Cheating, sexism and general disrespect towards women while having some sort of entitlement to our attention and more importantly our bodies has been my experience with Nigerian men. I was born and raised in Enugu but got the opportunity to study in America. I finished medical school and decided to come back and do my NYSC.
I always loved the way religion shaped our country, but we are such hypocrites. I can barely have a two-minute conversation with a man without wanting to explode in fury from their sexist opinions. Even the women are no different believing that as long as they have a man it doesn’t matter if he is abusive, unfaithful or disrespectful. How can a proud, vocal feminist like myself find a person to be in settle down with? Do I have to settle for a man who will tell our daughter that her value is less than our son’s? I want a family, I really do, but how do I date Nigerian men without compromising my values?
So many people feel they have to compromise to find love, but it is not the case. For a long-lasting, healthy relationship, you cannot compromise the core of who you are. You are a proud feminist and you should never be ashamed of that. In fact, contrary to your past experiences, there are Nigerian men who are proud feminists themselves.
The general rule of thumb about finding love involves finding common interests. As a feminist, there are various ways to find out if you share any common viewpoints. The news is packed with various issues; they can be playfully asked about, and what may seem like a general discussion reveals a lot about their opinions. Religion and politics tend to be a no-go area on first dates, but mentally stimulating conversations are best for all dates. If you are looking for a long-term commitment, shallow conversation tells nothing and do not engage either of you, so you will be bored and easily irritable.
Yet, do you think you are being too harsh? Yes, there are people with misogynistic views, but what if they simply have traditional views which do not negate or contrast to feminism? The true measure is the strictness to which they hold on to those views. Does he care about perception? What does he believe has to be gender roles? Is he able to respect your preferences and needs as an individual? Does he treat men and women you’ve met, such as waiter and waitresses, differently? How does he react to things that ‘challenge’ his masculinity?
Finding that ‘perfect’ partner is hard, harder still when you are very aware of what you want. Whoever you end up with, it should never be by compromise; in the long run, you would both be unhappy and bringing children into it would be worse. Values and principles that matter to you should always be talked about. They cannot wait till it is serious before bringing out the ‘deal-breakers’. So how you would like to raise your children, your opinions on gender roles, and so on, are not something you should ever feel like you need to hide to be with someone, you just have to be patient to find the person whose core views, match closely to yours. I do hope it all works out for you.
All the best!