Thursday, May 26, 2011

Being (with) Stedman...

In honor of Oprah Winfrey's departure from daytime TV (whatever shall we do?), I thought I'd take a minute to think about her oft-invisible life partner: Sir Stedman.

Stedman Graham, contrary to popular belief, was (and is) his own man prior to (and since) meeting La Winfrey. He is double-degreed, has authored 10 books and runs two educational foundations in addition to owning a marketing and public relations firm. But in spite of his resume, over the years he has gotten the reputation for fading into the background and riding Oprah's skirt-tails. (Do any of us think he could command $15,000 per speaking engagement without her?)  Let's take a look at being "Mr. Winfrey."

Stedman is in the uncomfortable situation of perennially standing in the shadow of his more famous, more wealthy, more successful significant other. No matter what he accomplishes the rest of his days, he will be best known for his relationship with Oprah. I recall her interviewing Stevie Nicks and Sheryl Crow recently and they discussed how hard it is to find a man who is cool with the "superwoman" thing. They are "superstars" jetting off in private planes while the male significant other waves good-bye and says, "Have a nice trip, honey." It can't be easy to be the man behind The Woman. The house-husband.

There was an incident a few weeks ago when I made a dinner reservation in my pen name. When 3N and I walked in and announced ourselves they said, "Right this way Mr. Grant." He looked at me, shook his head and said, "Lawd, I'm Stedman."

We thought it was funny and believe me, 3N has ego enough to step back and hold my purse when and if the occasion calls for it. Not that I would let the situation call for it that often. But it did spark a discussion - What's it like to be the "Stedman" in a relationship and how many men could do it? 3N said he has no issues if I take over the world and become a cultural icon... as long as he gets to come with.

But I've definitely dated a person (or two) who would not have been amused to be called Mr. Grant. In fact, those might have been fightin' words.  I wonder if this is what happened to Hilary Swank and Chad Lowe. (among others) When they started out, they were both up and coming actors. Then she took off (Oscars and whatnot) and he was still guest starring on random TV shows. That had to kinda suck.

I imagine Stedman is an enormous source of strength for Miss Oprah. He's been with her since before her ascension to media mogul, he's hung around through all her ups and downs (physical and emotional) and he seems to genuinely have her back. That combination is worth more than gold.

So the questions for today's BougieLand: As women, how do we feel about the Stedmans of the world? Can we let  "a man be the man" when we have the financial and popularity power? And as men, could you be Stedmen? Have we moved beyond the  "balance of power" thing where a man needs more status and money than his woman to know he wears the pants? What do you think? Does a man have to be really strong and secure to stand in that shadow and stay? Dying to hear your thoughts on this one.

115 comments:

David Parrish, Jr.(Inkognegro) said...

There is an ART to being Steadman.  I've never read him and don't know much about him other than the obvious, but My sense is that he is acutely aware of the unique set of circumstances he is involved in and  Plays his position.  

Dudes who lead with their penis or their ego have no sense of the notion of "playing their position" in a relationship.  

Methinks folks are too busy making Steadman a punchline to really contemplate the nature of the man or the relationship.

So busy being funny/clever that they miss the entire point.  How Familiar does THAT sound?

Bumper said...

Straying a little from topic, being outside the US I've heard lots of 'gossip' about Steadman and Oprah.  I heard they were getting married, then they were not, that they had broken up but then they are together again, Steadman is gay - all sorts of rubbish.  From your article are you saying Steadman has been there the whole time and that there has been no issues with getting married, etc, etc. (because that would make a difference to the 'spin' you have put on Steadman's role and place in Oprah's life)?  

OneChele said...

Hmmm, I didn't really put a spin on it per se. Just curious as to how the dynamic works. There was an engagement that was called off but beyond that I don't know any of the personal details of their dynamic.

I have to assume it works since they've been together for so long. LeShrug.

Man's World said...

I'll admit I'm not sure I could be Stedman. I'm not good at falling back and letting others have the spotlight... but that's me.

maureen palmer said...

Great article.  It  takes a special kind of a man to play Steadman's role. As an  Oprah stan, I have seen a few episodes, esp this season when that topic came up. I also believe Steadman touched on it when he spoke at the end of 2nd to last show.
My theory about this type of  situation, we can't undermine the pillow talk. Case in point, POTUS was asked if he discussed Osama decision with FLOTUS, he did not say yes or know. But you know it happened during that pillow talk.  As matter of fact,  I believe FLOTUS is all over policy making, just behind scenesOprah talked about her decision to start  OWN (during their vision talk as said it), and guess who came with idea and name------> Steadman.
Not to change to topic, I'm not good at charming folks, if  u may, I lack the networking skills, get me in the door and I will show you what I'm made of. SO yes, may Steadman a leg up because of  Oprah, but once he gets he their he better bring his A game to line another gig

Violet Rose said...

I don't mind taking the lead as long as s/o doesn't resent me for it.  It's kind of like your alpha discussion. For all we knwo, Stedman is alpha as hell as home.

Sarah said...

"3N said he has no issues if I take over the world and become a cultural icon... as long as he gets to come with."  Awww.....

I've been thinking, but I can't think of any men I have known as friends, colleagues, or whatever that would be able to do that. In my parents relationship, my Mom is the social one and in some sense she leads the social aspect of their life together although my Dad has friends of his own. When they moved after my Dad retired, it was to a place where my Mom had found a job. She is still working because she loves her job. But it was in an area of the country they always said where they said they would retire so it wasn't as if he followed her. I think it comes down to respect between the two people. The fact that somebody is successful professionally doesn't mean once they are home that they don't have an ordinary (whatever that is) relationship with their spouse.

William Martin said...

I think as long as there are defined roles and both parties agree. At some point, I have to assume that Stedman was like "Okay, you be multi-billionaire icon and I'm gonna do me but when you walk in the door, you're not OPRAH, you're Oprah." Well, that's what I would say.

Nothing wrong with having a strong, successful woman on your arm. *Looks around* Any candidates?

CaliGirlED said...

First let me say, "Way to go 3N"! He pretty much chuckled at being called "Mr. Grant", and took it with a grain of salt. And it seems like should future occurrences take place, he will react the same, providing there's no disrespect or malicious intent involved. Now that's a real man. (Have I told yall lately that I love yall.!) LOL!!! But all jokes aside, I really do love to see couples, new and old, holding it down.

As for Stedman, I have always admired him "in the background". I know that he's no dummy and can hold his own. He's accomplished and refined. (I really don't see Oprah being with less than that). And let's not forget, he's EASY on the eyes! LOL! I believe that Stedman is secure with who he is and knows that he has a "good thing". I think he loves and adores Oprah and respects her in her entirety, her flaws and her magnificence. And because you never REALLY know what goes on in a relationship, it has always been my belief that what they have works for them and that's really all that matters. Anybody who is close to Oprah (Gayle) is going to be perceived as "riding her coat tail", living in her shadow, yada yada yada. Let's face it, there's not many men or women in this world who match her dollar for dollar, achievement for achievement. So is she supposed to be manless and friendless because no one "measures up"? Of course not! Are there benefits in being Oprah's man, bff, sister, mother, etc? I say YES! You'd be a complete idiot not to soak up some of that greatness, not be inspired by it or be motivated to do better. If I was Oprah's friend you're damn skippy that I would take advantage of her as a resource. Soliciting her finances and connections to do what I feel I'm called to do, help others. I would have homes for teenage mothers all up and through these United States! Breaking cycles and giving young mothers and their babies a second chance at becoming assets to society.

Why the rant? I guess because I get so tired of people saying that Gayle and Stedman wouldn't have accomplished as much as they have without Oprah. Ok, so what! You are supposed to keep yourself surrounded by people who are smarter, richer, more spiritual, stronger than you. If you are the BEST in your circle of friends, then you need to get some more friends. It's hard to be inspired by people who ain't doin a damn thang!

Jubilance said...

I think that the assumption is often made that a woman who is financially successful & power doesn't need anyone & anything, which is so not true. Oprah & other women who are very successful are still women - they still want to be treated like ladies, protected, admired, loved, appreciated, supported, and all that other stuff. And I'm sure Stedman gives that to her and more.

Too often men see themselves as the provider, and they neglect to see all the other things that they bring to a woman & a relationship. She may not need you to pay her bills, but she does need you to rub her feet, give her a kiss on the forehead, and reassure her when she's questioning herself.

Manhood isn't tied to how much money, success & power you have - at least it shouldn't be.

Jubilance said...

I haven't taken over the world yet, but I'm well on my way ;-)

Great comment.

CaliGirlED said...

How about strong and climbing that ladder?

JohnKinPDX said...

I've learned a few things in the last year. One of them is that having wealth and position have very little to do with the success or failure of a relationship. It really comes down to the respect, affection and commitment the two people involved have with each other. Money can help or hinder but in the end without those other fundamentals the relationship is doomed.

So to answer your question, sure I could be Stedman.

sol_dier said...

I don't see an issue with Steadman at all. 
Oprah earns more, is better recognised and renowned. OK, nothing in this situation makes him 'less or more of a man' or prevents him from being a man.

Steadman strikes me as a man who is emotionally secure and doesn't need to prove his value to the world by treating his partner like his property or his pet automaton.

Seems some people think a woman needs to be put in her place and it is their job to do it, inevitably that place always seems to be beneath or second to them or at the very least in roles which they assign her. Personally I just think that is the height of insecurity ad for me it is the most off putting attribute any man can have.  I stay well clear of men who downplay my intelligence or tell me to 'play a position'.

iCant. 

CaliGirlED said...

Good answer, good answer!...Sorry just had a Family Feud flashback. LOL

Grace said...

I need a Stedman in my life. That is all.

Mykeia said...

"You are supposed to keep yourself surrounded by people who are smarter, richer, more spiritual, stronger than you. If you are the BEST in your circle of friends, then you need to get some more friends. It's hard to be inspired by people who ain't doin a damn thang!"<=======THIS RIGHT HERE!!!!! YOU ARE SOOOO RIGHT TODAY! 

sol_dier said...

^This^  to infinity.

A lot of what I see out there is competition, disrespect and people hooking up to 'tame' other people.   Its just not healthy

Mykeia said...

Co-sign a million times.

Mykeia said...

From your story....it sounds like it's your turn to be Stedman,

CaliSlim said...

It definitely takes a special man to feel secure in the shadows of a high profile woman.

I could handle having a Stedman, but I've always believed in submission, and also I don't think I'd ever had the drive to put my career first anyway. There is more to life for me.

But it really comes down to the guy. One example I relate it to is height. I'm 5'11" and though I don't prefer to date a man shorter than me I will. Most shorter guys always want to say they're cool with me being taller. But after a while they realize they'll NEVER tower over me nor will I ever give up my 4 inch heels. ;) And the reality of literally never "measuring up" becomes sobering.

Nikk said...

It's really comforting to have that steady unwavering force in one's life. He's secure in his manhood and the relationship that he is fine with your being in the spotlight and at no time wants to steal your thunder.

Mykeia said...

Great post and question.
Stedman is in a unique position and he always seems to carry himself with grace and charm; he has never been like the Dave Chappelle character that gets Oprah pregnant, "I'm rich!" (I wish I had time to find the link.)
We never know what goes on behind closed doors in any relationship but at the end of the day we all want someone that is interested in us for the unique individuals that we are.  The hand holding, rubbing your feet and back and someone telling you that everything will be okay is something that we all look for, (or I could just be speaking for myself) and I believe that he gives her that flaws and all.  

blackprofessor said...

Way to go 3N!! Can I get a Stedman?
I have run into enough anti-Stedmans to last me a lifetime.  I once dated a fellow academic and I thought things were going well until he made a very telling comment.  He said “If we got together we would be a power academic couple but I wouldn’t be the superstar, you would be the superstar. I don’t like that.”  I wasn’t even thinking along those lines but needless to say the relationship ended not long after that.    
It all boils down to a man being secure with a checked ego who recognizes that his woman’s accomplishments don’t outshine who he is as a man.  I am fortunate enough to know real Stedmans and they keep me encouraged.  They are successful in their own right but aren’t intimidated or insecure by their wife’s accomplishments to say the least! Their dynamic is what I suspect exists between Oprah/Stedman, Michelle/Barack which includes mutual respect, humility, security and acceptance and appreciation.

blackprofessor said...

Dudes who lead with their penis or their ego have no sense of the notion of "playing their position" in a relationship.  - AMEN!!

GrownAzzMan said...

"Nothing wrong with having a strong, successful woman on your arm."
It's not everything, its the only thing.

blackprofessor said...

Caligirl, here is $5 cuz you are preaching today!

GrownAzzMan said...

"You are supposed to keep yourself surrounded by people who are smarter, richer, more spiritual, stronger than you. If you are the BEST in your circle of friends, then you need to get some more friends."

THE.WINNING.ANSWER.

blackprofessor said...

Great answer!

I Am Me said...

Anytime Stedman needs someone to step in, he should holla at me. That's one gig I would NOT turn down.

blackprofessor said...

Here's $5 for you as well cuz you preaching!

blackprofessor said...

Here's $5 for you as well cuz you preaching!

GrownAzzMan said...

I am in a long-term relationship with a woman who is as accomplished in her field and circle as I am in mine. Depending on where we are I may be refereed to as Mr. GAW. It is amusing to us but has never bothered me. When you have a strong, successful woman it goes with the territory. I have had the chance to hear Steadman speak and have read one of his books. He has plenty going for him and with almost any other woman on the planet he would be the 'star' of the relationship. I admire the fact that they live their relationship in private and don't spend too much time on what 'others' think.

blackprofessor said...

Good answer, it seems like you have the right mindset!

CaliGirlED said...

"The hand holding, rubbing your feet and back and someone telling you
that everything will be okay is something that we all look for, (or I
could just be speaking for myself)".... Chile please, you are not by yourself, not at all!

CaliGirlED said...

That's why I love BougieLand! Such a diverse group of people with different strengths.

Earthangel172 said...

Let the Church say AMEN!!

::passes around the offering plate::

CaliGirlED said...

From Oprah's tweet, "Staying in pj's all day. Getting hair braided for summer vaca. Reading
all ur emails. Watched Gayle K. Show with Stedman. On at 4-6 on OWN."....Watched her best friend's show with her man. I. LOVE. IT!!!

Mr. Skyywalker said...

There's a difference between having a Sugar Mama (as many have accused my man Sted of) and being secure enough in your testicular fortitude to let your woman soar. Mrs. Skyy is smarter, prettier, better educated, and better paid than me. And. I. Dig. That. About. Her.

I know why I picked her, I'm thankful for whatever reason she had for picking me. Marry (date) up, gents. It's the only way to go. #TeamStedman

thinklikeRiley said...

Lemme think, lemme think. Cozy up to big-breasted billionaire, travel the world in private jet, visit 8 homes, sip Cristal wi' Barack and dem?
Call me Mr. Winfrey. Eff Riley - who dat? No, you may call me Mr. Winfrey.
Think I wouldn't?

cocoaeyecandy said...

Slow hand clap for looking at this from multiple perspectives. There's world apart from a Pookie and a Stedman. Stedman stands on his own two feet. Pookie looking for the handout.

Sasha in Stilettos said...

They've been together for 20+ years, no one stays together that long on some shiggity. Neither one of them are stupid.

Sasha in Stilettos said...

This. Right. Here.

Qalil said...

Isn't that the truth!

Sasha in Stilettos said...

*clears throat* Which city did you decide to move to? (just asking)

Qalil said...

I love this. Please let me use testicular fortitude in my next blog post. I promise I'll credit you! :-)

Sasha in Stilettos said...

You betta WOOOORK!

Sasha in Stilettos said...

At least you can be honest with yourself.

Qalil said...

Hurrah!

Qalil said...

the hand holding... all of that is what makes love so beautiful. 


It certainly is not slapping the ass or pointing at her and feeling like you won something.

Qalil said...

From the guys comments above (I'm still scrolling down) I think there might be hope for all who are looking! They're out there. I wish they came with little stars on their heads.

FreeBlackMan said...

I may take heat for this but I like to run ish. I don't care what we look like in public as long as I'm in charge at home. I know it's chauvinistic and out of touch. But there it is.

Natasha Hunter said...

There ain't a damn thing wrong with being a Stedman as long as he let's an Oprah be an Oprah. I think a lot of men are like this when their woman travels in certain public/political arenas. Some men prefer to sit back and watch their woman work the room and engage in conversations with everyone while they chill in  the background.  Same thing, different $.  I think it would be more difficult if the couple where in the same field though...
 

Natasha Hunter said...

LOL, You'd be all up in the tabloids for actin' a fool!

Deb B said...

I want one. A Stedman or a 3N. Please and thank you.

Deb B said...

Hmmmm.

Qalil said...

I love Stedman. That is what a man should be. Undefined by anything other than himself and scared by nothing. Do you see how proud and confident he is? Augh! (clutching at heart)


When Oprah was walking out and she kissed and hugged him, she needed his comfort and his strength coz Lord knows it was as hard for her as it was for the rest of us (wipes away lone tear), and he was there for her to provide it.
I have been sooooooooooooooooooo fortunate to have a partner like that and it blesses me to see it in others. Even when the woman is not as successful or famous, when you're at the grocery store and you can sense that kind of support and genuine affection and respect for each other it tugs at the m***f*** heart strings!

Steve said...

My man.

Steve said...

Yessir.

OneChele said...

Soooooo.... I've been asked to have you clarify what you mean by "in charge"?

FreeBlackMan said...

In charge. I have the final word. What I say goes. I lead, she follows.

Natasha Hunter said...

^^This was in reply to Riley's "call me Mr. Winfrey" comment. The tabloids would have a field day with some ninja running around saying that, LOL

FreeBlackMan said...

In charge. I have the final word. What I say goes. I lead, she follows.

JaymeC said...

I wish you all the luck in the world with applying that unilaterally to today's woman, sir. Let's hope for both your sakes that you know where you're going. Nothing like following someone right into a ditch. #justsaying

Now if you want to talk about partnership with deference, that I can co-sign.

maureen palmer said...

Pookie can't catch a break around these parts. He is just trying to make a $ 1.00 out  50cents, in my best Tupac voice. LOL

David Chase said...

It would be different if Stedman was just some random dude with nothing to say for himself. In the beginning, he was considered the big fish that Oprah had landed. Time, fortune and circumstance turned the tables on them. What I admire is the longevity and the commitment. I don't even need to know the inner workings of their relationship to applaud it.

David Chase said...

My father has told me this from day one - find someone who knows what you don't and shines where you can't... and keep her. Working on it.

David Chase said...

*fist bump*

OneChele said...

Pookie and Peaches stay struggling here in BougieLand!

MariSol said...

As long as we're placing orders...

MariSol said...

"There ain't a damn thing wrong with being a Stedman as long as he let's an Oprah be an Oprah"
AMEN!

MariSol said...

And how's that working out so far?

MariSol said...

I like this!

maureen palmer said...

There you have it  ladies and gentlemen!

MariSol said...

*activating minor e-crush on David*

Natasha Hunter said...

Pops sounds like quite the card (in a good way).

Bethany Showell said...

^_^

rozb said...

Stedman seems to me to be confident, poised, and doin' the damn thing with his own pursuits. I think Oprah found a man who doesn't constantly whine about not getting any love (I bet he gets plenty), or about when is she gonna let him shine (he had his own shine anyway). He showed that he was really holding it down for her on her last show all those years - his way of telling the world that he has Oprah's back, and he didn't need to be sitting in the audience jocking and blocking for every show, because he is self-assured and secure in his own skin (side-eye to Dr. Phil and his kling-on - I mean wife).

A man that let's you grow, shine, and succeed beyond your wildest dreams without feeling threatened or intimidated is a good thing, yes indeed... Perhaps 3N is this type of guy, yes?

Yes - I said jocking.

CaliGirlED said...

Your parents are the best! I'm sure when you were a kid you probably said a few "please let them die!" prayers, but now you can see the benefits of their "craziness". I love it!!!

CaliGirlED said...

 "...being secure enough in your testicular fortitude"...Consider that stolen!!! Go ahead call 9-1-1 cause you have been robbed!

CaliGirlED said...

That's that "testicular fortitude"!

CaliGirlED said...

What MariSol and Dr. Jayme said. (I'm going to be quiet on this one!) *zips the lips*

L.P. said...

I don't think it is that out of touch actually... At least, it has the merit to be honest. So because you know where you stand, you know the type of woman you are looking for. And that's ok.

CaliGirlED said...

*calling next after MariSol*

rozb said...

Is it that you just want the big piece of chicken?

rozb said...

That's what the first lemming said...

CaliGirlED said...

I.can't.stand.you!!!

Tonda Williams said...

MariSol... I had a mini-crush on him first......Le TOO Dang Cute....!

Tonda Williams said...

I ain't mad atcha cause I actually prefer a man to run things at home. I run things at work and have ZERO interest in being in running things at home too..

AndreaPlaid said...

Perfect! Because I can use a man to run the dishwasher...the washer and dryer...the stove and oven to cook *both* of our meals...the vacuum cleaner and the mop on the floors....the car to chauffer me everywhere...the cell phone to answer my calls...oh yes! And my vibrator, because I wouldn't stir some man's cocoa who likes "to run ish" and be "in charge at home."

(/end sarcasm)

Jason P said...

With hot sauce and a side of dirty rice... please :)

Jason P said...

I would like an Oprah.

Tonda Williams said...

Sorry but I'm buying THIS.RIGHT.HERE and its worked perfectly for me.  I'm attracted to a man that capable of leading and worthy of being followed... It has taken me years to articulate and be proud of my personal preference but like what I like.....

Page Bartlett said...

As long as you aren't leading me off a cliff... or in circles...
You be the driver, I'll keep an eye on the GPS.
Kthxbi!

blackprofessor said...

http://lifestyle.msn.com/relationships/article.aspx?cp-documentid=28177564

Mr. Skyy,
There is an article on MSN about this very topic!

Leon X said...

What does it take to be a Steadman? Security. Being secure in one's own skin is the key. You get to a certain age in your life where you are basically who you're going to be. If you're not comfortable with that then work needs to be done.No matter how much success your partner achieves you're OK with it because it only enhances what good qualities you already possess.

In other words, Hello Ladies *wink*

C Nelson said...

Amen. At least he's honest, though. I hate the men who claim to be okay with equality but still want to be in charge behind closed doors. My fiance cleans with the power of 10,000 lemons -- his words, not mine -- and while he doesn't cook, he's willing to learn, and he does the dishes without being asked after I cook. I need a partner, not another authority figure trying to run my life. I have enough of those in my blood relations.

Pure Choco said...

Hello!

Trey Charles said...

Don't we all?

Trey Charles said...

 Um but ya'll know...never mind.

Trey Charles said...

Everyone likes to run ish, few ever really do.

Trey Charles said...

Red soda water on the side.

Mr. Skyywalker said...

I want to take credit for it but I straight stole it from Chele. She did a radio show where she told some guy to "get some testicular fortitude about himself" - it became an instant classic.

Mykeia said...

You are a mess for this!  I am with CaliED on this my stomach is killing me from laughter and I needed it soooooo bad!  (My clients are a mess.)

Mykeia said...

Girl, Roz keeps me dying!

GrownAzzMan said...

This all day.

GrownAzzMan said...

MariSol and Tonda WE SEE YOU! lotsoffolksdo...

GammasWorld said...

I can't even add to the comments today.  Everything has been said.  Steadman obviously offers something money can't buy to Oprah and that right there says it all.   

sol_dier said...

Gamma, in that sentence you said a heck of a lot.
Its become very clear now, that there are a lot of people who don't have anything BUT money to offer, hence the raging insecurity and need actively work at preventing their partners from reaching their full potential. 

CorettaJG said...

So True Gamma!

Kim said...

Steadman is secure in himself and his own accomplishments and that's all. 

kjnetic aka Peter Parker said...

"And as men, could you be Stedmen"

Could i? over time.
Right now? no...i feel that i have to be the captain of the ship. doesn't mean i make all the decisions unilaterally, but for the good of the ship

Asada said...

You are blessed! So blessed.... They way stedman is described here... I would LOVE to have a person like that in my life.

Asada said...

This is why I think it would  not work, I do not want to be treated like a child ( had that all my life) and I do not want to be miserable because of someone else's need to be in charge. Been there , done that.

Lol, this might mean I am NOT ready to be married or in a LTR with anyone.

Qalil said...

Yes I have!! :-) I believe you will coz you keep putting positive NRG out there for the rest of us to be blessed with!

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