Jeannie Mai and the Privilege of Submission
Whether or not a woman chooses to submit in a relationship has to do with her finances as well as narratives imposed upon her race
Jeannie Mai ignited an impromptu gender war when she announced that she wanted to “submit” to her soon-to-be husband, rapper Jeezy, during an episode of The Real.
“I’m a very dominant woman,” she explained to her fellow castmates, “so when I come home, I like the idea that my man leads us.”
She caught flack for her blatant endorsement of traditional gender roles in marriage, but frankly, I understood. If I were in her position, I’d come home and allow my man to take the lead too. See, it’s easy for a woman like Mai to extol the virtues of submission when her version looks a lot different than it does for most women on the planet.
As a 41-year-old woman with an established career and financial security, wealth serves as a convenient buffer between her and the reality faced by most couples — the division of household labor that often disproportionately lands in the hands of “submissive” women. Her domestic tasks are outsourced, and given Mai’s firm opposition to motherhood, childcare is a nonissue. Her relationship doesn’t diminish her existence. She’s not handing over her autonomy in exchange for the social and often economic protection of marriage. She’s submitting on her terms with limits, boundaries, and an out.
For women like Mai, submission is a privilege.
In fact, it’s more like a partnership. She’s not the first alpha woman to enjoy a little surrender behind closed doors — and she won’t be the last, but that is less about obedience and more about balance.
I have to wonder if her statement would have gone viral at all had she not been an Asian woman engaged to a Black man speaking to an audience of mostly Black women. Given the prevailing racial and sexual politics that cast Asian women as submissive, ideal wives and Black women as too angry, strong, and independent for love, the context alone was kindling for a firestorm.
My timeline was ablaze even before I caught wind of the clip. I noticed the tweets, from men and women alike, taking Black women to…