On the Glorification of the Side Chick

Soap operas and primetime dramas have long glamorized the side chicks of powerful White men, making the side chick seem more exciting, loving and desirable than the wives at home, who were equally beautiful but played out. It seemed that as long as a man could "afford" two women (and upper-class men were generally White men), it was his prerogative, and not worthy of attention or appraisal. Working-class Black men and the women they juggle (baby mamas, friends with bennies, main chicks), however, are seen as cultural taboos and degenerates with no self-esteem or shame. Further, upper-class Black men (like Sean Combs, for example) are excused from harsh judgment because of their ability to financially support multiple women and children. On the flip side, independent Black women who are financially secure have been (until the recent rise and reception of television shows to the contrary) largely left alone.

While the so-called side chick phenomenon is nothing new, the language/slang repackages infidelity as something Black folk invented, therefore making it more tawdry and scandalous. White women who have affairs with married men are called mistresses. Women of color who have sex with men in relationships are called side chicks. Mistresses are taken care of, taken out, splurged on, and at times prioritized above the wife. Side chicks are secrets, limited to booty calls and late night texts, and are expected to play their position (never interfering with a man's "real" relationship). There is usually one mistress, but a side chick is generally one of several. These race-based distinctions contribute to ongoing slights towards Black women. Mistresses are White and upper-class and therefore redeemable. Side chicks are poor and of color and are therefore viewed as thirsty, grimy, low down, gold-digging whores who actively pursue somebody else's man.



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