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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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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?’

Repost: Family demands 100 gallons of petrol as bride price for daughter

If you are not already following YesiYesi Ghana, you are truly missing out on some great comedic gems. Given the general gray state of the nation, it’s always great to have a laugh once in a while. This is not the first time that YesiYesi has been featured on our blog. They wrote a really fun parody called “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Ghanaman” which followed Afua’s post about some of her God Awful weirdo strange run-ins with Ghanaian guys. Here is another parody post inspired by a recent post about the impact of Ghana’s economy on our love lives. As the post and this parody rightly portray, girls AND boys abr3 and no one can afford love anymore.

Enjoy!


“In the Ghanaian tradition as with many other African, Asian and some eastern European traditions, a groom is required to pay a bride price to the family of his bride as a show of his commitment and ability to financially support his prospective wife. Centuries ago, the bride price was quoted in gold, land, cows, tubers of yam and pots of palm wine. In recent times the price has been demanded in money, cloths and bottles of gin and schnapps. Evidently, bride prices are demanded in items that are of high value in the prevailing economic circumstance.

One family is reportedly asking a 27 year old Ghanaian man to cough up 100 gallons of petrol if he is to be given the green light to marry their daughter. Kofi Ghanaba, a university graduate working for a bank in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, has confirmed the family of his girlfriend is demanding 100 gallons of petrol as bride price. “I have been with her for a while now, we are very much in love so we wanted to do the right thing and get married. Tradition requires that I pay a dowry to her family. When I received the list from her father, I was expecting the usual items; ring, cloths, money and bottles of gin and schnapps. To my surprise, there was only one item on the list. Just one! I smiled to myself. But before long, my smile had turned into wailing. 100 gallons of petrol is what they wanted and it wasn’t just any type of petrol, they demanded Shell V-Power,” revealed the dejected man.

A spokesman for the girlfriend’s family explained that the demand for 100 gallons of fuel is not just a sign of the ever increasing value of fuel due to the recurring shortages, but also a test to determine if Kofi can adequately take care of their daughter. “If he loves our daughter he wouldn’t mind queuing for days to buy the gallons of fuel we require.” The spokesman argued that their request is no different from what happened centuries ago when young men had to spend years growing crops and raising animals to be able to pay the bride price for the girl of their dreams.

With fuel prices up by 53% since the beginning of the year, Kofi’s shrewdness will be put to test, according to the family spokesman. “With the frequent increases in fuel prices, will he decide to buy now or wait and see if prices drop? His decision will give us an insight into how well he will manage his home in the future.” The demand for 100 gallons will also test Kofi’s physical strength. “It will require great physical strength to carry 100 gallons, and we will be looking to see how Kofi fares on that.”

With the worsening economic situation, Kofi Ghanaba is not just feeling the pinch in his pocket but also in his heart as he battles to marry the girl of his dreams.”

She No Want Ferrari: Impact of Forex on Love and Dating

occupyBefore I begin this post, and especially because it deals with the economy, I want to give a major shout out to the #OccupyFlagstaffHouse team that worked in collaboration with Concerned Ghanaians for Responsible Governance and other citizen groups. Whether you were there in presence or in spirit, the fact that so many people were talking about it shows that there is definitely appetite for this sort of activism. The entire protest was organized in under 5 days, and there was a lot of (healthy) back and forth about demands, expectations and next steps. If you visit the facebook page, you will find a full copy of the petition but I also pretty much summed up the demands in 5 simple points on my own development and policy blog (ahem.shameless.plug.ahem). In any case, we are awaiting a response but in the interim, do make sure to sign the petition, agitate MP’s however you can (I’d say use twitter and direct it to Hanna Tetteh), and keep abreast of what’s happening (Constitution is under review, and there is plenty wahala around it, did you know? chale… ) so that the next march (should it come to that) will be even greater. The onus is not on those ‘protester types’, the onus is on us ALL! (you see what I did there… I should be a rapper, ha!)

At any rate, on to the post…


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Cause e want e my love o She no want designer She no want ferrari She say na my love o You belong to me And i belong to her o

Prolific words sung by Davido… Unfortunately… these words have not been said in Ghana since… well… the cedi rate was 1 to 1! I was having a very interesting conversation with my taxi driver the other day. He was telling me how difficult the economic situation was for him. I really felt bad. The truth is, when trotro’s raise fares, they do so in unison and there is standardization more or less so everyone must oblige. But with (car) dropping, people will sort of haggle at the same old price, as if the cedi isn’t deep diving into oblivion… and if the taxi driver won’t take them, they just wait for someone who will.

Sucks.

But then he went on this diatribe about how he has had to adjust his lifestyle… most specifically, his ability to date. I found this fascinating. According to him, because he is not able to give a girl chop money, and pay for her to get her hair done, or to buy transport or even credit, he feels unfit to enter a monogamous relationship. He was explaining to me how painful it is to ‘invest’ so much in a woman, only for her to tell you she doesn’t want to marry you but would rather be with someone else. I said, ‘oh ho… but what about the investment of love… I mean it was at least worth it then, no?” He looked at me… laughed… and then said, “Well.. I would have been better off buying land”

Ouch.

Land over love, eh? But I get his point. One point the driver kept making that really resonated with me was about how dating/courtship looks so much like marriage these days… that there is almost no point in getting married at all. He was saying, ‘If my money is your money and our bodies are at each others disposal.. then what are we really rushing to the altar for?’ He even talked about how he recently took a vow of celibacy and was mocked by his ex-girlfriend for being less than a man for wanting to wait…

wonders.

never.

cease.

So how is the forex rate impacting dating and love? For one, its quantifying it. Instead of looking at a mutually beneficial relationship that is about building a life and leaving a legacy… it sounds, more or less, like a contractual relationship based on barter and quid pro quo. Tres unfortunate for a romanticist like myself. I want rainbow and unicorns and flowers and all the warm fuzzies that love is supposed to bring. But the economy is intimidating folks out of pursuing relationships, and it’s jading men who automatically assume that I am impressed by a Porsche Cayenne.

Ladies be like "umm... can you pay my bills, can you pay my automobiles"

Ladies be like “umm… can you pay my bills, can you pay my automobiles”

Look. I no want Ferrari (yet.) I no want designer (right now.)… whatever happened to building something together? And the thing is… if you read many of our posts, you will see that there is a lot of joking and banter about this ‘ideal, made man’. But last weeks post talks about how that can sometimes actually be the compromise for us. And in all honesty, Afua and I aren’t that deluded. All of the wives that we admire, including our mothers, made grave sacrifices for their relationships. In seeing those examples, we definitely know that there is no progress without struggle. We are so here for that… We are down like the economy. Yet, even in this knowledge, we can’t entirely be annoyed at the women jading these men and making them feel like if they are not willing to pay for all your bills, he’s not worthwhile. No really. It’s not their fault.

readytogooutIn a conversation I had recently with a close friend, she was telling me about the difficulty she was having in just saving money. That lately she wasn’t able to go out much, hang out with friends… you know… enjoy her days as a single, beautiful, independent (but not in that annoying, too known, in your face way) woman. It’s unfortunate too… because Ghanaian men are missing out on this great opportunity to interact with her because she has to think twice about using the fuel in her car and about whether she wants to get her hair done, eyebrows done, buy makeup and pay for that mani- pedi to be in top stellar position for such an outing. If a woman has to decide between being social and being broke, well that’s really problematic, don’t you think? And yes, for all you party poopers, we recognize there are deeper issues than being able to afford Marc Jacobs perfume so you can be wined and dined, but focus… this is a representational issue… the point is… we can’t actually afford love anymore. And that’s sad.

All in all, the declining cedi isn’t just a matter of the economy, in this super macro, higher level sense… it’s also a matter of the heart. It has implications on the way we interact and socialize. We are already restructuring our relationships, quantifying their value, weighing them against… say… investing in land. That’s a problem. If the economic sitch doesn’t switch up… no one will get married. ever. Ok… maybe that’s a bit dramatic but you get the point… So here’s some advice for the next protest… if, perhaps, rising fuel costs, erratic electricity, inconsistent supply of water and devaluing currency aren’t enough for you to take the streets. If disappearing money, lying politicians and financial scandal don’t compel you to stand up for your rights… Well be like R. Kelly and… do it for love!

 

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