Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Take it like a woman.

Mark my words Inthe, you will never find a husband.
                             -my Grandmother

Shocking words right? But my grandmother meant every word of it. My grandmother viewed my growing up "American" a disservice to me and it was going to be impossible for me to ever find a nigerian man who could love me. Why? Because I could not "take things like a nigerian woman".  What does that mean?  Hmm, where do I begin? You know what? I'll explain with an example. Once upon a time in college, I went out with a guy friend, nothing special, we just caught a movie together. I went out as a friend but it turns out he was checking me out. Well when he got me home, we chilled in the car for a while just gisting.
All of a sudden, homeboy turned to me and said "You know, I really like you Inthe... And would actually love to be in a relationship with you; there's just one problem... You don't look like you can suffer with a man!"  I just smiled and said goodnight. What else was there to say? Do I say " Noo, ooh, you have me all wrong! I can suffer with the best of them. I can drink garri 3x a day and even if you  beat me, I'll still keep loving you? When I gisted Iya ni Wura (My mom) she was shocked and asked "When did suffering become a pre-requisite of a good wife?". I was shocked as well. I wasn't feeling the boy anyway but for something that crazy to come out of his mouth kinda threw me for a loop.

Women need to see themselves the way God see them....

 Ezekiel 16: I wrapped you in fine linen and covered you with silk. And I adorned you with ornaments and put bracelets on your wrists and a chain on your neck. And I put a ring on your nose and earrings in your ears and a beautiful crown on your head.  

Bride at Peel Manor House

Let me give a quick disclaimer here... God forbid if I and/or the hubster lost his job and we had to struggle, trust me, I can drink garri with the best of them. (Anyone noticed how obsessed I am with  I will soak garri in a bucket, drink three times a day, shine my face with coconut oil and keep it moving till things got better. This post is not about being high maintenance or being someone who can't "manage" as they say in naija but i think a woman's "managerial" skills are being abused when she is expected to suffer or when she is taught to accept suffering as a normal part of life. That college friend hadn't even toasted me, or even me accepted when he laid it out that I should expect some suffering.  I didn't want to wait to find out if it would be physical, mental or emotional. Even if I had been interested, that would be my signal to waka go.  God forbid..


Before you jump to the conclusion of this being "old school" thoughts, women in my generation are still carrying this curse. Many women today, not generations ago, but TODAY are expected to know how to suffer, not manage...SUFFER! and some do it in style. The ones who get panel beaten 24/7/365 but floss and gloss at parties as if they are married to excellence. Most of these women had a glimpse of this trait in their men before they were married but were told some foolishness like: No man is perfect oooh, marry him first and then use your love/prayer/vagina to change him later, he cheats but shebi he still comes home at night and leaves money for food. It's not only him, ALL men are like that. You sef are you perfect?
There are a number of nigerian forums I follow and they have an advice section; kinda like their own "Dear Inthe..." Section and I see a lot of the following:
Q: My husband or boyfriend refuses to... stop talking to his ex/stop beating me/ put money down for food/control his mother/respect me/ let me get a job/finish my degree/ cheating on me/use birth control after our 7th child/get a job etc. What should I do?

UNHCR News Story: Zalmaï photographs refugees in cities for UNHCR

The answer is usually something like: 
A: Keep praying, take it like a woman. Where are you going to go without a man? Search yourself, you know how we woman act sometimes, you must be provoking him. You must be nagging him, are you being submissive enough? Just mind your children and be a good mother (and my "favorite" one...)Go and beg him and his family.

Eh? What? For real. Ok let me remind you how your heavenly father sees you.

Psalm 50:2; Prov 31:10: Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty..She is far more precious than rubies


My grandmother saw that this was not me. She predicted I would become a lawyer because it seemed I was ALWAYS fighting for my rights and in her wisdom, she saw that I would never take garbage from anyone.... Be it a brother, husband, or in law and for this reason she feared for me. She feared I would never fit in the nigerian world, nor the nigerian world of marriage.  Her, like the guy in college, felt I didn't know how to "suffer" adequately like a nigerian woman should. Looking back now, I have to question this. Why is it the woman's plight to deal with this brokenness?

 Day 39 :: my own worst enemy

Why is it women, of the previous generations and the next; who suffered abuse for being women seem to work their hardest to drag other women into the same dungeon?  How?  We are the ones preaching and "coaching" each other and younger ones to "take things", "manage things", "stay quiet on things" and "live with things", after all, we did it and are still here. Rather than rejoice in the new breed of women prepared to elevate the plight of the Nigerian female, it seems we are the loudest voice trying to drag them down. Each generation teaches the next how to enter the same rut they lived in.

Why? After so long and so much ...Why do we continue to take this?
I don't know ooh. But I do know we continue to take it.  In some places in nigeria, you cant even rent an apartment or even eat at a restaurant without a man with you. We take these injustices for different reasons. Some do in the name of love, others in the name of tradition. As long as we take it, they will continue to give it to us. As for me, when God blesses me with a girl, she will be raised to know that this is not the norm and she was created for so much more.
 Mother and baby in Salalah - Oman

She will know her femininity is not tied to her vagina, homemaking abilities or her capacity to obey false notions of submission. She will be raised, by his grace, with a true vision of womanhood, created and examplified in the relationship her mother has with her father. She will grow up knowing what true love looks like, the plans her Lord has for he and know she'll NEVER have a reason to suffer in the name of love.

Ps, Grandma, I did find a husband and he loves me just the way I am....

...Musings from atop the potter's wheel....

21 comments: said...

Without even titling it as such, this is the best post on Feminism that I have. Perhaps, because it came from a spiritual angle. Great!

@eloxie said...

Fantastic!!! What else is there to say??? God bless you dear In The.

Naijawife said...

Lemme tease you small before I get sure he wasn't just saying you're "high maintenance"?

Highly Favored said...

Excellent post. Though I cannot relate to Nigeria's cultural norms or expectations on/for women, your perspective and thoughts on this matter is true. Let all who have ears hear.....

Anonymous said...

I really love this. I'm 23 and still single, I went thru school early and being single years after graduation has been a source of worry especially for my mum. She accuses that the reason I'm still single is cos I won't take any trash. Sometimes I think she's confused cos she says she wants me to have a happy home, and yet, she advices I can settle for what I feel is not good enough for me and backs it up by saying I'll not find a perfect man. I tell her each time, perfect is not what I'm looking for but someone who will love me and understand my dreams. Its sad that most Nigerian men want a woman who'll support their dreams but is not really allowed to have dreams of her own.

More wisdom for u IJN. Thanks again.

1 + The One said...

I agree with fivecoveredcolonnades so much! Inthe, this post is as excellent as you always deliver.. I am spoilt for choice as to which is my favourite part.. I LOVE the scriptures you used to share some of God's thoughts towards us (reading it made me feel so special!!). Interestingly, I recently read that verse in Ezekiel but didn't personalise it! God bless you.
Do you know I used to feel that I had to 'conform' so that I would also be 'marriage-able'.. My views were not seen as 'Nigerian' enough but thank God because wanting the best for yourself is not a 'foreign' idea. #IAmWorthIt
Mwah x 100000!

In the midst of her said...

5covered:Feminist? LOL....I think more Humanist. Thanks for your comment, it is so appreciated!

Eloxie: And you too my sis!

Nw: Nope! Not a high maintainance bone in my whole body! lol I can manage and even suffer but God forbid I stay with a guy determined to test this.

Highly favored: ...let them ear!!! Thanks for the blog love!

Anony: You will sleep in the bed you lay. Pls dont let anyone make you settle for less. You are a child of the most high God and sufferhead is not part of your plan for you.

1+: You should feel special because you definitely are! As always, thanks for the blog love!

Ogonna Okafor said...

This is such a beautiful and well written piece. You are definitely right. If only we women (myself included) can see ourselves through God's eye, we would know that we are such priceless gems.
As Christians and the daughters of the Most High, we need to start believing and living out what the bible says about us. Because that's where we find out true identity, and until we do that we would continue to look and measure ourselves using the shallow lenses and demeaning scales that the society has made us believe is the norm.

Free Website said...

In as much as I'm not a sexisit nor a feminist. I'm totally against abuse of all sort and believe all humans should be treated with dignity. And most times it's up to us to set our own standards and demand that it's met else we succumb and let the world or prevailing societal norms set our standards for us which is totally wrong!

Anonymous said...

I hate all these struggle for identity either, black struggling with their identity, one gender trying to proof or shout how special they are compare to the other. I am a black NIGERIAN man. Lived all my life in NIGEERIA, a born again.There are some cultural issues that I do not agree with.But we all have a place and a role be it in family, relationship, marriage friendship etc.every one of us is special, very special.
Ok I suppose the guys opening line is a funny one. Nobody sets out to SUFFER, but challenges come in relationship. Do you say because you are special and precious according to your bible verse and not play a part during hard times and even DRINK THE GARRI with your husband if need be?. Ladies don't get me wrong. I support woman empowerment and all. But in my world I believe in the empowerment of every gender. we must support everyone to reach their full potential. Just as woman wants Mr. right, men also wants Mrs. right. Naturally a woman wants who will be able to take care of her, a man on the other hand,wants a woman who will support him on the journey to provide this care. On the abuse story. Both gender suffer abuse but based on known statistic we understand that woman suffer abuse more. Believe me men suffer abuse too. And believe me it is not a Nigerian thing.
In all just as any one of you/us who desire to marry, let love be the foundation of our union, not the desire of having children as they are one of the fruit of marriage. Pursue love and happiness, wait if you must,you might have to kiss some more frogy remember there is no Mr or Mrs. right, it is a joint effort.Play your parts. But don't pretend. You won't do anyone any good be pretending to be less than what you are. HE is still on the thrown. Good luck to everyone.

In the midst of her said...

Hey Anony 113: You brought up many arguments and I'll try to address them each.

1) I am not a feminist but a humanist. Everybody deserves equal rights and equal opportunities. I am not sure if you've ever been to my blog before today but if you have, you'll realise I write from a christian perspective for a female audience. As every bloger has a niche, most of my posts are from a feminine (not femiminist) perspective. I am also a HUGE supporter of the nigerian male. If you have time, check out my "Inthemidst of his perspective" series.
2) If you read my whole post,in actual totality, you'll see I said I would and could drink garri with my husband if need be. As they say back home I am 100%SURULERE and def not Olorunshogo. I do not think I am too "special" as you say but there is a huge difference btw managing and suffer. Sure I'll manage garri but am I supposed to manage beatings, abuse, and the likes of such? In that case, I am definitely too SPECIAL for such.

3) I am glad that you recognize that abuse is a 2 way street but am even MORE glad you recognize that women get abused universally more than our male counterparts.

4) Yup no one is perfect but in every relationship there are tolerable and intolerable actions. While I may tolerate a man leaving the toilet seat up or burping after a meal, I will NEVER tolerate him putting his hands on me. PERIOD. i dont have to "Kiss some frogs" to realize the basic fact that I deserve more.

As always, thanks for writing! I love hearing from my male readers.

In the midst of her said...

Ogonna: Amen! no one knows us better than our creator! Thanks for writing!

Frances Okoro said...

Inthe, touched a spot people like to hide yeah? And touched it really well too, thank you for this!
Thin line btw managing and suffering for the wrong things, women have to know how to distinguish them.
And high five on your comment to anon.i learnt a lot there too.

Anonymous said...

I learned in childhood, that u attract what u believe u deserve. Both men and women. Herein lies d danger of teaching women to expect to suffer. We inadvertently attract men who will satisfy our mouth with evil so that our youth is never renewed but old age is accelerated. Dr. N

Uche Okonkwo said...

Spot on, as usual.

Adesola's wife said...

Inthe, this post really just spoke out to me in volumes. Anytime my husband & I have even the slightest disagreement, the first thing he says is for me to get out of his house. He is always very adamant that it is his house and not ours. Each time I will have to call one family member or another and becos of culture they will ask me to beg him. The one time I actually did pack out resulted in a lot of backlash towards me as everyone said I should have called family and spoken out and not just left like that. My husband asks me to shut up when he is talking and eats and leaves the plate for me to clear up etc

I am a graduate with a good paying job but as a woman I feel completely abused and trampled on by my husband. Any attempt to talk about these issues even during moments of peace usually results in more quarrel. I am just fed up. Family and Church will always say to be quiet and submissive and endure. I am truly fed up and tired as to what to do. I'm writing from work and just this morning he told me to pack out after some minor argument. I packed some things and was determined not to return. On remembering what happened the last time this happened, I decided to call my Mum and tell her what was going on so she can be aware (my parents live far away); she asked me to call my Pastor. My Pastor said to return home and call him if my husband indeed chucks me out.

I cannot tell you how fed up I am. I am afraid on one hand that people will say I participated i destroying my home but on the other hand, I am truly struggling to see a happy future with my husband.

Sorry for taking up so much of ur space.

In the midst of her said...

Adesola's wife: First of all...*Hugs*. Second, please email me at I would love to talk to you on a more personal and private level. I'll be waiting..

Anonymous said...

Inthe..... I have not read you previous post or visited your blog.Will fine time to. I may not be able to put everything I have to say into perspective. Don't do writing much. Good to know that your post are not from a femiminist perspective.As I sometime get sick about all these issue, blacks trying to proof that we black and proud etc. Just get on with who "we" are.
We can go on all day about managing, suffering, culture, tolerance and intolerance what is acceptable in a relationship and what is not. who should do what etc. My take is that every one of us have a place and a responsibility in finding a good wife or a husband, making a good home. Woman be submissive to your husband, husband love your wife as Christ loved the church. This two "commandments" are very difficult. When does she stop being submissive or when does he stop loving.Just as you find it intolerable for a man or anybody to lift their hand on a woman, (100% in support) Please lets not provoke the man to that level. Believe me it is hard work sometimes.
some behaviour are totally unacceptable. Unfortunately even our churches without exception can do little about it. I cannot put abuse either physical, emotional, financial, down to culture but an individual issue. It is not just Nigerian men as one of the contributor alleged. Some are psychological. A child who grew in an abusive home, have the tendency of abusing the the wife or husband. ( I am passionate about the family unite, good marriages, relationship)I want to see long lasting marriages, not want happens in the west. please forgive me on these guys.
Adesola's wife. You must call her Inthe asap. speak to someone outside your family circle. Retrace your track to as far back as possible. Maybe there is something he is still very upset about and has not forgiven yet. It is important for him to forgive himself at this point not you now. I will keep you in prayer.

Anonymous said...

InThe this post is all shades of lovely. Thanks for reminding us who we are..


Adedeji Onadeko said...

I LOVED this post,God bless you maam

Anonymous said...

Loved this you too Inthe.