As a child, I loved fairy tales. Especially those that had princesses in them. I loved that they were slender, beautiful and always got saved by the handsome prince charming at the end of the day. I am sure that there was a time in primary school that my legit ambition was to be the princess to some Caucasian kingdom… can you imagine that? Me, Abiodun, the half Yoruba, half Berom, antonym to slender, loud, opinionated, Amala loving princess living in some grand castle standing aloof on a moorland somewhere in South West England. Fat chance, pun intended.
Reality of course sank in, to be a princess was not a real ambition. And yes Nigerian princesses existed but they did not wear ball gowns and tiaras, rather they probably wore beads and wrappers but only to traditional ceremonies and because I grew up in an environment that everything western was touted as superior, this was not glamorous.
One thing stayed with me in a subtle manner though. What the ultimate woman was supposed to be and who she expected the man to be. The ultimate feminine woman was soft, delicate, skinny and beautiful. Her life was miserable till the day the prince came in a shiny armour on a white horse bravely fighting all the monsters and overcoming all odds to have her hand in marriage. They would ride into the sunset and life would be perfect, happily ever after.
The older I got, the more I gave up on the princess thing. I did not qualify on any count. I did not have the attributes and so expecting a gallant prince charming was a tall dream. In my early 20s I was always shocked when guys toasted me, I would wonder what they saw in me. (Now, I kind of know, but na story of another day.)
But women are fighting back. We are not waiting to be saved and emancipated into marriage. We are having our lives and our careers. We are doing it all without waiting for Oga husband to change our lives. We are not yet there but we are well on our way.
But there is a problem…..
While we dreamt of being princesses and are now trying to deprogram all the nonsense, the men were being fed their own stereotype and a lot of them don’t even know it. They cling to it because it places them in a superior position. Wearing the superhero cape sounds like fun but try flying without any super powers and see yourself crash land.
The tool that created patriarchy did not just mess up the woman, it did a number on the man as well.
I was talking with a friend that is an amazing woman. She is beautiful, fierce, independent and is making her money. She was not waiting for “TP” from any man, or waiting for someone to buy her a car. Rather, she was a partner to her man, helping him in all aspects, including financial issues. Then one day she discovered he was cheating on her, with the typical ‘damsel in distress’ girl. I mean, she could lend him a 100k and he would be ‘dashing’ damsel money for rent, buying shawarmas and taking her to clubs. This is something I have seen over and over again. Some men (with emphasis on some) don’t know what to do with a strong woman. They listened to the same stories as us and learnt how men were supposed to be. Men did the saving. They swoop into a situation and save the day. So when a woman is not in distress, they do not feel like they are men. This is why with more women out there working and bringing in good money, we seem to be hearing about a lot of men that are laying on couches and doing nothing. And these same men, get money from their women and chase ‘damsels in distress’ so that they can feel like men again.
A strong woman whether we like it or not can emasculate a man without meaning to.
I hear a lot of men say they want strong women, but on the flip side, they seem drawn to the damsel in distress. Some marry these women and then proceed to leave her to carry the burden while they are free to be the chivalrous man they have always dreamt of being to other women.
In a lot of cases, you find women that dumb themselves down so that the man can be the ‘man’ again.
“Oh honey, this is sooo heavy, I can’t carry it.”
With a huge grin, he comes with his big strong muscles and lifts it up for her.
“Sweetie, what is happening with this Dakuku and Wike thing in PH?”
(Mind you, the woman has closely followed the whole saga and has finished reading PDP’s official statement about the nullification of the elections.)
“Ehmm, baby, na politics… you may not understand the intricacies but Amaechi…..”
Then the lady would nod and smile and at some point when she is tired of his off point analyses…
“Politics is a dirty game… ehm would you like Eba or Amala?”
The man by then feels like Einstein and Obama rolled in one as he belches hot fumes of ogiri laced bitter leaf soup she cooked for him.
Is she wrong to do this?
It is tiresome hiding that you are smart, but it is even more difficult handling a deflated ego or a man struggling to prove his superiority.
Another thing that I suspect is that the ‘damsel in distress’ thing is mostly a clever scam. These girls are very deliberate and calculating. They speak with soft voices, giggle at nothing and always need school fees, rent, have sick family members and the list goes on. Read my lips (ehm, cos I am speaking as I am typing this): THEY ARE NEVER BROKE. You are what is called auxiliary income provider (AIP). That girl is so shrewd that while you are manning up to your ‘responsibilities’, this girl is fixing her nails, hi fiving her friends and receiving alerts so fast that her phone sounds like it is constantly ringing. Her account officer has considered migrating her personal account to a collection account. And let me tell you, before she touches that money, situation would have to be critical.
You do get what I am saying?
Women are rarely distressed, we are incredibly strong, resilient and resourceful but if it serves a purpose to seem weak, someone of us will calmly present ourselves as weak. I am definitely not saying that men do not like smart women. I am just saying that some may find it easier to shine and preen like the male peacock when the woman hides her lustre.
But when you find a man that is not afraid to stand beside a powerful woman, I promise you, it is a beauty to behold. That to me is a real man, secure enough to not need his woman to diminish so that he can seem bigger.
Can the real men out there please give it up for themselves?
Na una be the MVPs.