I listened to this hilarious podcast last night about a woman and her quest for 'the one'. I'm sure that we all read about women's dating travails on an almost daily basis, so what made this story so different? Well, the narrator was a feminist and many of the arguments she got into with her dates were so reminiscent of many of the fights I used to have. Growing up, I didn't have a clue what feminism was. In Nigeria, it was still referred to as "women's lib", and no, it wasn't all that long ago. I did know that I wanted an equitable partnership with my significant other, which is not the same as equal. Equal, to me denotes, that we would split all tasks evenly and that we would each give and take just as much as the other person. I don't think any relationship is equal in that sense. But, I wanted to be treated fairly and not accorded a certain status or roles because of my gender.
When you are getting to know someone (or perhaps I should say when I am getting to know someone), I want to find out what makes them tick as soon as possible to make sure that I am not wasting my time with someone who I would be utterly incompatible with. So invariably out comes the BS detector and the barrage of questions start. Would you want your wife to work? What are you looking for in a woman? Do you think that the woman should do all the housework? Really, and you expect her to hold down a full-time job? How? Do you plan on splitting the housework with your wife? Do you think that the man is the head of the household? Do you expect your girlfriend/wife to submit to you?
Yes, I know, talk about unsubtle.
Somehow, this police cell style interrogation never yielded really positive results. The guy would think I was crazy and I would think that he was a Neanderthal.
Overtime though, you tend to mellow out. It does not mean that you still do not hold your principles dear, but you are less judgemental about other peoples' questioning of them. The same thing happened with the story's narrator. She did find someone who wasn't threatened by her beliefs, but who wasn't afraid to challenge them either. They did have their occasional fighting matches, but no relationship is perfect.
Last night I was reading the new issue of Genevieve. One of the articles asks women what they want from life: marriage; career; both; neither? I don’t know if they just happened to pool a very unusual set of women. They all wanted both (and not just because of financially motivations either). Most wanted to get married at some point, but were cool if it didn’t happen. This was unusual for me to hear. The (still) common idea of Nigerian women is that they care very much about marriage, want it badly and, after a certain age, would pounce on a man, any man as long as he is still breathing, okay looking, has an okay job and all limbs intact. And although things are changing, I think this way of thinking still prevails. Understandably, I suppose, with society’s incredibly strong pressure towards 'traditional' norms like marriage and family.
So what to do when you do want to be with someone but have principles that you cannot compromise? Well, that’s a really difficult question to answer. Life is messy and complicated and frankly we all have to compromise at some point or the other. For me, I’m finding that chilling out a bit and seeing what someone has to offer without tearing apart their every word and action in order to reveal its hidden meaning works (and not to mention, kinder on my stress level).