Do men walk on eggshells when they want to discuss issues with their partners? Do they think twice before they tell you what you did wrong…?
A man will not hesitate to tell a woman to stop speaking to him in a particular way, or to stop raising her voice at him in private or in the midst of people.
But a Nigerian woman dare not do that. She would rather bear the burden of disrespect in peace in private or in public than open up about not liking the tone of his voice or feeling insulted.
Slowly her anger and resentment builds, one day she would wither away or burst into flames and no one would understand what happened.
I once told someone I didn’t like the way he was talking to me and I almost got thoroughly beaten as a result, however it ended with a slap.
That same person would ask me “who do you think you are talking to?” at every slight misunderstanding. The most shocking part of this experience is that it was someone who was no longer based in Nigeria.
You would think that the environment was the problem, no, it was the conditioning. He had been nurtured to believe that women are less and inferior.
I see people give women advice every second on how they should talk to their partner when he offends them. “Speak respectfully, talk in low tones. Wake him up in the middle of the night while on your knees.”
They even give this advice when asked the question “Is a woman supposed to approach a man?” Then, you hear things like, “she should approach him respectfully.” How do you approach someone you like disrespectfully again?
That’s absolutely ridiculous.
Do men walk on eggshells when they want to discuss issues with their partners? Do they think twice before they tell you what you did wrong or how you hurt them? Aren’t these men human beings like you and I who are capable of making mistakes?
I believe in being sensitive and courteous, but it is not a one-way street. Approach your partner like you would a human being, he is not god. Even God wants us to approach him in all openness and sincerity but we have defied a particular gender as a result of erroneous social conditioning.
This is why so many women are ill-mannered and condescending to fellow women but put up the banner of virtuousness when addressing a man, even waitresses and co-workers are guilty of this. It is unforgivable.
I see the surprise in too many men’s eyes when I tell them, “Don’t speak to me that way, or don’t raise your voice at me, I don’t like it.”
I remember visiting someone I was in a relationship with at one time and he disrespected me in the presence of his friends, I would not have it. I got angry and began to leave, he got offended.
You know his grouse? I was making him look bad in front of his friends! Really? And guess what his definition of “bad” meant? Weak.
Yes, you heard me very well, there’s a strange sort of pride most Nigerian men get from their ability to control their partners and disrespect them without recourse.
Unfortunately he’s not the only one stuck in this bubble. It is not uncommon to hear people try to settle an argument with “That’s not how you speak to a man.” They even say it when the man is obviously the offender and the woman his victim.
In Nigeria, we were brought up as women that there’s only one gender worthy of respect – the male. As a result, we do not only disrespect one another as women but have zero self respect for ourselves because our minds have been programmed to believe that ‘a woman is a sponge, she can soak up any and everything life throws at her without complaining.’
We adulate the strong woman with our own version of strong being a subjugated woman with no complaints and in most cases, many smiles.
How often have we idolized women who go through humiliating and dehumanizing experiences in secret, esteeming them higher than those who dare to speak up and refuse to take whatever is offered to them because they are women?
How often have we set up broken women as role models for the next generation to aspire to?
A friend shared her experience of being in the midst of three men who had different political views from hers. During their discussion she made a case for her choices and she was immediately shut down by a very rude member of the group.
She refused to be intimidated and responded in like manner, and her offender had the guts to get upset. Few days later, the one who was her friend in the group came to tell her he had apologized on her behalf, his friend was a man and no matter what, “you do no talk to a man like that.”
The path to self-emancipation for a Nigerian woman can be an arduous one but it is worth it at the end. Learning to speak your mind in an environment that wishes you rather smile and stay silent no matter how you are being treated has been liberating in itself.
Do not trade your voice for acceptance or validation. It may make you unpopular and earn you unpalatable names with some people but don’t be cowed because you decide how they treat you, not them, not their faulty social conditioning, not their biases, you do.
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By Natalie Ewaen. A. Usen