Are We Biased?

by Mia Fields-Hall

“She didn’t shoot any hoops, win a single game or do anything worth having half of that man’s fortune,” one of my good guy friends exclaimed to me over brunch regarding the much talked about divorce of Kobe and Vanessa Bryant. I shook my head at his ignorance and quickly reminded him that she had in fact done everything and more than most women could handle. Vanessa Bryant married at an early age giving up the freedom of her twenties, faced a great deal of humiliation in her marriage when a rape scandal made headlines across the world, dealt with a reported ten years of infidelity and raises his children. I’d say she’s done more than enough to deserve half of what’d he’s earned in ten years, wouldn’t you?

“How would you feel if we were married, you stepped out on me and the court ruled that you had to give me half of the fortune you’d worked so hard to earn,” my guy friend asked me. I’d never really thought about it like that until I heard about the recent news of comedian Russell Brand and pop star Katy Perry’s marriage ending. Reportedly the couple didn’t have a prenuptial agreement, which means disaster for Perry. The California divorcing law states: California is a community property state. Except as otherwise provided by statute, all property, real or personal, wherever situated, acquired by a married person during the marriage while domiciled in this state is community property.

Perry is obviously the bigger star among the two with Grammy nominations, hit songs and a sold out tour in 2011 alone. She’s made far more money than her estranged husband, which means half of what she’s earned during the marriage will now go to him and possible spousal support. I cringed at the thought of Brand receiving what Perry had worked so hard to earn. He hadn’t written a single song, performed for thousands of people or got nominated for any awards.

Wait a minute; I’m starting to sound like my ignorant guy friend.

Perhaps it’s because rarely do you hear of a woman’s property and fortune being taken during a divorce. In fact it is more than likely us who receives custody of the children, ownership of the house, child support and spousal support. Generally, we seem to get it all.

It occurred to me after my friend’s statement that yes, women can be extremely biased when it comes to discussing who gets what during a divorce. We cheered on Juanita Jordan when she received $168 million dollars in her divorce settlement, stood to our feet when Angela Bassett proudly burned her husband’s car and clothes in Waiting to Exhale and cleaned him out in court. We adore Ivanka Trump and shouted halleluiah when Shelia Johnson received $400 million dollars in her divorce settlement (She earned it, though. She helped  create BET).

However, we get upset when we hear about stories like Perry and cursed when we heard Madonna had to pay her ex-husband Guy Ritchie reportedly $90 million dollars in their divorce settlement. “It’s just not fair,” many of us shouted. But isn’t it?

Why should men work a lifetime to build their empire and give half to us, yet we get mad if we have to do the same? It seems unfair on both ends and it is. Marriage is tough and divorce is even tougher. Be smart before you say I do, it sometimes comes with an unexpected price.

I don’t know about you, but as for me in the great words of Yeezy, “we want pre-nup!”

  • TheBestAnonEver, Part 2

    I don’t know if Brand is getting much; they were only married for a year or so.

    I am not at all biased. If Oprah and Stedman were married and she had to give him half of what she earned during the marriage, I would think it was fair. She has noted many times how much of a support he has been to her. Success is heavily dependent on having emotional support, family support, and just someone else picking up the slack in all other areas of life. Vanessa was put through a lot by the fool she married. She deserves more than half IMO. If he didn’t want to give her half, he had the choice to get a prenup, but chose not to.

  • S.

    I am not apart of this “we”

    I am not mad at the Perry/Brand situation
    I am not mad at the Vanessa/Kobe situation

    I do not believe in pre-nups

  • arlette

    i have been working since i turned 16. i have money in the bank because all i do is save save save. in 10yrs time i hope to be the manager of the company im working in. if some guy comes along, you mean to tell me that he is entitled to half of my earning if we had a divorce? im sorry by but that is bull i dont care if it is the man or woman doing the paying, i think its wrong. what i dont understand is why people dont protect themselves by getting prenups.

  • Vertigo Schtick

    Exactly. And kudos to you hard working woman!

  • Libby

    Call me what u what I don’t think anyone is entitled to HALF of everything I made. Kobe and Vanessa had martial problems, but the argument that she endured xyz and should be paid per pound of pain is ridiculous. There is a lot of room between half and fair settlement multimillion dollar fortune. It was not like Vanessa was living in a card board box while Kobe lived in a mansion. Vanessa lived a very, very privalaged life during the marriage and will continue after. She did not give up her freedom she got married. Now if millionaire and his wife divorced with no infidelity or the public humiliation should she get half? She did not endured what Vanessa did, right?

    First I don’t think Katey as as much dough as people claim and secondly he should not get half of her money either.

  • http://www.facebook.com/naturalisme char

    I say get a prenup if you have anything of value you wish to protect. Even if it means properties, 5k, whatever. If you live in a place where your earnings can go to the wayside protect yourself. It’s all about love yeah, but admit it people, with the amount of cheating, life changes, etc that we are going through nowadays there is NO guarantee that your love will last. So when it’s back to the single life you know what you really wanted to protect is yours once again.

  • http://www.facebook.com/naturalisme char

    and to me it doesn’t matter if its a woman paying or a man paying. Ya’ll might be biased but I’m not.

  • Dwindyes

    Prenups are essential. Anyway, I never agreed with half. Maybe 20-25 seemed more fair regardless of who was doing the paying.

  • LemonNLime

    Not having a pre-nup is NOT an option. People can save it with this ‘if you really love me then blah blah blah” crap. Let’s be real 51% of marriages end in divorce and while you hope your won’t end that way the odds are against you in this culture of our that is about instant gratification rather than putting in work.

    At 26 I have savings, retirement accounts, life insurance policies with interest, inheritance money, investments in commodities, and up until last week student loan debt (thank GOD not any more F%$& YOU SALLIE MAE!!!). Whether loss or gain those financials are MINE and I intend to do what I have to do to protect it as would any sane person. Honestly, I couldn’t be with anyone who didn’t think the same way because to me that shows a lack of foresight and lack of intelligent financial planning. If you have no incentive to want to protect what you have then 1. you probably don’t have anything to begin with or 2. you aren’t responsible enough to protect what you have and I assume that extend to other areas of life not just finacials.

  • Cantarah

    Who is this “we”?

    I didn’t care when Ritchie got 90 million of Madonna’s money and I don’t care if Brand gets half of Perry’s. Nor do I personally know any woman who does – nor have I, until I read this article, seen any woman who does.

    If you choose not to get a pre-nup then what is earned during the time you are married is community property. This ain’t rocket science. Now either get a pre-nup or shut up whining, celebrities and their stans.

  • Mimi

    So true. And I’m not biased either. If people worth millions of dollars are naive enough to think that they will be married forever, when they have the additional stress of being famous put on their marriage, then they get what they get when the sh!t blows up. I don’t feel sorry for Katy, Madonna or Roseanne because if these supposedly business savy women were dumb enough to not protect thier assets, then that’s their fault.

    As I’ve said before, Vanessa and Elin deserves ever penny as their filthy husbands put their lives and health at risk with their immature, unsafe behavior.

  • Angie

    I agree with you LNL. Finances are a part of marriage. They are a part of marriage that should be thoroughly discussed and agreed upon prior to the actual ceremony. It’s very naive and Hollywood to think that all it takes to make a sucessful marriage is love. We have to be on the same page about finances including the possibility of a prenup.

  • Angie

    I agree with you, too Cantarah.

  • http://clutchmagonline Truthis

    I’m also not a part of this “we” you speak of. I’m not losing sleep over celebrities and their multi-million dollar divorce settlements. If you’re entering a marriage with an incredible amount of wealth over your significant other, and you decide not to siign a pre-nup………kudos to whoever gets half during the divorce…..male or female!!

  • Trini

    @LemonNLime

    “Let’s be real 51% of marriages end in divorce and while you hope your won’t end that way the odds are against you in this culture of our that is about instant gratification rather than putting in work.”

    EXACTLY!!!

    No point in crying and complaining about it if you werent smart enough to get that prenup from the jump!

  • Trini

    This article make a very valid point.

    However my only beef is this: “Vanessa Bryant married at an early age giving up the freedom of her twenties, faced a great deal of humiliation in her marriage when a rape scandal made headlines across the world, dealt with a reported ten years of infidelity and raises his children. I’d say she’s done more than enough to deserve half of what’d he’s earned in ten years, wouldn’t you?”

    Nobody FORCED her to marry Kobe, have is kids and stick around thru a rape charge! SHE HAD A CHOICE! Quite a few choices actually and she I’d venture to guess that she made them all HERSELF!

    Im not trying to say she doesnt deserve the money. I could care less! Plus at the end of the day, if theres no prenup, it dont matter what ANYONE thinks or says, she still gets half! I just think its silly to say that she deserves half of everything BECAUSE she went thru alot! Even though she obviously had a choice!

  • MP

    +1
    If the spouse put in work being a supportive life partner to help the wealthier spouse build, that’s how the cookie crumbles. I don’t care how the genders fit into it.

    I don’t know California marriage/family law, but I thought one of the key factors in the Bryant divorce and estimated settlement is that they were married 10 years. This doesn’t apply to Perry & Brand.

  • Sindy

    When me and my ex-SO were dating, all we talked about were the careers we aspired to have (me-artist/writer, him-filmmaker …and we are L.A. based) and how pre-nups were these cold docs meant to make lawyers richer.

    That’s why we did the live-in thing first. Not long after, I found that he was too lazy and silly to have a real career of any kind. And he even blocked me and my work more than once.

    While my granny didn’t like the fact that I didn’t marry this person, I told that knowing this first was for the best. and spared her the details.

    Long story short, I would hold out for someone with equal assets and income.

    Yeah, I know….a whole ‘nuther subject matter.LOL

  • Sindy

    Ooops …’I told her that knowing this first was for the best’

  • Isis

    This!!!!

  • Alexandra

    If I was an actor, athlete, lawyer, etc; with long money that I made without the help of anyone, I wouldn’t look forward to the thought of being never get married. If I did I would make my soon-to-be sign a contract indicating that she will not be entitled to any money I made on my own and worked hard for. Law is law, I don’t agree with it, but this is why I think everyone, especially those with money, should think hard before finding someone to ‘share’ with.

  • Bridget

    “I’d say she’s done more than enough to deserve half of what’d he’s earned in ten years, wouldn’t you?”
    No, I wouldn’t say. She willingly and very eagerly,I’m sure, gave up the freedom of her youth to become a multi-millionaire’s wife. That’s not exactly martyrdom. She’s endured what a lot of other women have for far fewer rewards.

  • BeautyIAM

    I was wondering the same thing. “We” does not mean me.

    I have no problem for that Russel may be getting half of what Katy earned. Neither do I think its unfair. If you have money like that, why not protect yourself? It just makes no sense.

    I think men need to shut up already with it being unfair that a woman ends up getting a certain amount of money he has earned. Many times, its due to infidelity that pisses off women or something along those lines. If men didn’t want a woman to get half of what he has earned, get a pre-nup and don’t cheat. And if you don’t get a pre-nup, don’t cheat. Its that easy.

  • binks

    Thank you! I am sick and tired of people thinking a wool was pulled over there eyes…no prenup then expect to shell out regardless if you are a man or woman. There is nothing wrong with protecting your assets but if you don’t want to then deal with the fallout

  • Girl

    No one told Kobe not to get a pre-nup so I dont know why people are whining. Im still cracking up at the fact that Russell is the one divorcing Katy. LOL.

  • Tweed12

    I think we tend to take sides of the sex we favor the most……naturally. Though I hear many females calling others gold-diggers, I also hear many cheering for the man- saying he was being used. For me, it depends on the details I’ve heard of the circumstance.

    On another note, “…..stood to our feet when Angela Bassett proudly burned her husband’s car and clothes in Waiting to Exhale and cleaned him out in court.” One of my favorite scenes in movie history!

  • Blasé

    interesting question you raise. and i think we are biased but i also think it is understandable too.

    Perhaps someone else has already said this but I think the case of Brand & Perry is very different from the case of Kobe & Vanessa… I don’t know what work Vanessa does but I’m assuming that she’s the primary parent and primary home maker while Kobe travelled the country playing (on and off court). She worked just as hard as him to keep the family together, she just didn’t earn a cheque for it.

    People tend to disregard the work of the primary parent, the person that holds down the fort and working for family while the husband is off works for money. On the other hand, Katie Perry and Russell Brand didn’t haven’t any children. He didn’t have to work for the family while she was away. That’s why I find it ridiculous that he walks away on top with her being the highest earner (wonder if that was one of the issues in the marriage…)

  • BlacknAmazed

    Well…Libby I’m thinking if you can get a pay out from any other type of pain and suffer in a lawsuit….I think in a divorce you should too. sorry. He knew the laws before he married her….and damn near destroyed his relationship with the two people….he should have trusted…his parents. And signed a pre-nup. And….when you get married you should for love and because you are ready for COMMITMENT. Not for endorsements, money or image. The only difference with the Perry/Brand is he is capable of making as much money as Katie….I don’t know that he deserves that type of money from her. But…I didn’t make the laws.

  • JaeBee

    ITA. Had she been the average woman getting a divorce, her change in circumstances could mean the difference between being able to put food on the table and keep a roof over her children’s head OR living in poverty. Vanessa’s situation is not like the average woman. Even if she only received 10% of his money, she and the children would be well taken care of–much better than the average woman who divorces due to spousal infidelity.

    That said, I don’t know why the arguments about her being the primary caregiver and homemaker are constantly brought up as reasons to justify her “rights” to half of Kobe’s income. Don’t get me wrong, I think she should get something, but let’s not kid ourselves into thinking that she didn’t hire a nanny to watch those kids (like the good majority of wealthy folk tend to do) and the extent of her “home-making” probably consisted of using Kobe’s money to buy expensive items for the house and throwing dinner parties. Of course I’m speculating and don’t really know what went on in their home, but I do know that the likelihood that her lifestyle was much easier than the average woman who has has to bear the brunt of infidelity, leads me to not think of her in the same light as I would other women. For that reason, the belief that she has “earned” half of somebody else’s income when her “struggle” wouldn’t have been as severe as the average woman and when it doesn’t mean the difference between her and her children’s survival or starvation, greatly colors my perception of how much she’s owed.

  • http://togarnish.blogspot.com Jo

    This article doesn’t really delve into divorce law, nor should it. That’s a complicated subject.
    In some states, when couples have been married for a significant amount of time, about ten years, they become entitled to half if you haven’t previously negotiated terms in a prenup.

    Just get a prenup, people. It protects everyone.

  • AG

    Here’s what i need to know — which states are the smartest to get married in? That’s where I’ll be

  • http://queenintraining.tumblr.com/ LaToya

    I think it’s fair that men and women have the 50% because it’s contractually fair. I, however will never sign a pre-nup NOR would I ever marry a man that insisted that we get one. Marriage is work and there are risks that come with taking that step… but there are also great rewards. Marriage is beyond contracts though. It’s a covenant between me, my man and God. The three of us vow to do this thing until we are parted by death. If you propose to me and suggest that we get a pre-nuptial agreement I can only believe that you have considered us not being together for some reason or another… and for me, that’s a deal breaker. I want forever and I want a man who wants and will work toward us being together forever, even and ESPECIALLY during the hard times.

    In the case of Kobe and Vanessa, I’m sure that Vanessa tried to stay with Kobe through the bad but because of his alleged cheating the bad became too bad and she has decided that its time to part ways. Because they did not have a pre-nup and they live in Cali she will get half of what THEY earned during the marriage, NOT half of what he made. The same for Katy and Russell. They will split half of what THEY earned as a couple. It just so happens that Kobe and Katy contributed more to that pot than their spouses.

    Maybe people will consider how serious marriage is and reconsider from now on.

  • A

    She earned it! Go Vanessa!

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