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Should Men Tell Us What To Do?

Love Wars
By: Eko Sista (Lagos)

October 31, 2000

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I went to visit a friend the other day. We were supposed to go out for lunch but on our way out of the house, her boyfriend stopped us and asked her to go back and change the outfit she had on.

She tried telling him that she liked what she was wearing and she felt very comfortable. I joined in to support my friend and tried to make him see reason but, he refused to listen.

After that incident, I started wondering to myself if men had the right to tell us what to do and my conclusion is that I donít think so!

My friends donít see anything wrong with this phenomenon. In general, they accept it as a way of life. Something they can do nothing about. Something they need to accept to be able to get married with the erroneous belief that challenging the situation could result in being alone.

I disagree with this point of view! And I blame our mothers and society in general for forcing this belief on us. Nigerian women must have a right to express their thoughts and opinions freely. Pretending to accept the current situation while complaining to each other is tiring.

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I had a boyfriend who used to dictate my every move to me. He asked me to stop wearing red lipstick, he forced me to stop dying my hair blonde with the promise that he was planning to marry me.

With that expectation, and in the mistaken belief that I loved him, I did as he asked. Sorry, as he commanded.

After a while though, I realized I was suffocating myself trying to be someone he wanted me to be. I didnít recognize myself. I chose to discuss it with him and after the discussion, we broke up! He could not, or would not, accept my needs for self expression.

People close to me say this stubborn behavior of mine means I will never get married. I respond to them by saying it is not about being stubborn. It is all about knowing yourself, who you are and what you want as a woman.

It seems hollow and frankly unromantic to compromise my beliefs and let a man dictate my every move just to get married...NO WAY!

I am not suggesting either that women should disrespect their men. I am saying that it should be a mutually respectful relationship.

I discussed this male thinking and behavior with a male friend of mine and he could not be bothered! As far as he was concerned, I should get over it and accept it as life. "There is nothing you women can do about it he said" He continued by saying, "it is even in the bible that men are made to be in control".

If I remember my readings well, I believe what the bible actually says is that women should be submissive to their husbands and asks that husbands love their wives. It does not say that men should control a woman's every thought and behavior.

If you love someone, you will accept that person for what they are. Flaws and all.

I urge Nigerian women to listen to their hearts and express themselves. Marriage means spending the rest of your life with someone. How long can you pretend for? Donít let some man suffocate you.

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