my mother taught me that I must absolutely have my own income source. That this world is not made for me to succeed but nevertheless I will protest, fight and speak out against its injustices if I can breathe and talk.

I work hard for the money, from the start to the finish and I am worth every dollar:

Because I pay my bills on time every month and if I am unable to I find a way.

Because if I see an artist not being paid I say something.

Because I’ve dedicated my life to something that doesn’t always make me money but I’ve never taken a dime from a man I’ve dated to pay my bills.

Because I understand that a man’s worth is not solely dictated by what he earns but by what he does to help others with it.

Because I work 6-7 days a week and at the end of it I am tired, weary and worn but I can sleep at night.

Because if I do marry rich, he won’t hold me captive but will hold me accountable for what we will make of this broken world with the money we have.

Because at the end of my days, I will go peacefully into the night knowing I did what I could, with what I had, as other women have done before me and will continue to do after me.

Beyonce included.

For the queen, herself has spoken in word and action. For if we are to earn, and be equal partners we must not forget to always stay gracious. And if we seek revenge, or reparations for what we have not been given but deserve, maybe the best revenge is in fact your paper. For the ability to call the shots in this world with a righteous heart and paper you’ve made, may make a world of difference. It does for me anyway.

Folllow my page all about that 9 to 5 @ work//9-5 here


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