For better or worth.

The saga of Sherry Shepherd’s divorce proceedings and multiple custody battles has ignited message boards and websites across the Internet. Though it will not aid her in her legal battles, Shepherd has most certainly won in the court of public opinion, her ex-husband widely considered to be an avaricious, adulterous cad and her current husband a shiftless liar with no inclination to work. Shepherd has received an outpouring of sympathy. Unfortunately, said sympathy has come packaged in venomous invectives as many have stated that she was simply not bright enough to realize no man would sincerely find her alluring, which made her susceptible to grifters such as her ex-husband and current partner.

Though many online have insulted her appearance and intellect, all have agreed with righteous ire that she is superior in earning potential and kindness to the men she married and should not have “settled” for those “beneath” her. Some have used Shepherd’s woes as a teaching tool for black women, who—due to constant negative bombardment by a media ridiculously obsessed with the idea of the mournful or angry black woman—may erroneously believe that they are worth less and willingly accept less because of it.

“[S]ociety does a great job of making black women feel as though we have to settle, as though having any man—whether he treats you poorly or treats you well, whether he is your intellectual equal or not—is better than having no man at all….In 2014, no woman should be saying that or thinking it.” Keli Goff

While no woman should enter a romantic relationship with someone who does not interest her, love her, or respect her because she believes no one “of worth” would ever want her, we need to carefully reconsider what “of worth” means. Of worth to us or of worth to our peers? Adhering to the sexist belief that men should provide money and women should be conventionally beautiful is harmful to beneficial relationships that don’t meet that standard and can result in poisonous relationships when it does. We uniformly agree that men should “bring something to the table,” but aside from the universal constant of love and respect, what should be set upon said table should vary widely depending on the woman asked. He may bring an empty wallet to the table and still be the one you desire. He may have a pot belly and a dopey smile and still be the man of your dreams. He could be as dumb as a post and still be your soul mate. Yours, not mine! My table has nerd-priority seating.

The point is that we shouldn’t get to decide what other people deserve to have at their table. It’s pointless and cruel—and often tainted by racist and sexist biases. And sadly, it can result in individuals making poor choices because they are more concerned with outward appearances than the inner workings of their heart.