Musings

Does Not Liking Someone Translate Into A Woman Being Picky?

Today morning I got a friend request on Facebook, from someone I once worked with in 2015 and who had the hots for me, but I just wasn’t feeling him. So I stared at my phone screen for a while debating on whether to confirm or not. In the end, I deleted the request. I know, it sounds cold, right?

Anyways, for some reason, I didn’t like this guy. Something about him was just off putting. Coupled with the fact that I didn’t consider him my type, I also felt that there was something pretentious with how strongly he came. I did a background check immediately from a colleague and I found out they had a thing. Months later, while chatting with a friend whom I had previously worked with in the same place with this guy, I found out that he had been married once, it didn’t work out but there was a child.

He never told me that! All that gushing over how much he was into me and how much he was turned on by me just made me run for the hills. Something didn’t quite sit right with me about him and so it surprised me that despite my very obvious actions, he was still contacting me sometime in April this year. Apologizing for anything wrong he had done to make me not want anything to do with him. Just lame, I thought. I had tried to be polite in communicating the fact that I didn’t like him but he wouldn’t relent. Adding him on Social media as a friend was just not a wise decision, I concluded this morning.

Which got me thinking whether not liking someone translates into a woman being picky as society tends to sometimes put it. Does it mean that she will die single if she doesn’t seem to like most of the men hitting on her?

Photo Credit: Internet Sources

Photo Credit: Internet Sources

I personally think a  woman has all the right to settle for what she wants. Over time, I have learnt to pay attention to my gut instinct. If something doesn’t feel right about someone, even though I can’t put a finger on what it is, I steer clear of that person. It applies both ways, for men and women. My decision to pay attention to what my instinct is telling me is not so much based on being snobbish, but on past experiences where I ignored my instincts and ended up regretting that decision.

Society does not have to pressure women to take whatever comes their way. I’m a bit skeptical about dating a man with a child and more so if there is a baby mama in the picture. I don’t want to deal with all that drama (should it arise) and with all due respect to baby mamas out there. However, I find it noble when a man straight away tells me about a child or children he has. That way, I’m in the know and can therefore decide whether I’ll go ahead and date him or not. Most of the time, I won’t. And I find nothing wrong with my decision. It’s just what I feel is right for me at the moment.

The same way men can decide that they don’t like women for certain reasons is the same way women should also be allowed to decide the same. There’s nothing about being too picky in such a situation. As a matter of fact, there’s a huge difference between pickiness and developing a long list of unattainable standards that you expect from a man. It’s not like I have that long list myself but there are certain things I’m comfortable with and know I can put up with from someone I’m dating and others I know I’m not comfortable with and can’t put up with, that make me change my mind altogether about this person.

Have you ever encountered being considered picky for rejecting a man’s advances? And what do you think? I’d like to hear from you guys.

Single Parenting And Judging The Woman Harshly

Single Dad:

Oh, the mother of his child must have been very irresponsible! 

He must be very courageous and kind hearted to choose to raise his child/children by himself…

Oh let me prove to him just how much of an awesome stepmum I can be to his kids…He’s just too alluring.

Single mum:

money101.co.za

money101.co.za

She must have been those hardheaded types who cannot stay put in marriages!

Or maybe she got her baby with a married man…

I cannot date a woman with extra baggage in the form of kids…

What if her son starts demanding for an inheritance from me yet I’m not his biological dad?

It is no secret that single mums are often judged more harshly than their male counterparts in a similar situation. But why the double standards?

Well, I sought to find this out from one of my male acquaintances who sadly, is of the chauvinistic thinking that a woman who ends up single parenting is in essence, damaged goods. So I asked why he thought such women were no longer eligible candidates in the dating world and his answer was quite interesting; No man wants to interfere with another man’s turf.

Fair enough. But why are we willing to interfere with another woman’s turf per se? Why are single dads viewed as heroic in their efforts to raise their children by themselves while single mums are viewed as failures for doing the same?

Is it because of the sexual stereotypes that have forever been applied to women? The idea held by some, that women should be virgins before marriage but men can be excused for being sexually active before marriage. Is it a woman’s fault for ending up a single mum? Has she any control over what happens once a baby is conceived and the relationship with the baby’s father takes a turn for the worse?

While looking at the single parenting scenario, we have no choice but to acknowledge that times have indeed changed. While it was once in order, ethical even, for two people to get children in a marriage and stay put through thick and thin, nowadays, many more individuals are ending up as single parents either by choice or as a result of certain circumstances.

Blame it on exposure or the feminism wave but in recent times, it is not entirely uncommon, for two individuals in a certain relationship involving children to want out if things seem not to be working. It may not seem like an entirely wise decision seeing that the children are the ones who are likely to end up quite affected, but we really have no control over how two people choose to solve their relationship issues.

However, I find it baseless judging the women in single parenting scenarios more harshly than the men in the same. What if we chose to reason similarly for both sexes regarding what might have drove them into single parenting? Is it possible for us to do so even, judging by some of the chauvinistic attitudes that have over time been deeply embedded in our societies?

Methinks that irrespective of whatever sex a person is, the choice to singlehandedly raise a child/children is indeed a courageous one. It does not mean that the child may grow up deficient as many would like to assume. There are living examples of children who have been raised by single parents and have gone on to become wholesome adults in future. It all depends on the parenting style chosen by the single parent.

And while I’m no advocate for the kind of drama some of these clueless children are subjected to once their parents’ relationship sours, I’m of the idea that a single parent can equally raise a child perfectly. Of course this child may be deprived of the presence of one parent but it may come as a surprise to you, that many children in single parenting households, see nothing amiss with one parental figure missing.

They may only feel something was amiss if the parent in their lives sadly, fell short of being someone they could look up to for their well being and security. Quite a number of children from single parent households have gone ahead to do amazing things with their lives. They are actually individuals whose parents can be proud of.

In my statements above, I’m not trying to trash the family unit. I’m all for the family unit of both parents and children. However, if it so happens that one parent is conspicuously absent, then the other parent should be in a position to step in and try as much as they can to fill the gap for both parents. Whether this parent is male or female. Of course challenges are inevitable in single parenting but the welfare of the child is all that matters in such a scenario.

When we choose to judge single parents with regards to their gender, we are in essence alluding to the stereotypical thinking that women ought to be tamed by marriages. And men should be placed on a pedestal for doing something that only a woman is considered capable of doing. Parenting is a two way thing. Once one decides to become a parent, whether a man or woman, then they should factor this in the back of their minds that their child needs their input.

A single father raising his kids singlehandedly is in essence doing what is required of him should the other parent choose to abscond her duties for whatever reason. It is the same thing with when a single mother decides to raise her kids singlehandedly. She is only doing what is required of her as the parent of the opposite gender.

However, I’m aware that there are women who knowingly choose to be single mums and have no intention whatsoever of providing their children with a father figure. Such a woman should be in a position to think critically of the implications of this to her children, before going ahead with making that particular decision.

Like I mentioned, the welfare of the child should always be put into consideration. If at all this woman is denying her child/children a father figure knowing fully well that she will do a poor job at parenting, then she has nobody else but herself to blame.

What are your thoughts?

Age Gap Relationships; Are You Dating From Your Father’s Generation?

Some time last year, I spoke about cougar relationships and what I thought about them. Today I want to talk about the opposite, where the man is significantly older than the woman.

Age gap relationships, to be precise.

Celine Dion and her recently, deceased husband, Rene Angelil come into mind in regards to this. Rene was 38 years old when he first met a then 12 year old Celine, who would blow him away with her talent so much, that he  mortgaged his house when he couldn’t seem to find a record company for her, to have her first album released.

It was a couple of years later, when they would both fall in love and begin a relationship, that they at first kept secret from the public for fear of castigation. Celine has in the past, spoken about how her mother was against her relationship with Rene when Celine eventually confided in her. She was worried for her daughter that she had fallen in love with a man who had already been married twice before. But eventually, the family would warm up to him and be welcoming of the relationship.

Truly a match made in heaven, Celine and Rene got married in 1994 in a lavish wedding in Canada. Rene would go on to manage her career for years until poor health rendered him incapable of doing it any longer. At the time of his death early this year, Rene had been married to Celine for a total 21 years with 3 children to complete their close knit family.

Celine and her husband Rene. Photo courtesy of Google images.

Celine and her husband Rene. Photo courtesy of Google images.

Indeed with such a powerful love story in Celebville, which is synonymous for its short lived marriages and relationships between celebrity couples, I couldn’t help really feeling it for Celine when Rene passed away. This is a man she has known all her life and I’m sure she will really miss his presence in her life and career.

Celine and Rene’s relationship is an example of age gap relationships that worked pretty well despite what society has always thought of them in the past. In my country, when a young lass decides to settle for a significantly older guy of probably her father’s age, then the man in question is referred to as her sponsor.

We call them sponsors because in recent times, young campus going women have been known to get into relationships with older married men, only for the financial benefits that come with it. This phenomenon does not only happen in Kenya, per se. I once watched a show on DSTV’s TLC channel, where young women of European origin had settled for really old, wrinkly guys just because of the financial status of these men. I forget the name of that show.

I was thoroughly tickled quite recently, when I read in some newspaper the different names accorded to these older men, who are nowadays a preferred choice for women from their daughters’ generation, because of how heavy their pockets have since been ascertained to be. With the age range clearly outlined, I read of names such as ancestor and fossil in addition to the sponsor tag we have already gotten used to.

Anyone reading this from a different country, can already tell the amount of disgust associated with age gap relationships in my country, just from the monikers we have taken to christening such men in such relationships with. If a young woman in her 20s still decides to date that already balding 50 something year old, approaching retirement with grown up children working somewhere abroad, then she must be too ratchet to care what people will think.

After all, the idea behind it is for the monetary benefits which our young unestablished men understandably fail to deliver. If this young woman expects an equally young man in campus in his early 20s to get her a house to live in, a good car to drive and a sizeable amount of monthly allowance in her account just for her flimsy expenditures, then she is thoroughly misplaced.

No wonder the preference for older established men who have quite some disposable income to spend on such “ambitious” young women. In return, he gets the attention his wife of many years, may nowadays seem not to be in a position to give.This thoroughly misguided idea behind age gap relationships, is what has made many people in my country to view them with disgust.

However, there is a possibility of two people with a significant age gap between them, truly falling in love without any sly motives behind it. How this is going to be received by society, is what makes many people shy away from pursuing their real feelings. Human beings have over time been known to hate such kinds of surprises. We love sticking to the familiar and may give elaborate reasons as to why this is so.

If such a scenario indeed happened, where two people who are both unmarried but with that large age gap between them got into a relationship, many of their close friends and relatives, would be quick to point out the reasons why they shouldn’t be together. I’m sure they will hear of reasons ranging from their respective generations do not match, to reasons such as a failure on their part in future to fully understand each other’s needs, to reasons such as they can always get other people closer in age to each other. Many would be quick to dismiss it as a misplaced fling that needs some snapping out of.

In African societies, the only times we tend to be a little forgiving of age gap relationships and marriages is when this man decided to add an additional wife. In some cases, the younger wife might still be in her 20s with the older wife in her 50s. Then, we may attribute it to culture, religious belief or this man’s reasoning or the fact that men “are prone to having many women.” Though slightly disconcerting, we may not be that keen to keep on pointing fingers in such a scenario.

I tend to attribute the motive behind age gap relationships as the contributing factor to the overall outcome. If this relationship was in itself pure, then a marriage will happen and the critics shall of course be silenced for good. If this relationship was for individual selfish reasons, then the critics will eventually be proven right in their assessment of it. As much as love is a thing between two people, relationships considered out of the ordinary by societies shall always be subject to speculations. The parties involved only need a thick skin to survive.

What do you think?

The Innocence Of Children

I accidentally got to eavesdrop on a conversation between my neighbor and his daughter sometime this week.

Daughter goes something like, “Daddy si utaenda kwa bank utoe pesa ya trip!”

(Daddy, you shall have to go to the bank and withdraw money for the trip).

I gathered there was an already planned educational trip at school and this child was definitely eager to go.

An obviously amused dad went, “Alafu nikienda kwa bank?”

(Then what happens when I go to the bank?)

“Ah, si utawaambia tu wakupee pesa alafu waandike hapo trip. Hawatakataa. Alafu utapea teacher!”The daughter reasoned.

(Ah, you will tell them to give you the money then they note down ‘trip’. They won’t decline. Then you give the teacher!)

From that small bit of conversation I overheard, I came to several conclusions;

  1. This little girl assumed her daddy had so much money which could be withdrawn at anytime from the bank. So playing the “I’m broke” card was definitely not going to work for him. He just had to pay for the school trip whether he had the money or not judging from the finality in his daughter’s voice.
  2. For this little girl, her daddy was obviously her knight in shining armor who could grant her anything in the world. Check.
  3. Children can be so humorously innocent in the way they reason at times. Especially the part where she says the bank should note down “trip” as the purpose of the money withdrawn. I mean for children things can be so easy. Not so for us adults!

Anyways, hope she does get to go for the trip. I know daddy wouldn’t dream of letting her down now, would he?

 

The Red Alert!

en.wikipedia.org

Let’s talk about menstruation. Or rather, let’s not mention that word. It’s quite sensitive, right? A woman’s business, why is she (me) bringing it up? OK, why is it even a sensitive subject in the first place?

I once mentioned some male co-worker attributing a forehead breakout I had to my period. I was offended and you know how they usually advice that if you have nothing nice to say you better shut up? That’s what I did. I clamped up. I knew that if I had spoken up immediately it would have been to tell him off because he was all up in my very personal business. A subject that even my male friends know better not to broach. So why was this man trying to act all too smart by coming up with a diagnosis for what I knew was a case of my sensitive facial skin acting up?

I may consider myself a feminist but menstruation is something I hardly discuss with the males in my life. Not because of any shame attached to it but because I feel it is something exclusive for women that I don’t need to keep on talking about with the opposite sex. Plus there is that whole disgust reaction most men get when women begin talking about their monthly period and cramps that I find hard to condone many a times. I guess the only time a section of men don’t feel at all disgusted discussing our monthly period, is when they are inquiring on when our last periods were. Read, they just want to be sure they won’t have to budget for diapers in the near future, for those who weren’t anywhere near committing to us in the first place.

Many societies in the world have always considered a menstruating woman to be unclean. This has equally been mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible. I once read a blog post which discussed how some societies in India forbade their women from sharing the same beds with their husbands during the whole monthly period duration. There are also menstrual huts where menstruating women are supposed to reside during that “time of the month”. Funnily enough, in the same Indian society being discussed, menstruating women were equally forbidden to take a bath during that time.

Before you accuse me of peddling falsehood, the blog post was on an Indian blog typed by an Indian woman. I was curious to see what the commenters had said and was surprised to see Indian women concurring with the revelation that they weren’t allowed to take a bath in the whole duration. Women in the 21st century, mind you. One had gone as far as revealing that her husband literally had to force her to do away with the tradition because she was more than determined to follow it to the latter. Now that’s a good man there. Why further the “unclean” stereotype already in place by ensuring a woman remains unclean (avoiding the bath) in the actual sense, during that time?

However, it’s not only in India where some weird practices have been put in place with regards to the monthly period and how a woman should conduct herself at that time. According to an article on the website http://www.ruby-cup.com titled From menstrual huts to drinking blood. The weird and wacky world of cultural attitudes to menstruation. Pt. 1;

A lot of the obligations imposed on menstruating women are meant to protect other members of the community. For example, men are often thought to be at risk if they have sex with a woman when she’s on her cycle, as menstrual blood is considered polluting. In an extreme case, the Kodi of Sumba (an island in eastern Indonesia) believe that sexually transmitted diseases are contracted by men who have sex with a menstruating woman.

Now that’s a community in need of serious enlightenment on the transmission of venereal diseases although I wouldn’t advocate for sexual relations too at that time. But that’s simply my thought in that respect.

Similarly, to isolate menstruating women from their partners and their families, they’re forced to sleep apart in certain cultural traditions. These include those of Rastafarian societies, Bali, Hindus in South India, and certain tribes in Nigeria, where women are confined to a menstrual hut (a custom that used to be practiced in many parts of the world, but that has gradually disappeared).

Again, for the benefit of a menstruating woman’s family, in the Hindu societies of Nepal and Rajasthan, as well as in Bali, Bangladesh, and in Rastafarianism, she’s not allowed to cook or come into contact with other people’s food.

Instead, to safeguard the community more generally, and as a form of respect for divinities, women on their cycle must abstain from visiting religious sites in many Hindu societies, as well as in Bali, in Islamic culture and the Shinto religion of Japan.

Finally, for a woman to leave behind her unclean (i.e. menstruating) status, she must perform a ritual bath at the end of her cycle: this is practiced, for example, in Bali and in Orthodox Judaism, where the bath is called the mikveh.

The article goes on to state.

One might be tempted to react with outrage, at how a woman on her monthly period is treated in some societies, which seem to possess all forms of patriarchy but you may be surprised to learn that, it is not all doom and gloom in some scenarios. There are societies which actually celebrate a woman’s monthly cycle and her “time of the month.”

However, other customs aim to protect menstruating women themselves. In Rajasthan, girls on their period aren’t allowed to walk through crossroads, as they’re thought to be particularly vulnerable to evil spirits when they’re on their cycle. For this same reason, in South India it’s common to keep a piece of iron and/or a lemon. What is more, in South India, once girls reach menarche, they shouldn’t have contact with boys and aren’t allowed to spend as much time outside as before: given that they can now become pregnant, it’s thought that mixing with males is particularly dangerous.

Interestingly, in many of the societies I have mentioned, whilst menstrual prohibitions are widely practiced, so is the celebration of girls’ menarche. Ceremonies, involving food, family, friends and gifts are customary in Nepal, South India, Bali, Bangladesh, Japan, amongst the Akan of Ghana and the Maroons of Suriname. Amongst the Zulus of South Africa, a goat is slaughtered and the girl is secluded with her friends, emerging the next day to be bathed,smeared with red clay, and taught lessons for adulthood by other women-www.ruby-cup.com

And while there are societies known to go to extremities such as drinking the menstrual blood just to celebrate the woman, I consider these other ones mentioned pretty reasonable. A girl who is first experiencing her period should not be made to feel shame for it. While growing up, we laughed, whispered and snickered at our counterparts who were “unfortunate” enough to accidentally soil their uniforms in school with their first period. We didn’t know better.

However, it is time that parents and teachers taught both girls and boys about the differences between both genders. I do not advocate for going into deep details for the boys lest you scare them off completely but general knowledge, can go a long way in ending some of these stigmas and misconceptions surrounding something that is biological in a woman and a symbol of her fertility.

 

Of Body Art And Beauty Politics

What crosses your mind when you see a heavily tattooed woman?

genevieveng.com

genevieveng.com

Well, I kinda was confronted by that question a couple of hours back. I walked into a shop and one of the shop attendants was a woman, with lots of tattoos on her arms as well as a large flower detailed one on her lower back. You might wonder how I was able to make out that she had a tattoo on her lower back. Well, this particular woman who is every inch African, was wearing a daring cut out blouse that was literally open at the back so you could get an ample peek of her bra as well as the tattoo.

I emphasize on the word African because the tattoo craze has only caught up in Kenya a couple of years ago. Back in 2003, you could walk up and down a street all day long and not spot a single soul with a tattooed arm or neck or whatever. For those who are African and have been born and brought up in Africa like me, they probably know how much religious Africans are. We tend to attach every little detail of life to what religion states and since the Bible forbids one from putting permanent markings on their skin, tattoos are still being frowned upon by many of the older and younger generation alike.

Most people of the above reasoning tend to associate the putting of tattoos on one’s body with being devilish. However, for quite a large number of people from this generation, tattoos just like ear piercings are a form of body art. A way to express oneself. Well, if being tattooed wasn’t entirely a painful process, perhaps I would be having one teeny tiny one myself. I’m not so big on several tattoos on one’s body but I must admit that I have previously (and in the recent past) yearned to have one small one. If I was the very daring type, perhaps 3 small ones in different locations. However, it’s not something that I’ve finally concluded to do. Fleeting thoughts if I choose to look at it from that angle.

Some religious denominations equally discourage body piercings in addition to tattoos. There are members of certain denominations who would not dare wear earrings or any jewellery. All these things are usually attributed to some demonic origin thus the shunning. Well, Christians tend to be divided in the aforementioned reasoning. I personally have had my piercings from a very young age and I now consider them a part of me. The first pair of ear piercings I got at 6 years of age and the second pair at 10. I sleep in my studs, shower in them and only part with them when I want to change earrings into something more fancier.

I tend to believe that the Israelites too donned a lot of jewellery. When Moses in the Bible went up to the mountain and these people who seemed to possess such little faith, decided to remove all of their jewellery and make a golden calf to worship, that must have been a ton of jewellery. As a kid, we once visited the Gede ruins in the Coastal region of my country on a school trip and one of the photos I saw and remember, in the mini museum at the historical site, has this Arabic woman wearing so much jewellery including a quite heavy looking nose ring. I had never known people adorned their noses with other things other than studs before and therefore, remained quite puzzled for a while, long after the school trip was over.

Africans too have been known to fancy tribal markings. This is more like the tattoo version of Africa. Surprisingly, the idea behind some of these tribal markings was to enhance the beauty of a woman. I have witnessed Sudanese citizens currently residing in Kenya with wavy tribal markings on their foreheads that are permanent, men and women alike. I once mentioned that to a friend and with a puzzled look on his face, he stated that he had never noticed these kinds of markings on our Kenyan-Sudanese counterparts. I reminded him to pay close attention next time and he will surely spot this.

It might come as a surprise to many Kenyans of the latter day generation that some communities too in our country had tribal marks. However, you can hardly spot any Kenyan nowadays with tribal markings since these are practices that have been completely phased out over time. Save for the Maasais, Turkanas and Samburus who still elongate their earlobes, it is quite rare to encounter a Kenyan with tribal markings across the face or body. So we can confidently state that human beings have always possessed this fixation with body art for eons. That doesn’t mean that those actively pursuing the culturally motivated ones are primitive or in need of serious enlightenment.

On the tattooed woman I met today, well, I personally still get a little surprised seeing all those tattoos on someone. I’m not one to impose what I believe on another. I’m also very aware that there are a lot of stereotypes attached to people who decide to get tattoos. We may be tempted to brand them as misfits, ungodly or rebels. Perhaps people who have no intention whatsoever of ever being employed in a sober organization. Being a third world, Africans tend to place a lot of emphasis on education for a better life. We are guilty of overlooking the Arts or someone’s creativity in making a living. That’s what the missionaries drummed into our heads. Education is the ticket to success.

Well, it might come as a surprise to many that there are people out there who have no intention whatsoever of ever getting white collar jobs. Who do not care whether a tattoo is on their face, wrists or wherever. That is simply their choice. We also vary greatly in our choices of body art and while I will always prefer ear piercings over large tattoos someone of another thought may view tattoos as the way to go. Such is the diversity of different personalities.

So what crosses your mind when you see tattoos on anyone?

 

 

 

Should Women Shelve Ambition For Marriage?

We live in fast paced times where it is more of an inherent need for all genders to be gainfully employed. The times when a woman’s workplace was only within the home environment are long gone and we now have women climbing corporate ladders and actually being highly competent at it. This however creates an additional ‘hurdle’ to the lives of career women if we may address it as such. Finding the time to date, settle down and start a family.
A lot of criticism has been directed at women who prefer to concentrate on their careers instead of channeling their thoughts toward finding a husband. Single women who are highly successful in their careers have often times been scorned for ‘shunning’ marriage. Coming from an African society which places a lot of emphasis on the role of a woman as a wife and mother, we may conclude that this has mostly been the contributing factor, to the finger pointing and wagging tongues directed at this section of women.
A look at history surprisingly indicates that while there was an early emergence of the need for women to work, women hardly placed any importance on their careers as is the case in modern times. An article on the website http://www.bbc.co.uk titled Women’s Work and published on the 29th of March, 2011 states;

Urbanisation created manifold opportunities for female employment despite the regulation of hours and conditions of work for women and juveniles in certain sectors and, the coming of compulsory education after 1871. Thus most women in Victorian society, in the two thirds of the population below the upper and middle classes worked for wages…With the emphasis primarily upon their role as wives and mothers, women did not usually see their occupation as a centrally defining characteristic of their lives and therefore, failed to declare it.

The same case applies to African societies where for many years, an emphasis on educating the boy child had been placed at the expense of the girl child. It was not uncommon for fathers to anticipate the amount of dowry that their daughters would bring home therefore, hasty decisions made to marry the girl child off.
Educating the girl child not only empowered her but equally opened up her eyes to the numerous opportunities out there for the woman. With the championing of women’s rights and gender equality in work places, women were now able to earn the same amount of salaries as their male counterparts as long as they were qualified for it and competent to do the job.

thewaywomenwork.com

thewaywomenwork.com

Unlike in previous times where a woman sat pretty anticipating a knight in shining armor to sweep her off her feet and airlift her to marriageville, women began to attach their reason for being to the kind of employment they were in. Women found it necessary to dream, to actually strive for it in reality and to eventually be proud of what their efforts had yielded. The times where women shied away from stating their careers since the wage they earned, was nothing to write home about and the fact that the patriarchal societies they came from, dictated that they stay at home and raise the kids gradually faded into oblivion.
And while being consumed by career demands may tend to shift a woman’s focus away from the traditional school of thought of her roles being that of a mother or wife, it would be unfair to go all judgmental on women who chose career and ambitions before marriage or over marriage. It should be understood that marriage is a lifetime decision that may not be cut out for everyone.
Indeed, there are numerous women who successfully pursue their ambitions and in the midst of it all manage to find a husband material, settle down and surprisingly, raise well rounded children. Such women you may come to discover had highly supportive husbands who were not at all threatened by their wives’ successes. Sadly, most African men tend to be a little threatened by a woman who appears to be challenging their masculinity in all feats.

psychcentral.com

psychcentral.com

We blame this kind of thinking in men to what has been deeply entrenched in African societies for years. African societies are very guilty of parading the boy child as a savior of the community. Women on the other hand were only to be seen and not heard. It was the main reason why many fathers saw no need to educate their daughters. Daughters were not given the same intellectual view as sons were.
Unfortunately, many modern African men live by this rule to date. This could be the contributing factor for many women who are highly ambitious, failing to keep their marriages intact. We may be tempted to blame it on the fact that it is quite a daunting task to tame a woman who is successful in the house.
And while this may ring true in a couple of homes which are on the verge of breaking or broke because of a woman’s rise up the career ladder, chances are that the husband too happens to blame, for his lack of acceptance of his wives’ pursuit of ambitions.
There are successful women whose ambition did not interfere with their gentle make up yet they still find themselves single mothers or senior bachelorettes. The reason for the latter; men being intimidated by their social standing or career.
Modern times demand that all genders pursue their ambitions. Motivational books preach success. Women are more learned and willing to go to school to add onto their skills. Opportunities are aplenty for the female workforce. However, the time a woman chooses to settle or the way she views marriage should be left for her to decide. All these stereotypes we attach to ambitious women only serve to hamper the liberation of women in society.

African Men And Polygamy

Are African men naturally polygamous?

I got thinking about this after a story surfaced on the internet sometime last week concerning the African country of Eritrea. It was alleged by an unknown source, that the Eritrean government had passed a law requiring all men to take up two wives or a second wife or face life imprisonment. The story has since been proven to be a hoax according to http://www.tesfanews.net/eritrea-forced-polygamy-story-exposed/ 

Knowing how creative and hilarious Kenyans can get, the news immediately sparked a horde of memes mainly communicating the glee and anticipation that the story had caused in Kenyan men. Almost like they all couldn’t wait to get a go ahead to woo and marry Eritrean women considered very pretty together with their Ethiopian counterparts in the African continent. The author of the above post on the link provided, has quite some harsh words to say with regards to the reaction, the supposed hoax of a story caused.

I’m not basing my post only on Kenyan men but on African men in general. For generations, most African men have been painted to be polygamous by nature. The practice of polygamy is so deeply ingrained in some African countries that their own leaders have no qualms, getting several wives and being actually proud of it. After all, it is considered normal for an African man to prove his manliness by not sticking to one wife.

African women on the other hand are expected to go along with the flow and accommodate the additional wives. They should consider it healthy competition and accept that their men’s needs have to be met. They should actually keep up with the timetable if there happens to be one, dictating what days of the week or month the husband will visit particular homes of his many wives.

After the introduction of Christianity in my country, many Kenyan men felt embarrassed to openly exhibit their polygamous sides and therefore opted to keep concubines. For some whom the polygamous bug had bitten them to the point of no return, one woman could have been wedded in church thus paraded as the legitimate wife while the other could have been wedded traditionally.

Of course once the secret leaked that this man had more than one wife other than the one people were used to seeing, the man would indeed be at horrible pains to explain his situation and especially, if he had a position of some sort in the church. No wonder the need for our own president to sign a bill into law permitting men to marry additional wives even if the first wife does not approve of it in 2014. I have a feeling that the African patriarchal way of thinking regarding polygamy pushed the president to do this.

With the emergence of the HIV/AIDS virus at some point in time, a couple of polygamous homes suffered gravely. Many homes too, where the husband kept a concubine or side chick were not spared either from the spread of the deadly virus. Suddenly, polygamy did not seem all that fashionable if people in marriages got infected with HIV and had to suffer the consequences of living with the virus. But still, a huge section of African men felt that they could not survive with only one woman.

Is this really true? Could this be a myth that over time turned into a fact for some?

Polygamy in my view, is another form of cheating in a marriage that is only coated with terms of culture, tradition or male nature. In these times where the economy is never that favorable, you cannot quite convince me that a polygamous man will give his extensive family the very best of his abilities. As per my understanding, one cannot serve two masters.

Many Africans for the polygamy idea may argue that most men who take up additional wives are in fact capable of providing for the whole brood of children as well as the wives. After all, polygamy is yet another sign of wealth in Africa. However, a man with over 12 children from different women may find it difficult to give all of his children and wives his undivided attention, education and livelihood of a similar standard. Of course there is the school of thought that the women should understand the situation and live with it.

But could it be the reason why many co-wives suffer bitter rivalry among themselves all through their lives? There is no one woman who is similar to another and in such a situation, the man may tend to favor one woman over all the others. It is human nature to develop preferences over some things of a similar nature. Jealousy is bound to arise as well as unhealthy competition. It may be hidden in some situations but deep down, it will always exist only to further hamper the success of the whole family. You may even encounter children of a particular wife being more learned than children of the other wives or vice versa.

A section of people advocating for polygamy look at it from the Biblical point of view. Indeed some notable men in the Old Testament of the Bible had more than one wife and God endorsed it. Why is it now considered a taboo in some circles to be polygamous? It should be noted that in Biblical times, population was not as dense as it is in modern ages. Perhaps it was God’s way of fulfilling his multiply and fill the earth law if we choose to look at it that way. It should be remembered too that Jesus Christ in the New Testament came to amend many of the laws that had existed in previous times.

Patriarchal societies have however seemed to twist the whole idea to suit their patriarchal needs over time. African women are now expected to put up with this culturally endorsed form of cheating by turning a blind eye to their men’s philandering ways or welcoming a new wife in the house. Quite recently, there was a story of a Kenyan woman whose own adopted daughter ended up stealing her husband and her husband blaming her for it.

It is despicable really that many choose to justify their lustful transgressions by riding on the wave of polygamy being a male nature. However, polyandry should be frowned upon and such a woman stoned to death if possible. If African women should have no qualms whatsoever sharing their husbands, shouldn’t the African men too have no qualms sharing their wives?

Issues of polygamy in African societies can transform into a raging debate of sorts. I however firmly believe that polygamy is based on personal choice and not biology as many would like us to believe.

 

 

 

Would You Take Up Your Husband’s Name?

atlantablackstar.com

I belong to a highly interesting Whatsapp Group. Perhaps I should give you guys a brief history of the members of this group and why I find it that entertaining.

Well, all the members are people we schooled together in the same year in primary school. Most of the members are people I’ve shared a class with from age 6 all the way to 13. A couple of the members are people I’ve shared a class with from age 6 to 17 which is primary school and high school included. Plus we are at that stage in our lives where some of us are settled down with kids, others are in the wedding planning process and others are kind of starting to feel the heat, to find that someone and make a family.

Quite recently, we had quite a charged debate on the group on whether women should take up their husband’s names after marriage. Of course the opinions were varied with some stating that they would retain their maiden names, while others thought it best to take up the hubby’s name. I lay on the latter form of reasoning.

Marriage to me has always been some sort of fascination. I especially love how other cultures conduct their weddings. I love how the Hindu brides dress up for their big day. The intricate henna designs and the jewellery. Makes any woman anticipate marriage! I admire the Muslim Nikka and all the celebration that goes with it. I will always want to watch a program that is wedding themed. Indeed, the reader can already judge that weddings are a key factor in my fascination with marriages.

Over the years, I have kind of settled on the idea that an official marriage would be good for me in future. I would not fancy a “come-we-stay” arrangement as we refer to them in my country where we live under one roof as partners. That doesn’t mean that I frown upon people who haven’t made their marriages official. I’m of the idea that whatever floats your boat with regards to whom you want to spend the rest of your life with, then by all means, go for it!

However, I find an official marriage in my case to be some sort of a sense of security. I would yearn to make it official whether it will last only 2 years or a lifetime. Quite a number of people from the opposite sex may argue that weddings are an unnecessary expenditure. A tiresome chore for the man. Others of both sexes may conclude that if a marriage made official does not work, then divorce court proceedings will definitely be an otherwise, avoidable cause for sleepless nights. I tend to hear the reasoning “tujaribu” (we try) from some people when they talk of settling in marriage.

I personally would not want to “kujaribu”. I would want to make it work. I would want to go to a church and take my wedding vows from there because I believe in seeking God’s blessings in a marriage and where else, if not in his house! I know it’s probably very easy for me to talk about making it work when marriage for me is not even in the cards yet. I equally know that this whole union needs a lot of tolerance and may not always be “a happy ever after” affair. Heck, I’ve seen enough marriages break all around me to further confirm my fears that it’s quite rocky in that world. However, it wouldn’t hurt if I still did my best to make it work and that is just per my reasoning.

So yes, if my husband-to-be is willing to go through all the steps to be officially hitched to me, I will definitely take up his name. It wouldn’t be something I would think twice of doing. If I’m in love with him and willing to spend the rest of my life with him, then I believe we are one unit and we can’t successfully achieve that one unit, if we are using different names. I would want to show my children the importance of having a family name. I can’t quite say that worked well for my parents but my mother ensured we used our father’s name. It didn’t matter to her that they were no longer together, she still insisted that the name should appear in our school certificates and national IDs.

Personally, I wouldn’t feel less of a woman for using my husband’s name. As a matter of fact, I will have a sense of pride for being accorded a Mrs. So and So status. It would only serve to remind me of the commitment I made to that special someone. I have witnessed many professional women still retain their maiden names then add a hyphen and their husband’s name at the end. That didn’t make them less professional per se. It didn’t make them lose their brand. It only proved that they have moved from one stage into another.

I view marriage as a transition. Of course with all the adjustments you have to make in your life once you get married, it is only befitting to accord it that status. A name change to me simply signifies the whole transitioning process.

So, would you take up your husband’s name?

 

 

Must You Be Gay To Work In A Hair Salon As A Male?

A Hair Salon. en.wikipedia.org

A Hair Salon. en.wikipedia.org

My  current employment entails a lot of moving around. Just the other day, I walked into a hair salon for non-hair related errands. As I was chatting with the female employees, mostly explaining why I was there and what I wanted, in sauntered a girlish looking male. I could have been forgiven to think he was a woman with a quick glance at him, judging by his equally very female walking style and demeanor. I had to look again just to be sure that he was indeed a man. And yep, he happened to be one of the employees at the salon.

Encountering this man made me look back at all the other instances where I had walked into a salon and met a male employee who by all means acted female and looked female. I do not wish to jump into conclusions but such occurrences are usually attributed to the fact that these kinds of men, who act all girlish definitely have to be gay, in my country.

True to the assumption, some of them are indeed gay and not ashamed of that fact. It could also be a contributing reason for them to have a preference to work in the salon industry, seeing that their girlish tendencies could not be accommodated in the tough, male dominated fields.To be honest, rarely would you find a male with girlish tendencies working kazi ya mjengo (construction work in Swahili) or in the Jua Kali sector (informal sector) mainly a preserve for male workers.

But are we indeed right in dismissing all the men in the salon industry as gay “weak” men??

A few years back, there is a salon I loved to frequent. Two of the workers happened to be every inch the Meru (a Kenyan ethnic group they both belonged to) men. Both of them were married with a child each yet these same men, could give you the best nail services you would have ever wished for. I remember one of them sharing tips with me, on how I should file my nails so that they wouldn’t break easily if they were long and I had to do house chores. Eventually, they moved away and opened their own salon.

Seeing how Meru men in my country are considered males deeply in touch with their masculinity, would we then have been justified in concluding that these two men of the same community were gay? Better yet, do we consider the woman fraternity so fickle to the extent where people of the opposite sex, who choose to work in fields where there is a lot of interaction with women, are considered weak or having an abnormality of sorts?

If you ask me, I would prefer male hairdressers, manicurists and pedicurists any time over their female counterparts. I find men more sincere with their work and thorough than a couple of women in the salon industry.

In recent times, we have seen the word metrosexual being thrown around. Again this reminds me of an incident in the same salon where the two men I have talked about worked. One weekend, I decided to get a pedicure done. Lo and behold, just sitting opposite me was a father who had brought his lovely daughter to the salon, with really long natural hair which caught my attention the minute I walked in, to have it braided. Instead of leaving her in the capable hands of the hairdresser, this dad had decided to keep her company and while away the time getting a full pedicure done. He had even rolled up his trousers to the knees for the exercise!

And while I was a bit taken aback then, I really admired his parenting style. I mean, this was a typical African man, Black man even, for those who are more comfortable with that term, who had opted to do what has for years been reserved for the mothers and wives and that was, accompany his daughter to the salon and actually keep her company! I felt like other fathers could learn a thing or two from him. And so what if he was getting a full pedicure done?! Couldn’t a man be allowed to pamper himself at times?! Can we confidently call this man a metrosexual or gay even?!

I find the idea behind assuming all men in the salon industry to be gays as stereotypical and bordering on the homophobic. I’m no advocate for gays, don’t get me wrong. However, I wouldn’t spend my time hating on them and lumping them together in a category, I assume is befitting for them like working in a hair salon for example. As much as we would like to live in denial as Kenyans, the gay community is in fact in most of the fields in our country. Some of them we can’t even easily tell that they are gays yet they are bankers, economists, lawyers, businessmen, your cab guy, you name it.

Just because a section of men tend to be inclined to act more of female than male does not automatically translate to them being gay. And no, it is not a requirement to be gay in order to handle women in a salon. As a matter of fact, it would be insulting to insinuate that women matters such as hair dos, manicures and pedicures have to  be done by men who are “out of ordinary” in their sexual orientation. And if we would like to stick to that stereotypical thought, then would it equally be in order to state that women in the matatu (public transport) industry are lesbians as well?

Being a rough, male dominated field, these women have to literally discard their femininity in order to fit in. They have to dress in trousers, have their voices transformed into a hoarse rasp just from all that yelling for commuters on a daily basis and actually act tough to be able to compete effectively with the men in the same field. Why doesn’t anyone feel inclined to call them lesbians for acting male and for choosing a field, that for years was reserved exclusively for men? Is it because we come from a society where everything associated with men is more serious, as opposed to what is associated with women and therefore, women who venture into it are meant to be applauded for it not branded?

Have we actually taken time to understand the motivation behind these women choosing to work in the matatu industry? Have we thought of something to do for them in order to uplift them and in the process get them back in touch with their femininity? Most of these women are single mothers fending for their children and with the non-employment issue in our country, even a male dominated field could do for them. For some, being in this industry is actually a passion. Something they love to do.

Isn’t it time that we also thought of viewing men working in the salon industry as people of the opposite sex who were passionate with everything beauty related? Perhaps it could have been the only thing that they are really good at and if at all it puts food on the table, why not?