Do You Believe in Compromise?
Eartha Kitt laughs in the face of a little give and take.
My friend recently sent me a video clip from a 1982 documentary about the multi-talented powerhouse Eartha Kitt. Long before the days we remember Kitt as “Lady Eloise” from Eddie Murphy’s Boomerang, she was a stage diva, who could sing, dance, act and command attention from any man.
She was a force to be reckoned with until her last days, when she died in 2008 at the age of 81.
In this clip, Kitt is a beautiful, young woman and you can see her elegance and sense a whiff of arrogance from a woman who is unapologetic, self-possessed and unwilling to settle for anything less than the best.
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The best line in those few minutes? “A man comes into my life and I have to compromise. For what? For what?! A relationship is a relationship that has to be earned - not to compromise for.”
When the video ends, I envy her resolve, yet I am unsettled, startled even, by this woman who literally laughs in the face of compromise. She begs the question, “When you fall in love, what is there to compromise about?” The rest of us know the answer: everything.
We’ve all seen the movies of the powerful women that end up alone: Nia Long in The Best Man is savvy, driven and super ambitious but Harper proposes to his chick who can’t figure out what she wants to do with her life. Or Carmen Jones who goes after just what she wants must die in the end because the man she loves wants to control her. Or what about Nola Darling from She’s Gotta Have It? The man she loved most felt he had to dominate her sexually because he couldn’t deal with her being in control of her own sexuality.
It’s not lost on me that Kitt’s documentary is called All By Myself. It seems the world wants women to know if you demand everything, you may end up with nothing. In a masculine world, there seems to be no room for a woman with her own agenda—she can be loved but only from afar and only rarely known intimately. It’s what Kitt means by “I want someone to share me with me.” People just don’t realize that intimacy equals “in to me, I see.”
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I think women tend to compromise too much for fear of ending up alone--after all, it's more than a little ironic that this video is starring Eartha Kitt, the ultimate cat lady. Also, we’ve been force-fed the idea that knowing what you want and going after it, makes you less feminine somehow and therefore less desirable. Not to mention the endless beating over the head that being selfish is wrong and that loving yourself too much borders on narcissism—but anyone that has ever given too much or loved someone more than they loved themselves knows that invoking a little Eartha may be just what they need.
So, I say be uncompromising, never settle, go after your dreams and never be afraid of being by your self. It's the journey that matters, right? I mean, you’re destined to find love along the way and even if it doesn’t last forever, falling in love with yourself won’t be the worst thing that ever happened, it will probably be the best!