Ciara won’t be getting sole custody of her young son, Future Zahir. A judge ruled on Tuesday that the R&B singer and her former fiancé, rapper Future, instead will share joint custody of the 2-year-old boy. The unfortunate custody battle between the formerly engaged superstars has been drawn out and fairly ugly. Future has blasted his ex-fiancée via social media and in interviews; Ciara filed a lawsuit in a Georgia court accusing him of defamation, slander, and libel—to which Future countersued. All the while, Future released hit albums and singles and Ciara scored a prestigious modeling contract and got engaged to an NFL superstar.
But aside from how this drama is affecting their personal lives and the well-being of their little boy, there’s also the attention it’s gotten from fans and critics. This hip-hop Kramer vs. Kramer has turned into a battleground of ideas about misogyny, social norms, blended families, and infidelity. And it’s split the public into warring factions, with fans on both sides vilifying the principals involved for what they feel is dubious parenting or devious manipulations.
“Ciara just wants Russell Wilson to be Baby Future’s new dad but it doesn’t work like that. L.” tweeted @MoeAlayan.
“Future + Ciara situation goes to show that when you’re spiteful, nothing works in your favor no matter how ‘happy’ you may seem to be,” tweeted @Kirk_McGurk.
“Future need to drop that DS3 so we can all celebrate Ciara’s L together,” wrote @AFashionatto.
This wasn’t just a legal win for Future, the tweets suggest, it was a major moment for narrow-minded bros everywhere.
Despite what everyone seems to want to believe, joint custody was always likely to be the outcome here. It’s not the “major loss” for Ciara that pundits are framing it as; it’s a legal loss, but probably the first step in quelling some of the acrimony that has existed between her and Future for the better part of two years.
But the overwhelming reaction to news that the parents would have joint custody wasn’t happiness for Future, or expectations for him and Ciara to move forward more amicably in the best interest of their son. Of course not, that would actually be a mature response. No—Future fans rejoiced in Ciara’s supposed failure, her “devastating loss” in her attempt to railroad their favorite rapper.
Fans can be petty and juvenile when their favorite artist is in any kind of trouble or is accused of any kind of questionable behavior. From #TeamBreezy hashtags for Chris Brown to the still-remaining Azealia Banks devotees who will bombard your Twitter mentions over one word of criticism, we all know what can happen when a person becomes a little too enamored with a problematic hitmaker. But this situation has been particularly telling because of how fans of a guy who embraces drug culture and promiscuity in his music could demonize the mother of his child after she expressed concern over those very same behaviors. It’s understandable if you don’t think Future is a bad dad, but that doesn’t mean you’ve seen him as Ciara has or that she’s an evil witch for trying to keep certain behaviors away from her son.
It should be acknowledged that Future wants to be present in his child’s life. He doesn’t seem like a deadbeat or like he’s attempting to manipulate anyone. They both appear to care about their son very much. But his public disrespect toward Ciara and his disciples’ criticism of her engagement to Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson highlight a certain hypocrisy. Ciara moving on with a new relationship after her previous one fizzled was somehow worse in the eyes of Future’s fans than his infidelity while they were still together. Her criticism of his behavior as a father was somehow more venomous than him calling her a “bitch” on social media.
The folks with the famous names are not the real villains here. If there are any villains at all, they are those fans, those “regular people” who have become so invested in burning a woman at the stake that they’ve lost sense of what’s really important. Their son is all that matters here, not the sparring match between his parents or the juvenile obsessions of a fanbase. But there is such contempt for mothers who don’t pretend to be demure, who don’t wait an “appropriate” amount of time before moving on—who don’t adhere to arbitrary expectations that the public decides need to be met.
This weekend, a man in Memphis fired shots into a car after a woman refused his advances. Her 3-year-old daughter was in the vehicle and hit multiple times. The child is now in the hospital in “extremely critical condition.”
ABC 24 in Memphis reported on the tragic shooting. “Those living near the area of that shooting are furious about what went down and why that child was even out and about that late at night in the first place,” stated reporter Brad Broders.
The girl’s mother had taken the child to an apartment complex to do someone’s hair, it was reported. “That child shouldn’t have even been around in that situation, altercation—period,” stated one woman.
With such a senseless act of violence, perpetuated by a man who didn’t know how to take “no” from a woman, some still found a way to blame the mother. A mother who has a child fighting for her life and who did nothing wrong. She wasn’t at some drug house at 3 a.m. She wasn’t working a street corner. She was doing hair.
We don’t seem to have much empathy for mothers anymore. We don’t seem to understand how circumstances—for both the rich and famous and those barely clinging to their livelihoods—can push people into uncomfortable situations. We seem to blame them first and have to be convinced that they aren’t at fault.
I think Ciara has been doing what she thought was best for her son and I don’t think she “lost” anything yesterday. I think she and Future would do better to find a way to co-parent happily. And I think the public should recognize how it constantly brands women as bad mothers simply for being human beings, while allowing men to be as flawed as they want to be.