This is Amma’s response to The Economics of Sex: The Game Has Changed [Part 1]
. . .
Let’s go all the way back…
Who says we all want to get married in the first place?
I studied labor relations in college (random… I know) and if there is ONE thing we came out of there knowing and understanding, it is the economic and social power of a scab. Scabs are the people who, in the midst of a protest, will continue to work or continue to offer the service being scaled back for the sake of a greater good. They are the undermining, no-good, back stabbing son of guns who can single-handedly prevent the greater good.
They often suffer ‘mysterious’ tragic ends.
They had it coming.
So what does this have to do with economics of sex? Well… the collusion bit of course. The problem is, as you rightly asserted in your synopsis of the movie, aside from birth control there are also shifts in societal norms that have de-valued marriage or long term commitment and have made sex an end in and of itself.
Back in the day, women got married for plenty of reasons:
- Economic stability- since the man was the sole breadwinner
- Societal pressure- giving birth to a royal lineage, marrying up, being offered in a business transaction between two powerful families… I mean, just generally being used as collateral
- Puritanical Conceptions of family- the idea that a family is only valid if there is a mother, father (who are married and at least the woman is faithful) two children and a pet
- Religious reasons- Christianity required it of any sexual encounter
Today we are seeing that less people are ‘religious’, more women are breadwinners, society is opening up to alternative family relationships (two dads anyone?) and thanks to Sheryl Sandberg, we are leaning in and there is no pressure to be a great mom and great wife, just a great women in the boardroom. Women today aren’t dainty little princesses waiting in purity for their handsome princes to come slay dragons and win their hand. Some of them are wearing heavy armor, getting out into the war zones and looking for an occasional good time between battles. Whether we blame feminism or hip hop… or just blame the devil, one thing is true… these messages have resonated with a number of women, most of whom would be scabs in that remedy of collusion.
There are women who do not want a committed relationship… they do not want to make sex a premium. They want it to be as easy to come by as birth control is in Ghana. They want it subsidized almost… some even want to make profit from it (and I am not even talking about our girlfriends in Cantonments… did you see episode two of ‘An African City’?!). I mean if women see sex as a currency to gain things like apartments, cars, Louis Vuitton bags…
deputy ministerial positions, then well, who’s going to give that up so that all you commitment-loving, old- fashioned, socially brainwashed anti-feminist women can get married?! You see how this is a dilemma?
So then the real answer here comes from the male side.
The pressure should not fall solely on the woman to revalue sex as something worthy of a long term committed relationship. Guys are culpable to. They need to stand up and be counted. They also need to hold a higher standard for sex. It’s funny that Afua says men will spend the better part of their youth philandering with the scabs, only to come back in hot pursuit of a women they deem ‘wifeable’… someone who seems pristine but is willing to go ham in the bedroom. Something about a lady in the streets and a freak in the sheets… they want the seemingly good girls once they have been bad boys all up and through town. How nice… really. I mean would it be so difficult to say, I also value sex… *shrugs* I guess it is according to the video makers.
But honestly, I have actually met a number of guys like this. I remember a guy I knew in grad school who had only been with two girls. I was really shocked. I mean here he was, good looking, tall, well educated, charismatic… not even particularly religious but he just couldn’t find value in ravaging through the women that were THROWING themselves in his direction. In his case, he had heightened the value of sex and was also being a gatekeeper of commitment, because he was also not into just dating for giggles. I mean, I was truly in awe. And yes… yes… this is because I
have had(?)-ish low expectations of men when it came to sex. As the video points out, men can dissociate sex from romance and love and passion and all the things that make women like Olivia in Scandal seem like a victim of ardor instead of a confused two- timing side chick with an almost insatiable sexual appetite— but I digress. Because I think men can engage in sexual activities with women they have no real interest in more often than women, I assume that because they can they do. However I am finding, more and more, that this is not necessarily always the case and maybe it’s really just Hollywood that has us fooled. Or maybe I am just meeting really great guys. At any rate, men can and do have the power to also raise the value of sex and restore it to the confines of a committed relationship. The real collusion here is between men and women…
And it’s not just men in their old age… a lot of the behavior we see comes from the nurture of our own parenting. I know in the Ghanaian context, I had a conversation with a women in her 40′s who explained that for ‘big’ men here to be faithful to their wives was a symbol of their homosexuality. That a man that is successful should have a sexual appetite bigger than one woman, and any woman that cannot stand this should not aspire to marry into that kind of success. And I mean, with mothers like these— who needs enemies?! There is therefore a role for men, especially fathers, to play in shaping the psyche of acceptable male behavior as it relates to holding a higher standard of intimacy. I came across this letter written from a father to his son about the only reason someone should get married, and in the preamble it said:
Before we talk about sex, though, I want to talk about marriage. Not because I’ll shun you or shame you if you don’t put them in that order — although I hope you will — but because I believe the only good reason to get married will bring clarity to every other aspect of your life, including sex.
You’ll have to read the entire piece for the reason but suffice it to say, this is a man willing to place a higher value on sex and to instill that into his son. Do you think his son will be traipsing around feeling like he should sow his wild oats before getting married? ME thinks not. And it had nothing to do with women holding hands at Independence Square in solidarity— but everything to do with a sort of brotherhood— an order of males seeking nothing less than commitment and sacrifice before engaging in this form of intimacy.
The economist in me is also thinking the issue may be the age old microeconomic problem of imperfect information. Maybe we are all just hiding behind these false pretenses where girls are giving it up because they think it’s what guys want, and guys are taking it because they think here are these free, liberated women who are exploring their sexuality and pushing the boundaries of social conformity— who wants to be the patriarch to re-institute all of the oppressive rhetoric women fought so hard against in the ’60’s? So then the men just sort of give in too, and then everyone is playing this game of ampe where you are so distracted by the clapping, you don’t even know that you are all on the same foot. Madness!
So how do we tear the veil of confusion? Communication. This guy blogger has made it very clear, and very public that he stands on the side of valuing sex in long term relationship. Perhaps if we were all this transparent, we could sift through the hay and find the needle in the stack.
Look… all I am saying is, as long as men hold low value for sex, there will always be scabs wiling to undermine the female sex revolution… but if men were to themselves, maintain a higher standard, then the scabs become obsolete and there is now a better situation for everyone involved. Even if everyone doesn’t want to get married, or people are delaying marriage for one reason or the other, there should still be a proportionate cohort of women AND men who are willing to raise the standard… for the love of humanity (hahaha!)
Do you think women need to work together to restore sex to its place of commitment or is that more of a conversation between men and women where men also assume some of the responsibility? Sound Off!
BUT DON’T WAIT ANOTHER DAY… :)
You would have to be living under a rock to not have seen The Economics of Sex vid on some timeline, tweet, or status update in the last few weeks. I’ve included the vid below. It’s only ten minutes, but I know y’all won’t watch (…I do look at our blog stats), so I’ve given you the run down of the main points:
- Pop culture says everyone around you is enjoying casual sex; elite culture insists that women and men are exactly the same in this regard, however “On average, men have a higher sex drive than women… On average, men initiate sex more than women, they’re more sexually permissive than women, and they connect sex to romance less often than women… Women on the other hand are likely to have sex for reasons beyond pleasure: to express and receive love, to strengthen commitment, affirm desirability and for relationship security” …it just is what it is.
- Women are the gatekeepers to sex, and men are the gatekeepers to commitment.
- If we look at this purely in economic terms, if sex is ‘her’ resource, how does a woman price sex? A few drinks and compliments?
A month3 months of dates? A lifetime promise of commitment?… The pricing of sex isn’t in a vacuum, because the market value of sex is part of a social system of exchange – ie. what others are buying and selling sex for has an influence on your individual price.
- In the world of simple supply and demand, when supply is high prices drop, but when something is hard to find, people will pay a premium for it. And men these days know that the market value of sex has decreased.
- There has been a splitting of the female mating market (those looking for sex vs those looking for marriage), largely as a result of the pill [I'm adding in my own bit here and saying also because of society, condoms, media, etc.]
- So what does this mean for women:
- Women get to be selective for SHORT-TERM sexual relationships – because the supply of men (wanting Short Term sexual encounters) outnumbers their women counterparts. [To see this displayed in all it's glory, all you need to do is go to any bar on a Friday night]
- However, the reverse is true when women want to settle down.
. . .
I’ve always said I’m an economist at heart… somewhat. That’s why when something is explained to me in economic terms, I get it.
I get that you can have casual sex with women who like having casual sex AND with women who think it’ll make you wife them, AND THEN when you’re done
making enough money, getting to that certain position in your career, growing up, sowing your wild oats, there will still be the ‘good ones’ out there waiting to be wifed.
I get that you have lowered your standards, because women have lowered theirs.
I get that whenever you choose to get married, as long as it’s not after the age of
50 70, there will always be droves of women willing and able to take up that burden privilege.
…I get it
…I got it
So what do ‘we’ (women wanting commitment before the clock strikes menopause) do in this case? How do we circumvent the game, and swing things back (even just a lil bit) in our favor?…inquiring minds wants to know.
I’m going to briefly describe what the vid says is the way women can gain back power. However, I want to make a quick note that after Amma responds to this later this week, we will also have a male guest post on the subject matter (whoop whoop testosterone… yes we’ve heard your
nagging, cries, complaints constructive feedback) :)
So how does the vid say women can gain back the power? Drum Roll pleaseeeee…
BY STICKING TOGETHER.
Somewhat of a kumbaya/ yaya sisterhood of sorts. But that’s as simple as it gets. Women no longer have each others backs in the mating market… now they’re each others competition. And in order to get the attention of men, women appeal to what they believe men want, sex.
I was in Lagos last week and a group of ladies and I were talking about the male market, when one summed up the group’s sentiments quite simply: ‘no one wants to truly commit anymore.’ This was a group of Americans AND African women, mind you. As I sat there, I kept thinking ‘are women asking men to though (by their words AND actions)?’ According to the Economics of Sex, men aren’t actually afraid of commitment *cue shock and awe*, rather they tend to behave as well or as poorly as the women in their lives permit. [please read that over. again. let it resonate]. Thus, economists have concluded that collusion – women working together – would be the most rational way to elevate the market value of sex. If women demanded a higher market price in exchange for sex, we would be seeing:
1. more impressive woo’ing efforts
2. greater male investment
3. longer relationships
4. fewer pre-martial partners
5. shorter co-habitation, and
6. more marriages
A woman’s power in this economy is to know what she wants in a relationship and signal it clearly …but none of this seems to be happening, so for now the economics of contemporary sexual relationships favors men and what they want, even as what they bring to the table diminishes.
As this commentary on the video put it, “Sex is her resource. She decides when it happens, in a consensual relationship… The pressure to have sex weighs from all sides, when at the end of the day, she holds the power. “If girls did actually come to realize that they’re “in the driver’s seat when it comes to sex (and if sisterhood really were powerful), they could change the market entirely, having sex only when they were ready and only when they saw a serious commitment on the part of their partner.”
So, we ask…Given that we can’t make it mandatory for women to sit through a ‘ya ya sisterhood’ sex-ed course in
high school, middle school, elementary school, pre-k, how do we get this message of holding men accountable and looking out for your fellow sister across….?
My guess is as good as yours. But I’ve found that talking about it, and actually living it out is a good start… *shrug*
Also, don’t forget to VOTE for RR for Best Blog for the 2014 Ghana Blogging Social Media Awards: Instructions are HERE!
A week after Afua’s post, I received a call from a guy friend who had a very interesting theory about our Accra experiences. He essentially said we were going about the dating thing completely the wrong way. I chuckled… naturally that would be the response, because what? were we supposed to just sit in our rooms, twiddle our thumbs and hope for our
6’2″ King to come riding into our living rooms in the latest BMW and just swoop us up?
According to Yaw**, ‘dating’ as we have defined it on our blog is largely a Western concept, and the willingness to go on these dates without any pretext is usually a signal for.. well… sex. He said:
‘Ghanaian guys… we don’t just approach women to go out, unless all we want is to
bed them. If you are really serious about a girl, you just watch and wait’
So I reply:
You mean you’re just sort of hanging on the periphery taking notes and deciding if and when to approach? How can you even know someone if not by first letting them know your intentions and then getting to know them over live music at Afrikikos… or something equally nice (and relatively expensive… after all if you approached her, she must be worth the change, no?)
Plus, it also means that you thought Afua recounting her dates was some sort of morse code for her announcing some of her sexual escapades… which is a big false. Hmpf. (Afua knows I would judge her otherwise). No… No… When we mean dates… we mean it in the normal way… as in sitting down, talking, laughing, sharing important details about favorite colors and travel experiences… you know… very ‘When Harry Met Sally’… except without all of the melodrama. Just a good time with a potentially good person”
‘Your kind of dating is full of fronting. Questions and answers. Makeup and good behavior. You’re not being real. When you don’t make your interest known and you just watch how the person is socially, at church and in various settings… and get to know them as a friend. It’s more authentic’
That makes a lot of sense actually.
Then he ends with this:
‘Plus, there’s no pressure and we can go around *dating* girls who we won’t wife… before we finally settle down with the girl we were eyeing years before’
I can’t say I hate that idea. Afua always laughs at me because in my fairytale life, I’d just happen to fall in love with my best friend who would declare his love for me right after he lands into millions and is ready to give me the wedding on the moon he believes I deserve *deep sigh*… aside from just general visions of grandeur, Afua points out that we are too old to be making ‘best friends’ and that the best way is to go out on dates and hang out with guys until we find one we really click with. This all makes sense because we hear of perfect strangers becoming the perfect lovers and having the perfect homes… but the stories that generally endear us… the ones that pull at our heart strings and challenge our tear ducts to burst— are the ones where there is less… well… calculation. Where I (sorta) believe in ‘meet boy, become BFF’s, trip and fall in love’… Afua is more the ‘meet boy, fall in love while striving to develop a deep friendship’.
So here lies the dilemma. We all want to feel like there is a guy out there that can see us for us and will love us first from a distance… and then sweep us off of our feet in romance. But the busyness of our lives— work, Bible studies, girls night out, the radio show on YFM every Sunday evening at 9pm (shameless plug…. whatever… I don’t care. I don’t care. ha!) — makes it almost impossible to even have those kinds of fantasies. So naturally, we have evolved socially to accept that instead of our parents arranging our marriages, we arrange them ourselves through a series of one-on-one encounters meant to weed out the useless ones and isolate the ones that would be worthwhile. The ones we could fall in love with while developing a deep friendship over time. And while there is a diversity of dating styles and definitions (as Afua pointed out), the premise is pretty much the same: Meet. Eat. Repeat— or don’t if you’re weird or similar in anyway to Afua’s Kofi, Kwame, or Kwesi. In either case… falling in love has to at least start with an orchestrated meeting of two people who have expressed an interest beyond general acquaintance.
This seems immediately simple and obvious to us, but there seems to be a completely different thing happening on this side of the world and it’s so obvious considering Afua’s point about guys marrying old high school sweethearts or university crushes 5 years after having run around messing about with every other girl… aka dating: There’s a bit of a disconnect.
It sounds almost like dating is some glorified version of prostitution and that money and time spent are used as barter for sex and sexual favors. Furthermore, going on these dates (with someone who you are not already actually ‘dating’— the irony!) is a signal that you are not actually looking for a serious relationship. **shockface** What spirit of confusion!?
So I have some questions:
- If I am serious about being in a committed relationship, but I do not have ties to any highschool or university in Ghana… and my life doesn’t allow for me to sit around and wait idly for someone to stalk me… then how does one actually date someone long term without going on dates with relatively perfect strangers?
- And if I follow Afua’s advice, and have someone vetted before agreeing to go on a date with them, does that necessarily mean that they are not interested in anything long term, but are rather looking to get to know me— in the very Biblical sense?
- Should I just assume that if I am asked on a date, then those guys’ relationship goals are not aligned with mine and that I should actually focus (or not focus) on all the ‘male friends’ who have actually made no advances at all?!
This is really and truly a strange phenomenon… it’s almost circular in logic and impossible to break… it doesn’t. actually. make. sense. But on some level… it’s sort of alluring (strange… I know). It’s almost a game of hide and seek… but with adults. So here I am back and forth in my mind between thinking the Ghana Guy way is a bit off, but then sort of intriguing, when I have a thought: Maybe it’s time to try something new.
Perhaps it’s time we *dead* the dating thing and do the whole ‘bff’s until we say otherwise’— thing. A bit risky since a) neither of us did university or high school here and b) this would mean that we have to wait 5 yrs for some guy to stalk us and fall in love with us from a distance. Remember in high school, during youth group everyone was ‘encouraged’ to read the book I Kissed Dating Goodbye which essentially pushes this idea of friendship and courtship and group outings… maybe they were onto something. Or maybe that’s what all the Ghanaian youths were reading while we were away watching movies like The Titanic and hoping that we would find a Leo to our Kate Blanchett. I blame Western media. I also, digress.
*le sigh* All in all… it feels like most of us, in Ghana at least, want to be in serious long term committed relationships with people who we trust and whose character we can vouch for… but the means of getting here seem to be different enough that there is a bit of a mismatch and we end up disillusioned about the guys we have come to encounter in our time being in Ghana. There is a clash… of GARGANTUAN proportion… and yet all we want to do is be in love.
I need to hear from the fellas on this one… is Yaw** right and does this effectively mean we need to kill our dating life in favor of the carefree, watch-us-from-a-distance life?
Are we going about this all wrong?
- Nana Darkoa wrote a blog on Why African Women are Choosing to be Single and gave a shout out to me and RR. It’s an interesting piece, so go take a look.
- Amma and I will be participating in an AdventuresFrom google hangout this month, which will cover the topic: ‘What does love look like?’ We’ll give you more details closer to the date.
I’ve decided to put a soundtrack to this post, because it seemed highly appropriate. So heads up, there are bursts of dance breaks to GrandMaster Flash ‘The Message’ throughout this post. Accra may not be the jungle that NYC was in the 80′s, but sometimes it sure as hell feels like it :)
Ok, that’s it. Let’s begin.
I made a new friend at the beginning of this year and when we first became intimate (which for female friendships means we began discussing our ‘men situations’), she was astonished at my dating past in Ghana. Her exact words being, “OMG, you date a lot.” I don’t, to be honest, but I do have a few colorful stories from dates I have been on in this humble city, which in turn solicits such a response from people… or makes it appear that I do date a lot. So this is the inspiration behind this blog. Additionally, I did say in a previous post that we were going to have a series of conversations about dating in Accra, so here goes…
Because a number of guys I’ve been on dates with have come to know about my blog, I don’t want to
expose them for their low down dirty ways put their business out like that slash people have actually flat out told me, “I don’t want to appear in your blog.” Ugh, fine! Why are you so sensitive? lol. I kid. Anyhoo, because I don’t want to be dubbed undateable in this dear city, before I give you a little taste of what I’ve been up against for the past year and a half, I will make a PSA that names have been changed in this post and I’ve changed up/ cut short some scenarios to save people some face, but still give you a flavor of the jungle that’s out here.
**Dance Break**: “It’s like a jungle sometimes… It makes me wonder how I keep from going under… Going under…”
Ok, let’s start with Kofi*. Kofi and I knew each other through a few mutual friends. We exchanged numbers at some party after I came back from a temporary stint outside the country: “Oh, you’re back in the country, we should hang out.” After a couple weeks of superficial whatsapp messages and insignificant calls, we decided to see each other out. The majority of the evening was uneventful, so let’s skip to the end of the night where Kofi has kindly asked me to perform fellatio on him… Yes, you’re reading that correctly. Perform. Needless to say, I’ve stopped talking to him on all accounts that require more than a ‘Hi’ in public.
Next we can talk about Kwame*. Who, after helping him with some professional work, decided we got along well enough to ask me out. Cool. We end up at dinner, where in the span of the first 20mins, I was asked: ‘How much I make’ ‘When’s the last time I had sex’ and ‘How many sexual partners have I had’; and the icing on the cake was being told ‘not to take offense to the line of questioning because this is just how he gets to know a girl quickly without BS’. Because #nobodysgottimeforBS. Nope, we certainly do not. You can imagine that my interactions with him subsequently have followed in the same suit as Kofi.
But I must write about Kwesi*, because he is my ultimate favorite. Kwesi met me along with another friend in the same night. Separately, he sparks interest in both of us and proceeds to get some intel on the two of us from a mutual friend. Kwesi then proceeds to go on a date with both of us in the course of about a week. When Kwesi stopped calling after our date and I stopped
caring reaching out after learning about the date he had with my friend (and that he’s a man whore that’ll hook up with pretty much anything with a vag- – -), it was no surprise to find out that he has most recently asked out one of my besties in Accra, who I had introduced him to for a business transaction. #supershady #noshame #youresomessy > Perhaps next time I see him, I should give him your number, Amma? LOL.
Although my engagement with Kwesi only lasted 2.5 weeks, I have stories for days with this one. The sad thing is, I like Kwesi, I
have had no problems with him, he’s super chill and we probably would have been cool friends acquaintances. I actually had a really nice date with him too, but like I told Amma… the issue with him is I didn’t know what was genuine and what was part of the game. Come to find out, it was ALL part of the game. Nana wrote in her piece that if a guy’s into his 30s and not married there’s usually a very good reason why. Kwesi is case in point of this. A leopard rarely changes his spots and a lifetime of gaming women doesn’t stop easily. When I confronted Kwesi about my friend he said to me, ‘but, I thought we were cool, Afua’. << What?… Like are you mental?… My favorite is when men make you feel stupid when they’re doing super shady things. Honestly, don’t men ever get tired of gaming women…
amusing sad that I have these (and more) colorful stories in my dating history. I honestly used to shy away from telling them, because I thought they somehow reflected poorly on me… Like do I smell? How do I keep attracting the Mayor, the Sheriff and the County Judge of Loser-Ville. And all these men are returnees of sorts, seemingly nice wholesome guys upon first interaction with them, and they’re in respectable jobs about their grind. But the superficial is so deceptive, and I’ve come to realize sometimes you can’t help what knocks on the door, but you can definitely decide whether to let them in or even open the door, for that matter.
Dance break: ‘don’t.push.me.cause.I’m.close.to.the.edge.I’m.trying.not.to.lose.my.head’
Thus, my #1 advice to ladies dating in Accra is….
Always Always Always seek counsel first. ALWAYS. And do so with people who have been around for a while; in my case that is NOT my immediate circle of friends who have been here <2yrs. Do background checks with someone who returned to the country at least 5yrs ago. Let’s get a snippet of how my conversation went down with my new fav friend, who’s been here over five years (yes, I felt stupid after our conversation):
“Wow Afua, you got sucked in the Kofi vortex. Please seek me before you do anything stupid again. Do you know how many of my girlfriends he’s casually hooked up with, meanwhile he has Adjoa*, his longtime girlfriend he’s planning to do knocking** for soon.”
Wow. Wow. And Wow. She must be the luckiest girl in the world.
“Oh come on Afua, everyone knows he’s the biggest prick Accra has to offer… Leave him to the foreign girls, who find his ‘I’m such an enlightened African’ act charming”
With Kwesi, my friend couldn’t stop laughing for about five minutes. Like five proper minutes:
“Oh little one, this boy is not serious in life. He’s gonna wake up 45 and still chasing anything with a vag- – -. He is the biggest ladies man ever so what exactly made you think this would be any different with you?’
And when I kept quiet, I definitely got the side eye from her.
Ok some random pondering, I often wonder if guys ever step to their guy friends on behalf of women. As in, ‘hey dude, she’s actually good peoples, don’t mess with her if you’re not interested.’ Just pondering… Do they ever think of their sisters, mothers, best female friends, their sisters-in-law, nieces, best friend’s wives…Like don’t ‘we’ deserve better *shrug* My feeling is no, but I continue…
Given that the number of educated returnee-type 20- and 30-something yr olds is
small minuscule in Accra, if that’s the crowd you’re dating, someone is bound to know the guy’s (or girl’s) background. And for me, as someone who didn’t grow up here and has only been ‘back’ less than two years, seeking counsel is beyond a must, particularly as the goal this year is NOT to have any colorful dating stories: as in I want the most boring dating life this year… the ‘boy meets girl, date, relationship, done’- type boring.
I have other dating tips to keep life moving along nicely in Accra, however these do not supersede rule #1.
Date outside the returnee crowd – this crowd can become an easy go to because you think these guys are more likely to be less traditional when it comes to gender roles and would be more compatible with your life experiences, but all this doesn’t necessarily lead to a good relationship (or a relationship at all).
Try a nice foreigner (who is not looking for a short term (African) good time) - maybe it’s time to try non-Ghanaians, non-Africans… non-Blacks?
Ask friends and (extended) family that YOU TRUST to be on the look out for guys they think would be a good match for you - YOLO. Maybe your cousin’s friend has been eyeing you for a minute, but never thought you were interested; or maybe you’ve always gotten along with your bestie’s older brother. You never know, love could be closer than you thought.
Maybe it’s time to consider the guys you’ve kept in the friendzone - There could be possibilities there if you actually took him out of the friend zone, you know.
You may look at your exes - I know people like to say, ‘don’t look back, there’s nothing good there, always move forward’ etc, but maybe it could be that the timing was off for the two of you back then, and now that you’re in different places in your life, you could make a real go of things.
*Not real names, obviously.
** Knocking is the traditional Engagement ceremony in Ghana
See Amma’s response to this post: Clash of the Titans
**Dance Break**: “It’s like a jungle sometimes… It makes me wonder how I keep from going under… Going under…**”
I spent some time with a close guy friend a couple weeks ago while stateside, and a
slightly inebriated trip down relationship/situationship lane concluded with some chilling realizations and some good insights for me going forward. I thought it was time to start turning wounds into wisdom, so here goes.
The conversation began with the acknowledgement that ‘yes, there are always signs when something’s not going to work out, but we choose to ignore them- While for men, ignoring usually involves a fight between both “heads”, a woman’s fight is usually between her head and her heart. So given this fight, how does one pick up that you’re not ‘his wifey’ in order not to waste your time? Good q. For the remainder of this piece, I’ll try to recount John’s** side of the conversation in italics slash give my thoughts and list out six key findings in bold. Although these are personalized to me, they are general takeaways for everyone on how to know before you know.
In no particular order:
1. How many times did I tell you to let this one go? And not just me, how many people told you to let this one go? You put it down, you pick it up. You walk away, then turn right back around and RUN back. You let it half way heal, then with one little itch and you’re picking at it. >>> When your guy friends cry foul, it’s a problem. I know I’ve talked about this before, but I’ll reiterate it because it’s such a good test. Maybe even before ‘your man’ admits it to you or to himself, sometimes your guy friends can pick up on actions or inactions and let you know what’s really up with a guy. Listen to your guy friends when they tell you to keep it moving, especially when it’s multiple friends and said repeatedly. It’s not an exact science, but this is definitely better than listening to your girlfriends who tend to rationalize actions with you..
2. Not one? single one of his
close friends, period, knew of the existence of his and your situation. And that is all on you, boo. As a relationship blogger, you really should know better. >>> I really should. I mean, I have a blog post that even discussed this… so no excuses on this one. Let me just copy/paste what I already ‘know’: His Family and Friends not knowing about you is a problem. If you’re ‘together’ and every one of your close friends and family knows about him, but none of his close friends or family knows about your existence/relationship, it’s time to reconsider the situation. If you drop hints of loving to meet his family/friends and he evades or shuts down the conversation, it’s time to consider why. And this includes the lot of ‘I don’t tell people about my personal business’ folks. Yes, some men don’t like to gossip about who they’re fooling around with, but when he’s serious about you, he’ll want the important people in his life to know about you. And for you to know them.
3. And on that note… the ex never left the picture, so you better go take several seats, little girl. If it takes any man 6 months to break up with a chick, don’t think for a second that thing is going to die
easily >>> When the ex never leaves the picture, it’s a problem. So you did your research once the two of you started talking… Who was before, how serious was it, is she outta the picture? But it’s not always about the past, you need to also consider the present. Even if others have opinions about what their situation was/is, even if he said ‘she wasn’t wifey’…trust your gut. If things don’t feel right on more than one occasion, maybe it’s for a reason. And things not feeling right can manifest in various forms: 1. They’re still really good friends (a little too good) 2. She’s someone who never let go: Checking in… ‘Hows your mama & ‘em doing?… Did your pops receive the Christmas present I sent him’ Etc.*side-eye* 3. His friends never understood why he broke up with her, and continue to believe she’s the best match for him (See #2 again) 4. The general public/ his friends and acquaintances still associate him with her in a romantic sense… Everyone pause for a moment: I actually had a conversation once with someone who referred to the person I was currently talking to as ‘oh, you mean so-and-so’s ex’… Errr yup, that’s exactly who I was referring to… *side-eye*. For this one, John was stressing that perhaps I never lost him because I never had him to lose. That perhaps he was never the one, because he was always someone else’s one. If she’s got the best friends and family on lock, you’ll always be fighting an uphill battle; just don’t be surprised if in 2, 3, 4 years even they’re back together near engaged *shrug*.
3.5. Not to belabor the point, but you took too long to decide what you wanted and then to tell him, and in general there will be less encroachment on territory if it is clearly marked. One reason someone can come back so easily into a man’s life, is when he’s not locked down. You have a window of opportunity to lock it down with a guy, once that’s gone, you can’t really do much after that. >>> When it takes too long to get commitment, it’s a problem. If you want something, decide quickly and take it. If you get hurt in the process, at least you can say you tried… But don’t allow a situation to float in the milky way undefined. One of the most eye opening lessons I’ve learned in the last year is the power of a decisive woman in a relationship. And this is all from the mouths of men too: ‘Women sometimes underestimate their influence over men (especially educated black women). A woman can have the power to make decisions for ‘us’, because sometimes we don’t know what we want or what’s best for us, and we need a woman to make a case/decision that ‘hey, we’re doing this’.’ What I’ve seen over the past year living in Ghana is that the purposeful/intentional/aggressive women be killing the game- and the laissez-faire, well…they’re not. And intentional here is not thirsty or manipulative, it’s just being straight with what you want.
4. Your values/ religion did not align, and no one backed down. Love compromises, so if yall weren’t willing to come to an understanding on this then there’s not too much you could do there >>> I know this is a dicey one. In our favorite guest post on White Women, the author called foul play on African men brought up by traditional/Christian mothers who wanted to deviate from that with their own significant others. However, to that all I can say is: It’s. Allowed. God forbid men don’t want to marry their mothers, even if they think the world of them. You’re allowed to adore your mama and not want to date/marry ‘her’ per se, or allow ‘her’ to raise your kids in the world we live in now. And I find this true for a lot of African men who’ve grown up/ spent a considerable amount of time abroad. It’s the same thing really as marrying outside your race/culture. And I am fully aware that opposites attract and there are successful inter-faith and no-faith/faith couples, however if the two of you don’t see each others values/religions as assets (or at the very least not liabilities) to the other’s character, then its a red flag. And this is more than tolerance, it’s respect and a willingness to live with the consequences of that persons values/religion… Including (if you’re to get married) how you raise your kids.
5. Count for me how many times in 3 years, you TRULY felt this boy was going H.A.M for you, as in putting in serious time and energy to make the relationship work.
1, 2, 3 times? Maybe a handful?
Actually that’s okay, you don’t have to answer.
>>> He likes you
a little less than you like him. It’s the time tested rule passed down from Grandmama that we all heard growing up: You want a man who likes you a little more than you like him. For obvious reasons… or maybe not so obvious, so I’ll explicitly say it… Men like to chase and women like to be chased. It’s like the circle of life or something *shrug*. If you as the woman are driving things, if you’re the one trying to manipulate situations to see him, speak to him scheming to make it work, it’s prob not supposed to work. If he shows unwavering commitment to his friends and family, and for you it doesn’t quite seem like he’s putting in as much dedication to show you how he feels… sooner or later, the truth always surfaces. And I’m not advocating for playing games here either… I do think women should make their feelings known, but after that if he’s not reciprocating on a similar level then keep it moving… And I realize there’s a delicate balancing act one has to do between this and #3.5.
6. WTF. Even as a man, I WAS confused of this guy’s actions. He’s in, he’s out, he’s up, he’s down. >>> Indecision is a decision. And I’ve already talked about this …. twice. Don’t necessarily equate leaving and returning as a sign that he wants to be with you… Because although he comes back, he still leaves again. If he can’t make a permanent decision about you, and it’s been more than 12 months…keep it moving – words from a man, not me. And I can’t give enough stress to #1, if your guy friends cry foul… well, you know the rest.
- – -
Well, that’s the list I
uncovered can remember with John. Perhaps he was a little hard on me, but I needed to hear it and I think many women need to as well. What’s worse than being in love with someone who doesn’t love you back, is wasting time on being with someone who truly doesn’t want to be with you, so use the 6 tests above… I think they can save you a lot some of the head heartache. The guy may like you (even care for you deeply), but the key here is that he’s not into you enough to stay permanently… Enough to tell his fam/friends about you… Enough to pass the smell test with objective guy friends. I think more than this being a therapeutic post for me, I also don’t want anyone to ever spend too much time on a one-sided love, or ever have to hear a guy say to you after three years, ‘you know, you don’t exactly fit in with my whole life situation’… *shrug* It happens.
**Name changed obvi
Pls stop been friends with my husband if u want to live long.**
- – -
A few weeks ago an ex reached out to me- not unusual because he reaches out from time to time, so I didn’t think much of it. His infrequent bursts of communication usually involve 1. Some random way of getting a hold of my # (I’ve been in and out of Ghana for the past few years and my numbers have changed), 2. Him reaching out to me 2x a week or so for a short span of time to discuss world politics, Ghana politics and the economy, and how he plans to take over the world. 3. Him disappearing as quickly as he appeared.
Rinse, and repeat. In a year give or take.
This time around we had a few conversations and exchanges of text messages in the span of three weeks. Now this ex is married. And let’s park here for a moment. He’s been married for almost a year and a half now. And he is married to what I can politely say is a ‘basic chick’… What does this mean? This means she hasn’t traveled much or at all, hasn’t gone to university, she’s quiet, (very) young- there’s about ten years between the two of them, and she’s the seemingly shy and submissive type. If you think this is pure stereotyping, you’re right. But this gives context to the blog. I’ve never met her, but this is my impression from things people have said (people being him, and members of his family and mine). In any case, in my last song and dance routine with him I toed the line carefully, trying not to text back or pick up every time he called (for obvious reasons), however he is an
friend acquaintance and mildly entertaining so yes we held a few superficial conversations about life, Ghana, and the pursuit of political dominance (his, not mine). Let me insert here, because I’ve touched on being ‘the other woman’ and ‘the ex’ in this space before, that my philosophy isn’t that one can’t be friends with someone of the opposite sex after you’re married, but that you need to be careful and you can’t have a best friend of the opposite sex after marriage. But I digress. A few mornings ago, I woke up to the afore-quoted text, from a number I didn’t recognize. I will save you all the hoopla I went through in the 30 minutes that ensued after waking up to this text, but it did include a highly annoyed call to my ex’s brother (there was no need for any more communication trails between the ex’s phone and mine), and a ranting session to Amma… standard. What I will offer now is some things to consider for Mrs. Current Wife and other women like her:
Nobody I don’t want your man. Because this text was sent at the crack of dawn, my assumption is that you snuck into his phone read a couple text messages that you didn’t like and your head started spinning, fine. But if you took some time to read the txt messages carefully you would have seen the platonic nature of our relationship, at the very least from my end. – Not every single lady having a conversation with a married man wants to jump their bones.
2. Hun, you received your ultimate result, because the BARELY existent friendship I had with your husband will for all intents and purposes be NON existent going forward, but it has nothing to do with your asinine threat, rather it is because continued engagement with women like you and their partners on matters such as this is beneath me. If you believe I am the biggest threat to your newlywed status, I do wish your marriage a very big good luck. – Sometimes women feel threatened because they know how they acted prior to marriage, and they believe all single women are of the same bred. We’re not.
3. Grow up. To stoop so low as to hide behind a text and threaten my life, makes me feel so sorry for you. If you want to grow up a little, try having a conversation with your husband if you suspect infidelity, and IF there is need to speak to another woman about overstepping boundaries, try a conversation where you show your face (or own up to who you are) and speak to me as a mature adult. – There are cases, I’m sure, when men believe certain behavior is appropriate when it’s not, or they get off course and need their woman to steer them back, however This. Is. An. Internal. Affair. Clean up your own house before you come threatening someone else’s.
These are just the top three things I wanted to say. I know Amma is itching to chime in on this though… Read her response HERE
** text was written verbatim (see below- yes, this is the picture of the actual text)
Lastly, Amma I’m not ignoring your last blog/letter. I’m going on public record now that I will respond to it :)
When I got to Ghana a couple months ago, within weeks I had a couple frank conversations with two highly educated persons in my life regarding their definition of dating. This isn’t a rare occurrence, however the stark differences between their definitions AND mine have led me to write this post. I’ll let yall help me tease this out, but essentially I’m wondering whether these differences are a case of semantics or whether fundamental differences in dating styles play a determining factor in the success of a relationship. I’m leaning towards the latter, but let’s see how I feel after writing this.
So here’s (my take on) each person’s stance:
Life must have order/structure, and that goes for relationships too. At the point of dating, you should have thoroughly vetted this person through the friendship & talking stage, therefore at the stage of dating there must be exclusivity. Dating exclusively is not necessarily a committed relationship leading to marriage, ie. I could be dating you exclusively and not necessarily want to marry you, but you (and you only) are my girl for right now. Dating also means we’re intimate. During the friend/ talking stage, we could have been intimate or not.
As much as humanly possible the
candidate person I’m dating must be thoroughly vetted and if we’re not compatible for a certain percentage of compatibility points, it’s a no go. Compatibility points A, B, and C are automatic deal breakers. Comprehensive vetting can take upwards of 5 years. The ultimate goal here is to minimize the number of potential points of contention during the stage of marriage Control.
Ms. Think Like a Man
I used to do the conventional dating of one person at a time, but along the way the experience became emotionally draining (serial monogamy with
headheartache in the end). After taking note of numerous dating blogs, books, radio shows, how men date, I came to the conclusion that I needed to switch up my approach: do not put all your eggs in one basket.
Always have a rotation of guys that you’re dating: it’s a numbers game. Dating should be light and not exclusive. Dating is going out/ talking on the phone- No Intimacy (not even kissing). When it comes to kissing and anything else, discussions should take place first. Before you start kissing, you should have gone on multiple dates. Most men will bore you and not even make it to date 3 or 4… You should be at date 4 before you start kissing.
Once you’ve figured out who you really like then you start laying people aside, and inevitably start spending your time with your ultimate boo. This approach cuts down on time and foolery. When you’ve always got folks in the wings, you won’t be caught up in folks’ nonsense and become emotionally invested in people that haven’t earned a spot on the team. Haters reveal themselves pretty early, and folks that just want to get in your pants rarely make it past date 2 or 3. Intimacy obviously comes after you begin seeing one person and the two of you have had a conversation about exclusivity. This dating strategy is more objective since you get to balance your time, diversify your options and explore more of yourself. This strategy is also good since guys are dating more than one girl at a time as well. For more information on this, see
one of the articles I consulted Here.
Ms. In Between
To me, the bedrock of a relationship is friendship. Ideally, I would love to develop a deep friendship with a guy and follow his promptings for more (than friendship). The friendship/ getting to know you stage is (decently) lengthy, genuine and runs deep. At this stage in life, dating doesn’t need to be too long before we know that there could be a path to marriage (because the foundation has already been set). Obviously, there must be mutual attraction (you don’t date all your friends), and there must be compatibility on goals/vision of what you want to do with your lives. Dating is essentially a committed relationship with some direction (yes, life happens & things can end up not working out, but at least there’s a path to the relationship and we’re not walking around aimlessly). Intimacy comes when a path has been agreed upon.
The jump from friendship to a committed relationship isn’t the grande canyon, thus the actual dating period doesn’t need to be too long. Beauty fades. People get fat. The feeling of love fades. Sex
can will become monotonous at some point. People get annoyed with one another. Folks rise and fall in status and economic standing. Common interests, political leanings change. But what’s your foundation? When you figure that out, everything else can be worked on… Everything else is fluid.
- – -
So considering these three definitions, could Ms Think Like a Man (Ms TLM) successfully date Mr Logical (Mr L)? Or could Ms In Between (Ms IB)? Do semantics get in the way of love or are our definitions of dating, love, relationships just labels?
Lemme see if I can tease out my thoughts on this now…
For some aspects of love, it is just semantics, ie. Mr L and Ms TLM in the beginning stages have similar approaches, just that Mr L would call Ms TLM, his friend, and Ms TLM would say she was dating him. Either way, they would have the mutual understanding that they are in the getting to know each other phase, and that they are not exclusive. Cool? Cool.
However, imagine Ms TLM is dating a MR. IB. Ms TLM has a roster of dudes and a rotation of potentials, but Mr IB is probably not on that rotation because he is just a friend. The two of them hang out, but it’s not like Ms TLM is checking for him like that. However, Mr. IB begins catching feelings… so what happens when he wants to jump to exclusivity, but Ms TLM has moved some members of her squad to her starting lineup?
A little awkward.
Or what if Ms IB and Mr L have passed the talking/friendship stage, however their definitions of when intimacy comes into the picture differ? Mr L needs intimacy as part of the
vetting dating process, and Ms IB wants to know that there could be a path before she’s intimate.
I’ve been toiling over this blog for a few weeks now, and I believe my conclusion is that definitions do matter in as much as you make them matter. We all have stated yes’s and no’s and do’s and don’ts, but do we really stick to them, esp when we meet someone we really think is worth bending our definitions for? I believe people can change their definitions: I’m sure if Ms TLM also realized that she had deep feeling for Mr IB, she would be willing to drop her starting 5, right? Or at least I would hope…
And if she didn’t, then maybe he wasn’t the one (to move her enough to change her definition), right?
Like I said, I’m not done thinking this through… But, I wanna hear from you… And Amma.***
I might even ask our real live Ms TLM to guest post for us (since she seems to be the one that throws a wrench into the various scenarios) :)
***When you think through this topic, note that I am not arguing about the soundness of each person’s dating style, but rather exploring whether different dating styles impede lasting relationships, which may otherwise be successful outside of clashing dating styles.
. . .
I’m pleased to announce that in the matter of my exhaustive search for an apt, save a boyfriend, I have found myself a humble abode, and have successfully moved in. *Let’s all have a moment of silence*.
Side note: For those that don’t know me personally… I took a slight detour out of the country for work for a few months. Not important. But what is important is that during this time, my room was
snatched given up to another person, not as awesome as me… so technically Amma and I aren’t roommates anymore…physically, but in spirit we will always be.
But I digress.
Since moving into my apt, I’ve had to get my house in order- sorting out my Internet, dstv cable, my cleaner, getting roommates, doing some touches to the apt, and other seemingly menial tasks. Now that I am in what I would consider a ‘semi-stable’ state of life, one of the things I have vowed to start doing on a regular basis is cook.
I’m not sure if I should be announcing this to the world, but I don’t enjoy cooking (like others do). It’s not a deep hatred of sorts, more-so just something that’s not high on my list of pleasurable activities in life (watching the food network, high. eating, high. actual cooking, not so high). Living a lot on the road, in temporary situations, in hotels, on my company’s tab…these things don’t lend well to me being my own personal chef, and in the last little while, I haven’t had to do much of it. In times past when I was in a situation where I was established in an apt, it wasn’t any more economical for me to cook for a party of one, particularly when you add in the opportunity cost of doing other things with my time. So thats the context in which we find ourselves for this blog.
The funny thing is that some folks, even those close to me, equate enjoyment with ability… So a month ago, an old roommate of mine took the liberty of forcing a dinner party of six on me…one in which I would host & cook. With this
invitation badgering, it became evident that folks were hoping some sort of failure would occur to confirm preconceived notions: ‘But afua, can you actually cook?’ ‘You know you can’t use your house help for the dinner.’ Saa?*** Hmmm k. Well, it’s a good thing I’m up for a challenge, especially when I know the truth about myself, and that people would be put to shame.
And. put. to. shame. they. were.
I am happy to report that, I threw down… hard. Cooking a three-course delectable dinner -don’t play me. ‘Wow afua, this is really good.’ *side-eye* ‘Is it, really? I’m glad you like it.’ I
won’t will toot my own horn, because I had folks chowing down on food that they don’t even like, don’t play me. Or Amma, I dey lie? Like I like to say, don’t come for me… You will get stepped to, hard. Thank you.
Now that the air has been cleared and corrections made to folks’ asinine assumptions, I must ask: does my stock go up because I can recollect how my mother told me that this spice and that spice go better together, or because I can follow a recipe? Am I not the same woman as I was prior to you tasting my food? Am I any more or less ‘wifeable’ because of my culinary skills? …Well, you have to provide food for your family, folks say. It’s even biblical (Proverbs 31). *le sigh* Yes, this actually came out from my friend’s mouth. Well, I can’t argue with you on the bible, but what I know is that I’m not any less of a woman or any less of ‘wifey’ material before I cooked for you. I feel like folks need to relax on this cooking thing. I think people get caught up on things that naturally take their place- clearly I will
have to cook for my family, and for those women who don’t know how to cook, they will just have to figure it out- you’re gonna HAVE to learn at some point or find someone to do it for you. I guess it would be different if I couldn’t cook, but my issue is one of desire *le sigh*.
I met a friend of a friend who flat out told me (with amazing pride) that she doesn’t cook (she has a husband and two kids)… And she’s Ghanaian AND HE’S (born and bred) GHANAIAN. *Gasp* ‘Nope, I don’t cook… But what does that have to do with me providing food for my family?’ Good question, I guess. Is she any less of a woman because she has someone cooking dinner for her family, something that is tres common in this part of the world, might I add. You gotta find what works for you AND your spouse. If he’s cool with it, what be the problem? In Africa, it is easier to hire domestic help… So if women aren’t physically doing the cleaning or cooking, BUT it’s getting done (and they’re overseeing it- which isn’t a small task in itself) then what be the issue
, Lydia? Why do men, and other women for that matter, equate your ability (and desire) to cook as a super plus plus on the wifey material scale. It’s quite primitive, no? Now that we’re in an era where women work equally as long and hard as men, why is there still an expectation that the woman be the house cook and maid?
So if you’re not the traditional woman in the household, what do you bring to the table? Another good question. Firstly, can I say this: why do people act like African women who don’t cook don’t get married (have you ever met a woman never married say, “I wish I had learned cooking because thats what created my singleness.” Let me throw a caveat in here, I am talking about singling out the ACT of cooking, and not cooking as a representation of something bigger, ie. taking care of your husband, family, home). Secondly, to answer the question: there are a lot of things one can bring to the table apart from cooking, including: support for your man, peace of mind ( you’re a good cook, but you’re a nag 24/7…what’s the good in that?)…lets continue, your sex game is on point (both in frequency and performance), you’re honest with your man, you’re charming and have good morals/ ethics, lets see… You’re faithful, you’re confident in yourself, attentive, compassionate, you handle your business (and ‘take care of the home’), you stick up for your man, you’re respectful, and have respect for yourself, you’re a good mother, you’re caring, considerate, your vision is aligned with his … Or, these things don’t matter??
Yes, there is something to serving/ taking care of your man, no doubt… but tell me how a man would deny a woman with the qualities above if she didn’t cook or didn’t like to cook… OR is this a stigma thing with friends and extended family??? You know folks always say women are the ones who have unrealistic expectations of men, but this is one aspect of wifey that both men and other women perhaps need to rethink… I mean what are the ACTUAL necessities to a happy home. Or perhaps I’m rambling nonsense… And need to advertise myself to the world with the following hashtag: #icanACTUALLYcook
I’ll end with a little sermon I was listening to on the radio the other day. The gentleman speaking was discussing why he believes his marriage has been successful for 34yrs. He simply said, ‘I place no conditions on my wife.’
He went on: Love is the decision to commit and to meet the needs of someone else without any expectations. If there’s certain expectations, there will be disappointment (because we are human). Disappointment leads to divisions in the home, which often leads to divorce.
He used the example of waking up that very morning and going to iron his own shirt… I place no expectation on my wife to do it for me. And doing so means I am appreciative every time she irons for me… Every time she cooks.
I do believe this is the most convoluted post I’ve done since My Trip to Pluto. Lydia, it’s not your fault, clearly I have issues
when folks come after my wifeability and my ability to be a good mother. I still love you.
But on the real, certain conditions do destroy a relationship, and we need to challenge what it means to be a wife. Wifey doesn’t equal being a specific mold. Because as soon as you can’t meet the expectations… what happens to the love?
***This is a Ghanaian expression in twi for the phrase: ‘is that so?’. In my case here, sarcastically.
- – - -
Tell em’ why you mad, Afua!
I mean you mad, right?? Hahaha…
The thing is, I do not think that it was ever a sum zero game. I do not think that the point of bringing up cooking was to say you would make a terrible wife in its absence. I think that you are right, in the game of ‘ would you rather’, any man would rather an understanding, loving, supportive, sex-kitten over one who can just cook. But it’s never that kind of dichotomy is it? The truth of the matter is that the debate around being able to cook is more about what ‘cooking’ represents than the actual act.
As you admitted, your job had you jumping around the world and working RI-DI-CU-LOUS hours… at that rate, if you were married with that job, when would you have had any time to do things like ‘cater to your man, be supportive, etc. etc. etc.’— you would never be around. The amount of time, effort and emotional investment it takes to make a satisfactory meal that you can be proud to serve is equal to so many of the other attributes you listed— especially coming from a woman who is herself fully immersed in career and other extracurriculars. But this goes for both men and women really. Why do you think folks get all kinds of excited when they find out a guy can cook— #noBobbyFlay
Furthermore (perhaps unfairly so), women not being able to cook having the desire to cook has been associated with other things like:
- not wanting kids
- not wanting to raise kids without a nanny present 24/7
- not spending time out of the office
- being an egotistical, maniacal, OCD’ish crazy
- Oprah Winfrey
I think more than the Bible and all others, it’s really about what not cooking/ desiring to cook could potentially mean for your character and your ‘maternal instinct’. It’s definitely not fair— and somewhat of an erroneous causal relationship, but it’s so engrained in the social fabric of ‘Africanness’ and ‘Womanhood’ that it seems it would take an apocalypse to reverse the trend (good thing I plan on riding the Jesus train out of here… so I won’t have to find out myself)…
But there is hope yet… as you rightly pointed out. You. Can. Cook.
And even if you married a man that never required it of you… you would probably do it at some point anyway because on some level you have slurped the misogynist koolaid recognize what it means to cook and how intimate it is for both your husband and your kids. Not to mention how many cool points you get from the in- laws.
Cooking is one of those things that’s like… a nice back massage… or a serenade after work… or a surprise vacation to Turks and Caicos for your birthday weekend. It’s just icing on a cake… and who just eats icing??
So in defense of our silent roomie… and still somehow in agreement with you: not being able to cook does not de-wifey you, but being able to cook can upgrade your already existing wifey status.
“Hey, he has a girlfriend, you know”… “And, so what?”
Wow. This week my cousin and I have been discussing the idea that a lot of Ghana girls do not respect the girlfriend of a man, ie. it doesn’t matter that a man has a girlfriend, he’s still fair game unless he’s married. I came to the realization that this is not just the thinking of, let’s say, ladies with no respect for themselves, but that some educated modern women also share this sentiment. The above quote was part of an exchange that I had with one of my best friends here in Ghana. So when SHE was unmoved by some guy’s girlfriend, it really made me sit up. Maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up here, or because I don’t fully understand how relationships work here yet, but my views on this couldn’t be any further from hers.
Here’s my take: I agree you’re NOT official until you have TWO rings on your finger, however I DO respect girlfriends. I think it’s wrong to go after a man in a relationship, or allow him to go after you. One. You would hate it if someone did that to you, and Two. Karma is a b*%#! It’s one thing if two people are just ‘talking’, but with relationships, I’m not touching that. And honestly, even folks that are ‘in limbo’/ ‘dating’/ ‘friends with benefits’…I dunno, I just need you to
clean up your mess wipe your slate clean before we can talk properly. I remember once, I didn’t engage heavily with a guy for like 3 months because he was still sorting out a situation: ‘Well you go ahead and sort yourself out and I’ll continue on with my life; if when you’re sorted, I’m still single, you know where to find me and we can talk.’
I’m not gonna say I’ve never made a
mistake slip-up before, but as a general rule boyfriends are a no-go for me. Why would you want that kind of headache? And doesn’t that also give you an indicator of how this man approaches commitment?
What I find peculiar about the whole thing is that when I first got to Ghana, all the girls I met would tell me some rendition of
“Amma, do not mess around with these Ghana Guys. Tell us their first and last names so we can do a full background check on them. You know some of them have wives in Aburi while living in Takoradi with their college aged girlfriends. Guys here are sus.”
I am ever a skeptic so naturally I preferred to navigate it without those set of blinders… but then what gets me is that the girlfriend knows the man has a wife. The girlfriend is also hoping to get wifed… so who is really the triflin’ one in the situation? To me, if you are a (wo)man who is interested in a (wo)man who is already dating someone and you carry on some sort of dalliance with them… what happens when you reach that point where you want them to commit to you? And what happens when they do commit to you? What happens if they marry you? Do either of you now magically switch off this tendency to court other people? And if you have that magic power… are they selling it at a local MaxMart or market corridor where it can be purchased?! (I ask only for the Hillary Clintons and Lordina Mahama’s of the world). Whats that quote about thoughts becoming actions, actions becoming habits, and habits becoming character? So I mean, if you make a habit of stepping to committed men… even non-married commitments, why wouldn’t this just translate into your character? And if this becomes your character, then it defines you in moments of silence and opacity. When no one is watching, you will in fact do these backwards things like pursuing someone else’s man… even if they are not married yet. It always disturbs me that men are painted as these sex-crazed polyamorous infidels because I really have to ask… well who are they philandering with exactly? And are those women equally sex-crazed whoremongers? Would I be wrong to judge? All these soul shattering questions that lead me really to one conclusion: Do unto others…
That mindset that ‘Oh we are dating but we should still be looking’ is so problematic because if you are dividing attention between your actual relationship and your pursuit of better ones, all of them must suffer. It is just the way it must be. And in the midst of your crumbling episode of Things Fall Apart I hope you realize that, as Afua said, Karma SUCKS. In this world you put into the world the kind of things you would want to come back. Thing is, I have met many a man in a relationship and thought, “you’ll leave her. And want me. So I don’t care. I don’t care’. But I cannot say I actively pursued these men, because I would not want any woman doing that to my man. Unless they finally bottle and patent that magic Switch-Off-Infidelity-Potion… then… well… *shrugs* anything is possible.
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In order to better understand how others feel, I spoke more in depth with my friend (from the quote above). However, instead of re-telling you her piece, I will quote memorable quotes from our discussion:
‘Adultery is in marriage. Once they’re not married, it is not a sin [to cheat] so it’s all fair game…’
‘If I like him, I’ll take him away from his girl; and if he likes her enough, he won’t be led astray.’
‘I wouldn’t do it if the girl was my friend or if the couple was one step away from being engaged, but everything else is fair game.’
‘In a relationship, there are no vows in front of God… I respect marriage, not relationships’
‘If I really like a guy, do you think I won’t go after him? Kai! His girlfriend and I will fight for him and the best woman will win’
‘I don’t think this is a Ghanaian women thing, all women think like this, we’re competitive’
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So I guess the big question is: why should you deny yourself the opportunity to find love, just because he’s in a relationship? What if he is the one, but needs to get to know you small before he realizes he wants to be with you and not his current girl??
Amma, perhaps our ‘ones’ are trapped up in relationships, and we need to go pry them out eh…
I think there’s some expectation for me to begin this response with some form of unwavering support to the original piece: ‘It is so cliche now to see an intelligent/ well-to-do African man with a white woman’ or some other biting statement, but the truth is that this type of response is so cliche… another
bitter angry annoyed black female blogger writing about black men and white women. It’s a waste of time and energy, doesn’t help anyone, and is such a bore. Although, I can relate to the sentiments discussed in the piece (and the scenarios as well), once we come down from the ‘ranting and raving’ on our soapboxes, I think there are some things to address as African women, with the role we play in ‘letting our men go to other races white women’.
My last longterm situationship ended last year and following the demise of the relationship, I had to take a hard look at the role I played in its demise. Not only because I don’t ever want to repeat the situation again, but also because I felt as though I let my fellow African sisters down. It’s a bit difficult to convey this feeling because
I don’t fully understand it myself I’ve never felt a particular sense of devotion to my fellow African woman. However, in some strange way I felt as though I let the past, present, and future African woman down. Namely on my part, I contributed to the stereotype of not being able to ‘hold your African/black man down’, ‘love and take care of him like he needs’… and accordingly, I was not able to help the world see what real (educated) black/African love looks like in the 21st century. Please note before you keep reading, the only thing I am addressing in this piece is me. I am writing this in hopes that it can help someone out there, because I think we do ourselves a disservice if we’re not learning lessons from others.
When a close black guy friend read the White Women guest piece I am responding to, he sent me this:
I don’t totally agree with the premise, but it was humorous. If I had to answer the question of what is the difference between the Black Woman and the White Woman, it is as simple as this: Black Women spend more time talking about “What I’m not going to do…” where White Women spend more time talking about “What I’m open to consider…” Thus, they get the man they want, because they’re willing to consider things where Black Women immediately put up the no and set the ultimatum for the Black Man to take it or leave it, and we see what he usually does…Leaves it.
What’s said above is spot on. From what I’ve seen, a lot of African women are brought up with very principled backgrounds, which leads them to an attitude of ‘I don’t do this, I would never do this, I only do this this way… take it or leave it’. Like the guest blogger mentioned at the end of her piece, “I am not moving to anyone’s country where I do not speak the language, cannot cook the food and burn every time I go outside unless there are ring(s) on it…take it or leave it.” Whether it’s from watching what has occurred in their own households (how the women in their lives didn’t compromise, or did compromise and got burned); or it’s from growing up in strong christian or traditionally valued households which have framed what they believe a lady should and shouldn’t do for a man… these things play into what women give up and give in for their men.
In my personal case, I held on to things, rightly or wrongly, which I believed trumped being with him. When I was eventually ready to lay aside “my ultimatums”, it was way too late. My point here is not necessarily about being principled about certain things, but it’s more about understanding the situation. We, African women, can’t get mad when African men pass us up (because of this issue) when
other white women are more willing to, for all intents and purposes, ‘sacrifice for their man’. And ladies, the amount of times I’ve heard (and said) ‘well if he loves me, he’ll oblige, and if he doesn’t…then he can get to steppn’ is beyond countless. And there is some truth to this, BUT there is also truth to the fact that you may not be giving him the chance to fall in love with you with all your barriers placed, so you can’t get mad if he doesn’t decide to stick around long enough to figure out whether he can love you.
Second thing, and this is a little paradoxical to what I just mentioned, is that for me, I didn’t demand anything in terms of commitment from the guy. And I think this is more common than not with black women. Though I wasn’t content keeping the relationship as it was, I thought because he didn’t say anything about things, I didn’t want to rock the boat… so we remained non-defined and that’s an equation which will never add up: Not requesting commitment + Having demands 1,2,3 now or before we are ever to take it to the next level = diaster. Perhaps what should have happened is a discussion of commitment and what that entails on both our parts, which would have also helped with the issue of ‘giving in’ and ‘giving up’. I think some African women put barriers in place because they don’t have the commitment they want or they are scared that they won’t get the commitment they want if they let down their guard. This is not to say the fear isn’t unfounded, but at the end of the day love is an art not a science… you go all in and try. When Beyonce said, ‘if you like it, then you shoulda put a ring on it’, I don’t think she meant neglect telling a man what you want in terms of commitment before the ring stage. And I’m not saying to do this to any guy, but this is for a guy who you believe is serious about a relationship with you.
Of course this is my one-dimensional take on things, and I have not exhausted the list of my faults in the relationship, but I think these two things stand out as dear lessons learned, which I thought I would pass on to my fellow African woman. So no Kanye, ‘he didn’t leave my a$$ for a white girl’, really he just left my a$$, period. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what color the new girl is, because it’s less about that than it is about what the two of you couldn’t do and be for each other. White women aren’t stealing African men as much as they are offering them something ‘WE’ won’t or don’t. Until we’re willing to change that, or at the very least acknowledge it, we can’t be mad when another bites the dust.
I must separately address this idea of not being African enough or foreign enough, because it’s so intriguing to me. I have to say that
unfortunately for me, I was privy to this guy’s thoughts about our compatibility after the fact… and I was indeed hit with the ‘you wouldn’t fit in with the fam’ chorus… so it was a little fascinating to see that family compatibility would exist with a white woman. However, the one foot in/one foot out explanation makes a little sense now. It is excusable when a foreigner acts as a foreigner, but when someone brought up in an African household acts as a foreigner, perhaps traditional families are less forgiving with this. This is definitely a topic to continue exploring… I wonder readers, what’s your experience on African men opting out of relationships with African women who are too foreign?
On an ending note, perhaps me and ms. guest blogger should be encouraging our fellow African women to become more open to scenarios such as the one on the right **KanYe Shrug** ->