Stop Blaming Gabrielle Union

We recently learned that basketball player Dwayne Wade is fathering a baby and the mother is NOT his fiancé Gabrielle Union. Doesn’t that read like the teaser for an explosive episode of Maury or Paternity Court? Wade fathered the child during a brief separation from Union, according to an unnamed source, but Union forgave his indiscretion and accepted his elaborate December 21 marriage proposal.

There’s nothing abnormal about the public’s investment in Union and Wade’s relationship — both parties are popular public figures who use social media and charitable initiatives to connect with their supporters. However, blaming Union for Wade’s imprudence is a blatant act of misogyny. The public’s response to the unexpected news exposes how patriarchy harms all women, including Gabrielle Union.

When Entertainment Tonight broke the news, Union was immediately attacked in comments sections and on social media platforms. Comments ranged from “she was with him while he was still married to his first wife and still is with him after he raw dogged another woman and knocked her up. She has low self esteem” to “She knew what she was getting into messing with a professional athlete. If you thought or think he isn’t cheating, you’re a damn fool. He just ducked up and got one of his side hoes preggy.”

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We are all aware that Wade and Union’s relationship began under murky circumstances. He was still legally married when their relationship began. Five years, sole custody, and an engagement ring later, and Union’s decision to date a married man is being used as a means of taunting her at a time when her private life has been flipped inside out for the world to examine and scrutinize.

Few women knowingly enter into relationships with adulterous men and there are few cheaters who are upfront about their wandering penises. Yet, a society that places inordinate blame on women demands that we develop a sixth sense that can detect when and with whom our partners are straying. When we’re unable to prevent our partner from cheating, we’re faulted for not being enough. We’re either too spicy or too boring. We don’t cook enough. Our homes aren’t clean enough. Our vaginas aren’t tight and wet enough. Men are capable of monogamous commitments as long as their women are goddesses. The onus is placed on women to keep our partners faithful.

Gabrielle Union is gorgeous. She’s famous, wealthy, and preparing to star in BET’s first scripted drama. She is enough for any man. Dwyane Wade’s decision to impregnate another woman while they were separated is his own cross to bear.

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It’s never acceptable for a man to father a child outside of his relationship. I’d consider it an ultimate act of disloyalty and betrayal, and Union may have as well — or maybe their separated relationship status at the time of the conception meant that it wasn't the betrayal everyone seems to think it was? Either way, a male-biased society seems to believe that when a woman forgives she is not sufficiently condemning the act, or that she's signing herself up for continued disrespect.

Dwyane Wade had a child with another woman while he was separated from the woman he planned to wed — yet Union is somehow considered to be at fault. No matter what, the woman is always the catalyst. She is always to blame. A patriarchal society that privileges the male experience says that men cheat because women allow them to. And that's not OK.