On behalf of Uppity and Antagonist, I thank Kawana Williams for her submission. I must say this is an excellent way to progress with this open collective. In our first submission, we let you all know who we are and how we function. We have endless conversations about any and everything under the sun. Kawana’s submission was one such topic. As an editor, I felt it necessary to respond. There are at least two reasons I elected to write this response. I am the only member of the ICU that has been married or divorced, for that matter. I am also the only woman, obviously.
A few years ago I worked in customer service and one of the key factors to providing customers with a quality experience was for the customer service representative to “take ownership” of the call. So what is ownership and how does it factor into this scenario with Tina Campbell and her admitting her contribution to her marital difficulties? When a person takes ownership, it means she assumes responsibility to resolve the issue. In other words, the outcome of the situation is dependent upon the decisions and actions that person takes. It is difficult to own a problem that you cannot fully resolve yourself. This issue is equally dependent upon her husband. Tina Campbell took ownership of her decisions and actions that may have been contributing factors in her husband’s decision to “commit adultery.” I say may have been because ultimately it is fully possible that her “bad behavior” was not essential in determining whether or not her husband would cheat. I want to emphasize that cheating was his DECISION.
Each of us is a free moral agent; we function in a paradigm of free will. We have a set of values and principles, ethos by which we live. Our actions and behaviors are indicative of our adherence to or inconsistency with that ethos. When a person takes the vows of marriage, especially in the Christian sense, the belief is that he or she will be faithful and devoted throughout the duration of the marriage. Broken vows can be emotionally detrimental; they dismantle the bond of trust. No matter what decision the couple makes, to part ways or to work things out, there is intense work that must be done for each partner to make it back to the place of wholeness if they were ever there in the first place.
One commenter noted how the perpetrator of the offense, the unfaithful husband, has been rather quiet regarding the issue. That is interesting to note. Tina acknowledging that a marriage does not breakdown solely based upon the actions of one party should in no way lead betrayed partners (male or female) to believe that being cheated on is in any way justifiable. People cheat for varying reasons but the ultimate reason anyone cheats or does anything for that matter is because “I want to.” As I watch this issue play out on this season’s Mary Mary on WEtv, I see the pain and the turmoil this has caused. “Calling a thing, a thing”, does not mean assuming responsibility for some other person’s poor decisions. Herein is the conundrum. This is what we hold in tension.
I want this to be clear, Tina Campbell admitting her faults and imperfections when it comes to being a spouse in no way makes her culpable or complicit with regard to her husband’s infidelity. To think otherwise is fallacious. ‘Post hoc ergo propter hoc.’ It is illogical to say that after this therefore because of this. It is simply untrue. Our conventional wisdom does not hold the answers that prevent this scenario. In my opinion, our convention often denies the mutuality required for marriage to work. The onus to “make it work is frequently on us. If I wanted to be scriptural I’d agree with James when he said “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed” (James 1:14 KJV).
So what does her admission mean for women? Are we able to take responsibility for our actions? Are we able to admit our imperfections? Tina’s admission really does not change a lot for women. We do not hear or see it every day and we definitely do not see it on this scale all the time, but there are countless, faceless, nameless women who daily shoulder the responsibility for cheating husbands and boyfriends. In fact, among the first questions women ask when they confront their offenders: “Was I not enough?” “Did I do something wrong?” “Did I not love you enough?” That line of questioning shows that women have the capacity to ask the hard questions even if we do not like or want to accept the answer.
The point is women assume responsibility for their actions and often for the actions of others. In so doing we frequently let our offenders off the hook. What we “experience” out there in the world is not failing to take responsibility as much as it is having yet to be made whole. Wholeness only comes when we deconstruct our ideas of what should be or should have been and deal with what is. In Tina’s case what is, her husband cheated on her, how the couple proceeds and succeeds is up to them.