Jada & Will Don’t Have an Open Marriage; Does It Matter?

Here’s an interesting development: Jada Pinkett Smith recently addressed the open relationship rumors that have surrounded her marriage with Will Smith for years. During Jada’s HuffPost Live interview with Marc Lamont Hill, he asked if they have an open relationship and she said:

No, I think that people get that idea because Will and I are very relaxed with one another. […] I’ve always told Will, ‘You can do whatever you want as long as you can look at yourself in the mirror and be okay.’ Ok? Because at the end of the day, Will is his own man. I’m here as his partner, but he is his own man. He has to decide who he wants to be and that’s not for me to do for him. Or vice versa.

What struck me at first wasn’t so much what she said — although I love it, more on that later — but how people online were responding to it. It seems a lot of people (the ones I follow on social media/IRL, at any rate) took this as her way of admitting to an open relationship without flat-out saying yes. Because what she describes can be seen as supporting the ideals of non-monogamy, and because admitting that you’re in an open relationship can often have all sorts of backlash, they connected with “do whatever you want” part of Jada’s answer. Some then used that as a way to support their pro-non-monogamy stance, which usually I’d be all over, except that she starts her response with a “no,” and I’m not sure how much clearer she can get than that.

Even though I’m a big-time fan of non-monogamy, I’m also a fan of believing women when they talk about their own relationships. Because, you know, they’re in them and we’re not. Is it possible that they have an open marriage but have decided to always deny it? Absolutely. But I’m not interested in ignoring Jada Pinkett Smith when her response to the question starts with a clear “no.”

What I am interested in, is what she has to say about relationships and why her relationship with Will Smith works.

Later on, she says:

[…] But I think that, that just comes from respecting that you’re in a partnership but that you also are an individual as well.

I love everything about all of this, open relationship or not. It’s true that for a lot of us non-monogamous folks, these are the things we want in a relationship but that have seriously lacked in our own attempts at monogamy and/or attempts we’ve been close to (parents, best friends, etc.). So if this is important to Jada and Will and they’ve managed to retain it in a monogamous relationship, more power to them! If part of this is flirting with or fantasizing about other people — which some might call non-monogamy but others wouldn’t — still awesome! Mostly, I’m just excited to hear somebody describe their relationship this way, and coming from a place of both happiness and empowerment.

(Also, I’m happy that I watched this interview because I got to hear Jada Pinkett Smith talk about Free Angela, relationships, etc.)


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13 Responses to Jada & Will Don’t Have an Open Marriage; Does It Matter?

  1. LC says:

    I think it is a great answer and I’m glad to see the view put forward by someone famous.

    Like you, I’m all for that happiness and empowerment in the relationship and coming at it from that healthy view. That so many Poly and other non-monogamous people seem to find this genuinely shocking and incomprehensible when it appears in monogamous relationships has always confused me no end.

    Good for her, good for him, and I’m happy they seem happy.

  2. Katie says:

    What possible incentive does she have to tell the truth about her relationship structure? Famous people have huge incentives to present a normative face to the world, especially women. I am in the habit of believing friends and people I know, but I would take anyone whose livelihood depends on being commercially nonthreatening’s media interactions with a grain of salt.

    • Radiant Sophia says:

      So what? Not the point.

      • EG says:

        Right? Given that not one of us has any right to know anything about her relationship, who cares if she’s lying? She has every right to.

    • What possible incentive does she have to tell the truth about her relationship structure?

      I don’t know, but honestly, what’s the point of expecting it? We’re not entitled to Jada’s Relationship Truths In Life, and in a rational, non-creepy society nobody would even be asking for Jada’s Relationship Truths In Life. What in fucking what.

      Society, ladies and gentlemen and others: where men can scream racist insults and people still think they’re good, and a woman can step up and say literally anything and people can’t go two comments on a feminist website without calling her a liar.

      • Exactly. It’s nobody’s business except those involved in the relationship, however many people that includes. The public being interested (read: nosy) does not equal the public interest.

    • Henry says:

      Katie’s point is Jada might be lying, which goes to the OP’s position to default believe Jada. As far as I am concerned the real issue is even asking Jada about her love life. Some things should be off limits. If Jada wants to talk about it fine, but forcing her to make a statement about a personal issue by circulating rumors for ages is exactly what is wrong with the media. Leave the happy couple alone, whatever they may or may not be doing.

  3. Scissors says:

    Why do people care so much. It’s their business.

  4. Athenia says:

    I’m not sure how this open relationship rumor started–but if it started because they didn’t attend a premier together or some shit, I can see why Jada answered the way she did.

    • Natalia says:

      My husband is a filmmaker and actor, and even folks who should know better expect me to attend *everything* with him. We were at a movie premiere tonight in Moscow, a totally low-key event – and ZOMG I didn’t stay for the afterparty, but he did. Suddenly, there was some person I barely know on Facebook, asking me “ARE YOU GUYS OK?”

      People don’t respect your boundaries if you are in any way “known” – even if you’re not particularly rich or famous or anything of the sort. Some do it because they’re vultures. Others do it because they crave a connection – and think they’re getting it when they get all up in your business.

  5. A4 says:

    It is obvious to me that the answer to this question cannot be approached by the savvy celebrity (Which I believe Ms. Pinkett Smith most definitely is) with the simple goal of accurately communicating the truth. As others have pointed out, in a rather nastier fashion, a celebrity is expected to carefully calculate the probable career impact of the public’s reaction to their statements. Continuing this line of thinking, others on this thread have surmised that Ms. Pinkett Smith was required to deny these allegations of non-monogamy due to oppressive societal sexual norms and therefore the veracity of these statements is questionable.

    I would like to point out that if we know the changed nature of the discourse then we can account for it in our participation. If our goal in our reactions as feminists is to support women’s agency and power to define their own experiences, then a reaction that continues to emphasize the importance of considering the truth value of the statements does not match this goal.

    I think a better reaction is to accept Ms Pinkett Smith’s words at face value in support of her own self definition rather than encourage further discussion scrutinizing the statements for veracity. The latter seems irresponsible when the excessive scrutiny of famous women is acknowledged alongside the ubiquity of oppressive judgments of women’s behavior and life choices.

  6. Pingback: Jada and Will Smith (and maybe a few others?) | thefeministblogproject

  7. Stevenredd says:

    I think my favorite is this:

    Ok? Because at the end of the day, Will is his own man. I’m here as his partner, but he is his own man. He has to decide who he wants to be and that’s not for me to do for him. Or vice versa.

    That speaks to their integrity. Not to their relationship, what they’ve planned or not…she started it by saying, “No,…” That should answer the question. The rest is a little snippet of wisdom for her that our group, for one, try to include in our triangle.

    You will do what you want because you are a human. We do not tell each other what to do. What you choose do after you do what you want really affects how you look yourself in the mirror at the end of the day. All else is about the negotiations and agreements we have put in place, breaking those has consequences, etc., etc.,….

    Kind of the old standard rules for Poly which could be rules for anything, really. Don’t be mean. Be respectful. Be honest. With yourself first, then us. Cuz you have to manage you, whether we’re here or not. Relationships do not mean I passively manage you in anyway.

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