gentleman

Guest Post: Nah Hun, We’re Going Dutch! Treat Her Like a Lady: Part III

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We’re really guest posting things out, eh? We must say thank you to our guest bloggers for making this space more interactive lately!

So if you can remember, I wrote a post about ‘Being a Lady’ and how I have to begin seeing myself as one and allowing guys to treat me as one. In a response to what I wrote, Amma’s boyfriend wrote a guest post for us, which was quite an eye opener for me… if you haven’t read it yet, I would take a look HERE.  Now for Part III of our mini series on chivalry, another guy that I referenced in my original post has graciously written an almost contrasting opinion piece to Amma’s boyfriend. Definitely gives me something else to think about.

Enjoy! And let us know what you think about the post. 


Afua says to treat her like a lady.

I agree; treat her like an intelligent, independent lady. So that means split the bill with her on general principle—unless certain conditions are present.

Apparently the idea of a man splitting the bill is quite an affront to many Ghanaian women. I apologize if I’ve offended in the past. I’ve learned my lesson. After many-a-date without happy endings, I have learned.

But my dating world spans, indeed, the world, so things are different…and different and different and different. Complicated, I would say. I pay; she pays; each pays; I pay the meal, she pays the desert; I the meal, she the tip; she the meal, I the drinks; and every combination you can imagine. I’ve even had an inelegant occasion where I was going to pay—honest!—but I had left my wallet so she paid (and perhaps wonders to this day if that’s just my hustle). On another occasion, I offered to buy a plane ticket and she canceled the trip at the suggestion (through my gesture) that she couldn’t buy her own (she wasn’t Ghanaian, of course).

If you’re thinking I’m revealing too active a dating life with all these combinations, don’t. I don’t do dates per se, you see.  When I go out with a woman, we’re going as two friends or potential friends. If the ending retroactively confers a date status on said outing, great.  As you might imagine, I’ve been on many dates when I didn’t even recognize I was on a date and probably broke all the rules. So I shall henceforth use “encounter” to cover all these, well, encounters.

With all these combinations and complications—you’re probably already thinking this guy is bad news—what are his rules?

imagesIn essence, I’m an advocate and practitioner of women’s equality in all ways: equal salary, domestic chores, everything. I can also be hopelessly cerebral, and no one has convinced me just yet why it should be any different with the restaurant tab. Why the man has to pay by default.

To be clear, I do it happily most of the time, but only if I can justify it. The idea of paying for a professional, income-earning woman on an encounter when she’s got her own makes no sense to me. For me, it’s like showing off. It’s like I’m saying I have money and you don’t, you know, like you’re the weaker vessel or something.

There are, however, some conditions under which my paying makes sense to me:

  1. I initiated that we go to that particular place (Some Ghanaian women will pester you to take them out and then go on to suggest [insert name of a fancy restaurant])
  2. I know for a fact that it will be significantly more of a financial stretch for her than it will be for me. Say, she’s a student, new entrepreneur, unemployed. (Even then, I know women who would still prefer to pay for themselves as an assertion of their independence.)
  3. It is culturally accepted that the man pay (to the extent that she might not even carry enough money on her).

If none of the conditions above exist, we’re going Dutch, baby. It’s not personal. It’s logical. I can’t forget a trip I took with a woman who created a Google Docs spreadsheets of expenses before we started, diligently updated the spreadsheet throughout the trip, and sent me my balance upon return. Now, *that* was a turn on.

But here’s the good news if you’re a woman looking to be “treated like a lady”: Some guys will pay on the first date and gradually go Dutch on subsequent dates. I’m the opposite. Even if I go Dutch on the first “encounter,” once it retroactively becomes a date, I become inclined to pay for subsequent outings depending on the relationship and relative financial situations. Even if she’s in better financial situation than I, I will buy gifts. Of course if we progress to having a joint account, then it’s coming from the joint account except for special occasions.

So you might pay for the first meal, but I could buy the house. Fair deal, no?

I write at a time when one of Ghana’s most prominent preachers has warned Ghanaian women that they’ll burn in hell with their beauty and brains unless they humble themselves and get a man. So, ladies – I’m here to save you. You don’t have to humble yourself before me, and you won’t go to hell either. Just get the check. I won’t be offended.

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What does offend me is when people (men and women) are unreasonable or ungrateful. Even in Ghana where I pay most of the time (see 3rd condition above), some women take it for granted and make unreasonable requests. One theory I’ve heard is that when a girl meets a boy, she’s never sure how long it will last, so she’s got to make him prepay his tax: real estate tax (rent), education fund, and (if the man is a politician) cars and trips to Dubai.

Another argument I’ve heard is that the man should always pay because he wants something from the woman.  Now, that’s logic I can appreciate. So, let’s talk.


hmmm hmmm and hmmm. Thoughts, RR? Kinda takes one back to this scene from An African City, doesn’t it?…

An African City: Episode 2: Sexual Real Estate 7:24-10:20 

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

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We beg, we plead, and y’all treat us like chopped liver. But one guy loves us! 🙂 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 🙂 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.

.   .   .

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!

Reactions, RR?

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 😉 ). 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 😉 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. 🙂

** Ghanaian slang for ‘is that so?’