Generally speaking, you listen to a heterosexual male run his mouth about this and that. Today, I am sandwiched in between 2 married lesbian powerhouses. Stay tuned and see how I manage an hour with all of this power … on this edition of Frank Relationships.
FRANK RELATIONSHIPS: A MARRIED LESBIAN POWERHOUSE COUPLE
Guests: Aisha and Danielle Moodie–Mills
Date: June 10, 2013
Frank: You’ve been listening to a heterosexual male run his mouth about this and that and today, I’m sandwiched between two married lesbian powerhouses. Stay tuned as we see how I manage an hour with all this power, on this edition of Frank Relationships.
Welcome to Frank Relationships where we provide a candid, fresh and frank look into relationships with goals of acceptance, respect and flexibility. I’m Frank Love and you can find me, my blog and my various social media incarnations at franklove.com.
Today we’re joined by two political dynamos and they can’t seem to stay out of the spotlight. Whether it’s because they’re being featured as the first lesbian couple in Essence magazine or if they’re providing political commentary on Fox News or MSNBC, being lauded because of social entrepreneurship or because they’re a power couple, they’re striking home runs left and right, all about Washington, D.C.
And they’ve got strong opinions too. In fact, you can hear them on their own radio show Politini on Blis FM. They are none other than Aisha and Danielle Moodie-Mills and they’re here to tell us all about living, loving and laboring out loud. Welcome to the show ladies.
Danielle: Thanks for having us Frank.
Aisha: Great to be here.
Frank: Alright, first up, since you’re married, why did you get married and what is marriage to you?
Danielle: That is a huge question.
Frank: Alright, give me–
Danielle: That’s a whole lot. We don’t have that kind of time. I would say that we got married for the same reasons anybody else gets married, right? Because we wanted to formulize our relationship and to celebrate our love with our family and friends and to have the stability that marriage affords you.
Frank: Well, that’s not why I got married, but why’d you get married?
Aisha: I want to know what you got married.
Danielle: I got married, because I just overhead fell in lot with Aisha and wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. I wanted to not have a day where I wasn’t waking up and like, starting my day bantering and laughing with her.
Aisha: Why did you get married?
Danielle: I had to wife her up.
Frank: Got it.
Aisha: It had been what? Six years?
Aisha: Six years. So, it was about that time.
Aisha: And by the way, I wifed you up just to clarify what happened, but we can talk about that later.
Frank: Okay, let’s try to help the audience get the voices with the names. So the last “I wife you up” was from?
Frank: Aisha and–
Frank: And the first “Wifed you up?”
Danielle: Was Danielle.
Frank: Okay. Okay, and why did I get married?
Frank: Well, since I’ve done it twice, the first time I got married, it was because I wanted children and I wanted children in a relationship that was “right.” Both times I can easily say is, because I wanted to. But the second time it was because my wife wanted to be legally married and I was willing to do it, because it made her happy. And that was when we got legally married, but prior to that I considered us married just because we said that we were married. So, all of that to say, I think people get married for different reasons and so when you said like most people–
Aisha: Yeah, you’re right.
Frank: I don’t even know what most people’s reasons are. People got all kinds of stuff going on in their lives and all kinds of desires that they wish to fill with a partner and all that good stuff.
Aisha: So it’s funny, because as a lesbian couple people expect that our ritual and our sense of relationship might be really extreme and different than a heterosexual couple, but we’re actually really traditional. And so, I remember I’ve never was the little girl the little girl who saw this kind of vague fairytale princessy wedding happening in my life and like that was something that I aspired to. But when I met Danielle, she very much had always had a sense of wanting to have her family come together around her in a beautiful wedding setting and more of a traditional sense that even I had thought about.
And so, it’s interesting, we had a relatively traditional wedding, given that a lot of people would look at us and off the cuff think that our relationship is not so traditional.
Danielle: And what was funny is when I think about it, because people ask us all the time, “When did you get married? How long have you been together? How did you know?” Especially a lot of our friends that are single and are dating and maybe in their mid 20’s or in their 30’s and they’re like, “Well, how do you know,” because they want to be able measure the person that they’ve been dating. Is that person marriage material? And I say that you know when you know. It’s just like that feeling. It is that gut feeling but–
Aisha; And I knew right away.
Danielle: We knew right away. But we are traditional in the sense that, Aisha, because I was the one that wanted the engagement ring. I wanted the engagement ring and she didn’t care. Trust me you can still see her finger. She’s still bling to the nines, but she didn’t want a solitaire. Let me say that. She didn’t want a solitaire
Aisha: I didn’t *(inaudible) 06:08 a solitaire.
Frank: I’m married and I don’t even know what a solitaire is. Okay.
Danielle: She did not want a solitaire. She wanted–
Aisha: Right. I just wanted lots of bling.
Danielle: She just wanted lots of bling.
Frank: Got it. Well, that still didn’t the people saw it, but the people at the station didn’t. Alright, so what’s a solitaire?
Danielle: A solitaire is just one single diamond.
Danielle: One single diamond.
Aisha: One single big diamond.
Danielle: One single big diamond and–
Frank: Which you have on your hand.
Danielle: Which I have on my hand.
Aisha: In addition to the rest of that.
Danielle: In addition to my wedding band, which also has diamonds and everything.
Frank: Got it.
Danielle: And Aisha has one ring that is beautiful.
Aisha: It’s a band that is all diamonds.
Danielle: It has about five diamonds across. But in the proposal, because–
Frank: And who proposed?
Aisha: I did.
Danielle: Aisha proposed to me–
Aisha: That’s a lovely story.
Danielle: She proposed to me. But before she proposed to me, because my family were all very close and they love Aisha to death–when we were in New York, which is where I’m from– she woke up early one morning and went down to talk to my parents separately about wanting to get their permission to marry me.
So that was part of the tradition that she knew would me a lot to me. If she had a conversation with my mom, and she talked to my dad and my dad was like, “Oh my God, let me tell you how I proposed to Shirley,” and he’s lighting up. And my mother is telling her, “Oh my God, I had a vision the other day when I looked out into the backyard that there would be this big beautiful white tent and lights twinkling everywhere.” They were through the roof, excited.
Aisha: It was very sweet.
Danielle: I couldn’t believe that they actually kept quiet for–
Aisha: A month after that.
Danielle: For a month–
Danielle: Until she orchestrated this big proposal.
Frank: Now you were about to say that was a great story. Now did she snatch the story from you and did she tell it?
Aisha: Yeah, that was the parent’s piece of it. It’s interesting the “ask for permission” piece. I had already bought the ring. And so, it was awkward to be a grown person and I think I was in my early 30’s at the point–to go and ask someone’s permission to do something.
We were living together. We’d been living together for many years. Clearly we were family. We were a family. I was a part of the family. But I had already bought the ring, so I was like “I need to talk to them about this.” Not in like a “This is what I’m going to do,” but like, “Hey what do you think about this,” because I already placed an order. It was very sweet.
But no, Danielle’s sister helped me orchestrate a big surprise proposal which I was nervous about, but it worked out.
Danielle: It happened, so I’ll tell the story quick, because I’m sure you have other questions. But I was supposed to be going to work one morning. It was a summer. I was June of 2009 and we had gone to a big political fundraiser the night before. Joe Biden had spoke at–
Aisha: At something, right. So, we had a fun–
Danielle: At some kind of an event, so we had had a really fun-
Aisha: Polynesta night.
Danielle: A really fun night the night before.
Frank: So you were at John McCain’s political event?
Danielle: Yeah, no. No, no. So, we had had a really fun night the night before and we were going to go to dinner that night but I woke up and I had had a little bit too much fun the night before and was a little bit hung over. So, I woke up and I was just like, “Yeah, I’m not going to go to work today,” and Aisha was like, “What?”
Aisha: And at the time I had a consultanting firm, so I worked from home. So I anticipated that day, I would have the day to do all the things that I needed to do and then this one decides she’s going to be home for the day.
Danielle: Right. And I’m like, “I’m going to be home.” And she’s like, “Okay.” Inside she’s freaking out that I’m ruining her plan.
Aisha: So fast forward to what I did–
Frank: “How about we get married since you stayed home?”
Danielle: Right. Exactly, right. So what was really the sweet part for me for what I did–there’s a restaurant in Adams Morgan here in D.C. called Perry’s that was the sight of our first date. And there’s a rooftop there and so–
Frank: Wait. Paint a picture for me. It’s called Perry’s. That means that’s a nutty person’s way of saying, Paris? How is it spelled?
Aisha: No, no. It’s P-e-r-r-y.
Danielle: Yeah, like somebody’s name.
Aisha: Perry, like someone’s name.
Frank: Okay, so it’s just like–
Frank: Like American joint, not a–
Danielle: It’s actually sushi.
Aisha: It’s actually sushi, but–
Danielle: Oh, it is. It’s actually a sushi–
Aisha: Sushi bistro.
Aisha: Bistro. Because to your point, the rooftop is very bistroesque in terms of–
Aisha: The bistro lighting.
Aisha: Yep. So, we had been dating for a couple of months, but we hadn’t actually gone and had a sit down meal in the evening like a real date, date.
Danielle: A real date.
Aisha: So, we went to Perry’s that year and every spring when the weather breaks, we would go back as kind of anniversary celebration.
Danielle: Because it’s one of the most beautiful rooftops in D.C.
Aisha: Right. So, at the time on our very first date, there was a waiter there, who it happened to be his first week. And when we went back the following year for this kind of reunion moment, the guy was still there. And we show up–and the wait is normally like an hour at this place–and he looks at us and he says, “I know you two. I waited on you last year. It was my first week. Come on, sit down.” So we ended up being friends with him. It’s a guy named Sheldon who was actually the manager of a lot of restaurants on [U] 11:35 sp Street now. And so, fast forward five years later and I’m going to propose; I decided to take Danielle back to Perry’s and to have Sheldon come back and act as our waiter and serve her ring on a plate of sushi.
Danielle: On a plate. So, I’m sitting there and we’re having dinner and we’re drinking and talking about the fabulous night before and then over my right shoulder comes–
Frank: And your hangover.
Danielle: My hangover.
Danielle: Over my right shoulder comes Sheldon with putting this platter down and he says, “This is the special of the night, five years in the making.”
Aisha: And Danielle’s looking at him like, “What are you doing? You don’t work here.”
Danielle: “You don’t work here anymore.” And then I look down at the plate and there is my ring there, just like glistening and it was just absolutely beautiful–
Aisha: And then she burst out in tears.
Aisha: And I burst out in to tears. And then Aisha burst out into tears and she and the sky burst into rain.
Danielle: And then she was like, “Well, will you marry me?” And I’m like, “Yes.” And then the sky burst into rain, but I was like, “Okay, let’s grab a cab and go home. And I’m going to call everybody and tell everybody.” And Aisha’s like, “No, no, no. Let’s just go a couple of doors down and go get a drink to celebrate. Let’s go get a glass of champagne.” So, we leave there and we jump into a cab and we literally go two doors down, because of the torrential down pour.
Aisha: It’s monsooning at this point.
Danielle: It’s monsooning in D.C. If everybody comes here, they know that it happens in a split second. We go into this restaurant, another restaurant that we frequent and we go down the stairs and everyone yells, “Surprise.”
Aisha had orchestrated a surprise engagement party with all of our friends and everybody was there. Because, I’m like, “Why is nobody answering their phone. I’m calling everybody telling them I’m engaged.”
Aisha: She’s calling her father. She’s calling like her mother, her sister.
Danielle: My mother, my sister, nobody’s answering.
Aisha: Nobody’s answering the phone, because they all know what’s happening. And finally her father answers and he’s like, trying not to say anything and then he’s like, “Did it happen.”
Danielle: Anyway, it was fantastic.
Aisha: Yeah, it was fun.
Frank: How’d the restaurant erupt? Did the people sitting around you in the restaurant do anything?
Danielle: It’s D.C. no one cares.
Danielle: I feel like no one is ever really, “Oh, my God.” It was a weird time of day. There wasn’t a lot of people around.
Aisha: On the rooftop.
Danielle: But I will tell you that when we were walking into the next place, there was a guy, randomly–
Danielle: That was not one of our friends, that was standing outside and he’s like, “Congratulations.”
Aisha: It’s actually rather eerie, because we have no idea who that man was.
Danielle: I still to this day don’t know who that man was, but he knew–
Aisha: What was going on.
Danielle: He knew that we were engaged.
Frank: “Scandal.” We can talk about real and television. You guys have somewhere you want to start or you want me to jump in?
Aisha: Jump in, jump in.
Frank: Alright. Why do we like Kerry Washington? She’s the other woman.
Aisha: You know we debate this every week inside of our hearts and our souls. We really grapple with this dissonance around our love of that show.
Danielle: So, I think that America loves Kerry Washington’s character, Olivia Pope on the show, because the way that Shonda Rhimes writes it, you get the sense that the President is in a really unhappy marriage, right? And everyone’s ideal is that–
Frank: Or you could just say a marriage.
Danielle: Are you still married?
Frank: And I’m happy.
Danielle: You get the sense that he’s kind of in this business arrangement and don’t we all want somebody to be in love with. And you see this magnetic connection that Olivia Pope and the President have and you’re just like, you’re rooting for that, because as humans, we want other people–I think most people–you want other people to be happy and you want them to really have love and have all of these things. And she’s kind of living on the outskirts of this not really getting into a real relationship. So I think we root for love.
Aisha: And we also root for passion. And she said this in one of the episodes. She’s like, “No, I don’t want regular love, where I go to work–”
Danielle: Right, she said to it to the guy.
Aisha: Nine to five. I come home everyday–
Frank: I love that dialogue. That was great
Aisha: That dialogue was so profound, because we don’t want that.
Danielle: She says I want tortured like–
Danielle: Painful, can’t-live-without-you type of love.
Aisha: Don’t-know-what-to-expect-tomorrow type of love.
Danielle: But the guy looks at her and he’s just like, “Love is not supposed to be painful,” and she was just like–
Aisha: But she–
Frank: *(inaudible) 16:04.
Danielle: But I think that there’s like this–and this happens in real life in relationships–is that there is this conflating of pain and passion. And this is like the drama of it, right? So you hear people who’ve really, “Our relationship is so dramatic and it’s so volatile.” And I think that all of that negative piece of that volatility kind of masquerades as passion, because you get off on the passion and like the, “Oh my God, I can’t be without you and all this emotion inside of me is about to erupt.” And so the question is, “How do you balance that and have that in a healthy way?”
Danielle: Because I think that that part of the passion is what keeps the relationship together.
Frank: Well, in a healthy way, wow. Let’s play with that. Well, a relationship is nothing more than two people coming together and what you have. There are people who come together and they have quite a tumultuous interaction and that’s just simply what they bring and there are times when those relationships last decades. Are they unhealthy relationships? I don’t feel comfortable saying that they’re unhealthy, they’re what they make. They’re what happens when those two ingredients merge.
Frank: What is a healthy relationship in your opinion?
Aisha: It’s what works for us. I think you hit it on the head. I think everybody’s relationship dynamics play out for them in a way that works or doesn’t or is satisfactory for them, but we very much have a sense for us of what a healthy relationship is like.
Danielle: I think that a healthy relationship is one that is steeped in mutual respect and admiration for the other person and where you each have or have the freedom to be who you are, to kind of grow into yourself over the years as a person and you’re respected and valued for that.
And sometimes I feel like in tumultuous relationships–at least from people that we have heard, from friends that we have–is that when there is not that respect, when you get into a fight and you’re immediately going for the jugular, you’re immediately going for the negative and that’s kind of where you stay. Because when you develop an intimate relationship, you know what buttons to push, but when it’s your first instinct to constantly go there, then that to me is something that is unhealthy. You should try and find a way to be constructive around your issues.
Aisha: Yeah, and for us too, what makes a healthy relationship is a holistic partnership. And I don’t use the word “balance.” I use the word “holistic” instead, because balance gives a sense of 50/50 and relationships aren’t always 50/50.
Frank: I agree.
Danielle: Not all the time, no.
Aisha: No. Not all the time, but relationships certainly should be a 100 percent. The two of you come together and you form a whole. That doesn’t mean you lose yourself, but you form a whole. And so maybe today, I’m 70 percent of the 100 percent and maybe tomorrow I’m 20 percent of it. But to me that partnership is coming together and bringing something where you guys fit and you create a whole and that creates its own balance and its own rhythm. And so, and our partnership is very much that.
We joke with people and tell them all the time, even something which seems to be so one-sided as wedding planning, right? Wedding planning for us was really a testament to what our relationship would look like as a married couple, because it was the biggest thing that we’d ever done together. It was, one, of the most money that we had to save and manage and spend at one point and time.
Danielle: Until you buy a home.
Aisha: Until you buy a home.
Danielle: It is the most amount–
Aisha: Right. It’s all the big major things. It’s negotiating, friendships, relationships, family, in terms of who you’re going to invite.
Danielle: Where they’re going to sit.
Aisha: Where they’re going to sit, is negotiating. It’s negotiating your interest, etc. And so, if one partner is not an active participate in those really major big decisions and that major thinking about who you are, who you love, what your priorities are–
Danielle: Then they’re not going to be participating in the actual marriage.
Aisha: Then you can expect that level of participation. And so, it’s interesting to us when we connect with people who one partner is really aloof and not participatory.
Danielle: So, if you go back to “Scandal” and you look at the relationship between Olivia Pope and the President, it is very–in my opinion, to what Aisha’s saying–very one-sided, because she’s the fixer. She is constantly handling him and handling his issues, handling his marriage, handling everything. And on one of the last episodes, he says to her, “You can’t handle me anymore. That’s not the kind of dynamic that I want.”
Aisha: He doesn’t want that.
Danielle: “I don’t want to be handled. I want a partnership.” When you see then at the last episode where she brings him into that defiance, their group, their conspiracy group, is that like, “Look now we’re equal in that space,” because before she was the fixer. You were the pretty face and I handle the dirt behind the scenes.
Frank: But she doesn’t fix him. She fixes the public perception of him and that’s very different.
Frank: With the healthy relationships, back to that for just a quick minute. If I am married to you, don’t like being around you, but you are the financial, you’re the financial–
Aisha: Keep it real.
Frank: Yeah, keep it real.
Frank: I’ve been there.
Danielle: Alright, okay, alright.
Frank: But you are the financial person. You bring the money into the household. I, on the other hand, cook and that’s really our agreement. Now, it’s not pleasant to most eyes if you were to know what the ins and outs of that relationship were, but is that an unhealthy relationship?
Aisha: No, to mean those kind of examples–I think that the mechanics of it, you get into a really frivolous place when you start to want to do any “eye for an eye” and try to qualify whose work is more important or more valuable than the other person’s work. And we can actually speak to this personally. Right now, Danielle’s on sabbatical. I actually got to take a sabbatical two and a half years ago, was it now? About two and a half years ago?
Danielle: Like three years ago.
Aisha: About three years ago, meaning that I didn’t have to work and earn money for a set period of time, because there are lots of other things that we’re trying to build that me having a job or like hustling was going to distract from and get in the way of. Not only for us and what we want to build but also from me and my profession of what I was trying to build.
Danielle: Yeah. She needed space to be creative.
Aisha: I needed space to be creative and to do.
Frank: I can relate.
Aisha: And so–
Danielle: We had decided together, “You know what? Take a sabbatical.”
Aisha: And so right now–
Danielle: “Take off a couple of months to like–”
Aisha: That’s what Danielle’s doing. Danielle’s like you know what? Danielle is Jamaican so she has like four jobs. One of which–
Danielle: True story.
Aisha: One of which was her mainstay that she actually got paid for and it was not a place where she wanted to be. It was a great job, but it just wasn’t her passion, what she wanted to do. So, we decided, “You know what? You need to take your couple of months. We have one income.”
And that’s the thing about–let me tell you, healthy verses not healthy relationships. I think the most unhealthy thing in a relationship is when you start talking about mine. “I bring in the money. It’s my job and my check.” We don’t speak in that language at all.
Aisha: Yes, technically I’m the one who shows up somewhere that pays me and I bring that home, but we earn money, because one, in all fairness the project that I run is one that we conceived together and Danielle advises on that. But we have a central bank account, savings account, etc. And so, our money that we bring in, whether I got the check in my name or she got it written in her name–
Danielle: It’s our money.
Aisha: Comes into our household.
Aisha: And so, because she’s on sabbatical and is flexible, she maybe the one who picks up the laundry and takes the dry cleaning and those kind of things. That doesn’t then create an imbalance, because I can’t really do that, right?
So luckily, she’s doing that and that also doesn’t detract away from the value of her in the relationship. And so, I think when you get unhealthy is when people suggest that the person taking care of the kids, the person who’s doing perhaps the domestic work and making sure that the home functions, is somehow less valuable than the person that goes out into the world and brings home cash.
Frank: Alright. Traditional relationships; let’s go back there for a quick second. Well, Aisha proposed and Aisha proposed to Danielle, what I gathered was because she knew it was important to Danielle. Do you consider yourself having the more male characteristics or something or another in the relationship? Do you Aisha, the first question, and then Danielle, do you consider yourself more the female or is that even the case in lesbian relationships? Is there a more male, female? Educate us.
Aisha: I’m so thankful that you brought that question up, because it comes up a lot of times, I think, in stereotypes in mythology about gay relationships. So yeah, we should clarify that.
So no, our relationship, maybe it’s unique. I hate to think of it as unique, because of us, but we don’t play gender roles in our relationship. So no, I’m not the man and Danielle’s not the woman or vice versa. And it’s because, one, we’re not lesbians, because one of us wants to be the man. That’s not why we date women. And two, getting back to the point about what’s healthy and what’s not healthy, I really believe that much of the struggle and the trials and tribulations that heterosexual couples face is this wanting to escape into these gender role stereotypes and I think it’s kind of rubbish. I think that this idea of the man–
Danielle: Oh my God, you just became British.
Aisha: I know right. I’ve always wanted to be British.
Danielle: Out of nowhere.
Aisha: But what we don’t do in our relationship from the way that we look to the way that we run our household to the way that we engage with one another, is fall into these gender role stereotypes.
The reason why I proposed to Danielle is because it mattered to Danielle and it did not matter to me. If Danielle would’ve called my father or my mother, it would’ve been neither here nor there for me. I would not have cared. If she would’ve brought me a ring, it would’ve been nice, but it wasn’t exactly what I wanted, right. I didn’t want a solitaire. So those things were not important to me.
There are things that were important to me that Danielle does.
Aisha: Well, this morning, for example, and this is like one of my favorite things that she refuses to own. Danielle dresses me.
Aisha: Danielle dresses me, because she has a really good fashion sense and a great eye and I am a disaster.
Aisha: And so–
Danielle: Every morning. Every morning she’s a disaster.
Aisha: Every morning she has to get me together.
Danielle: Every morning, it’s like a miracle that she just has. It’s amazing. It’s like a decimal would follow her around in the peanuts characters if I was not there.
Frank: Sounds like me.
Danielle: Yes, I just don’t know how it happens. But to your point, Frank, Aisha makes it a point about gender roles. And that’s where I think that kind of the 21st century heterosexual relationships see a lot of problems these days.
Aisha and I just finished reading the Sheryl Sandberg, who is the Facebook COO, who just wrote a book, Lean In, about women in the workplace and partnership.
And in that book she talks about the fact that we need to create a work environment that is conducive for women. Men need to take on 50 percent of the house dynamic, what goes on in the home; meaning caring for the kids, shopping for the groceries, doing all of these things.
And I think the issue that you see and why sometimes a lot of heterosexual relationships break up is because of this misalignment of values placed around what Aisha was saying. If you’re a stay-at-home mom and you’re the primary caregiver that doesn’t mean that when your husband comes home then he shouldn’t be chipping in and doing what he’s doing, because you’ve been working all day.
And so, there are these dynamics that I think society allows heterosexual couples to kind of fall back on and where there is this consistent inequality. Where women are then having to “manage” it all or do it all and can’t have it all, because they don’t have equality in partnership with their spouse.
Aisha: It’s that gender role piece that I think really screws everything up.
Frank: Is there a value misalignment just simply in women believing that the best or the thing to do or the value is in working?
Aisha: I don’t think that that is a value misalignment. We talk about this a lot as feminism 2.0, if you will. And I think that it’s very, very important for women to want to lean fully, a 100 percent, into whatever it is for them that’s going to fulfill them. And for some women that might be a stay-at-home mom and their ambition might be to raise really great productive children. And that’s okay if she wants to do that for 20 years and then have a new passion and do something outside the home.
But for other women whose careers are really their focus, that’s great. I think that what we talk about with alignment is when you’re choosing a partner, you need to choose a partner, whose values complete yours. And that’s what getting back to that holistic kind of piece of it. Not the 50/50, but the holistic. Not an eye for an eye.
And this is what Sheryl Sandberg said in her book, “Every single major female’s executive, CEO–” and there have only been like 20 something of them, of Fortune 500 companies– every single one of them is marriage, except for one who didn’t get married and one is divorced.
Every single one is married and they all say that the reason why they were able to be so successful is, because they chose partners and their partner chose them whose values align with theirs. And so their partners may have wanted to be the person who managed the household or were comfortable managing the household in a way that gave her the latitude to be successful outside the home. That’s to me what’s really critical is in choosing partners that share your values. That you guys can work together around, be it 60/40, 80/20, whatever that looks like for you.
Danielle: But something that makes both people happy and I think that really, therein lies the issue.
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You’re listening to Frank Relationships and we’re talking with married political dynamos, Aisha and Danielle Moodie-Mills. Please tell our listening audience what you guys are up to and how to find you and your up-tos.
Danielle: I love that. How to find you’re up-tos. So, how to find our up-tos; e are co-hosts of Politini on Blis.Fm which serves your politics and pulp culture up with a twist. You can find us every Thursday from 8:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M. EST, talking about all things related to Hollywood and Hollywood.
Aisha: We also run a blog called Three LOL, which is also our Twitter handle. And that’s our acronym for living, loving and laboring out loud, which is what we do together.
Frank: Alright. How to Gracefully Exit a Relationship is the name of a book that I have written.
Danielle: Oh, okay.
Frank: One of the things that I believe is in every relationship we should have a conversation that demonstrates that we might break up. Let’s not act as though it can’t happen to us, because we’re whatever. It is possible and let’s chat about it. Have you guys had that conversation?
Frank: Can you break up?
Aisha: I guess you could. You can do anything, right?
Frank: No, do you all believe it’s possible that you all one day might break up?
Aisha: I don’t foresee that.
Aisha: Because I mean you spent the last 40 minutes with us. Can you have imagined a more perfect couple?
Danielle: Like match for either one of us? No.
Aisha: That’s what her mother said to me. When I went and had that talk with her, when I was going to propose and she looked at me and she said, “You know, when my daughter came out to me and told me that she was a lesbian, I cried and I didn’t know what her life was going to be like and I was so upset and so sad, because I was afraid for her.” And she’s like, “Since you’ve came into our lives, I could not have imagined a more perfect partner for her, man, woman or otherwise.” And so, it’s interesting the question of, “Can we break up?” I mean I don’t know, we could get struck by lightning, but I can’t imagine a more perfect partner, even when we’re fighting.
Aisha: Let’s not pretend like that we don’t fight and crazy, but like even then–
Aisha: Yeah, we still end up finding our sync.
Frank: Tyler Perry.
Aisha: Oh, Lord.
Danielle: Oh, Lord.
Frank: Alright, there we go, moving on. Okay, what you got to say? I don’t even know who to ask this questions.
Danielle: No, go to the questions please.
Frank: What do you have to say about Tyler Perry, Danielle? What do you think of his movies, his entrepreneurial acumen, all that good stuff?
Danielle: Okay, let me start with the positive first. I respect Tyler Perry’s hustle. I think that he is an extraordinary businessman. Obviously, he wouldn’t be a billionaire or in and around that financial–
Danielle: Sphere if he was not a good businessman. What I don’t respect is his characterization of black women in all of his movies and the characterization of–
Frank: Being what?
Danielle: Okay, I saw “Temptation,” his latest film and I use the word film lightly, which, once again, shows this young ambitious woman who wants to go out on her own and do her own business and she wants her husband to support her in that. And Tyler Perry’s character’s like, “No, no, no. You need to be happy where you are. You need to work for 20 or 30 years and just be quiet and be respectful.” And he has a way in, all of his movies of punishing black women, whether–
Aisha: That’s it.
Danielle: It’s through interactions in a domestically violent relationship or whether he’s using which have many said is just abysmal–is using HIV and Aids as a punishment for women in his movies. It is very problematic to me.
Aisha: Tyler Perry reinforces every unfortunate stereotype about the black community in a really troubling way. He also has really serious deep-seeded class issues and sexuality issues that really permeate like in his films.
Danielle: Talk about the class issues.
Aisha: So, he really has some class issues that I think are destructive for the black community. In every single one of his films, it’s the people who are most successful professionally, financially–
Danielle: The men. It’s always the men.
Aisha: Both. It’s both. It’s the men and the women that he seeks to bring down and like teach them a lesson and make them go pray about it. So either the very successful black man is a batterer. Like the man who’s the wealthy lawyer is beating his wife. He can’t just be a good man.
Danielle: Or in his latest incarnation the successful black man is a HIV predator–
Danielle: As he characterizes him in this movie.
Aisha: Right. He’s the devil. And then it’s always the guy who is like the guy who just got out of jail or the working class dude who is the one who is supposed to be so like–
Danielle: Saving. That’s it.
Aisha: Saving, right. And I’m not suggesting that there isn’t truth in that somewhere.
Frank: Or possible.
Aisha: Right. Sure there are successful people–
Aisha: Who are complete jerks and sure there are low wage working class people who are wonderful kind people. But what he does is he exploits this idea and it’s funny, because he is someone who’s a billionaire–he’s got like a lot of issues–but he takes women who are successful and he’s like trying to put them in their place and make them meek. He’s taking men who are successful and–
Danielle: Knocking them down
Aisha: Knocking them down a peg or two. And what he’s doing is he’s taking the people on the ground and trying to move them up. And I think that he can do that. He can honor working class people, tell their stories, like in Daddy’s Little Girls, really show the wonderful side of them.
Danielle: Without making–
Aisha: Without trashing people.
Danielle: White collar folks who have financial means and who may be more professionally ambitious, turning them into devils.
Danielle: Like he can do that and tell those stories.
Aisha: Because what he’s doing is he’s reinforcing in the black community this idea. And this is what the Obama’s say that being successful and being educated, being thoughtful is acting white. And he’s reinforcing that by saying that “Anybody who went to college and got a degree and is doing something with themselves ain’t really black.” And we don’t have time for this part of it, but the thing that really, really pisses us off about Tyler Perry is that his only resolution to anything is to be steeped in a very–
Danielle: *(inaudible) 39:36
Aisha: Narrow homophobic Christian culture. And it’s interesting, because he has all his own issues with sexuality. And so to suggest that the black church in a very narrow frame– because I don’t think that he necessarily characterizes the black church in it’s in like the broad spectrum of the black church.
Danielle: But the black church he characterizes becomes this very rigid, narrow, judgmental space that’s clearly homophobic and I think that that does the community a disservice too.
Frank: Any thoughts on Madea?
Danielle: Oh, Lord. No.
Danielle: I literally have is zero thoughts about Madea.
Frank: You mentioned the Obamas and let’s chat a little bit about black love; Obamas, Jay Z and Beyonce.
Danielle: Yes, two of our favorite pairs.
Aisha: Who we talk about on Politini all the time. They probably think we’re stalkers.
Frank: What are you bringing to the table in terms of what you believe to be the case about them? I don’t know them, never met them.
Danielle: Right. Neither have we. Not yet.
Frank: So, what is it you believe they represent or who do you believe them to be? All of that good stuff.
Danielle: For us, both, I think, represent tremendous relationship role models from what the public can glean from interviews, from pictures.
I was actually looking through Beyonce’s Tumbler yesterday, because I do that, because she’s amazing. But the pictures of her and Jay Z are just so loving. Like you just look at them and you’re just like, “They just seem like high school love.” Like that kind of just bubbly, passionate, “I just want to be around him. I want to wear his T–shirt like–”
Aisha: I want to wear his letter jacket.
Danielle: “I want to hold my girl’s hand and just stroll down the street.” There’s something that is just so–
Aisha: Which black men don’t do enough of.
Danielle: Right. That’s very pure about what we have been able to get a little glimpse to.
Aisha: There’s also the partnership hustle piece of it too I think that we really admire.
Danielle: The business hustle is-
Aisha: That fact that they are a–
Aisha: Couple and who knows what goes on in their personal life.
Aisha: But the fact that they have such a strong working business professional relationship is something that Danielle and I have. Just kind of the living, loving and laboring out loud aspect of it and we very much see that in them both as a couple.
Frank: But they had that same drive when they were single.
Danielle: They did–
Danielle: But without sounding corny, there was something very special that happened to the two of them when they got together.
Aisha: It’s like we said–
Danielle: One of our friend’s had said this and Aisha, I’m going to cut her off–
Aisha: Yeah, because you’re going to take my line.
Danielle: One of our friend’s had said this about us, which we use all the time. He had posted on our Facebook page. We were celebrating an anniversary and he goes, “Separately the two of you are stars, together you’re a constellation.” And that’s how we feel about Jay Z and Beyonce, the Obamas, is that separately, obviously they can all stand on their own–
Danielle: Stand tall and are exemplary people that strive for excellence daily. But together they create this force that is really–
Aisha: Just radiate, this force.
Danielle: Is radiant.
Frank: Isn’t that just simply possibly good marketing?
Danielle: Sure, of course.
Aisha: Of course. Let’s be clear. We’re on a radio show, hypothesizing how people we never met lives, so obviously this could all be good marketing. But let me tell you what. If that is the PR energy that’s happening, then I think that it’s excellent and I think that what is profound about it is that’s the type of model and imagery and essence that we black people need to be inspired by. And so, they could have had a different PR game. They could have had–
Danielle: “The Real Housewives.” “Basketball Wives” type of–
Aisha: Right. They could be Chris Brown and Rihanna PR game, if you will. And the fact that that is what they exude despite what their actuality may be is what is even more, I think, inspiring for us.
Frank: If you know you’re being marketed to, why drink the Kool-Aid?
Aisha: One, I don’t think that there’s the knowing of being marketed too. I’ll say that, but two–
Frank: Wait, wait, wait. We’re talking about two of the most successful African Americans in entertainment. If there’s anything we know about them–the three of us sitting here– we know they’re smart, we know they study their audience and their crowd. Beyonce makes the same songs on every album. Do we agree with that?
Frank: There’s a–
Aisha: You’re not going to get us to talk about bad about Jay Z and Beyonce.
Frank: We’re not talking about this. This isn’t bad.
Frank: I appreciate the hell out of them and I’m a huge Jay Z fan. In fact, he tells us in his music. He says, “I dumb down for my audience and double my dollars.”
Aisha: Let’s actually take your analogy and make it about the Bible, because I think that the point you’re making is that if you know that someone is giving you what they want you to have, should you accept it? And I think that the answer is that if you find inspiration in something that is positive then, yeah that’s your inspiration.
There has never been a more, if you will, kind of highly marketed piece of propaganda than Christianity and the Bible. And I say this to someone who grew up as a Christian and who appreciates the black church tradition. But in terms of it being propagandized, that doesn’t, one, distract from the fact that there’s some really valuable–
Aisha: Inspirational lessons that come from it, because there’s propaganda around it. But two, the other lesson that we glean from that is you take the pieces of the propaganda that inspire you and you leave the rest. And so, you have the fire and the brimstone piece of it, you have the hateful rhetoric, you have the manipulating kind of aspects of religion in general that you can leave. But that doesn’t distract from the fact that there are some inspiring stories and pieces of it.
I take the same thing with the Obamas or with the Jay Z and Beyonce and I applaud the fact that they’re so intentional–to your point about being intentional–they are so intentional about marketing their brand as one that does produce positive energy that, that in it of itself is admirable.
And I’m sure that they fight like everybody else, that they’re disconnected on some things. They’re human beings, but the fact that they want their persona to inspire and they want that to be the positive energy in the world that we don’t get from other places, I think that that is admirable.
Danielle: And you know I’ll add on to that, because there was a very remarkable piece. People have been dogging Beyonce recently because she’s not allowing press into her concert., So, the press wanted to boycott Beyonce and not show what she is giving them, because she has a remarkable photographer that is taking pictures and videographer.
And she is controlling her own image instead of being manipulated by the business. And this is something that both Jay Z and Beyonce have been able to do, is control their own image instead of other people making them.
Aisha: Profiting off of that.
Danielle: And profiting off of it how they twist and contort who they are and how their music is perceived. They’re like, “No, no, no. We have aspired beyond that. I don’t have to play that game. I give you what I want to give you and people are going to come to me regardless.” And I respect that in the work that they do and how they’ve been able to create these super-sized brands of themselves. And a lot of people can learn from that instead of–
Aisha: Relatively free of controversy.
Danielle: Right. Instead of being manipulated. Like look at “The Basketball Wives, the hip hop wives and all of these things. There are people that decided to make caricatures of them and their wives–
Aisha: Tyler Perry, we’re looking at you.
Danielle: And their relationships so that they can make a profit and these people are just pawns in the bigger media game, the bigger network wars, where Beyonce and Jay Z who are in entertainment, have risen well above that. And they get scrutinized for it, because, “Oh, they just want you to see what they want to see.” And it’s just like, “You just want us to see what you want us to see.” So, let’s applaud people for taking control over their business and who they are as opposed to being manipulated.
Aisha: Danielle just hit something on the head that kind of comes back to relationships and the things that we hold true for us and we try to share with other people, is that relationships fail when you turn them into caricatures of relationships; when you allow yourself to be a caricature of yourself as opposed to your authentic self–
Aisha: And you’re not really bringing kind of the fullness of who you are. You’re creating some form of that and bringing that. That’s when you’re building with–
Danielle: You’re building with cards instead of concrete.
Danielle: And that’s really the foundation of a relationship is, are you being your true self? Are you offering your true self? And so, what we can see from these sincere models that we need of black love–
Frank: Do we need it?
Danielle: And black relationships. Absolutely.
Aisha: We had a show on Politini that *(inaudible) 49:26 can go back and pull our podcast. And it was the most successful show so far that we’ve done and we’ve had 20 episodes on black love.
We had a couple that are friends of ours, a man and a woman, husband and wife couple. They have two little beautiful little daughters. And we had this whole conversation about black love and about the Obamas essentially and Jay Z as representatives of that on a global stage really for American black love. And the reality is that the reason why, say a Tyler Perry is still so popular is because black people crave images and models of relationships of black people.
Now that doesn’t always mean that the ones we get are positive. We’re going to get the Huxtables again. I mean Will Smith and Jada tried with their television show. There are people who have tried.
But yes, absolutely we want to see ourselves reflected back and we want to feel good about that. And that’s why every time you see Michelle and Barack people smile and their hearts are warmed, because you want to see that, you want to be inspired by that and we need more images of it.
Danielle: Because you know in–
Frank: I don’t know if I want that.
Danielle: Oh, really?
Danielle: But why?
Frank: I want to know what’s going on in your real life before–
Aisha: That’s because you’re Frank Love and you’re just interesting.
Frank: Well, that is very much why. When you speak about the Huxtables, I find what was going on in Bill Cosby’s real life a lot more interesting than I find the Huxtables.
Aisha: You mean that illegitimate child that disappeared?
Frank: That was real. That’s what I see as being the everyday man/woman’s experience and in fact I reject the notion that there’s an ideal of man and woman or a monogamous relationship that is absolutely ideal. I reject that concept and I see the concept of what is ideal as being what is ideal for you. And when we’re marketed to like the Obamas or the epitome of black love or the Jay Z and the Beyonces are the epitomes of black love, we lose sight of the fact that you get to create your own ideal of what black love is. Or anybody, white love, any love. You get to pick your own.
So I find the real Cosby lifestyle or and what was going on in his life, a lot more interesting than the Huxtables.
Danielle: You bring up a good point, because it’s also the same issue when you want to model your life after romantic comedies, let’s say.
Frank: Which I don’t.
Danielle: Right. But a lot of people young people, they see these romantic movies and because they’re not swept off of their feet in that kind of elaborate way or they don’t have that kind of level of passion, then they feel like they haven’t gotten the real thing.
So I understand and identify with pieces of what you’re saying, which is that you need to be able to develop your own authentic ideal, your own real relationship, because what we don’t recognize is that their relationships, Beyonce, Jay Z and the Obamas–those kind of spotlight relationships take incredible work.
We know, because we see them fail all the time. We see them fail in the tabloids. We see political couples break up, because of illegitimate children, affairs; this that and the other thing. You see celebrities married for about five minutes or 10 years or what have you and everything.
Aisha: I just want to make one last quick point to what you’re saying, is that to your point about “Do we need these?” I think we do need them. I think that the range is important, sure, which is what your point is, because we need two things.
As black people we like affirmation. “Affirm me in my f’d up situation.” This is why we go to church, so that people affirm us in our down-trotting, whoa-is-us way and we need affirmation. But we also need inspiration and aspiration and I think that there’s room for both.
So, yes to your point, we need to hear about what really went down behind the scenes with Jessie Jackson and Bill Cosby’s illegitimate children that nobody will talk about, but I think that the Huxtables and the Obamas and others give us the hope and the aspiration to look forward and the two side by side.
Frank: To what?
Aisha: To the fact that we can have something.
Danielle: That we can have a partnership.
Aisha: That we can create something.
Frank: But we have something.
Danielle: I think he can create a family.
Frank: We have something now, whether we are looking forward. So my question is, what is it that we’re looking forward to? And it’s a loaded question, because I think you’re saying, looking forward to–
Aisha: I think functional partnerships. I don’t think that anyone is suggesting-that anyone should be modeling specifically how they do and what they do, but the idea of–
Frank: We don’t?
Aisha: A functional–not people I talk to–but the idea of it being a functional partnership, oh it’s beautiful. They have a functional family and partnership that seems healthy.
Frank: So, let’s pick those words apart. Functional–that has a picture that you attach to it. Most people attach to it. Family has a picture that most people attach to it. Typically, it’s–
Aisha: Smiles. Right?
Frank: Man, woman, picket fence–
Frank: Dog, two and a half kids. That’s the photograph that we have to it. So, when you say something as seemingly benign as functional family, there’s so much that goes with it. When in truth–I think we’re going to have fun with this one–when we look at Shawty Lo–
Aisha: Oh, God.
Frank: Yes. Yes let’s do it.
Danielle: Oh, God.
Frank: When we look at Shawty Lo and “All My Babies’ Mamas” that is a functional family relationship. Whether it is the typical–
Frank: Yes, traditional or not and I want those women that are in that scenario and I want Shawty Lo to–
Aisha: I want those women to want for themselves.
Frank: I want them to want what they want and as far as I’m concerned they have what they want–
Aisha: They don’t know what they want.
Frank: And I’m okay with that.
Aisha: I think about this in terms of child rearing and that’s great and fine to say, because it feels empowering to tell people, let me give you a whole rope so you can go hang yourself, but I think that I would never say that, “Oh, because my child doesn’t’ want to bathe for two weeks,” that like “Oh, that’s what they want, so they’re happy.” That doesn’t me that it’s what is actually healthy.
And so, I think that there’s a whole other kind of under load of baited conversation with that too, is like why? Get to the core–and this happens on college campuses where you’ve got nine girls dating one dude and everyone’s happy about this and understands–
Danielle: Or in Utah.
Aisha: But everyone’s clear about it. It’s not an undercover thing.
Danielle: There are religions that are based around this kind of set up.
Aisha: And so the question becomes not, “Are these girls happy right now?” It’s, “What is the situation and the structural conditions that brought them to the point where now we’re saying man sharing is an acceptable social ideal?”
Frank: Well, the thing is, you can ask the same question about two lesbians in a marriage. You can ask the same thing of two heterosexuals in a marriage, one-on-one monogamous marriage. They have the same issues and questions attached to them. It’s just because we see a normal picture, we don’t ask those questions as it pertains to those relationships.
Danielle: Relationship is not a one-size-fits-all, right?
Frank: Correct. I agree.
Danielle: I think that relationships are not a one-size-fits-all model. Going back to our earlier point in our earlier conversation about healthy, that we got into is that if everyone is valued and respected for who they are and what they bring to the dynamic, then that to me is healthy and that is functional. If there–
Aisha: But if people are being exploited–
Danielle: And if people are being exploited and are used or–and this is all of our perception, because I know what you’re saying. Because there was the actual real show of “Big Love,” the HBO show, but there was actually the real show with the man–
Frank: Yeah, yeah.
Danielle: That had the–
Frank: The sister wives.
Danielle: The sister wives and what have you. And I guess maybe before it was canceled that was going to be the Shawty Lo type of thing, except it was the babies mamas. Because the other show–the Mormon show wasn’t canceled. It’s still on the air.
But this dynamic of, “Oh, we can have this kind of compound,” essentially “That we live on and we all share and care about each other’s children and do this,” and that to me is just personally is just so completely outside of the scope of what I think–I believe in monogamy and I don’t believe that there is enough love to go around and for me, that’s the point. I don’t believe that there’s enough love to share between 19 different wives–
Aisha: It’s hard enough loving you.
Danielle: And a–
Aisha: That takes energy.
Danielle: And a hundred kids and all of these different things. And is everybody valued in that situation and in that dynamic, but I do believe that we all need models for what works. And there could be people that use those sister wives type of shows as models for what works in their dynamic.
Frank: I agree.
Danielle: There are people that use the Obamas and Jay Z and Beyonce for their models and people use Bill and Hillary Clinton, because she stood by her man and many people do that–
Aisha: His wife.
Danielle: Many women do that: former Congressman Anthony Weiner and his wife in a scandal, standing by her man. That’s also a model.
Frank: But you all may be able to bring a name out of it, because I don’t remember, but of the former New Jersey–I believe it was the former Governor of New Jersey who was blind. Do you remember him?
Danielle: No, you’re thinking of New York.
Aisha: You talking about David Patterson.
Danielle: David Patterson.
Frank: And his wife had a relationship with someone else and he stood by her. So, let’s maybe just–
Aisha: I remember that.
Danielle: Right. Okay, yeah. You’re right.
Frank: It’s not just women standing by men.
Danielle: It’s not just women standing by men. But to your point, those are all models for someone.
Danielle: Right? And how to move past struggles–
Aisha: How to navigate through difficult situations.
Danielle: Navigate. Yeah.
Aisha: But that goes back to my point about we need affirmation. Like some of those models provide affirmation for us. But then I think it’s important to also have aspiration and that gets into the debate about how we talk in our community.
We need both. We need hope and we need motivation to do better, that there’s something out there–something meaning open-ended, that we can achieve that’s bigger than ourselves that we don’t see yet. Tat there’s something in front of us. And then also, yes where we are now, we need to affirm that too. I think those are important.
Frank: The beauty to what you said is, when we’re talking about the various “scandals” is–and I’m talking about what we were just talking about a minute ago–is they were considered scandalous at the time, yet they are models for certain people. And the beauty is they were real and that’s what I’m getting at. In fact–
Aisha: You’re saying we should be inspired by scandal?
Frank: Why not? No, I’m saying why not be inspired by reality and it works. Whether we want to see it or not, they are role models all over the place. Sometimes they are drug dealers and those are not “what is considered the ideal role model,” but they are role models for some people.
If you want to look at the scandals that we were just discussing, they are not ideal in the–
Frank: Traditional sense. Exactly. But they’re role models. So, there’s good to be taken and extracted from–
Danielle: From everywhere.
Aisha: So, “good” is a qualified word.
Frank: Exactly. You’re very right.
Aisha: I would say that there are lessons.
Aisha: There are lessons, absolutely. And this is something that Danielle and I always say, “If you’re not constantly learning then you might as well die.” One of the things about our relationship too, I think that is healthy for us in that, is why we thrive and why we’re so successful is that everything is about learning.
Frank: And all the humility.
Aisha: And need to know more tomorrow than we knew today.
Frank: You missed my joke.
Aisha: I heard you.
Frank: I said humility. I was joking. Come on. Yeah, thank you Danielle.
Danielle: I got it.
Frank: One more thing. We were talking about Tumblers a few minutes ago; checking out Beyonce’s Tumbler page–
Frank: Do you really think they publish anything they don’t want you to see?
Aisha: No, but that’s the–
Frank: It’s marketing. It’s about that billion dollars.
Danielle: That’s the brilliance of owning your image.
Aisha: I tend to get really skeptical about the hate on famous people day, because the lesson from this that we should be teaching people is that everybody needs to be managing their brand.
I don’t care if you are sweeping the floors at the school or if you’re the 13 year old on Facebook, one of the key important things that we don’t teach young people and we don’t own as adults is that your brand is all you have as you move through the world. And so, everything that I post, for example, and who am I? I’m like nobody, Aisha in D.C., but everything that we post, the things that we say in a public forum, the image the way that we move through the world is our brand and–
Frank: I love your comment.
Aisha: You’re the only one that can own that.
Danielle: Because to add on to that, people are Googling you all the time. When you go into a job interview, young person and you think that your spring break pictures and your weekend is not coming up when your prospective boss goes to see who you are and what you’re about–
Aisha: Or all those curse words you were using on Twitter.
Danielle: Or all of the curse words that you have on Twitter and all of those things, that’s your brand. That is your brand management and you’re not going to be 18 and 19 forever, but what you say and what you post has infinite life.
Frank: But here’s where it gets interesting, you need to manage your brand and I use the word “need” loosely. You need to manage your brand only when someone is managing their brand. In other words, you only need an attorney when somebody has an attorney and–
Aisha: I completely disagree.
Frank: So, if nobody’s managing their brand you don’t need to manage your brand.
Aisha: That’s a hypothetical–
Frank: Yes it is.
Danielle: But that doesn’t–
Frank: It’s absolutely a hypothetical. The Kennedy prepared for his debate with Nixon. He was much more polished and before that, no one needed to set the stage the way it was set. After that, after the stage is set, where you clearly, in order to win your debate, you need to prepare, you need to learn this, this and this. After the stage has been set, yeah you have to play the game. But before the stage has been set, you don’t have to play that game.
Aisha: But the stage is already set and we’re live in an area pf social media where the only thing that you can control is how you’re presented. You can’t control how you’re perceived. You can control how you’re presented.
Frank: You can control how you’re perceived–
Aisha: No, you can’t.
Frank: If you know how people are processing.
Aisha: But you don’t. Everybody’s processes change from moment to moment, because it’s steeped in their experience. So I could leave this place right now, walk down the street and see something that will completely change my perception of this conversation. So, because perception is really personal and its fluid, you can only control how you present, because reception is something that’s going to constantly change.
Danielle: But going back to your table setting, what you’re eluding to about the debates, here’s the thing, we live in a society now where people are fired for what they say on Twitter. That has nothing to do–
Danielle: With their job or their perception of working, but they are fired for it.
Danielle: There are people that post a picture and they think that the picture is fine. Somebody just recently; they were out at a national monument and they were given the finger and making funny faces and it was a joke, right. The picture was posted, her bosses saw it and they were fired.
And it’s not just, “I get a lawyer when you have a lawyer,” or “I manage when you manage.” What we have to understand in this very dynamic world that we’re living in right now where things change in the blink of an eye and lives can be ended in a 140 characters–
Frank: As we conceive them.
Danielle: Meaning professional lives–as we conceive–that you need to manage yourself and your brand and think beyond just right in that moment.
Frank: Unless you’re the trail blazer that says, “I’m going to do all I can and to dismiss the stigma and the issue of–” Let’s say, now corporations have the code of conduct clauses and things like that for their officers, for the people who work there. That matters when everyone signs them and when you know someone’s going to be pushing up, “I fire you.” Someone else will want your job. That’s when you can really reinforce code of conduct. But you can’t enforce them when everybody says, “Look I’m not signing that.” Or you can–
Danielle: You’re never going to have a consensus like that.
Frank: Or you can’t enforce them when people say, “I’ll sign it, but everybody’s doing this,” or–
Danielle: Again, we operate in a place of reality. So, we’re political people. So, yes from an activist organizing anarchist or rebel mind, I would say, “Sure hypothetically that sounds great.” But we live in a reality, where people need to be gainfully employed and they need to be gainfully employed by employers who respect them, who treat them fairly, who have safe and accommodating work places, etc.
So, those are the things we work on and we fight for in terms of the work that we do and our political affiliation, to make sure that nobody can be fired from their job, for example, because they’re gay. Which right now in 26 states, you can be fired. I could go to work in 26 states and just get fired, because someone finds out that I’m married to a woman.
Things like that are injustices that we work on. The idea that there’s a young person who is upset about needing to show up with business casual clothes and wants to wear flip flops to work and thinks that that’s something that they own is to me a lesson to be taught about character and about presenting in the world.
I think there is something that is really important about understanding your character as it’s linked to your brand and how your brand should be a reflection of your character. And so, to your point–you used the word “trail blazer.” Danielle and I are huge trail blazers. We have completely defied damn near every stereotype that you might want to appropriate to us, just reading on paper, like, “Oh, these are these black girls who happened to be lesbians and they got married.”
So, we defy that all the time, but we do that in a very intentional way that our brand defies stereotypes, not by creating caricatures of ourselves, but by pushing against the grain. Like you’re saying in some way of what’s expected, but we do it in a way that’s going to be transformative and you can only transform when you’re actually transforming something. An institution and idea or what have you.
Danielle: And not just bucking for buck’s sake and I think that is–kind of going back to the idea of, “Well, you only manage things when they need to be managed or when somebody else is managing something,” is the reality. You should constantly be managing yourself.
Aisha: You should be assertive your life, not reactive.
Danielle: Right, and not reactive. Because the idea then is that, “I just wait around for things to happen and if things don’t happen then I don’t propel myself for it.”
Aisha: Doesn’t that sound like a failed relationship? Oh, I just kind of sit around on my relationship and wait for things to happen and–
Aisha: If nothing happens then–
Danielle: And nothing happens then–
Aisha: But what are you doing to create the conditions for you to be successful?
Danielle: Yeah, like you had said, “I go home to somebody that I don’t particularly want to spend time with, but I got to–”
Aisha: “But I got to feed the people.”
Danielle: “Feed them.” But it’s my responsibility to bring home the money and because that’s the kind of dynamic that I’ve created.
It’s just like life is really just too short to be miserable, which is usually why you probably ended that relationship. Life is just too short to be miserable and to just kind of lay back and allow your life to unfold instead of unfolding your life in a way that works for you and those that you value around you.
Aisha: And that’s really what branding to us is. It’s about you taking the control to create the–
Danielle: The life you want.
Frank: You’re listening to Frank Relationships and we’ve been talking with married political dynamos, Aisha and Danielle Moodie-ills. One more time, please tell our listening audience what you guys are up to and how to find you and your up-tos.
Danielle: We could not have been more happy to have been on your show, Frank.
Aisha: Love, Frank Love.
Danielle: And if you want to know more about what Aisha and I are up to, you can check out our show Politini, which serves your politics and pop culture up with a twist on blis.fm. Thursday nights from 8:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M.
You can also catch up with our show on iTunes and subscribe so you never miss a beat. And you can follow our musings on, living, loving and laboring out loud at threelol.com.
Aisha: And you can follow us on Twitter @threelol as well.
Frank: Along today’s journey, we’ve discussed the Obamas, untraditional and engagements and personal branding.
Aisha: How’s that for a relationship show?
Frank: I hope you’ve had as much fun as I’ve had swapping opinions with Aisha and Danielle Moodie-Mills. I’m certainly grateful for the opportunity and the information.
As always it’s my wish for you to walk away from this conversation with a heaping helping of useful information that’ll help you create a relationship that’s as loving and accepting as possible. Let us know what you thought of today’s show at facebook/relationshipflove, on Ywitter @mrfranklove or at franklove.com. On behalf of my producer, Phileta Legette, keep rising. This is Frank Love.
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