Behind every man, there is a great woman, or so the saying goes. I've been thinking a lot about that saying in the past few days. While the statement is meant to evoke empowerment and remind us of the women who stood on the sidelines throughout centuries, it also evokes something much darker; the idea that women puppet from the shadows and manipulate from the outside. (Even if it was because they had no other choice)
But I digress. I have been thinking about the saying a lot in the wake of Mac Miller's tragic death and the immediate smear campaign launched against his ex-girlfriend, Ariana Grande.
While I understand people are in pain and shock from the death and are attempting to seek out both understanding and blame for what seems like a senseless loss, these horrific attacks that have forced Grande to turn off her social media comments, reveal much about gender politics and it is not pretty.
While great women certainly have stood alongside great men for centuries and most certainly will continue to do so, there is a difference between lending a guiding hand and the sexist implication that these attacks on Ariana Grande reveal about American culture.
The logic is that Ariana should have stayed in the toxic relationship for the benefit of the man and that her leaving him was what lead to his death.
No woman (or romantic partner of any gender identity in any relationship) should be required to stay in a toxic relationship just to please the other partner, or to save them.
This has an especially vile twist when it comes to a cis-heterosexual relationship. Cis women are expected to be caretakers no matter the situation even if it puts her own mental and physical health at risk. This does not apply to only abuse but includes addiction the disease that Miller was suffering from.
No one is required to stay with anyone, platonic, romantic or familial to save them. That is not your responsibility in a romantic relationship. Standing by your partner's side and guiding them is different than carrying a burden that a psychologist should be carrying and chances are, you aren't a therapist.
When it comes down to it, the individual is ultimately responsible for their health, safety, and choices, not you. Saving people is not your job and in most cases, sets the "caretaker" partner back and negatively affects their health. No one has to stay in a relationship to be the savior.
Furthermore, the attacks on Ariana Grande are a reminder of pervasive sexism.
Women are either master manipulators or idiotic harlots, or the caretaker and are meant to save a man when he has the capability of making his own choices.
Ariana Grande leaving Mac Miller did not kill him, his mental illness and choices did. Women are not here to wither away under their partner's toxicity and save them from their demons. Ariana and many other women end up trapped in these situations because of this kind of thinking.
Women are human, the same as their partner and are more than entitled to see out their own happiness and safety, especially if it means leaving a damaging relationship.