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Predator-prey relationships: Detangling the “entanglement” saga

I am not sure whether August knew that the “entanglement” saga will become a meme that will usurp his “state of emerge and see”. I have seen hardly any coverage about the album or the accompanying 5 part documentary. It’s obvious that he threw what’s left of his heart and soul into his recent project aptly titled State Of Emergency. I have listened a few times and its actually a great body of work. My favourites are Lessons, Sincerely, and Work To Do which have been on repeat.

I have also watched that Red Table Talk and I cringed the whole way through it. What struck me was the “how” in what was said and the bits that were left off the table and remained unsaid. Even Will knew that excusing the situationship as an “entanglement” was callous as he laughed out loud. He tried to get some accountability from Jada by interjecting and saying; “A relationship.”

Even Will knew that excusing the situationship as an “entanglement” was callous as he laughed out loud.

So, what if it was Will Smith who had engaged in an “entanglement” with a friend or acquaintance of Willow, albeit during a separation from Jada? The conversation would be a lot deeper than jokes and memes. I wonder if Willow would be as complimentary as she has been towards her mother. Would she have afforded her father grace in the same way? We will never know.

What’s really confusing to me is the fact that no one, not even the people who will usually comment on these matters, have addressed the predatory nature of it all. I guess this feeds into the myth that it is impossible for women to prey on men. Even though she appears to admit to tapping into that man’s fountain of youth, devouring his heart and soul and leaving him for dead in the metaphorical sense, – while she was in a state of co-dependency, – in pursuit of happiness, – away from her husband. Yet she is unapologetic about it and people think this is fodder for entertainment and some are giving her props? So many have commended her for speaking out candidly and addressing it, while vowing to cancel August for telling it in the first place.

Why can’t he be unapologetic about owning and telling his story? Because she is the more powerful figure she should have more control over and ownership of the time they shared together? The fact that people were waiting for her to say something in order to believe what we already knew goes against everything that we preach about believing victims, not to say that I think he is one. I am left wondering what people thought when they saw the selfies of them looking like a couple with flower filters and all. Or when they saw them hand in hand on the red carpet without her children. What did they really think was going on? That she was babysitting?

Instead of trying so hard to own the story and control the narrative, I really wish Jada owned the fact that engaging in a co-dependent sexual relationship, with a man young enough to be her son, when she knew he was vulnerable and had issues that he was dealing with, was perverse. He went to her in search of a maternal figure and somehow ended up in her bed. For her to then dismiss it all as an “entanglement”? Are we really okay with this? August may not have been a victim in the real sense of the word. He may not have been groomed or coerced or manipulated even though we can argue that Jada, just by nature of who she is, and the position of power she holds over him, did do all of those things.

The hypocrisy and these inconsistencies in the way we respond to such incidents as a society, when genders are swapped is problematic for me and very concerning. As far fetched as this may seem, this mindset that applauds Jada and makes a mockery of August for wearing his heart on his sleeve, is the same mindset that allows for worse crimes to be committed. It is this mindset that enables young boys to think that they are fair game. It is this mindset that means men like R. Kelly are forced to accept their abuse as a badge of honour and as we have seen in his case, some do go on to continue the cycle of abuse. It is this same mindset that meant Boosie Badazz thought allowing his underage son to be molested by a prostitute was a worthy birthday gift. Perhaps in a desperate attempt to ensure he stays straight and narrow-minded but I digress.

We can’t complain about “toxic masculinity” and not call out the toxic behaviours of women when they appear. We cannot fight the patriarchy if we continue to call men weak for being vulnerable and wearing their hearts on their sleeves. We should not be castigating August and calling him all kinds of “bitches” because he chose to tell his side of the story. A story that has been confirmed and not denied. I am tired of the man up, don’t be such a girl or a pussy, men don’t cry rhetoric. Men have emotions and feelings too and August was clearly hurt.

Jada admitted he was sick and vulnerable. What she didn’t admit to was preying on his circumstances. Instead she claims that she too was broken and co-dependent at the time and just wanted to feel good. Yes at 23, August was no child. But Jada was 44; old enough to be his mother and August has been very open about his relationship with his own mother and how that has affected him. So let’s not ignore the power dynamics at play here because it is always about the power dynamics when it comes to predator-prey relationships.

Jada seemingly got what she needed from this “entanglement” and is now committed to her “bad marriage for life”. For what it’s worth I hope and pray that August finds the healing and loving he is still searching for. One can only hope that at the very least, telling his story provided him with some much needed catharsis as I doubt very much that it helped his album sales!

My favourites are Lessons, Sincerely, and Work To Do which have been on repeat.
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