Updated: Sep 1, 2022
I have complicated feelings about Ayesha Curry.
On one hand, she’s a woman. I joke (on twitter) a lot about my legacy being butthole tweets, being associated with the word ‘cock’ (I stand by this), and memes but if I’m being completely serious the impression I want to leave on the world is that women existing without apology is both radical and our right without explanation. I don’t mention choice here because the idea of “choice” sullies the conversation as many of us do not have the space to choose, our choices are informed by violent systems (the game is rigged) and what I do choose is secondary to honoring my humanity and its intrinsic value. I believe my purpose is to fight for women, all women, and be an example of what living disobediently and unapologetically and full of rage can look like. I’ll go out screaming if it means I can influence one woman to live authentically, however that looks for her.
But all women do not feel that way about me.
In fact, many women could care less about my humanity. My existence. My purpose. There are women who actively root against my humanity and existence and purpose.
Ayesha Curry is one of them.
In her most recent interview she went so far as calling women who pursue her husband as, “the devil” – the representation of immoral women, women who seek to dismantle her relationship, de-throne her and remove her of her superiority. “The devil is a liar.” While I revel in being so powerful that I get compared to Satan himself (herself?) the implications of those statements are not lost on me. Her perception of things creates tangible violence for other women – this part of the conversation centered her and her anxiety, however, watching her reinforce a (misogynistic) hierarchy and her perceived sense of supremacy and virtue at the expense of others was ugly.
Let’s be clear. The women who have access to the men they're discussing are, typically, not your average fan. This is no shade to women fans of Steph Curry, this is to specify that largely the women who have access, hypothetically, to him are most likely sex workers of some sort (there could be a separate conversation about the type of sex workers that have access to classed men but we’ll save that for another time). Ayesha knows this. Ayesha knows the women who are a threat to her are likely IG model types, women who embody sex (intentionally or otherwise).
With that distinction made clear, conversations that directly or indirectly attack sex workers (or any marginalized group, right? Or we could even just say, “hoes” specified as women who seek sex for pleasure) are violent. It does not matter what the intention was or that the overarching goal was to empower women or create a safe space or whatever it is they're aiming to do on that show – if systems of oppression (in whatever language the people in the room have access to) are not specifically addressed in a nuanced way, it is undeniably contributing to an environment that already seeks to exterminate us; in this context sex workers and as an extension women who deviate from the rules of the cisheteropatriarchy.
A quick discussion, again in whatever language these people have access to, about what informs words like, “groupie” and how patriarchal (and gender essentialist) values contribute to the conceptualization of how we police women’s behavior (and why) would have justified a discussion about how, as a result of these things, Ayesha feels threatened and undervalued (?)
Instead we got a conversation from khaki-colored, classed wives discussing how their desire to separate themselves from lessers, buy into their own privilege, create more social power for themselves, etc. is backfiring. The irony is the “groupies” that these women are discussing are largely women seeking out the same capital they (Ayesha and friends) sought – whether it be the status that comes with proximity to classed men, the finances, etc. the hunt is the same. Because we are all navigating a rigged system, attempting to do our best and for that reason I am trying my best not to have sympathy for women who are unable to recognize how their investment in these systems unequivocally hurts other women AND GOES AGAINST THEIR OWN INTERESTS.
These women (and let’s add that they are likely cishet women. I say “likely” because I don’t want to impose on them but …let’s add that nuance because it matters) recognize their rank as classed, light skinned women and the power they earn by coupling with classed cishet men. Which means they understand, at least implicitly, they have the power to contribute to the subjugation of women with less status, access and power.
The fun begins when these women recognize that that status did not earn them everything they desired and it certainly didn’t give them an out – they still can and do experience patriarchal violence even though they have devoted their lives to investing in it. No women have the power to escape patriarchal violence no matter how dedicated they are to maintaining its legacy; we will always lose. And that’s not by accident.
The many years of othering and arrogance did not serve Ayesha, in-full, as she now claims she both desires the male gaze and has anxiety so bad from her insecurities that she takes medication. The male-gaze is largely not directed towards her because the patriarchy she believes in says she, as a married woman, is Steph’s property (and Steph, as a classed man, has even more social power over his property than men who are not classed). And while there could be an argument about men overlooking that, largely men recognize that she is off-limits because they respect Steph and his subsequent ownership (because they are also invested in maintaining patriarchal power). She worked so hard to be wifely and virginal that she has de-sexualized herself (and I would say she had less of a role in this process than we like to blame her for) to the point of being overlooked – under patriarchal values there are virgins and whores – no in between. So, the sexualization of Miss Motherly Saint Ayesha does not align with that dichotomy. According to your own politics, you cannot be both, sis.
I really have no desire to unpack that it’s, “natural to desire validation from others” or that her indirectly positioning Steph as an innocent victim of pussy seduction is problematic – we know this.
I would like to focus on that fact that none of us can win. And how to proceed.
I won’t discourage people from buying into violent systems if it will give them access to resources – MARRY TF RICH IF YOU CAN. Some folks will say it is hypocritical if the goal is to subvert these systems and ...fine. However, I won’t tell you that you're unreasonable for doing what you need to do to navigate this shit.
I WILL SAY THIS: in your effort to survive, in your effort to live the best life you have access to under the suffocating systems that aim to kill you, unpack your shit. Do the work. Don’t punch down. Redistribute.
Ayesha’s impact would be much different if she actively discussed unpacking her internalized misogyny and how it affects her mental health; dedicated herself to a cause aligned with that; refused to other herself and contribute to the violence of other women; and redistributed her wealth (for example) in a significant way to women with less access (some of this she may already be doing; the impact is different when it’s backed by praxis).
“I am a classed woman with incredible access and resources. Because of cisheteropatriarchal values, I experience uncomfortable and undesirable feelings around my role, my worth, etc. and I’m actively working to process those things. I’m dedicated to uplifting the voices of marginalized women and absolutely recognize what informs the behavior of women we label ‘groupies’ and ‘gold diggers’ and, as someone with privilege, refuse to further subjugate them. I’m doing my part by giving my money to women with less resources and encourage others to do the same” sounds much different than, “these hoes are tryna come for my man and as a good virtuous woman of Christ I feel threatened.”
This is nuance in practice.
Obviously, how this fits into your life may look different.
Maybe unpacking your shit is simply having internal dialogue about what your privileged and marginalized identities are. How they inform how you navigate the world and how the world navigates you. Maybe doing the work is as simple as facilitating these conversations with others. Not punching down is being more aware of the environments you're creating for people who are directly oppressed by your privileged identity. And maybe redistributing is offering your labor to someone with less resources than you.
You can decide what makes sense – the goal is not to be an Ayesha. Not to be someone who buys into a faux sense of superiority and then complains and feigns victimhood about the consequences with little introspection or empathy.
Don’t be an Ayesha.