By Helen Ovbiagele, Woman Editor
How the times have changed! Not so long ago, it was only the layabout and the ne’er- do- well who expected their women to keep them.
Nowadays, it’s sad to note that even the educated and the enlightened young man, who’s smart enough to read newspaper articles and react to them intelligently, doesn’t mind his bills being picked up by his girlfriend.
I know that those who reacted to our article this way are not representing the majority of young male Nigerians, but it’s sad that some enlightened young men should have that mindset. I know too, that the economic times are hard, and there’s huge unemployment among young graduates, but where are the honour and the self-respect which used to make our men stand out among other societies of our race?
Our foreign sisters then would rather go for Nigerian or Ghanaian men than their own men. They felt they were more serious with life and more responsible; at least the majority of them.
I’m not saying that the young men who want to be kept by their girlfriends are not serious with life, but I believe a man is selling his birthright if he wants the girl in his life to be his meal ticket. Like I said in my write-up, a marriage situation is different.
There, even though the man is the senior partner in the home, if he falls on hard times, through the loss of a job or illness or some other misfortune, it’s in order for his wife to take over his financial commitments in the family. After all, he used to be the main provider.
In this case, his position as the head of the family shouldn’t alter, and he’s entitled to the usual respect he gets.
The case of the man who’s dating, is different. This may sound old-fashioned, but he shouldn’t allow his girlfriend to keep him, and that includes not allowing her to pay for their meals or shoulder the cost of their outing. He should take his girl to places he can afford, and be quite frank about his financial status. Many girls out there want honest men with integrity; not those who try to live above their means.
A man should find other honest solutions to his financial means than relying on his girlfriend. While looking for a job, or waiting for his salary at the end of the month, he can approach parents, friends and relations for money.
Most relationships, even marriage, where the man is dependent on the girl for his financial needs, are not successful in the long run. First of all, very few girls are glad deep down, to be their man’s purse.
They may tolerate it because they want to keep him, but they despise him and don’t respect him; reminding him of his debt to them, at the least quarrel. Also, when such a man becomes comfortable, he wouldn’t want a reminder of his dependent past, so, he boots the girl out of his life in order to bring in one who knows him as a successful person, and would look up to him.
We thank all those who wrote in to express their views.
‘Ma, down here in the Igbo speaking areas of south-east, admission into tertiary institutions tilt massively in favour of the girl-child. Your postulation may not quite fit.
Quite soon, the ladies down here will be calling the shots, while the guys tout about in the markets across the country. Those boys who stowed away overseas are there doing unimaginable demeaning jobs, while the rest are in jail houses. Without rebuilding our economy, we’re doomed. – Dickson, O.N., Enugu.’
Helen says: You may be right, sir. This is perhaps the reason some highly educated Igbo ladies now marry men from other ethnic groups, instead of the usual tradition of marrying only men from their own villages or local government areas. That said, many young Igbo men are gainfully employed as genuine business men who travel regularly to Asia, Europe and the U.S. to bring goods in to sell.’
‘I read your column on Sunday, November 11. If I may ask, what happens to women for change initiative advocacy? Will you have rights without shouldering equal tasks? Or, do women want to eat their cake and still have it? – A.C. Okeomah, Aba.
Helen says: I don’t think that women are asking men to stop being men as God created them, which is to be the head in the home, or relationship, with all the attendant responsibilities.
What we’re saying is that our rights as fellow human beings with men should be respected, and we should be allowed equal opportunities and pay at work places, professions, in politics, governance, etc.
We should not be subjected to harmful traditional practices like circumcision and odious widowhood rites which demean the woman and may injure her health or even kill her.
From these you can see that women are not asking for the moon, as women’s rights are basically human rights.
‘Madam, I’m sorry to say that I found your write-up retrogressive in this modern age. I’m a hardworking, achieving and responsible unmarried young man. I don’t see anything wrong in my girlfriend paying for both of us when we’re out on a date.
In fact, a responsible lady who really cares for her guy should offer to pay. That shows that she’s interested in the relationship, and in marriage, she wouldn’t hesitate to help out financially.
You women say what a man can do, a woman can do better. This should involve spending money on the man in a relationship. Thanks, Anthony, Warri.’
‘Ma, thank you very much for that write-up. It made my day. I showed it to my boyfriend and we argued pleasantly about it. He hasn’t asked me to pay for our outings yet, but I can’t put that past it.
Now that he’s read your write-up, he’s determined to earn my respect by doing those things which shows he’s the senior partner in the relationship. How can a guy allow his girl to keep him?
I can’t respect such a man. What is he a man for? I can spend money on him as a treat, but not because he wants me to. Thanks, Anna, Kaduna.’
‘Madam, I can assure you that I will not feel bad or awkward if my girl pays for our outings. She’s benefiting from my presence in her life, so, what if she pays for that privilege? Spending her money on me will show that she appreciates me. If she can’t afford to pay for anything, that’s a different matter.
But if she’s able, then she should do it. Girls always expect the men to keep them. Let them keep us for a change. That would balance things.’
‘Auntie, I don’t support your view that only the men should pay for outings. What will the girl be using her money for?
We men have more financial responsibilities to discharge, whereas most girls spend their money on make-up, wigs, and other silly things. We need to save up for marriage, but they wait for everything to land on their lap.
It isn’t fair. It’s time for a change. Thanks, madam. – Kehinde, Ifako, Lagos.’
‘Auntie Helen, my parents are totally in support of your view, and my father said it’s a shame if a man takes out his girl, and the girl brings out her purse to settle the bill. He said no self-respecting man would allow such a thing.
Ma, this view may make sense, but I do support my boyfriend with some money when I know that he can’t afford the sort of place I want him to take me to.
He’s in favour of fast food joints, but I prefer somewhere more exotic. Fast food joints are good, but not my style when out on a date.
So, I split the cost with him in a discreet manner. He protests on each occasion, but he accepts the help with visible relief. I know he has lots of responsibility in his extended family. – Mosun, Ife, Osun State.’
Helen says: You’re a very sensible young lady. Yours is a special case because your boyfriend is not asking you to pay for the outings, rather he’s accepting help from you, so that you can have the sort of outing you prefer, and which he alone cannot afford.