Male Entitlement

It’s Wednesday night, I’m meeting up with some friends for happy hour – as you do. After a round of drinks I ran into an old friend (acquaintance at best). He’s sitting with his friend in town for business. We have the usual small talk and he mentioned he never had my number, no biggie – I give him.

Thursday morning, I get a phone call from a random number.

Guy: Hey, you probably don’t know who this is.

Me: No I don’t.

Guy: We met last night. I was with *describes my friend*

Me: Oh? 

Guy: What are you doing after work? We should meet up.

Me: Oh..erm…no thanks.

Guy: Why?

Me: I don’t want to?

Guy: But why? Is it your birthday or something?

Me: *looks around* I just don’t feel like meeting up with someone I barely know.

Guy: *curses* *apologises for cursing*

Me: …

Guy: You have to give me a better reason.

Me: I’m not going to make something up or lie to make you feel better.

Guy: Are you saying this because I’m not based in this town and you don’t see a future together?

Me: Woah. *shook*

Guy: OK. I’ll let you off this time, if you promise to see me next time I’m in town.

Me: *what the actual fuck* Honestly, I don’t have to promise you anything.

Guy: OK. But this isn’t going to stop me from calling and asking later.

Me: That you can do.

*end of conversation*

I have no words.

Inception

Talking to my mum whilst on a business trip, in the usual “how is it going” banter, I mentioned my global head (female) was in town as well to which she instinctively responded “you too will be a director soon in Jesus’ name”. I casually mentioned I have no interest in the corporate ladder I want the money not the responsibility. Alas confrontation follows “I thought you wanted to be a career woman?”, “how old are you that you already want to stop chasing your career?”. My first reaction: “I never said I want to be a career woman” but as she insisted on banging on I quickly deflected by mentioning this director had no kids and has no intention to have any which was naturally followed by a series of “God forbid”, “what sort of life is that” which thankfully ended the conversation about my lack of appetite for the corporate ladder (though only started a suggestion that I have more kids …sigh)

I genuinely don’t believe there’s a problem with choosing not to have kids, neither do I believe there’s a trade off between kids and career (though certain phases may call for prioritising or compromising) in fact I am ashamed of myself for using this as a deflection as it went against my core beliefs on the topic but it got me thinking…

  1. I never mentioned a desire to be a career person it just happened to be what my family always said would suit me because to them I had no business acumen and seemed better fit for the corporate world and going through life I have found myself believing what others thought of my abilities.
  2. What paths have we chosen out of own interested or discovered skills and which have been thrust to us in inceptions we have carried on following even though it defiled our logic? Marriage? Having kids? Which career path is shameful and which is noble? What things do we want so badly in our lives but inceptions of old make us feel guilty to even think about? And then there’s the question where do you draw the line? What desires are unrealistic youthful exuberance with selfish, untamed longings and who really decides this boundaries? Society? Religion? Self?

Ah well! Still on a journey to figure life out…

Workplace Etiquette

I don’t tend to wear earrings. I think I’ve been in make-up exactly once in my life – at the behest of a friend who was so insistent on painting my face I acquiesced. I figured it was not my labour so why the hell not? As it turns out, I now know why the hell not. Make-up doesn’t magically disappear, you have to wipe and then wash it off. Safe to say, never again. Too much work. The last thing I want to do after a long day is wash my face. Glass of wine anyone?

So really, if you are paying attention, it should be clear to you that really anyone who spends a little time with me quickly becomes quite aware that my aesthetic is at best, hobo-goth. And really, that’s being generous, most of the time I look like trash. It’s great stuff.

The past several weeks I’ve been consulting at a firm where I have to do that 9-to-5-ting. It sucks: having to wake up in the morning, wear ironed clothing, make myself look passably inoffensive and then interact with other human beings while attempting productivity. Adulthood is such a scammy drag; I don’t recommend it.

But at least now that I am six weeks into the ordeal, I’m probably used to it. I’ve even gotten used to the fact that people insist on praying before and after our board meetings. I’ve gotten used to those two co-workers, one of them 100% seedy, who keeps inviting me to “service on Sunday”. I was even invited to Wednesday vigil last week – cue raucous laughter – when it’s not like Industry Night at Spice Route has become incapable of elevating my Wednesday nights.

I digress. I just want to make it clear that I thought I was a pro at managing this Nigerian work environment thing. My bosses call me “dear” or “darling” and I’ve resorted to calling them by their titles “MD”, “ED” since there is no way I’m calling anyone “sah” or “ma”. Yet somehow despite these qualifications, I was at all not prepared for what ensued this morning. I am so naïve I tell you, so naïve I could be pre-resurrection Jon Snow.

It’s 10am and a lady I vaguely recognise from Procurement walks resolutely into my office. She failed to knock but I appreciate that she asks for permission to sit and “discuss something with [me]”. I assumed it would be work-related, but at the very worst, I also readied myself for the proselytization I knew I’d receive from one co-worker or another each week. I was poised to display my polite nods and enthusiastic “thank you so much”. It would all be over in 15 minutes. I am so naïve.

Big auntie from procurement instead wanted to know why I don’t wear earrings. In fact, she wanted to know why I always look so plain, “no earrings, no makeups, everyday black…your clothes are so loose”. I am still shook as I write this. Who is this lady? Who is she? Honestly, what is our relationship? Did I miss the part where my guardianship was signed over to this big auntie? Did the black dress I wore yesterday scream “Save the Frump!”? What am I missing here?

My aesthetic is driven by what someone described (of another) as a lofty laziness and it’s unquestionably apparent. But, at the risk of repeating a cliché, it is my body so I can look as trashy as I goddamn please. But apparently big auntie does not feel that way. She kept prodding, “are you Deeper Life? Or Mountain of Fire?” “You know as a young woman you have to package yourself,” she says laughing, “young men these days have a lot of distractions, you can’t be looking like this”. This is for real. I’m at my place of work, dressed in black shirt, grey-black blazer and black slacks. My co-worker deems it fit to offer me some styling advice so “young men” will want to look at me/fuck me/marry me? Somebody help me understand. Please.

Game of Chairs

Yesterday was my colleague’s birthday. By colleague I mean a Director at the company – I hate that I have to state this but it’s crucial for understanding the politics in this story.

Anyways, we were all invited for “casual” cake and drinks at the conference room 30mins before the end of the work day – perfect.

I’m going to try to tell this story in the most chilled way I can but there are so many deep issues that should be addressed. But I digress.

I arrive at the conference room on time. The conference room has one massive table with about 10 seats and some extra seats at the end of the room. On one side of the table was the Director, at the other side of the table were two expats, leaving about 7 empty seats at the table. The extra seats at the end of the room were filled with other staff. I was confused for a second, why are people sitting at the back when there are free seats at the table? Aren’t we just here to eat cake? So naturally I pulled myself a seat at the side of the table with the expats – mainly cus we work in the same department and I didn’t want to be caught in all the pictures with the celebrant. I make a work appropriate joke about cake, everyone laughs – the room needed it.

The room starts filling up more and the big Nigerian men were quite comfortable taking their places at the table. Finally one other Nigerian woman pulls a seat at the table – yay – not alone. The “casual” event starts with opening prayers and before I knew it people were making speeches – honestly this was expected.

Halfway through the event the “biggest” Nigerian man enters and I see people shuffling and whispering. I’m thinking oooh what’s going on? Drama? Beef? Should he not be here? None of that. They were basically panicking about him not having a seat. But he’s late? And we’re about to cut cake? Can everyone relax? They didn’t. Someone whispered into the ear of the other woman on the table and asked her to get off the seat so he could sit at the table 😦 This actually broke my heart.

The event goes on with more random speeches from the men in the room. Finally the coordinator announces that he needs a female representative. Oh ok. Nice of them to acknowledge us. Then he quickly adds “to play the role of the Director’s wife and coordinate the cutting of the cake”. My heart sank some more. They picked a lady and decided to embarrass her a little further by saying she was picked because she’s a virtuous woman. *facepalm*

Cake cutting time. The coordinator calls some men to join in the cake cutting. Respectfully calling each one out. After he’s done, one of the men shouted “but there are no women here”. He agrees and calls some women out with sounds and nods towards their direction. Yes, myself included.

After the cake is cut my young female colleague (one of the brightest brains in the company) starts running towards the back of the room. I ask her what’s wrong. She says, “I don’t want them to ask me to share cake”. Wow. I thought she was being ridiculous until they in fact asked her to share cake. There was really no point staying after this. I said congratulations and left.

People are so quick to label us angry black women, but can you really blame us?

Nigerian, Female and Proud…ish

I am proud to be Nigerian, I am proud to be female. But am I a proud Nigerian female?

Watching King Women ignited a drive in me I thought was lost. It pushed me to ask myself what I can do differently what I can do more. Ruby’s piece on asking your worth further pushed the agenda. But what do we do in a society that ignores your talent because you are young and female? They tell you “you haven’t done your time in the firm” and then you look at those who have apparently “done their time” and they are adding little to the firm but their age or masculinity. Because you are female you have to double your effort to get same remuneration and promotion as a male counterpart. Looking around so many firms, it’s appalling the disproportionate numbers of male to female at the top. Granted some women don’t aspire to get to the top and their dedication to the work show it but I wonder could some of these be because they know in the society we are in it’s wasted effort? Or have they been instilled with the belief certain roles are not for females? And at best, hard work just lets you keep a job? A friend abroad once said she can’t come home just yet; the why was simple – “As a young female I won’t get what I deserve”. So she stays abroad and climbs the corporate ladder…

I am proud to be Nigerian. I am proud to be female. Again I ask am I a proud female Nigerian? How can I be proud when my own country belittles my being female? With the expectation I should always remember I am less than a man?

Sorry Not Sorry…

As females, society has often decided what is acceptable for us to say, do or even think. We are told how (and when!) to feel, what to want, and what to prioritise with no explanation beyond because “you are female”.

While feminism has enabled us some  progress in political and economical equality, socially we still seem to lag behind because at the very least our mothers will tell us, no matter who you are outside the home, once you are home drop all that at the door and still be everything – a mother, a wife, a cook, a cleaner, the least goes on! Because you still remain primarily responsible to keep your home…and if you’re the main earner? (total abomination to repeat that in public). Quite honestly we have been so hard wired that even we feel somewhat uncomfortable owning that in public (I’ll save that for a different day before I digress).

But no world, because I am who I am I shall feel what I feel in the moment I do, I will aspire to greatness as far as my mind lets me. I shall do what agrees with my conscience, and speak as my spirit leads. Oh when home?  I shall expect my partner to pull his weight in all aspects of our life because hell he is not with an average person and he is getting a damn good deal.  Oh before I forget, sorry in advance because I will not be sorry for simply being me (sigh looks like the hard wiring still got me apologising…baby steps ladies we will make it).

King Women, Good Men

We’ve all been watching the King Women series – they’re amazing.

After watching all the interviews I noticed most of these women have something in common, great partners. They all talked about how supportive their partners are and how it played a huge part in their success.

This really got me thinking…

Is it the same qualities that contributed to the women’s success that guided them to picking the right men? The right men for them.

Did they have such strong personalities and intelligence that it earned them the respect of their men?

Are men more supportive of women who are focused and strong-willed?

Do men only see women as partners or equals when they are “financially successful”?

Is there an element of luck?

Is there a religious aspect?

Were they picked specifically for this interview to suit the Nigerian audience because they are the successful women that also have the family balance?

Or in the end are they just like most Nigerian women that hide the struggles of relationships?

Honestly, I hope its the first point.