Month: October 2014

Male Guest Post: Treat Her Like A Lady, Part II. Whoop Whoop!

guest-blogger

We beg, we plead, and y’all treat us like chopped liver. But one guy loves us! ūüôā Well really he loves one of us a lot more than the other, however I can get past this given that he’s provided us with a guest post! I’m a little too excited that Amma’s (other) dearest has written a response to my post on chivalry. If you recall, my dinner with him starred in the piece, so when I sent him the post to read he replied to me with the following (and said I could post it on RR). I believe God will richly bless him for this, hehe ūüôā So¬†calling on all other men who want God’s rich blessings (and Afua and Amma’s unwavering love)… we would really like for you to write for us. As much as we like to hear ourselves ramble, if you can’t tell by now we are also about learning! Honest. And if for nothing else, we¬†our readers want to know what men think too.

In any case, here’s our male perspective.

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Well, that was swanky darling… and not that this is totally a response to what you wrote, but it made me think of the following…

I actually think I take issue with this the “African way” or “American way” when it comes to simple chivalry (chivalry of course being the code by which any gentleman lives by). It’s almost like how you are explaining this quasi-struggle of being a lady, there is too a quasi-struggle going on in the malesphere as well. Both these struggles have men confused about how to treat a lady.

I was genuinely confused when you asked me about the check, not really insulted because you didn’t know who I was or anything, but two things happened: one, you made it seem like American men weren’t up to par of the gentleman and two, that I didn’t know how to be one. Again, you didn’t much know me, but it was odd nonetheless. But chale it no be your fault at all. Men don’t even know themselves what it means to be a man, let alone a gentleman. I’m not exactly sure what happened or how things got like this, but if I had to guess, one thing could be that with the advent of the “witty feminist leaning- 21st century”, men became confused about their responsibilities. Some are perhaps nervous about being chauvinistic and assuming they would/should automatically pick up the check.

e44ebe8adc571f199e566dad68ac77b5To be honest, I cannot feign to tell you about what it means to be a lady. I do know that I am a bit confused about how it is you all want to be perceived and frankly this is a sort of “societal correction” that is long overdue, I’ll let you handle that. Though I would say, why do y’all see fit to have your cake and eat it too? This is neither here nor there, my main thing is this: I would say [to you] do not let you being a lady get in the way of us being gentlemen. I would then say to us, not to let you being a lady get in the way of us being gentlemen. Naturally, people like Ammy¬†Amma would ask, “Well what does it even really mean to be a gentlemen?” To which I’d respond, “Ah, my dearest Ammy, I’m so glad you asked…”

It matters not where you are from nor what tribe you belong to, what religion you ascribe to, it matters not your party affiliation or how you put on your pants. The individual man has been vastly diminished and thinks now that simply growing up without any principles, values or guidance is enough for one to be called a man. The lore is gone. Men have forgotten decorum and conduct. We’ve forgotten that the last stop in our evolution is not to be merely a man, we forgot that we are to evolve into the gentleman/chevalier.

Point blank, one is a gentlemen by conduct. It isn’t some mystic right that belonged solely to King Arthurs and French nobility. It is Being-a-gentlemanlearned. The decline is so persistent because, well, we know little about how to be gentleman anymore. It isn’t rocket science sef. Be gentle, seek to know, be helpful, have a calm disposition and be slow to excitement. Take care of yourself and your belongings. This will in turn help you to take care of a lady and perhaps one day your dog and family. Have manners, and give up foul language. Behave when outside of the bedroom (and sometimes the bathroom). Though this is not all it comes down to, remember to always, absolutely always, do what you can (even if they provoke you, which they will do and do as much as they can) to always make a woman feel like a lady. It was a woman who reared you into this world. To every woman you owe some semblance of courtesy. You might even say that the gentleman is the only one that can make a women feel like a lady.

.  .  .

So I’ll end by saying a few things. First, Amma’s he’s a keeper.. yes. lol – but she already knows how i feel. So moving along to some quotables and¬†my responses:

  • “You made it seem like American men weren’t up to par of the gentleman and two that I didn’t know how to be one.”¬†– I humbly apologize to you, friend and all American men who I’ve unintentionally insulted by assuming you don’t know how to be a gentleman. I never saw things this way at all.
  • “I would say [to you] do not let you being a lady get in the way of us being gentlemen. I would then say to us, not to let you being a lady get in the way of us being gentlemen. – So in essence, I should go on being a lady regardless of a man’s actions? Not sure how this works to be honest though…
  • Point blank, one is a gentlemen by conduct. It isn’t some mystic right that belonged solely to King Arthurs and French nobility. It is learned. – So does that mean a lady can teach a man in his adult years?
  • It isn’t rocket science sef. Be gentle, seek to know, be helpful, have a calm disposition and be slow to excitement. Take care of yourself and your belongings. This will in turn help you to take care of a lady and perhaps one day your dog and family. Have manners, and give up foul language. Behave when outside of the bedroom (and sometimes the bathroom). -Noted.
  • To every woman you owe some semblance of courtesy. – I love this.
  • You might even say that the gentleman is the only one that can make a women feel like a lady.< THIS. RIGHT. CHERE.¬†So, to be a lady a woman has to be treated like one, and it is not any man who knows how to do that (it is a gentleman that does). Interesting. I’ll say, when a man treats me like a lady, I do feel more like one… if that makes sense

Thanks for the male perspective, friend!

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Treat Her Like A Lady: Chivalry isn’t dead, but am I killing it slowly?

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As I mature, I am finding that there are some things that I need to be deliberate about doing and being, and sometimes this means proactively (re)teaching myself to…well… do and be. One of these such things is ‘Being a Lady’.

Yes, you read right.

For the most part, I think I can safely assume that it is pressed upon most women, myself included, that a man will only treat you how you carry yourself. And it’s not that I’ve ever carried myself UN-lady like, but I have never proactively embraced the title. I don’t think I’m alone in this quasi-struggle either. I am a woman. Yes. I am a female. Yes. I am a lady. Hmm…sure?

Last week, Amma’s boyfriend took me to dinner (Amma, you like that ūüėČ ). When the check came, he confidently reached for the bill while I turned around to grab my purse – this was my first time meeting him and I didn’t want to assume anything. As I reached for my credit card, I made a light joke about whether we were going to do this ‘the African way’ or ‘the American way.‘ Given that he had already put his card in the sleeve and on the edge of the table by the time I turned around, I already knew what way we were doing this; however, for kicks I wanted to continue the conversation (for all I knew it could have been¬†an opportunity to write a blog ¬†a learning moment for me).¬†Interestingly, Amma’s boyfriend was visibly¬†confused at¬†my query when I posed it, so I elaborated… ‘You know the African way means a man pays and the American way connotes ‘splitting the check’. My assumption here was that his confusion lay with which definition was being assigned to which label. However, the look of confusion still lingered on his face following my explanation, so this is where I became confused… that is until he calmly explained to me,

‘Afua, there’s only one way, and that is the gentleman way. The gentleman way, my friend, transcends culture and continents.’

Boom.

Well looky there, my new friend taking me to school.

So of course I had to relay this information back to Amma. ‘Your dude’s correct, abi.’ As we spoke about the incident, I openly told her that even though tumblr_lxha9imnHz1r91fqbo1_500we attribute paying as a cultural norm for African men, in Ghana I don’t assume a man will pay (outside of a first date situation), to which she responded… ‘Really? Ghana has spoiled me, I always assume a man will pay. I don’t even pretend to reach for my wallet anymore. If I even think that there may be a slight hint of ‘American-style’ behavior, I will literally shame you into paying [because you will actually have to open your mouth and say something to get me to contribute].

Saa**, is that how women are rolling these days? Shaming men into chivalry? Hmm… But then what’s wrong with me… Why am I not demanding/expecting such behavior AND why isn’t¬†chivalry the default behavior for guys towards me?

The more I thought through this, the more I saw things as a self fulfilling prophesy. Cyclical behavior which begins and ends with me expecting men not to pay (somewhere in between is me giving off an aura of ‘I’ll pay for {take care of} myself, because God forbid you thought I was ‘one of those girls’).

Sadly,¬†this isn’t a new thing for me. I¬†have a distinct memory of getting¬†on a campus bus during my second year of college, and it was packed. When I got on the bus, a guy friend of mine was seated and asked if I wanted his seat. I said no [in some¬†witty¬†feminist leaning- 21st century I don’t need a man kinda way]. The experience is quite etched in my memory, not because of the utterly horrified ‘I feel so sorry for you (and your way of thinking)’ look my friend gave me, but because to this very day I don’t fully understand why I said no. I really don’t. < So then this is the part I play in the cyclical behavior. But there’s more…

Within the last year, I went to dinner with a guy friend and I remember when I inquired why we were splitting the check when he invited me to dinner, he said: ‘Afua, you make more than me and you’re not one of those girls that cares about these things’ < Here we see another component of the circle… really one that isn’t even initiated by me.

Another male friend this year had¬†the courtesy to ask¬†me, ‘Afua, would you be offended if I paid?’ Noting that he didn’t want to assume I was a certain type of girl [one who likes to pay] and unintentionally offend me by paying. But if this guy had to ask, then there must be a look, an attitude, an aura that I am putting out which makes a man’s default with me be: ‘she likes to fly solo’. <This is probably the last in the construction of the never ending circle.

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Amma and I at AIM last year

So around and around the merry-go-round we go. My behavior> ‘His’ behavior> My attitude/aura (and what I believe should be). And there are many more stories to fill in this cycle.

But let’s forget about how much I make and my educational attainment for a second, because these things have no bearing on the definition of a lady. Ie. I know women who I went to grad school with who earn circles around me that I can emphatically say [a majority of] men would never allow them to pay for themselves. So clearly this is a much larger issue being represented through a small gesture of settling a check. Even for women who seemingly have ‘it’ all (whatever all means), there are men that view them in a different light than they view me. It’s a mindset difference of ‘I deserve to be treated like a lady’…. and ¬†just because I can take care of myself doesn’t mean you should allow me to.

Case in pt: I ran my first half marathon at the end of September (whoop whoop) and something new to the Accra International Marathon¬†(AIM) this year was bicycle escorts from the accra cyclist club. There weren’t enough cyclists to escort every half and full marathon runner, however somehow I received a personal escort for essentially the entire route. When the escort first came alongside me, instead of initially seeing it as a blessing, I went into my feelings: “Why are you cycling next to me? Aren’t there other runners you can escort- What you think I need an escort? I don’t look like a runner or that I can finish the race? Urgh.” Ya, I never said I was rational. In any case, I didn’t say anything and kept running. A quarter of the race in, he became my silent safety blanket- shielding me from (ignorant) drivers who didn’t want to stick to the inner lane, riding ahead of me on curves that had dangerous blind spots and telling me to run closer to the edge when appropriate. There was a time when he had to briefly leave my side and attend to an injured runner, and the whole time he was gone all I kept thinking was, ‘Blankie come back!’ lol ūüėČ I do not know how I would have fared without him on the course, but what I do know is that it would not have been as smooth of a ride. Thus, being capable of taking care of myself on the course or paying the bill isn’t the point. For me, the real lesson here is letting go of control and allowing someone to take care of you. And this is mutual in a relationship, I’m just talking from the woman’s side (which happens to manifest itself in being treated like a lady).

Like I said earlier, men treat you like you carry yourself and¬†how you demand to be treated. So this is more than the (fake) grab of the check or credit card, or the shaming of a man into paying, this is really what me, Afua is demanding/expecting and what I’m (re)teaching myself to receive graciously when it is given. We all know it’s a continual¬†work in progress for me. But small small, I’ll get there. When he offers me that seat on the bus, I’ll take it now; when he wants to open the door or walk on the outside of me, I’ll allow it abi; when the cyclist wants to escort me, and me alone, I sure as hell won’t fight it … … externally. ūüôā

** Ghanaian slang for ‘is that so?’