Past few days I’ve been trying to write a post for today on feminism and intersectionality that drew some inspiration from last week’s big twitter debate under the hash tags #solidarityisforwhiteowmen and #blackpowerisforblackmen but that has been on my mind for a while as I have been pondering the nature of exclusion in Nigerian/African feminism. I was determined to write something profound and insightful so I decided to do some background research to lend it the necessary gravitas to be taken seriously.
The quality of the research and writing on African feminism is so high that after four hours poring through several lengthy academic treatises including the African Feminist Charter of Principles and listening to gorgeous young African women propound complicated theories I realized that I might need a PhD to be able to comprehend it all and write anything of great import. The 2000 words I had written seem shallow, ego centric and superficial in comparison. All dis big big grammar sef, how does a working girl compete ehn?
I was also disturbed by a more personal incident of an emotional nature. Emotional incidents have a way of disrupting my peace, I’m still learning how to deal with my emotions and get in touch with my feminine side. I’m still way too sensitive most times even if I do make a good show of covering it up with my tough-butter-couldn’t-melt-in-my-feminist-mouth attitude. It’s just my way of coping, I’m damned if I’m going to let anyone see my soft under belly, you know what I mean? Okay, maybe not. Anyway that post will be a bit longer in coming, I need to educate myself a bit more before I make an ass out of myself.
Part of my that piece dealt with an encounter I had with a self-proclaimed male African feminist during the debates. I say self-proclaimed because surely you should wait for people to give you the moniker after you have proven your credentials with words and actions. Being a skeptic I question the motives of all self-identified feminist men. Are they really willing to question and give up their male privilege or is it just opportunistic grand standing that also lets them cop out of the more demanding aspects of traditional masculinity with a parachute? Really, it’s NOT about understanding theoretical feminism.
This encounter and the incident of an emotional nature led me to wonder just exactly what it is that the modern Nigerian man wants from the modern Nigerian woman. Since my post on feminism and intersectionality is far from ready I would like to share my appropriately shallow, superficial and hopefully humorous thoughts and insights on the matter of the 21st century Nigerian Man. There are two types – the self-proclaimed feminist and the cultural chauvinist but they are really the same; narcissistic, entitled, insensitive, and opportunistic.
The self-proclaimed feminist male can ask you to pay for your dinner or drinks when he takes you out with a straight face, ignore that your nails or hair need fixing and avoid helping you with heavy bags. In return he can safely indulge his love of cooking and obsessive compulsive domesticity without criticism or offers of help from you. He can also ask you for a loan or financial support when he needs it without narcissistic injury to his ego since he fancies himself a feminist and figures feminism means it’s okay for a man to take money from a woman.
All Nigerian Men want an educated woman. They may say this is because they believe in equality for women but it’s really because they wants to be able to enjoy high quality and varied conversations with you on those nights when they can’t hang out with the boys and when you are on your period and can’t have sex. The Modern Nigerian Man wants you to have a career, not a job, and your own income. He doesn’t want you running to him every time you need to buy tampons or a pack of cigarettes. No, he is too modern to have a dependent or uneducated wife or girlfriend.
His woman has to have a career so that when he eventually starts his own business which every modern Nigerian man dreams of doing you won’t be ‘quitting your job’ but making a ‘career move’. Meanwhile, he will make you the general manager that handles all the administration, logistics and operations that actually make a business successful while he continues to generate the big ideas in the board room. He will even magnanimously give you a generous package that includes health insurance and benefits, a pension plan and fully paid leave.
Bossing around the staff should fulfill your need to be a feminist warrior if you are one, this is okay so long as you confine it to the appropriate space. At home he wants a woman who will cook for him and help keep house. You don’t necessarily have to be a house bound chattel,so long as you do not start a gender war every time you enter the kitchen or clean. He wants a clean well organized home, as well organized as the filing system in the office you run for him; his shorts, socks and ties lined up according to color, age or whatever other eccentric preference he might have in this regard.
After work he wants you to entertain him with intelligent chit chat and kinky sex when he is feeling in the mood. When he is not in the mood you will know because he will bury his head in his laptop or answer your attempts at conversation with monosyllables. On nights like those it is safe to go out with the girls, he may even drop you off and pick you up if need be. Occasionally he may ask you to accompany him to some office social gathering. He wants you to look your best because he likes women that take care of themselves.
Most of all the modern Nigerian Man has learnt the joys of companionship and wants your companionship more than anything. If you are away for 12 week on a business course or taking care of your sick mother in the village he will demand you cut your trip short or threaten to go elsewhere to get it and blame you without a hint of irony. Because you see, its really not about you, any woman would do and she doesn’t even have to be Nigerian.