Okay no man bashing today, even though sometimes I find it an acceptable and enjoyable past time. I get it that men sometimes just can’t help themselves; it must be all that testosterone and male privilege. They can be sexist, misogynistic, childish, immature, insensitive, self-centred, irresponsible and downright exasperating. But there are also men who are caring, compassionate, self-aware, intuitive, emotionally intelligent and sensitive. I know both types. But today I shall address the question that has propped up a couple of times since I wrote my last post. What do modern Nigeria women want from the modern Nigerian man?
Considering that we have careers, earns our own money and do not see marriage or children as the be all and end all of our existence anymore and some of us even identify as feminist what does this modern Nigerian woman want from a man? Now if it was ten or twenty years ago the answer to the simple question would have been an equally simple – sex, sex, sex and more sex then I would throw in tall, dark and handsome but I have matured as have my views on life so now I know we want a bit more than just good sex (did I say good sex before?).
In addition to good sex we want good manners. We will no longer put up with bad manners in the name of feminism or Nigerian chauvinism. So if you don’t open the door, or let us sit down first or wait for us to extend our hand for a handshake first you will be considered an ill-bred lout. Good manners have nothing to do with whether a woman can open the door for herself or not, it’s just one of those quaint social customs that say your parents made an effort to teach you compassion, empathy, caring and a consideration for other people’s feelings.
Yeah your boyish charms are quite disarming and might get you a date but real women want real men in their lives, not ‘boys’, not even ‘big boys’, hell, especially not ‘big boys’. We want grown ass men who will built grown up adult lives with us, not pie in the sky fantasies. We Nigerian women are strong and fierce and we want strong fierce men to be our partners, not wimps that get sand kicked in their face. We want men who reflect the values we hold dear; hard work, ambition, decisiveness, tenacity, confidence, courage, persistence, etc. Yes that’s right, we want men that will fight for us and with us because you know what? We’ll fight for you and with you too.
We want men with jobs that take their jobs seriously. We don’t want house husbands or gigolos; we want adults not infants as our partners. We would feel cheated if we had to earn all the money and share it with someone whose only contribution to the partnership is sexual availability, child care and domestic work (don’t you?) Only rich white people and religious zealots think parenting or motherhood is an excuse not to work. Every body works in Nigeria unless they are severely disabled or too old and even then they try to make themselves useful. Life in Nigeria is constructed around making child care and work possible. Work is not a right, it is a bloody obligation.
Of course like some men, we would rather not work, we’d much rather live a completely indolent life and still be able to afford nice clothes, good food, a nice place to live, bad habits (like smoking and drinking) and extracurricular activities (like night clubbing and dancing). However, unless you are lucky enough to have a trust fund you work because that’s what adults do to enjoy the lifestyle of their choice unless they prefer to live like a beach bum. We do not want trade-offs that tell us house work is work too and staying at home with the kids is better for them while you take care of us. We are not interested in negotiating those problematic power dynamics with you.
You have to be able to pay your own way most of the time and to help us out some of the time because as Nigerians we know that neither of us can do it alone all of the time and sooner or later you’ll need us to help you out and we’ll remember your generosity or lack of it. Just because some of us identify as feminist doesn’t mean we don’t like help once in awhile or that we can’t help once in awhile we just don’t want to have an adult financially dependent on us. We would start to resent that eventually (even if the sex is great) and treat you with less respect than we should have for a partner, just like you. It’s those problematic power relations, you know, he or she who has the gold…
However, we don’t want to be your equals, you can still pay the rent and school fees (irrespective of how much we each earn) while we’ll buy our own designer hand bags and shoes, as well as tampons and bubble gum. During summer holidays you pay for the airline tickets and the vacation rental, we‘ll handle McDonald’s, ice cream and the movies. We are not ready to go as far as our western feminist sisters and pool our earnings with yours to pay for the rent, mortgage and other big item household bills. We still have a lot of catching up to do.
White men and women frequently discuss who wakes up in the middle of the night when the baby cries. We Nigerian women are kind of possessive after carrying the little bugger for 9 months and bonding while breast feeding and changing diapers so unless we’re knackered when we will kick you out of bed to help us we usually get up because we really cherish those moments. We know junior won’t be a baby forever and we don’t want you getting in the way of our bonding. Time enough for you and him to bond when he’s a teenager. So if you don’t ask to spend more time with him we won’t insist unless we need you to babysit when we go to the hairdressers or something like that.
House work? Simple; clean up after you, we’ll clean up after ourselves and there’ll be peace. We don’t want men to do our laundry, just do your own because we don’t intend to. Dishes ain’t a problem, wash yours after you eat or stick them in the dishwasher, don’t dump them in the sink and if you cook clean up after yourself, same thing in the bathroom. For the big stuff like vacuuming, spring cleaning, yard and garage clearing we’d rather hire an agency or get someone to come in a couple times a week and you better be ready to pay for half of it unless you want to do all of it.
When we modern women lived on our own we didn’t cook every day so we’re not going to start now just because we’ve moved in with you, we went out and ate quite often too and when you lived on your own you didn’t eat out every day sometimes you cooked. Do not suddenly insist that you are a chief in your village and cannot eat outside. Sometimes we will cook, sometimes you better cook, and sometimes we will go out to dinner. Just like before. Coming to a compromise here really seems like a no brainer.
We also want respect, so no misogynistic jokes ay dinner parties (catered), no cheating with the house girl, no overt or covert flirting with our friends, and the only place and time you are allowed to objectify us is when we are having kinky sex in the privacy of our bedroom. We’ll play French maid, cops and robbers, postman Joe and any other game you can think of. That’ll be your reward for being the man of our dreams. So long as sometimes we get to be postman Joe. 😀
In return you will have a woman that stands by you and with you through all the storms living in Nigeria brings, a trusted ally, an eager cheerleader, a personal shrink, a non-judgmental confidante, an honest advisor and an all-round team player, in short an island of stability in troubled waters. If you don’t forget to reciprocate we won’t either.