Young women are more vocal than ever about wanting equality in their relationships. Why? Because feminism. But what does this mean for us young straight men – spawns of patriarchy. Here, I explore how dating and marrying in the time of feminism plays out to help us men get over our patriarchal privilege.
I’m chilling with my boys at the local bar when I lock eyes with the most beautiful girl sitting with her friends. She smiles. I take that as an invitation to approach. I then offer to buy her a drink (because that’s what guys do, right?). “I can buy myself a drink,” she says. Yho!
I respond with a light-hearted joke. Great recovery. She smiles, we engage and proceed to have a great time. At the end of the night I get her number and set up a date.
The first date
I’d offered to pick her up, but she refused because she can get there herself. We meet for dinner; conversation flows and we’re hitting it off.
It’s getting late, and time for the toughest part of the night – the damn bill. As the waiter approaches, I feel heat rising to my neck. My palms are sweaty. Not because I don’t have money, but because I don’t know what to do. Do I pay? Do I ask that we split the bill? I don’t want to look cheap, either. I just don’t know. Because feminism.
Before I collapse from heatstroke, she grabs the bill from the waiter and asks for the card machine. Phew. I smile awkwardly and start rubbing an imaginary pimple on my forehead.
After a year or two, I think I’m ready to ask her to marry me. I arrange for an intimate dinner at a posh restaurant with a few close friends.
After a few laughs and dinner, I take a deep breath, get on one knee and propose. She accepts my proposal and bursts into tears. “Oh my God, you have made me the happiest man on the planet, Mrs Darangwa,” I respond.
The tears on her cheeks vaporise and she responds sharply, “No, uhm, sorry, babe, I wanna keep my surname.”
Her uncle wants me to pay R50 000 for lobola. She says it’s tradition and it’s important as it shows appreciation to her family. I’m upset because throughout our relationship she’s sidestepped some the traditional patriarchal systems that are not in her interests but on this occasion, because tradition conveniently supports her family’s gain, it’s all good?
But I bite my tongue because I’m not winning this argument. Besides, I really love this girl so whatever, I’ll just take out a loan from African Bank.
The big piece of chicken
We’re happily married, splitting bills and sharing house duties. But OMG, I can’t believe I get a damn drumstick every night (a side breast on weekends).
This is unreal. My granddad always got the biggest piece.
I want a divorce!
Okay, this is all a wee bit farfetched. But you get my point. You have to change, man, which means treating women equally and getting rid of the double standards that only favour men. Sadly, for a guy as entrenched in the clutches of patriarchy, I’m probably going to be single for the next 400 years.
Follow Shingai on Twitter