Tuesday, 8 February 2011

The Weakening Sex?

When I was younger, women were referred to as the weaker sex. However, as political correctness became the norm - and women became more empowered - women are rarely referred to as the weaker sex.

Growing up in a house with only sisters, we were encouraged to learn everything. There was no room for 'girl jobs' or 'boy jobs'. My father (an engineer and avid gardener) encouraged us to learn  basic DIY skills (gardening, car-maintenance, painting and fixing simple plumbing/ electrical faults); while my mother (a mid-wife and exceptional cook) taught us about cooking, house-keeping etc

While we were expected to excel at everything, my simple understanding of gender roles was that men was meant to protect and provide for the family; while women were meant to build the home and nurture/ shape the family.

However, even then, I knew that the roles were sometimes blurred - for example, it was my dad who taught me how to sew and how to appreciate art. Recently though, I have noticed that gender roles are becoming even more blurred and I now wonder whether men should now be referred to as 'the weakening sex'?

Without sounding like a bra-burning, man-hating feminist, I dare to suggest this - not because I hate men or I have been hurt by them, but because I have noticed the evolution of certain types of men (especially here in the UK). I will now describe them:

1. The Escapists:
The recession has seen quite a lot of job losses in the UK and this has placed a huge strain on most families. While, I do accept that a man will generally find it more difficult (compared to a woman) to adjust to job loss/ loss of income (because their self-esteem is largely tied to their financial worth); I have observed the rise in the number of 'Escapists' - men who seek to escape their responsibilities and obligations as soon as the going gets tough.

Among Nigerians, these are the men who decide to leave their family in the UK/US to return to Nigeria  - 'on business'. They then hang around in Nigeria - without any visible source of income, transaction or business plan; OR without any consideration for the needs of the family they left behind.

Believe me, there is no way a gainfully employed adult can hang around in Nigeria,  for more than a month without having to worry about all his obligations (i.e. his job, bills or mortgage/rent). Unfortunately, this is now a common phenomenon as more and more men abandon their responsibilities to 'do business' in Africa. More often than not, this 'business' means contacting old friends (they haven't seen for years) to lobby for 'contracts' or political posts - while sampling the feminine charms on offer.

A friend's husband - an escapist - stayed in Nigeria - 'on business' for 6 months. He finally returned back to the UK - broke and contrite (after impregnating a girl in Nigeria)!

2. The Domestic Generals:
One thing about relocating is that you are more than likely going to have to retrain - and embark on a new career. This is usually not out of choice but because (a) your educational qualifications might not be recognised or (b) employment opportunities might not really exist in your field.

For example, a friend studied Biochemistry in Nigeria but retrained as an accountant here. Another studied Law in Nigeria, but has now retrained as a Social worker. Similarly, a relative trained as a doctor in Nigeria but had to do several low-paid jobs while he took professional exams that enabled him practise as a medical doctor in the UK. It's just the way it is.

However, some of our men generally seem to resist this. This is in sharp contrast to the women who face reality and retrain pronto. The result - while the woman climbs up the professional ladder, the man is likely to be left floundering with the low skilled job he has settled for.

Unfortunately, quite a lot oif these men are then threatened by their wife's progress and seek to wield their authority unneccessarily. An example of a 'Domestic General' is a family friend. When they arrived here, he settled for a low-paid postal job and absolutely refused to retrain or gain further qualifications. On the other hand, his wife - who came here as a Lingusitics graduate - retrained as a nurse. She has largely been responsible for the needs of the home - to the extent the children go to her frst whenever they need anything.

The 'general' is now feeling relegated and has chosen to hit back in frustration - verbally abusing the woman, galivanting with other women and treating their home as a battle field. I know some women disrespect their men when they are financially stronger, but this is not the case here...and that is what pains me!

3. The Emasculated:
My observation is that while some men have reacted positively to having a strong woman in their life, others have reacted negativelty - with some becoming 'Domestic Generals' while some now appear to be 'Emasculated'.

To emasculate is to 'deprive of strength, vigor or spirit'. Research has shown that Many men believe the world is now dominated by women and that they have lost their role in society, fuelling feelings of depression and being undervalued

Within our community, these men seem to have given up on trying to be the man of the house. Call me old fashioned but while I believe in strong women, I also believe a man should still be a man. What is my definition of a man? Well a man should fulfil the following:
  • Provide/ Try to provide/ Have plans to provide the basic needs of the family: This is not only financial. The needs might relate to providing guidance or leadership for the family. If a wife is earning more, a man should be strong enough to be proud of the wife and be comfortable with planning together.
  • Be a role model to his children: It should not be a case of 'do what I say - not what I do' . For me, a real man should be conscious of the fact that his kids - boys or girls - are learning from his example regarding what a father and husband should be like. 
  • Put the family first: Not distant relatives, not friends, not his community.....his wife and kids should come first.
Unfortunately, the sad thing about 'the Emasculated' in our community is that even though they act like wilted spinach most of the time; whenever they are in the presence of their relative(s), they regain some vigor and start strutting around like the only rooster in the hen house - barking out orders and wielding authority over a wife they have barely spoken to all year long!

4. The Users:
Unfortunately, these have been around since time began. However, what I have observed is that younger men seem to be more focused on gaining maximum wealth - with minimum effort. In the past, it used to be that the first few years abroad - for an immigrant- were spent doing low-paid jobs, finding your feet and essentially, building the foundation for a brighter future.

However, the new influx seem to be in a hurry to live in a posh flat, drive a fancy car and host parties every weekend - without any visible means of income. The result...they have become 'Users' - using and discarding people willy nilly 

These are the boys/men who latch onto a girl - preferably someone employed or a foreign student (who is receiving regular funds from her parents/ sponsor) and milk the girls for all they are worth.

In 2009, when a little cousin came to me and said her boyfriend was moving in with her, I objected and asked her to move in with him OR for both of them to rent a place together. My reasoning - the flat was being paid for by her father and I was not comfortable with the fact that the boy was not in education OR holding down a steady job. Again, I knew the father would tell me off for not informing him. Well, she went against my advice - because according to her, she was in love and they were getting married........soon.

The end result .......the boy was using her address for fraudulent activities. They were both eventually arrested and the boy was deported. Happily, she was released without charge. However, the legacy of this experience is a strained relationship with her dad. The loverboy hooked up with his ex - a banker - as soon as he got back to Nigeria and I hear they are now married. My cousin?..... still bitter and nursing her wounds!

What do you think?

Are men generally becoming the 'weakening sex'....as they increasingly fail to rise up to their responsibilities and obligations?


Are stronger women making it difficult for men to fulfil their responsibilities and obligations. Could it be that as we encourage women to become more empowered, we are robbing men of the opportunity to be 'men'?

This is not an attack on ALL men. It is an observatory piece - on what I have witnessed recently - within our community in the UK.


  1. lol @ the picture of the escapist. Gasp @ d dude impregnating a girl in naija. I've heard stories of the user category, they are many. Funny how my family friend was telling me that now that i am in med school i should be careful of who wants to date me cos they might have ulterior motives. I just laughed it off cos na gbese the person wan carry. I will be finishing with close to $200,000 in debt so they are welcome to partake in that.

    Seriously though, i know many Nigerian men here who specifically go after Nurses and then chill at home while she bursts her ass at work. It's crazy. Times are changing sha and the things men in Nigeria won't attempt to do while in Nigeria cos i guess their pride is at stake, some of them come here and do it. It's ridiculous.

  2. This is a fantastic post, Naija mum.. Well done!

    @Madame Sting... they do it in Naija too.. Times have really changed.. It is now the order of the day here. It is well.

    @Naijamum... I don't really know what is going on.. It is too sad..

  3. the men today are def not like my father's generation. Before you got married in his generation you had to have your life today and a plan....not today's men. I feel that if women expect more from these men things will change. I'm speaking about single men and women considering marriage.

  4. I like your classification of men. I've heard a lot of the domestic generals who refuse to retrain and how it has caused a lot of marital problems for immigrants. My sister was telling me about some cases in Houston where the wives earn good salaries as Registered Nurses while the men sit at home jealous of their wives success.

  5. I don't necessarily think men are becoming the weaker sex. Neither is the empowering of women hindering men from fulfilling their personal obligation to themselves and their families. I think it has to do with personal choice. If a man is lazy and doesn't want to work, then he'll take advantage of his wife's hard work by just sitting at home and waiting on her to deliver the owo.

  6. With all these kinda men on the prowl, single ladies must keep their eyes open and their hears too... May God lead us aright.

  7. *A standing ovation*...wow! a classic piece sistah! I read it a second time o! ALL what you said is sooo true! What more can i add huh?..

    so to your question; Yes, men are the weakening sex! & Yes!women are getting more stronger, BUT do NOT rob the men from being men IF THEY WANT TO!...shikenna!

    I have a neighbour who exudes so much confidence when compared to her husband. She earns higher but is humble. So it takes both parties involved.

  8. ha! as i read the comments, i remembered my first cousin who lives abroad requested a 9ja wife should be found for him & must either be a doctor or nurse! She is with him as i write, after their wedding last year. When i asked why? I was told that is one of the 'most wanted' jobs abroad & he did not want liability!

  9. lool, i love the pic of the escapist!!
    unfortunately, i still feel like women are seen as the weaker sex.. it wld take much more for society to change how it views women and men.
    wat u said bout young guys coming abroad and wanting to make quick cash without working for it is sooo true!!..watever happened to being hardworking and persevering till u gain financial success?..their eyes are too sharp and they just prey on unsuspecting female victims, milkin them dry!
    omg..some men cld be very jealous hey.. my aunt is lyk the breadwinner of her home and her hubby abuses her physically and verbally every time!..she cnt leave the marriage cos she has 3 kids..smh

  10. Hello Mummy, you have done it again. I don't think men are becoming weaker o. I think there has always been such men but it is more eident now because women are no more slacking like they did in those days. Women are empowering themselves now because if one decides to depend on men, it might be a suicide mission for them and their children

  11. @Madame Sting:
    Re: the man who got someone preg in Naija.
    I'm afraid that is not an isolated case
    Aah...your family friend was right to warn you. Unfortunately, trusting girls - who are financially stable - are often attractive to low-life guys!

    Again, I agree when u say the men seem to misbehave more abroad. It must be that they feel 'more freedom' - away from prying eyes..Who knows? Sad!
    Thanks for commenting

    ....they do it in Naija too? Really?
    I thought it was more common abroad???

    Times have really changed!

    It really is sad!

    Thanks for dropping by.

  12. @ Chizzy D
    You hve hit the nail on the head when you said...'if women expect more from these men things will change....' GBAM GBAM GBAM!!!

    Unfortunately, girls are soooo eager to get married, that they are prepared to settle for less!
    Thank you my sis

    I'm glad you liked the classification of men

    I too have heard about those men married to registered Nurses who envy their success. I'm sure you've heard of the recent spate of cases where some of these men have then gone ahead to murder these wives - after accusng the women of becoming 'big-headed'!

    There were a few cases in the US last year. The situation don tire me!
    Thanks my sis

  13. @PRISM:
    I agree that ‘ the empowering of women is not hindering men from fulfilling their personal obligation to themselves and their families’.
    However, I still do believe that a lot of our guys are failing their families. I see quite a lot relinquishing their duties – while they still demand respect from their wife.
    I laugh!!! Thanks for commenting

    LOL.....To be forewarned is to be forearmed!
    All I can say is ‘shine your eyes my sister’

  14. @Ibhade:
    I’m sooo flattered re: *A standing ovation*...
    As you said, women are getting stronger but this should NOT stop the men from being men. Unfortunately, we have quite a few men who choose to be lazy nowadays.
    Like your neighbour – who is the higher-earner – some women can be humble about their earnings. However, some cant and this spells trouble. It takes a BIG man (big in confidence andself-esteem) to still lead the home when his wife earns more.

    LOL @ your cousin. E wan chop frog wey get egg abi?
    I pray their marriage is blessed with peace and understanding. Abeg tell am say we can all plan and wish for the ideal partner but life is funny!
    Thanks my sistah

  15. @KITKAT
    *sigh* re: the young boys coming abroad and preying on unsuspecting females. This trend makes me really sick. Unfortunately, some of the girls are so daft that they ignore the warning signs. For example, if a guy refuses to work and is keen on spending your money......you should know that he is a leech!
    Regarding your aunty.......*sad sigh*To be honest, I think she’s doing more harm to her children by staying as they are likely to think that abuse is part of married life!
    Thanks for that.

    Thanks for the compliment.
    I have to agree when you said ‘Women are empowering themselves now because if one decides to depend on men, it might be a suicide mission for them and their children...’
    To be honest, I don’t blame them. So many instances exist where the woman is left high and dry after long years of marriage. The men always have excuses – I’ve heard ‘She only had girls’.....’She did not respect MY people!’.......’She did not respect me’.....
    All these excuses after over 10 years of marriage......Hmmph!
    Thanks for commenting

  16. I second Ibhade. Your piece is a classic; the analysis of the crop of men who are now emerging is excellent.

    "Are men generally becoming the 'weakening sex'?" I don't think so. Not unless the women in their lives allow them to be that. Men should be held accountable and I feel sometimes, we as women let it slide. A man may have a bad break, become unemployed and generally fall on hard times. What do you do? Try to be understandable and let him get back on his feet. BUT there will come a point that you will know whether the man is just a plain Domestic General, User or he's emasculated. I think that's the point to rise up and tell him, "ol boy, o ma better ko wa nkan se, I can't continue to do it all by myself". We should learn to hold our men accountable, otherwise we'll just suffer under the weight of carrying all the responsibilities.

    LOL at the picture of the Escapist. Just pull him back by the trousers! Any fishing expedition you're doing for business in Nigeria for more than a few months means we're all relocating. Who does not like the sun and a good family/social support? It's just that the most reasonable thing is that at least one person should have a steady income, especially where there are children involved...

    "Are stronger women making it difficult for men to fulfil their responsibilities and obligations. Could it be that as we encourage women to become more empowered, we are robbing men of the opportunity to be 'men'?"

    Nah, nah, nah. Seriously, we've had strong women for generations. Strong women do not rob men of the opportunity to be "men", whatever that may entail.If anything, it should make the competitive man stronger if he feels the need to outshine his woman. Men should be self-assured. You don't need to have a weaker woman by your side in order to validate your manhood.

  17. @OS:
    Thanks for the compliment

    You are right when yopu say women can unwittingly encourage 'laziness' from men. As you said - ' .....we as women let it slide.'
    I'm all for supporting a man - in times of hardship, growth etc - but I still expect a man to be a man!

    LOL @ "ol boy, o ma better ko wa nkan se, I can't continue to do it all by myself".

    Gbam @ 'We should learn to hold our men accountable, otherwise we'll just suffer under the weight of carrying all the responsibilities.'
    You've summarised my beef in that one sentence.

    LOLLL @ 'Any fishing expedition you're doing for business in Nigeria for more than a few months means we're all relocating.' Abi?

    You are also on point when you said that we have always had strong women for generations. True talk! As a mother of boys, I pray that my sons find partners that will be supportive and strong in their own right.

    If a woman outshines the man in any way, it should spur the man on to make him want to excel in his own way. There's always room for talent.
    Again, you have smashed the nail on its head when you said 'You don't need to have a weaker woman by your side in order to validate your manhood!'

    Thanks so much for your commment. Indepth and incisive! Much appreciated

  18. Wow! I join Ibhade and OS in giving you a well deserved standing ovation. I love the categories. This is clearly a well thought out post. Welldone.

    I find the comments instructive, especially OS's. She had me cracking up, especially @ "Ol boy, o ma better ko wa nkan se"... I like the way her mind works :o)

    My Dad suffered a MAJOR setback when I was about 10 or so. He was shot in the leg by robbers and had to have his leg amputated. After surgeries, physiotherapy sessions, plane tickets and prosthetic limbs were paid for, he was broke and his one-man-business was dead. The burden fell on my mother and because she had left her business years before (at my father's request), things were tough. We all thought my mum was wicked when she refused to let my father play the 'you know I'm an invalid' card. She used to say things like "it's your leg that got cut off, not your brain" and "You're the man around here, so it's your responsibility to provide"... It was hard, but my dad started his business again. Thank God she practiced tough love, cos after she died, my dad used to say "thank God Remi pushed me" Moral of the story? Letting the men we love get away with not shouldering their God assigned responsibility is NOT love.
    One of the question I asked my husband when he proposed was "are you sure you can handle being married to a successful woman?" I had gone through so much as a child that I was determined to work hard to succeed. I do not think submission equals killing my dreams because a man's ego can't handle it. Thankfully, I'm blessed with a man with a good head on his shoulders, who sees my success as a challenge for him to do more... No matter how successful a woman is, it is the primary responsibility of the man to provide and protect like you rightly said. That's how God designed it.

    Now lemme go stalk this OS babe...


    ps getting past the word verification thing took more time than it took to write this comment cos the image kept refusing to load. Is it absolutely necessary?

  19. It's a trend in the UK and I would imagine, other countries around the world. there are some cultural factors that the men misinterpret to act in this way. The man is meant to be the head of the house and the provider so they pretend to be both when they go on 'business' to escape facing their responsibilities. I agree with Prism's comments. Some men are just lazy. Others adapt to their circumstances and help with house chores, looking after the kids while wife is out working, until the situation gets better. It really depends on the man's personality and his upbringing as well as the attitude of his wife to those circumstances of unemployment.

  20. I like OS's comments. "Ol' boy, o ma better ko wa nkan se." LOL.

    Thanks so much for the compliment.
    The thing is this 'trend' has been bothering me for a while and I relly wanted to know if others felt as mad as I did.

    Regarding your dad, it brings back horrible memories for me because my dad decided to take early retirement from a well paid job because he wanted to move back to our home town. The result... : On our return, he was shot in the leg and things went downhill (financially) for the family.

    Yes, I really loved OS' feedback I am still waiting for her post...I'm sure it will be well thought out and enlightening.

    Well done for being dynamic, the truth is that if we let go of our destiny.....we can only blame ourselves.

    I have now removed the word verification process. Hope this helps. Big Thanks and I hope you are settling in well!

    re: It's a trend...I KNOW!!! The ting don tire me sef!

    Most of these men choose to be 'western' when they want to be and 'African' whenthey want to be i.e. they will like the woman to share the finacial responsibility of running a household BUT they still want the woman to wait on them hand and foot!

    I am all for supporting your hubby thru thick and thin but we must all help each oter. As you said...' Others adapt to their circumstances and help with house chores, looking after the kids while wife is out working, until the situation gets better.' That's the way it should be!

    Thanks for dropping by

  22. This is a great post, I was just nodding as I read along. Some men sure are weakening, but that's because it's in them. A lot of men have successful wives and were not negatively affected. I so agree with OS and Gbemisoke. Me I also asked that question too.

  23. True talk my sister you hit the nail on the head.

  24. @ Myne:
    Thank you Myne.
    Totally agree when you said ...because it's in them.'
    I can see you, OS and Gbemi entered i to marriage with a clear idea of who you were and a vision of who you would want to be in future....More girls need to do same.

    Thanks my sister

  25. i love this piece...

    i have myself noticed how the men seem to be weaker....(some)

    its just so exasperating...

    a man is mostly a man these days cos he has an appendage dat dangles in between his legs....

    Lord help us...........

  26. @Ibiluv:
    So, you've noticed also!
    As you said, it really is exasperating...

    LOL @'a man is mostly a man these days cos he has an appendage dat dangles in between his legs' OMG, you have finished them oh!

    I couldnt stop laughing when I read that.
    Well, as you said, we pray for the Lord's help

  27. Well written. Some men are just work-shy, and will hide under any number of excuses. What can I add that has not already been said? I've tried to comment in the past without success, here's hoping....

  28. @JustJoxy:
    I like your description of some men as 'work-shy'
    Polite put down at its best! LOL!

    Thanks for commenting. Not sure why you couldnt before but here's hoping you'll have no problems now

  29. According to my mum "God is just punishing them, previously they had all the power yet they misused it, now God has giving some of the power to women cos they are passionate n capable of carrying everyone along"

  30. @Chizzy K:
    LOL @'God is just punishing them...........'
    I hope not oh!
    As I have 3 sons, I am praying that these examples are not the norm in future! LOL
    Thanks for dropping by


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