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boys

July 6, 2020 Leave a comment

📸: The Mail & Guardian

Some time ago, I called a friend to check on her. She’s been in between jobs for some time, even before the lockdown, so I wanted to know how her job search was going. Thankfully, she has some promising leads, but also exploring ventures playing to her strengths. However, what I’d like to discuss came after.

From career to business to family, and then, her love life. Last time we spoke, she had three men talking to her, and I’d given her some advice, so this was more of a follow up. Mr A is a Muslim, and being a Christian, she’s put him in the friend zone. She dodged a bullet with Mr B, a serial womanizer. Mr C, who I had been secretly rooting for, really disappointed me.

I’ll give you a bit of a background. He’s good-looking, intelligent, polite, sociable, well-spoken, and has a high six-figures job. The problem is his personal hygiene; it’s very poor. I won’t divulge the extensive list, but he constantly has BO, bad breath, and days-old used pans and plates in his kitchen sink, just to name a few. The sad part is she’s tried to advise and correct him subtly and lovingly, but he gets upset and defensive. He’s not teachable.

Here’s where I’m going. She talked to an older married woman about it, and her advice was “It doesn’t matter now; boys are always dirty.” Unbelievable, right?
Did I mention, she video-called Mr A twice, and in the background were shirts and pants scattered all over his room?
Her question to me, now, was “What kind of men are being raised these days?”

I think a lot of Nigerian, dare I say, African, parents have dropped the ball here. Their sole focus is to train decent daughters to the detriment of their sons. A lot of these sons have grown up with an indolent attitude towards chores, which eventually affects personal hygiene. In high school, know guys that used a pair of boxers for a whole week. They’d play/work, sweat and sleep in the same pair the entire week. Even in college, a roommate’s friend once bragged that he once used his for an entire month!

Yes, boys don’t like doing chores, but I don’t think girls do either, but they’re made to understand from an early age that it’s non-negotiable. It shouldn’t be any different for boys. Washing dishes and clothes, ironing, sweeping, mopping, even cooking, were non-negotiable for me. As a young boy, my mom made me wash my dishes (as well as my younger sister’s) immediately after every meal, and to wash my underwear before bedtime. As a teenager, it was she taught me how to shave my armpit hair and use deodorant daily. I didn’t enjoy the chores, especially on Saturday morning, but they instilled in me cleanliness, discipline and responsibility. I’m the better for it today.

Please teach your boys to: brush their teeth and bathe twice daily; wash their dishes immediately after their meals; use their underwear and socks once; wash, sun-dry, iron, and fold/hang their clothes; polish their shoes; cook; and so on. Please do, so they can grow to become good “husband material”, not just money-earning liabilities to their dutiful, responsible wives. Let’s raise real men.

While we’re on this subject, I like to address the prevalence of rape in Nigeria. I think this is an issue that has gone unchecked for years, and now, has gone completely out of hand. However, it has, hopefully, at the unfortunate expense of the late Uwaila Omozuwa, finally gotten the [local and international] attention it needs. We need to start by stopping the trend of “blaming the victim” in Nigeria. Rape is only the fault of the rapist(s). It doesn’t matter how old she is, what she wears, where she goes, what she does, how she earns a living, her religion [or faith], or her relationship status. The victim is never to blame. A lady being naked or scantly dressed is not permission to rape. A lady walking alone at night or in a night club is not seeking to be raped. A lady working as a hooker/prostitute or secretary is not permission to rape. As a man, a woman being your bestie, girlfriend, fiancée, even wife, is not grounds for rape. No girl or woman should be forced into sex against her will. There is no room for coaxing or coercion. She’s allowed to change her mind or say “no”, irrespective of previous arrangements or obligations. No consent, no sex.

I like to add that we should be aware that consent goes both ways. Boys/men are also raped. I think the current statistics, according to UNICEF, is “1 in 4 girls and 10% of boys”. Men aren’t “always down”, so there should be no harassment. They can refuse/turn down sexual advances too. I’m glad to know the Nigerian Senate is looking to revise the criminal code on rape to recognize that both genders can be raped. The code currently only defines rape as an offense against women.

So, please, as we teach our girls to be careful, mindful of their surroundings, and even, self-defense, the boys shouldn’t be excluded. Additionally, both should be educated on “consent” and taught that “no means no”. Most importantly, please teach your boys (who will become men) to always respect girls/women and their choices. Real men respect women and vice versa.