No feminist talk here biko. I bind and cast! I sprinkle vampire water. Maybe lines will be crossed and feminism will come into play but I swear this is just relationship talk. In an African setting. Not “situationships”. Not maga and magee scenarios. Real relationships (whatever that means – the type the guy eventually goes on his knees and proposes sha). I know the faces of the regular customers on TNC always attacking feminism and social equality! I rebuke you in the name of… Okay, let me start this way.
I was brought up in a home where my mother showed me how not to need a man… Don’t ask me how… She didn’t choose that life. It was just placed on her. I’ll be nowhere near where I am today if not for her (and dad too of course. He’s, after all, dad). I grew up thinking men had nothing much to offer. “Get that cash, girl!” became my motto. I entered into relationships thinking the same.
I also have a deep fear of rejection, so I do not like asking for help. Not from anyone. I’m proud and stubborn. I would rather struggle and carry my generator or fridge from the ground floor to the third floor than ask the guy who gyms every morning and stays in the apartment downstairs. If you want to help, you can ask and I might still say “No, thanks!” because I do not believe in stressing people! My classmate and tight buddy during my Masters once got angry because I almost deferred a year for financial reasons and I didn’t breathe a word to anyone. He heard from one big-mouthed girl who said she was trying to save my life. Somebody can’t even defer in peace again.
I am also an extremely prudent spender. I stand the risk of being labelled stingy. If it is not totally necessary then the answer is no. Ask me to do fun stuff and I start bringing up school fees and house rent and water bill and light bill and things I need to buy – real stuff. It’s not like I don’t splurge… Well maybe not often… I’m just the type who doesn’t care about random stuff like hair and shoes and bags and manicure and partying… I will not come and see you if you live too far away because that is expense. I sound very boring innit? I care actually, and I want to be free and irresponsible and broke. I just feel like right now I can’t afford that. I should save and save and save so when the rain comes I have an umbrella and where I’m from, it rains a lot.
I once had a conversation with this friend. I asked him to help me get a job with higher pay, because my bills were increasing, my shoulders were crumbling and I was depressed. His response was “Why?”. Since I had a boyfriend, he felt that Le Boo should assist me. Then he sent Sopono and thunder to me when he realised my boyfriend didn’t spend up to 10,000 naira on me in a month inclusive of movies and maybe dinner if we don’t go to The Place more than once a week. I didn;t think there was anything extreme about this, but he said it was terribly extreme. This conversation was just the weirdest. He was mad at me and was wishing for a girlfriend like me. In his words, next time I’m single I should holla so he can date me.
Of course, I didn’t. He is a stupid goat, it is not his type we are looking for here.
I tried to bring up different scenarios where the guy has other responsibilities and I should not add my own since I can take care of my problems, and he should take care of his. The guy said it didn’t matter. His theory was that I was my boyfriend’s responsibility.
“But we’re not even married!”
He said it didn’t matter. He claimed I should have been part of the reason he worked hard if I was really in his future plans. In his opinion, my boyfriend should have been thinking about my comfort and happiness or he shouldn’t have entered into the relationship at all. I asked him if a boyfriend is supposed to think like that.
“I should help him manage his finances.”
He asked me if a girlfriend should think like that. Then, down the line, he asked me if I got a medal from him after we broke up. I didn’t get no medal from my ex for helping him to manage his money; looking for the cheapest deals and places to go and managing, however crappy it was. I was just fine. I was hoping I was scoring brownie points though, somewhere in his head, for being a prudent, financially strong woman and hoped he would pick me for wifey position over the other option. Our circumstances were different, though: genotype. I must also admit that I’ve been a maga before. I wore the same shoe (I only had one) for two years because I was using my pocket money to feed some bae. I can say it now because it has passed. And the circumstances were complicated.
So this my know-it-all friend also claimed that if a man ever cheated on me, it would be my fault, because I did not make myself a priority and he probably never saw me in his future. Apparently, I should not wait for him to notice the need. I should ask! A man should do something major for me every month. He should assist me with rent, help me furnish my apartment, even if it is to buy the AC. He should do more than lunch and dinner and movies. A man should bring more to the table than his fine face. We can’t connect emotionally without connecting financially.
I really struggle to understand this because I have always felt that I’m my own responsibility. I get my house, my car, and my degrees. I pay my rent, buy my Peruvian and Mongolian and what not, on my terms. Not him, not any man, not anyone. I don’t wait around for freebies. But, going by the reprimand I got from this guy, it seems that I am missing something. What are the dynamics in a relationship? If it was a girl saying all this, well I’ll just assume we have different point of views. But he’s not the first or second guy telling me I was being too independent.
Maybe I really am not truly independent for letting what they say even get to me. Maybe I need a man to be a part of my success story so when I’m giving a speech on some podium one day, he won’t be left out. All I need from a man is his love and affection and faithfulness (and cute face) he should have a good job and a good head on his shoulders. I will make enough money to send my kids to school and buy the fancy house I always dreamed of buying. I hate it when they say a man’s money is making me shine! People can be so annoying when they make that statement. But I don’t want to breed stinginess or irresponsibility. Maybe I should learn how to take from a man?
Someone I was dating once called me proud because I made the “I’m all me and I don’t need you” speech. This is how it starts. I get an oil well and I become the richest woman in Africa and I treat my husband like the maid. I mean why isn’t he working hard enough? Why didn’t he also get an oil well? Why is he slacking? I don’t want to be like that. How do I not be like that?! Or is it too late for me?
I know I have raised a lot of issues here. But really how does it work? Guys, if you earn the same pay as your woman or even more, would you be mad if she asks you for stuff? Or is it normal and even expected? And when does it become too much? Ladies, when do you think it is his duty to do something for you? I’m not talking of excesses like a car or a house but if that’s your level of income, oh well… Anyway, it all boils down to this question. At what point do you draw the line between being materialistic and being “too” independent?