So I just got off the phone with one of my favourite aunts, the aunt from the first post on finding a husband.. When I saw her number flash across my screen, I was so happy. You see, I speak to a lot of people back home, but they are mostly people from my generation who use social media quite a lot.
“Aunty!!!” I screeched happily into the phone
“Nne kedu?” She responded.
Then she spoke very quickly, her words tumbling over one another in her rush to say her bit and get off the phone seeing as it was an international call and all.
“Are you keeping your eyes open? Nkiru’s mother told me that many Igbo men live there.” She said
I was a little disappointed because I had hoped to have a conversation with her and catch up on the gossip back home. When I did not respond, she continued. Here is a list of what keeping my eyes open means, in her own words;
1. Find out about the Igbo forum and join it, you will find all the Igbo men there.
2. Try to attend their ceremonies, and make sure you help out, people always need help with frying the chicken and even serving.
3. Put on nice wigs and cover those your dreadlocks. Do you not see how other girls have nice weave-on.
4. Ehen when you join those forums, don’t be going to sit with the men to discuss politics in Nigeria, face your work.
5. It shouldn’t be too difficult to find a suitor there, because those Igbo men are always coming home to marry good girls, show them that you are a good girl who has just arrived and is not yet corrupt by that place.
6. When anybody asks you, tell them your father sent you to do masters. That way they will not run away and think you will be stubborn.
7. Reduce your age by 4 years.
8. Everyday read Isaiah 62, the whole chapter, everyday. Go to only the churches that our people attend.
9. When you are going for those Igbo meetings, make sure you go alone, and befriend the married women, if they like you, they will introduce you to their husband’s single friends. You don’t have any business with the single ladies.
10. Don’t be doing too much sports, our men don’t like women with strong body o.
There you have it. I don’t think she wrote it down, but somehow she managed to get it all out quite clearly under 3 minutes. I think number 4 is my favourite! Face your work literally means face your work; keep frying those chickens and serving the men. I also like the “reduce your age” bit, and I wondered how someone could ask you to lie in one breathe and bug God in the next. I could have called her back but as I did not have any calling card, I thought I would blog about it. So people, do you think I should face my work and not discuss politics anymore? Feel free to add on to my aunt’s list. I am sure this is not the end of this post. I shall do an update once I speak to her again 🙂
I was very saddened by a piece of news I read this morning about a teenager who was raped and brutalised and left in a pool of her own blood in Lagos. She was rescued by OPC and taken to the police station. It is my firm belief and hope that Gov. Fashola will ensure that this is investigated and these miscreants found and prosecuted. It made me recall a link to a blog which a friend sent to me on twitter, where the male writer was basically asking his male readers to push on when a woman says no to sex. It was a tournament he said, and women expected to be conquered. His argument was that women would not give in easily and needed to be coerced or taken down like the opposition. In the comments section, many men were extremely pleased with the article while many women were outraged by this worldview. Now I am not certain if the writer was being sarcastic or ironic, it did not seem that way to me. I am writing about this because this is something men commonly discuss in my culture and laugh about. Apparently, women are created to be coy and should show some resistance. I remember discussing this with some guys at a party; and they totally agreed that when a woman says no, she means yes and just wants you to wear her down. I was much too shocked that day to say much.
I will say here that giving the rising numbers of rape particularly in developing countries and patriarchal societies/cultures where the laws do not protect women, this just shows why. There is rape of women on streets and in buses and other public areas, and there is domestic rape also where the rapists believe that the fact that the women are in their “space/house” or they paid for dinner, etc, means consent. In countries like India and Nigeria, women are raped all the time and perpetrators go scot free. The recent outcries in India following the rape and death of the young medical student and the prosecution of the men involved has opened up more questions about laws and gender crimes in developing countries. People may remember the rape of the young Nigerian student in Abia State University in 2011; she was raped over and over by five men who made a video and circulated this on the internet. I remember being deeply disturbed by her cries of “please just kill me”.
Rape is rarely reported to authorities in Nigeria, as their handling of the cases are very degrading of the woman and her family. According to federal police statistics which were gleaned from a website called Nigeria Police Watch, only 1,952 cases were reported in 2009. In spite of these numbers, a 2006 Amnesty International report said that those numbers are at best “sporadic, piecemeal and inconsistent” in a country with numbers rising above 160 million people.
I was raised to stay away from potential situations which would put me in a position of violence particularly gender motivated attacks. When I was younger, I thought my mother just did not want me to have fun. Now I understand. If a woman is raped, society judges her; they ask her questions such as where were you, why did you drink, why did you go to his house, that dress you were wearing can cause rape because it is too short. I believe that things can only change when we change as individuals. When a woman says no, she actually does mean no, if she were being coy, she would come to you in no time. Have you ever wondered why men from developing countries tend to serve time in Europe and North America for rape? When one takes the no means yes mentality to a developed country where the justice systems work, then be ready to serve a well deserved time in prison; and rightly so too. I get very passionate when I write or talk about this. Someone even said to me when I was discussing this piece;
“My friend is serving time in Germany for allegedly raping a girl. But this chic went home with my friend, why did she go home with him, and she was moaning too, my friend said so.”
Really? You take advantage of a drunk girl who probably said no, and you think she will fight you? Unless a woman is trained in black belt or some such martial arts, how is she going to fight off a rapist? That will probably make things worse. I always say to people; be a gentleman, actually no does mean no. If a woman is interested in taking it further, she shows it soon enough. I feel that this piece is so small, I feel that I must launch a huge campaign with our police and the people who need to amend and implement the laws to protect women. If the law makes examples of a few people, it deters many others. However, I am confident that there are many groups working on this and trying to make the world a safer place for all vulnerable groups; and it is my hope that this drop can gradually begin to cause small ripples in our mind-sets and legal systems. I shall follow up the story of the teenager in Lagos and hopefully update this post with news on police investigations going forward. While I do that, I urge everyone to work together in every little way possible to make the world safer for our mothers, our daughters, our wives/partners/girlfriends and our sisters. No does indeed, mean no!
I am fascinated by relationships, by our very human need for love and companionship, and everything in between. I am also a hopeless romantic, so everything about relationships to me, is beautiful. But we all know that this is not the reality and lately, the more I speak to people, the more it seems to me that the basis, the foundation, the crux, the soul, if you wish, of most relationships, is finance. It makes or breaks relationships, partnerships, marriages. If you are looking to find a husband or a wife, you better be ready to discuss finances I think.
So without further ado, my big question really is; is the man responsible for taking care of the woman financially, whether they be boyfriend/girlfriend, partners, husband/wife? Should a man pay all the bills in the home should they be married and have children? Is the man responsible for paying the bills, whatever they may be? I spoke to men and women alike and what an interesting mix of responses.
Almost all the women I spoke to told me that they wanted to be with a man whom they were sure could take care of them. Women told me that the man had better be ready to pay for a trip to the salon, a vacation abroad, meals when they were out, gadgets including mobile phone credits, and shopping sprees. One person asked me of what use the man was if he could not provide for her?
“I equate love to gifts, if a man gives me stuff, then he clearly cares about me.” Another woman told me.
It depends on the relationship, if a man is wealthy, then it would not be a problem to provide for his woman. However, if he were struggling and earning a certain income like the woman, it may seem unreasonable to expect him to cater to everything. Someone said to me that men are providers, and feel much more happy and in control when they are able to provide for the people in their lives without having to ask the woman to contribute. But doesn’t it also depend on the relationship being shared by both parties? If both people are in a partnership built on a solid foundation of friendship and equality, then naturally most responsibilities will be shared fairly depending on income bracket. In this part of the world though, that seems far fetched, as most relationships are still very traditional, with the woman expected to be submissive to the man, the man is in control and is not necessarily accountable to her for his actions.
In order to maintain this position, a man is required to pay all the bills and occassionally give a monthly allowance to his woman. her responsibility is to take care of him and the home front, prepare the meals, raise the children, respect and honour him, and defer to him, even though she has a job. To women, when a man takes care of the finances, it makes it easier for them to submit and revere him as tradition/society requires. A friend once told me that she often found resentment in her heart, because her husband did not play any active role in the house, except grudgingly bankroll stuff. She had a job as a teacher which did not pay much, however, she was on her feet all day, and was exhausted by the time she got home. He insisted on freshly cooked meals, and would never get up when the baby cried at night.
I spoke to some men who told me that they could never be with a woman who makes more money than they did. This to them would be too dicey. Women can be quite mouthy and unable to control their emotions. More money would give a woman a big head, and she would very quickly slag off her husband and be disrespectful.
“She can keep her money, I will provide for my house. I am the head of the family.” Someone told me.
Again it depends on the situation, if a woman kept all her money and spent all the man’s income (if he’s not rich), will there be resentment at the end of the day on the man’s part? Will he wonder what she did with the stash she earns? A former colleague once told me that he was married to the most selfish “nuisance” (yes he called his wife that) on the face of the earth. Apparently, she refused to tell him how much she earned, but she knew his’. He could tell that she made quite a bit of money, about 10% less than he did, he knew because he determined the average salary of people on her grade level. Not only did he not know how much she earned, he paid for everything in the house including her personal items and “grooming” including brazillian hair which cost him as much as $1000, and which she proceeded to weave unto her scalp. He was nagged for months until he saved and paid for the fake hair. She would go off with her girlfriends and buy really stunning jewelry and beautiful shoes, and then ask him for money for food for the house and toiletries too.
It made him resentful because he could not treat himself much, as he was down to zero at the end of the month. On the other hand, some men require that their wives hand over their salary at the end of the month/on pay day. He then gives her what she needs from it. That shows that a woman is respectful of her husband and is submissive as stated in the good book. There are also scenarios where the woman pays for stuff and would do it through her husband so that he does not feel like less of a man. For example, there are casual workers who have come to fix the plumbing or the fence, she then gives him money to pay them. The dynamics of relationships are always very interesting.
I spoke to a few men and women who are quite progressive and told me that both parties must share all responsibilities; whether they be financial and/or domestic, if both parties have jobs. That way, everybody feels like they are part of the relationship and nobody feels used, or feels like a freeloader. These progressives believe that the two parties should split the bills if they are living under one roof. Two salaries/income streams are certainly good and can provide a better lifestyle for the couple and their family. With two incomes, it may be easier to live in a nice house, or perhaps take a vacation or buy a home. One person should only have to pay for stuff all the time should the other party be laid off from work.
Are women really golddiggers? This is the vibe I got from speaking to people. Men here say women are consistently nagging them for stuff. You take a woman out today, you are not even sure you want to see her again, and the next day, she’s calling you and trying to get you to buy her brazillian hair, or a new iPhone. Women on the other hand, say men are selfish and are consistently playing with multiple girls on the side, and that although they do not admit it, men like the power of wielding their wallets and get very intimidated once a woman wants to pick up the bill. If she does, she is arrogant, will never make a good partner in a relationship and is “showing herself”. I personally, will attempt to contribute on a date, and will look out for body language. If a man says no, I will never ask again, but will do other things like buy tickets so both of us can see something, or get dessert. It’s a path to be threaded carefully.
What do you think about finances in a relationship? Should a man pay all the bills? Have the times changed at all?
I was going through my archives, and I found a piece I wrote in 2005. I was 22, volunteering as part of the National Youth Service Corps in a small rural community; a relationship had just ended, I was angry, bored and lonely and it showed in this piece. I had a good laugh reading this. Actually, all the pieces I wrote during that time were dark, angry and violent hahaha. Check this one out, it’s a lot of rambling 🙂
Sons Of Adam
You are like Pharoah
The female’s bane
That cup overflows yet
Take a sip
Like a greedy child
The insatiable rider at the peak of dry season
I smell a rat
His voice trembles so
Those sweet lips refuse my offering
Are we still composing?
Hear more fragments of soundless soprano
If you are not my bane
Speak those words I long to hear
What omen…who stops you so?
Like the greedy child
You clutch the dry fish in your tight fist
Yet you seek another and cry for more
No more sweet words
I know your type
The bathroom has become the switchboard
Seems you answer the call of nature
As you answer the call of Eve’s child
Speak up then…be heard.
So I win
I know your type
The devil’s envy
The devil’s envoy
You tell me…what more do u want?
I tell you man
I have seen Shakespeare
I sat at the helm of his royal excavation
And Aphrodite and Nymphs blessed me at birth.
Speak up Adam’s offspring
What more do you want?
My talents abound
In good time… the rain will fall
Look …the clouds lie in wait….prepare the path
Last night I sharpened that metal
I had no corn stalks to harvest
No wild growing plants or weed
Only one wild stem full of seeds
Seems the stem began to flowers to tend
It’s flower remained unattended
So I took care of it
You do not want it coming near your gardens
I sharpened that metal
He played me with words.
But the eyes must see
They believe as they see
No sweet words trick me
He’s like a tortoise
Last night I chose to be Thomas
Have you noticed how people equate the success of the female to being married?It does not end at being married; you also have to have children otherwise you are not woman enough. Apparently, the first question people ask my colleagues when they meet me at work or ask my relatives when they meet me back home at holidays when I go to be with my family is:
“Is she married?”
Since the answer is no, they then make sympathetic sounds and tag me.
So, no matter how hard I work, no matter how kind I try to be, to them, am really nothing and cannot be fully happy until I am Mrs. Somebody. Mind you, I have received this feedback only from people who have been “honest” enough to provide it.
“Everything good will come.”
That’s how my mum ends her conversations these days. Roughly translated, a good man will come. Don’t get me wrong, I want a good man to come. Indeed am a sucker for love; if it is not mad, passionate, selfless love, am usually not interested as I really suck at playing games and conforming to society’s dictation of how these things should work along gender lines. I believe it’s alright to stay open and keep searching for it. Sometimes, you may think that you have found it and it blows apart in your face, but we keep searching and trying. I have heard some amazing love stories. Who thrives on mediocrity?
However, I have also seen the other side. I have seen it many times, I have almost fallen victim to it; you decide that you are tired of being alone or hearing about it, you develop a checklist, find someone who checks some of the boxes, and then take the plunge. Disaster for the most part; hence the prayers which my mum insists my sister and I say every night.
Am still not sure who nominated my aunt to call, but here are a few tips she shared. I have never been one to hoard useful information, so see if you will find it useful. Since she thought to share it, I thought I would share it in turn.
1. Do not go out at night, a decent girl stays home.
2. Do not be too strong and independent, men like to be needed.
3. You must not have an opinion about politics and the economy. Be submissive.
4. Always wear long wavy weaves. Men do not like natural hair; dreadlocks are particularly detested.
5. Learn to cook very well. Men want a good homemaker.
I asked her if rolling my dreadlocks and putting them down counted as long wavy hair? Then I asked her if making noodles was considered good homemaking ability.