I am reminded of this scene in The Color Purple where Celie finally gets the strength to stand up to Mister. For many years she has taken his emotional, mental, and physical abuse, taking it like a good soldier during a time when women were perceived and transferred as property and during a time when women could not voice their opinions concerning their social and political conditions. It was a difficult time to be a woman because she was under the thumb of an abusive master who also had his foot on her neck.
Women would later feel compelled to fight back, albeit seasonally and sporadically. The political and social systems of the day did not permit women to utilize their intellectual wherewithal to challenge their current social and economic positions. Only if the woman was white and married to a man of social position and means did she have a chance to pursue difference.
Of course, discussion of a woman’s difference is not the purpose of this article. Instead, the purpose of this article is to focus on when men feel compelled to accept or “take a woman in.” Generally, a man would not use this language. Women, especially mothers and aunts who are forced to assume responsibility for their grandchildren or nieces and nephews, are the ones who use this language.
I am using this language to suggest how men might feel in choosing a woman who they do not want, a woman who is not their preference. It is the Mister-Celie dynamic in which Mister is forced to take Celie because Celie’s stepfather refuses to let go of Celie’s sister, Nettie. Note the use of the possessive because it offers insight into the topic exploration.
This is not the first time Mister has been forced to take someone who was an option over a preference. It is implied that because Mister prefers Suge Avery that he was forced to marry his wife and produce kids. Suge Avery is his dream and anything else beyond that fantasy is his nightmare, or his reality.
This article considers the belief system of men and how they feel forced to accept a woman who is not their fantasy for a woman who is their reality by exploring, albeit through summary, three films. Scene references to the films serve as bases upon which to glean information and support the main goal of the article.
The Color Purple
Celie (Whoopi Goldberg) discusses with Suge Avery (Margaret Avery) her feelings about Mister (Danny Glover) and their sexual encounters. She describes Mister as “doing his business” when he has sex with her. Suge suggests that sex is much more than a man going to the toilet on a woman, and this surprises Celie, who also offers another viewpoint about her relationship with Mister. Celie says that Mister beats her for not being Suge. In other words, because Celie is not Mister’s preference or even an option since he could not get Nettie, he resorts to physically abusing her.
Mister also ignores Celie’s counsel when she helps him with the tie choice. He hides the letters addressed to Celie he has been receiving from Nettie. He also treats her as a second class citizen in the home, opting not to support her mothering capacity with his kids from the previous marriage.
Mister periodically provokes anger in Celie by slapping her; she shaves him, and she is within an inch of slicing his neck until Suge stops her! The provocation reaches its breaking point when Celie explodes at the dinner table. She yells, “Did I ever ask you for anything?” It is here where Mister voices his opinion in his refusal to change his view of Celie, calling her ugly and suggesting no one would ever want her.
What Mister is projecting is that he never wanted Celie and that he has felt all these years he was forced to take her in. Celie was neither a preference, nor an option because Mister wanted Nettie and Suge, not Celie. This means that Celie was never in the running for any type of relationship with Mister.
The only positions that Celie truly served in the “marriage” with Mister were those of maid, body supply, and caregiver. There was nothing in Celie’s mental wheelhouse that Mister cared about. There was nothing in Celie’s spiritual being that Mister cared about. There was nothing in Celie’s wisdom capacity that Mister cared about.
Mister could not get past the idea that Suge was never going to be available to him. He believed that just because he fantasized about Suge Avery that that made her available to him as a preference or even as an option. Mister did not have what Suge needed, and Suge was still struggling with a father who rejected her because of her struggles with faith. Even if Suge was in her right mind to see Mister as a long-term romantic companion, she had all that time after his previous marriage and before Celie to put in her application! She never did.
Just because she showed up to Mister’s house needing help does not equally translate as her desiring his help. Just as Celie’s stepfather dropped her off at Mister’s house as a solution to his problems does not equally translate as Mister believing that Celie was a solution to his problems. Celie was a solution, but Mister framed her as a problem. He perpetuated this belief all the way until she gained the courage to leave him.
Whether she stayed or not, Mister was never going to see Celie differently; recognize her difference from his dead wife, Suge Avery, or even Nettie; and honor her difference because of the comfort and convenience and organization that she brought to his life.
When a man feels forced to take a woman in, he does not recognize her difference from others. Instead, he groups her with every other woman he lacks interest in and blinds himself to the idea that the woman he truly wants, wants him. He remains blind until his death.
He’s Just Not That Into You
The relationship dynamics within the film epitomize different men who feel forced to take a woman in. There are challenges in multiple relationships, but the same idea that a man feels forced to take a woman in is still present within all relationships. For example, Neil (Ben Affleck) and Beth (Jennifer) are two characters living together, one of which desires marriage and the other does not see the point of marriage. They have been together for seven years, and Beth desires to marry.
It is implicit in Neil’s decision to avoid marriage that there may be some childhood trauma. I believe his parents divorced, and this might serve as an indicator for why he does not value marriage. Beth, on the other hand, watches her sisters get married, which prompts her to appeal to Neil about marriage.
She argues that he represents certain guys who do not want to marry, but then in six months marry the first woman they meet. Beth feels that Neil is hypocritical in supporting Beth’s sister’s wedding and not the idea of marriage to her (Beth). Beth soon realizes that she might be a woman who never marries, proceeds to exit the relationship with Neil, and they go their separate ways. Neil does not marry anyone, and they reconcile and do get married at the end of the movie.
The interesting thing about Neil and Beth is that he felt forced to believe in marriage during the movie, but at the end, he felt that marrying Beth would make her happy, and he wanted to make her happy if he was ever going to have a chance at happiness himself. This is a different strategy the filmmakers adopt for this couple because it looked like Neil and Beth were never going to return to each other. Because of her father’s heart attack, they are able to reconcile.
However, I do not think it is the father’s medical condition that prompted the change in Neil’s thinking. He linked happiness with being with Beth, and once he was able to see himself happy and frame happiness for himself and the relationship with Beth, he no longer felt forced to take her in. As long as Neil refused to marry after Beth’s repeated appeals, he felt forced, which created the conflict and subsequent breakup in the relationship.
This means that when a man feels forced to do anything, he abandons responsibility, i.e., taking individual responsibility for the other person as married people are expected to do. Neil shifting his thinking places the onus of responsibility onto his shoulders, pushes him into a leadership role, and encourages him to embrace “Beth” as someone who is worthy of marriage, worthy of long-term commitment, and worthy of emotional, psychological, and financial support. He no longer feels forced. Instead, he feels honored.
However, the relationship between Janine (Jennifer Connelly) and Ben (Bradley Cooper) ends. Ben cheats on Janine. He struggles to let go of the idea of Anna (Scarlett Johansson). This means that Anna serves as Ben’s ideal woman. He may even perceive her as a preference. Conor (Kevin Connolly) saw Anna as a preference over Gigi (Ginnifer Goodwin). This might suggest that the film perceives Anna as a preference. This further suggests global acceptance of Anna as a preference. Therefore, all other women are compared to Anna, and the other women in the film would be considered as options in difference to Anna.
This is a hard assumption to prove because none of the other women meet Anna, so there is no opportunity to place her among the women for comparison. Therefore, our only goal would be to assume based on what the filmmaker presents as evidence. Regardless, Anna is perceived as having more mate value than Janine if Ben is willing to sacrifice his marriage to Janine.
This brings us to the statement Janine makes at the beginning of the movie. She says that after their date, Ben didn’t call her for about 14 days, and so she decided to call him. Beth echoes this strategy in saying that she called Neil; she further suggests that there are no rules anymore and advises Gigi, implicitly, to call Conor. Gigi is unsuccessful in connecting again with Conor, who is preoccupied still with Anna.
The Ben-Janine dynamic reveals that the only reason why they are married is because Janine gave him an ultimatum, which suggests that he was forced to accept Janine. Ben reveals “his truth” to Anna about his marriage to Janine. For all the years they have been married, Ben has felt like a prisoner. People in cages always look for ways to get out. They plot and plan and attempt to exit their cages. Cheating is a form of exiting a romantic relationship, and Ben offers to move out of the home to make Janine happy. Of course, it is his way of making it easier for himself to have uninterrupted access to Anna.
Ben’s desire to exit the marriage is a desire that began before the marriage. When he did not call Janine back from a date, he was sending Janine a message that she refused to read and accept. Ben was not interested in moving from a state of dating to a state of building a relationship. In other words, he was still looking, discovering, and managing his life goals. Janine did not fit long-term into his romantic goals.
Without taking the necessary time to assess the situation, Janine gave Ben an ultimatum, Ben acquiesced, and then Ben was forced to take Janine in. Don’t forget that taking someone in does not always imply into someone’s house, per se. It means that Ben was forced to take Janine into his life when he had no plans or intention to pursue the option. Janine was not Ben’s preference. Instead, she was always an option that he married until he found his preference in Anna. To sacrifice his marriage and cheat with Anna suggests that Anna is the preference, not Janine.
When a man feels forced to take in a woman, it is usually because the woman is not his preference but instead his option, and he is using the option to pass the time until the preference comes along. This is a harsh statement to make, but when people cheat, it means exit. They want out of the current relationship and are willing to sacrifice it for the meaning they believe they will have with the romantic partner they really want. Keep in mind that Ben only married Janine in response to an ultimatum.
Diary of a Mad Black Woman
The last film reference is Tyler Perry’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman where Helen (Kimberly Elise) and Charles (Steve Harris) are housed within an 18-year abusive marriage. Charles is emotionally and physically abusive towards Helen, and Helen is unemployed and bored with her life. Charles required Helen to sign a prenuptial agreement before their marriage out of concern that she might be in the relationship for the money, even though it is revealed in the film that the bulk of his money is “earned” by using the money he gets from his drug dealing activities and drug dealing clients to pay off judges.
Charles believes he had the insight early before their marriage to protect himself in the event that he did make it and make it big. Thus, Helen’s only contribution was her existence at the house, being a caregiver and a helping hand when he needed it. Charles never intended to stay in the marriage given the multiple affairs he committed, the children he fathered with one of his mistresses, and the ways in which he picks Helen up and drags her out of the house. He sits her outside on her literal butt.
When she arrives home one day from tending to errands, she is greeted with moving men and her things placed within a moving truck. Charles never informed her that he would be kicking her out. Instead, she finds out like everyone else that she is being forced to move out of the house.
Charles is moving Helen out for his preference, Brenda (Lisa Marcos), and his strategy is violence. He began their marriage with violence, and he ended their marriage with violence. The prenuptial agreement, although a useful document, was only used to distance himself emotionally from a woman he never wanted.
Thus, Charles forced himself to accept Helen. Helen was young, amenable, acquiescent, agreeable, and attainable for Charles on a smaller, beginner’s level. Once he leveled up, even through nefarious means, he wanted something that was not typically attainable for him in his current financial state but only achievable if he had money. In other words, Charles considers Brenda as one of his achievements.
By default, he considers Helen one of his failures or at least places her at a time when he was struggling. He got a Mercedes in Brenda but felt like he was driving a Honda in Helen. Charles consciously chose someone who was not his type. He chose in Helen a person he could get help, get sex, and get an ear when he felt stressed, but he did not choose a person who was worthy of investment.
Eighteen years of marriage means nothing to a person who drags someone out of the house. The marriage was ceremonial but not intentional. Charles never had an emotional connection with Helen. His connection was a soul-tie, and the relationship was toxic to the point that she had multiple miscarriages, lost her hair, and was consistently distressed. His choice to take her in made her feel bad!
Therefore, when a man feels forced to take in a woman, even if he is directly forcing himself, he will make the woman feel bad, make her feel like a fool for accepting the proposal, and proceed to destroy the woman systematically. Systematic destruction always includes emotionally, mentally, psychologically, spiritually, and financially.
The woman can live in a mansion, have access to financial resources, have a husband, and still be miserable because there is no love in the house. She can be the one to bring love, but if a man does not accept her love and systematically rejects her appeals, then there is nothing she can do. Helen, with or without money, should have left Charles many years ago. After all, she never had him in the first place.
When a man feels forced to take in a woman, it never ends well. The man will adopt a punishment strategy as in beating a woman because she is not the woman he wants, as in cheating on a woman because she is not the preference he wants, and as in systematically destroying a woman because love was never the goal.
It is never a good idea for a woman to engage and entertain a man long after she realizes that she is not going to get the love she needs in a romantic relationship. This is especially true of a man who has no desire to reframe the woman for love. The man would rather jump into a relationship with a woman who has done nothing for him all because she looks like something he wants, and she looks like the achievement he has been searching for in his life.
However, it is never a good idea for a man to invest into a woman who has made no contribution to his life because when he gets down, whether in health or finances, that woman who has put in no work will be the first woman who leaves him on his death bed. This is what happens in Tyler Perry’s movie, and it happens on a general basis with men who feel forced and retaliate against the woman who they perceive is not a preference and maybe not even an option.
It is better for a man to wait for the person he wants than to use many women as placeholders until he gets what he wants. Not every woman is forgiving, and many women are retaliating against men who have used them, who have treated them unfairly, and who have tried to ruin their lives all because they feel forced to take a woman that they do not want.
Life Recovery Objective
The greatest life recovery objective is to guard against romantic hastiness. The first time you feel that a potential romantic partner may be feeling forced to do anything with you, when you feel the individual is not cooperative, and when you feel the person is unwilling to move the relationship forward, then exit the relationship-building phase, take the time necessary to reassess romantic goals to ensure they align with life planning goals, and assume the relationship is still at the discovery experience.
It is unnecessary to attach emotionally when you are merely discovering who you are with the person, who the person is with you, and who you both could be together. The most important aspect of the discovery phase is to discern if the person is a problem-solver, if the person is an emotional runner, and if the person is financially stagnant in their life.
This will help you individually to determine their capacity for long-term commitment leading to marriage. If the man you are interested in has his stuff together, and you have your stuff together, both of you are more likely not to feel forced to be with each other.
Thank you for reading.
Regina Y. Favors, Owner/Operator
The vision of the site is to be the preferred online curriculum you need for life recovery.
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The reference to time in The Color Purple mention is early 20th-century, between 1909 and 1949, and the settings are rural Georgia and a small village in Western Africa.
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