African Press International (API)

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What do men really want in a woman?

Posted by African Press International on September 10, 2007

Publication Date: 9/10/2007
There is an American movie titled Diary of a Mad Black Woman. I am yet to watch it from start to finish because every time I start watching it, I too feel like getting off my behind and heading for the garage of packed dreams and aspirations and setting it on fire.

Yes, fire I said, because, with all the condemnation and selective appreciation coming from a society that demands too much of women, who can blame them for going crazy?

I am a 30-something, voluptuous (read, not at all thin), dark (not chocolate brown, whatever that means), educated, well-travelled, opinionated and independent-minded daughter of my parents.

On a good day, I could say my financial base is manageable. On a bad day, I would not hesitate to ask for loan application forms. Still, I know that I will sing yet another Merry Christmas resting on the laurels of the single-women’s club.

Sounds liberating for a number of sisters doesn’t it? Wrong. Society does not think so. And here is why.

Last Saturday, the men of this country spoke. They described to the world the kind of woman they want.

It was there in the Saturday Nation in case you missed it the survey carried out by Infotrak Research & Consulting and Harris Interactive Global.

I sat with my copy of the paper and tried to compare my scores according to the 1,200 men interviewed.

I must say it was a reflective moment because, yes, you guessed right, I scored quiet poorly and this is why: 50 per cent of the men interviewed said they would go for a woman who worked part-time.

I work full-time, only 39 per cent of men would tolerate me.

Forty seven per cent of men want a woman who is chocolate brown. You know what? I swear by the gap between my front teeth that I do not know what chocolate-brown means in relation to complexion.

Here, is another: 76 per cent of the men interviewed would rather have medium-built women. Now, I have a problem with that. Where I come from, and that means a womb called Africa where women are revered for their childbearing abilities, I would easily be described as a woman with hips meant for childbearing.

Many a woman like me have had to bear similar comments thrown at them, especially because they are not thin.

Allow me to derail you for a moment. My good friend Wahu once tickled me with a comment she got from her father before she was introduced to her in-laws.

Having spent some time away from home and watching her figure before her wedding day, Wahu was greeted by her father at the door with a horrified look.

What happened to you? There is no food back in the city? If that is the case, then stay here and eat until you gain some weight, otherwise, your in-laws might think you were never fed in your home! In short, her father wanted her to be fat.

Back to the survey. I gather that quite a number of men have an issue with voluptuous women (read fat) and I wonder where we who were well-fed by our fathers will end-up.

It was an interesting survey, especially when I picked out a quote from a man who said he did not want a woman who will bend down to kiss him, (woo unto you tall model-height women) and men who revered women who had the ability to bear children (since when did we decide who is able or unable to procreate?).

Then again, there are those who would rather have women who earned less than them and those who preferred those who were less educated than they were.

Going by this, for those highly educated and highly paid women, I wonder if this would mean resigning from a managerial post to settle for a much-lower position to please a man, or take academic credentials and qualifications that are a threat to the man’s ego and flush them down the toilet. It’s a difficult rut to be stuck in.

Candid responses

All in all, it was an important survey. The men, interviewed claim to have been open and candid in their responses. Sadly, it is those very same responses that provoke desperation, depression and frustration in today’s woman.

The African Woman is to me, the most violated, humiliated and vandalised piece of creation. To be a woman is challenging enough, ask any gynaecologist.

Various stages of life be it conception, gestation, childbirth, childhood, adolescence, puberty, menopause, to mention but a few “womanness is one tough haul.

To be an African woman in the changing world is even more gruelling.

Everyone seems poised to panel-beat the woman from her original being. She is never perfect in society’s eyes.

At conception, her father hopes that she is a boy and automatically, she is a disappointment even before she makes her entry into the world.

Right from childhood, society emphasises that the little girl has to work twice as hard to achieve half as much as the boys in a male-dominated world.

Her mentors and guardians want her to pursue her education, get the highest marks, get many degrees, get a well paying job and assert herself as a woman of substance. She does this too, delaying marriage and childbirth for the sake of the top prize on graduation day.

She gets the top job and the fat cheque but when she looks around for a suitor, no man wants a woman with more credentials than his and with a much bigger salary to boot.

This desolate woman with glittering credentials suddenly finds herself admonished with sullen indifference; what kind of woman does not get married? What kind of woman does not bear children?

This same woman, who has been competing for the top prize all her life suddenly becomes a loathed entity.

Then again, you meet the homely-wifely woman who got married at 18 years of age, right after finishing her O level examinations.

Several children later and some challenging wear and tears of marriage to boot, her looks are not exactly the same as they were when she got married. Neither is her figure.

Childbearing does amazing things to the road maps in the body and soul of a woman, which only she can understand.

Her walk may slow down, her skin may wrinkle, some parts will sag and her body may just refuse to bow to her demands.

This becomes a desperate call for a woman eager to please. Always meant to please, that is what women have been expected to do.

To please and to succumb to whatever panel-beating is demanded by society. We all know the fallacy that has dodged the female species since time immemorial they just have to prove their worth.

As the survey spells out, our men have spoken. Too bad for all the women who do not fit the bill.

An anecdote

However, I only have this point to make and it comes in the form of an anecdote.

A father once said that he wanted to give his daughter all the love that he could give. He said he wanted to build her self-esteem and drum it into her that she was beautiful and wonderfully made and devoid of imperfection.

He said he was doing this, knowing very well that in future some fool would break his daughter’s heart and kill her self-esteem.

When this happens and am almost sure it will (being a man, he obviously knew better), I want my daughter to know that there was at least one man who loved her unconditionally and believed in her and her beauty, and that man is me her father.

In that simple but Herculean point, I understood. In all honesty, we all know who between the sexes is the problem and the solution to the madness at the same time. Trust me, it is not the women.

Waiting for KPLC and city councilI hate to be the prophet of doom but I just wonder what the Nairobi City Council or the Kenya Power and Lighting Company would do or say if there was ever a major tragedy because of this particular lapse.

Two years ago, a young man called Augustine Okubasu called me frantically seeking intervention from the KPLC or the NCC concerning live power-lines that are dangerously hanging beneath a huge tree behind his house in Kaloleni Estate.

Augustine who lives in the estate’s house number J17 was worried that the live power-lines would trigger an accident with immeasurable damage, especially since many children played around the house, oblivious of the dangers lurking just above their heads.

When we sought intervention from KPLC, there was a promise for rectification. That was in 2005.

Yesterday, Augustine called me again. In his voice was the concerned cry of frustration from a father eager to protect his family.

You see, Augustine informed me, his wife had just given birth to their third child. The baby girl is now a week old.

Those live wires are still hanging dangerously beneath the huge tree behind my house, if there was ever an accident, perhaps a strong wind that blows the wires together or a fire … My other two children also play with their friends out here. But then I have my new-born baby girl?.

Father’s anxiety

Augustine could not finish this sentence that speaks of his anxiety.

He said he had tried talking to both the KPLC and NCC employees when they made their rounds but sadly, both seem to be shifting blame on one another, while the live wires hang ominously under he tree, like menacing fangs of a predator hunting its prey.

Like Augustine, if a tragedy were to happen as a result of this careless lapse, I truly wonder what the KPLC and the NCC will have to say.

Lifted and published by Korir, API*APN +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525

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