By Bunmi Sofola
Some years back, Brannon Brockbank did the BBC’s Test the Nation quiz with his wife, Shirley. When it came to General Knowledge, Shirley scored higher than her husband. In public glare, Brannon threw his notebook and pen across the room and said that he was thick. His wife tried to convince him that people were clever in different ways.
They later went to bed. Next morning, Shirley found her husband dead on the living room floor after downing a bottle of Vodka and 40 painkillers! The coroner recorded an open verdict and commented: “He was a man who clearly had difficulty in coping with certain situations.”
A while back, at a pre-dinner party cocktail, Cecil, an executive director of a bank was in the midst of her male colleagues, enjoying an interesting conversation, a glass of bubbly in hand when she noticed her husband’s scowl of disapproval where he stood across the hall. “In seconds, he found his way to where I was,” said Cecil, “and pointedly ignored my colleagues, even as I tried to introduce them. ‘ Im leaving in a few minutes,’ he said rudely, ‘will any food be waiting for me at home?’
“I was really mad, but I kept my cool. He’d grudgingly agreed to join me at the dinner party and now he preferred to go home to eat instead of waiting for the lavish spread that was bound to follow. I wanted to ask him to go ahead and leave, the cook would give him dinner. But he’d create a scene and people were watching. It is tough being successful in a male-dominated profession without your husband making you look like a heartless dyke. Even if I decided to stay, I knew the type of flak he would give me when I eventually showed up in the house.
“He has a real chip on his shoulder, that one. He was a successful insurance top executive before he decided to go it alone as an Insurance broker. He was fine at first but brokerage monetary licence renewal requirements forced him to change the status of his outfit to a consultancy; only to discover insurance consultancy was a glorified name for insurance agency and these were two a penny. Business has almost ground to a halt as the public is not as insurance -compliant as before—no thanks to the galloping inflation we currently have in the country.”
It is difficult to imagine a woman behaving in quite the same way as these insecure men, which begs the question: what is it with men and competition? “Men are genetically programmed to be competitive, whether we like it or not,” says business psychiatrist Nick Kambitisis. “They cannot handle it when the power differential changes and women are cleverer or better paid. They usually end the relationships quite quickly, which can be a problem for successful women who find it difficult to find partners.”
He argues further that men are no longer sure what their role is. According to him: “In earlier years, there were wars to fight, and tough ‘men only’ manufacturing jobs were available to help establish their social identities—their sense of who they were in society. But men are not sure of their social identify and more.
They haven’t had long enough to adjust to the changes of the last 20 or 30 years. The only way relationships with a higher-earning female partner can work is if the couple doesn’t value money highly, and the man doesn’t construct his social identity around his earning power. He states further that: “21st Century is a very tough time to be a man: we ignore the differences between the sexes at our peril. Males have 10 to 20 times as much of the hormone testosterone as women, which drive them to want to be powerful. But for the first time in human evolution, they are discovering they aren’t in control. Men measure their self worth by what they can achieve, while women measure theirs by the quality of their relationships. Men know the rules if they are competing against a man—you play hard ball and play rough, but they don’t know what to do when they find themselves competing against a woman.
“To compound things, the education system no longer responds to the natural male instinct to compete. Boys lack male role models, particularly in primary and secondary schools, where nearly all the teachers are female. Competition has been replaced by cooperation, learning facts replaced with empathizing with world suffering and it’s all become very caring and sharing. Boys are left in a void with no role models for maleness. The feminizing of education has divided boys into two groups—the soft, gentle types and the undisciplined bullies and school drop-outs.”
Jenny is a highly successful woman who’d single-handedly raised her four children. “All of them studied abroad, thanks to the company I worked for, for nearly 25 years and which had a parent company based overseas,” she said.
“Apart from the points made by Kambitisis, we shouldn’t ignore the fact that changes in education can, in the long run, benefit men and women alike. The widening of girls’ choices and a commitment to true equality can, when correctly handled, broaden opportunities for boys as well. Male or female, our ambitions, talents, sensitivities and abilities are far more likely to be the product of social pressure and the atmosphere in which we are raised.
“When my husband left all those years ago when only two of the children were in secondary schools, his grouse was that I didn’t have time for the family. Well, what time would he have for his children by jumping ship? He remarried – to a school teacher who also had four children!
‘As to be expected, because I now earned more than he did, he stopped paying my children’s fees. We were barely civil to each other, and now three of the children live abroad and I run a thriving company with my only daughter.
“Late last year, my first son who just got married, called that his dad was with him. I couldn’t believe it. He had prostrate cancer and was being treated under the NHS since he still had his card. Was the wife with him? According to my son, his crafty father told him I was still his legal wife as we never divorced. The second wife obviously abandoned him when he was retired early and what was left of the severance pay went on medication. Like the black sheep that he is, he’s now found his way back to the flock! But try telling him to see beyond his immediate resentment when he left me all those years ago and he wouldn’t have listened. Does it matter who of the sexes kill a snake as long as the snake is dead? Once in a while, I wonder which was more humiliating for him, leaving his second wife with their four children or crawling back to a son he never cared for with a begging bowl?”
Embarrassing moments to make you cringe with shame!
What happens when your seemingly well-laid plans for a mind-blowing quality time with your partner goes awry? It is the worst nightmare even for the brave hearted. Here are some hair-raising experiences gathered for your delight, of some of the brave victims of intimacy plans gone wrong)! “I’d met a lovely girl at a bachelor’s eve, said Steven, a 29-year-old information technologist; and she invited me into the house when I gave her a lift. One thing led to the other and we were going at things hammer and tongs. Mid-passion, her bedroom door flew open—and there barged in a horrified, middle-aged woman. “Mum,” the poor girl was petrified. Her mum made me get dressed and marched me, shame-faced out of the house. Needless to say, I never saw the girl again.
For all of you out there whose mobile phones now rule your love lives, Kate’s experience might make you a bit more cautious. “My boyfriend and I have the most sophisticated of mobile phones,” she recalled, “and we were into sex-texting. We still do, but since an incident some nine months ago, we’re more careful. I’d been transferred from head office to relieve another colleague some 100 kilometres away and the only time we could be together was over the weekend. Naturally, I missed him like crazy, especially our sizzling love life.
“During one of our precious times together, Ken, my boyfriend, suggested we took some saucy photographs, with his mobile to remind him of how beautiful I was. One thing led to the other and we both stripped off and he started snapping recording every steamy second of our love-making. Later in the week, Ken sent the photos to my mobile, with raunchy, explicit captions. It was really a turn-on. I tell you.
“After that, we constantly took saucy photos, then sent titillating texts. Our exciting secret certainly kept our love alive. Ken then bought me another sophisticated mobile and my mum wondered if she could have my old one. I thought of Ken’s naughty messages in the memory and quickly assured mum she could have the phone after I’d cleared the memory. She would flip if she read any of the messages. So I deleted the lot and handed over the phone to her. A week later, my sister who still lived at home called me up. She was laughing hysterically. ‘I think you’d better get your phone back from Mum,’ she said between laughs. ‘You might have deleted all of Ken’s texts, but you forgot about those photographs.’ My heart nearly popped out of my chest. I was horrified. I had completely forgotten to delete the raunchy pictures.