Just me, not a Tomboy!

I have been called a tomboy in the past because of the way I do certain things. To some people, I walk like a boy, dress like a boy, and cut my hair like a boy. While there are people who deliberately choose to be tomboys, it has never crossed my mind to behave like a boy. But then, in our society, once you deviate from the typical definition of femininity, the boxed roles, and expectations, you are seen as a tomboy.

Interestingly, many things I do are just things I want to do. Some of them come to me naturally like the way I walk, for example. I walk fast. It is something I have been doing for as long as I can remember. As a focused and goal-oriented person, I believe in getting to my desired destination as fast as possible. It saves time and seems to shorten the distance too. Some other things I do are just the choices I made. Like my hairstyle, for instance. Low cut suits me perfectly and is far more comfortable than braids for me. I also love that I can pour water on my head every day. I love these choices because they make me me and it has never occurred to me that I have been trying to be like a boy because that’s not my intention at all.

When I hear people comment on my choices, my looks, my pictures and they keep asking if I’m trying to be like a boy, it is tiring and sometimes really annoying. It is like all of my moves are policed. I mean, I take a picture and I get comments like ‘’Your poses are masculine”, “Why are you trying to be like a boy?” I wonder when expressing myself freely and doing me the best I can become trying to be like a boy.

The truth is that some so-called traits can be entwined and can be displayed by either of the two genders but most but most people (men and women alike) suppress these traits when they don’t conform to the societal definition of being a man or being a woman. People are forced to conform to these standards of femininity and masculinity so that the narrative. When women and men who embrace their personality rather than conform to stereotypical definitions of masculinity and femininity are seen as misfits,oddballs, rebels or radicals who need correction.

To hold onto these constructs is to suppress and stifle our individuality, disregard our personality, our strengths, and our weaknesses. Enough of the social conditioning already.

Let’s see through these lies and start living our truths. None of these things should determine who is masculine or feminine enough. We are who we are regardless of our strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, and preferences. Enough with the unnecessary rules and shaming. Let women be. Let people be.

I love my femininity and I embrace it wholeheartedly but I will never subscribe to self-limiting definitions that will sabotage my possibilities of living to my full potential. I will embrace and enhance my femininity as much as it is in my capacity. I prefer to embrace my natural self without fear or shame. I would rather have the complete human experience and be seen as lesser than try to fit in and deny my unique personality, passions, and preferences full expression. I never try to be masculine and I just try to be me and do me. I choose to keep doing me and expressing myself as naturally as I can because no rules were meant to cage me.

Caregiving in the Workplace

Across many cultures, caregiving is considered to be a feminine or motherly role. Women are usually seen as people who are more empathetic and caring. So, they are expected to care for the children, be supportive of their husbands, show support for other members of the family, plan meals, organize the home, be in charge of weddings, birthdays, and other events especially the hospitality aspect and so on.

Sadly, many people have taken this expectation to the workplace. There, the caregiving role is left for the woman too. Because she’s female, she’s generally expected to remember her coworkers’ birthdays, plan company trips, show support to other members of staff, take notes in meetings, and so on.

Many times, this workplace caregiving role is carried out in addition to her job description or work responsibilities. This means that she has to work twice as hard, both at work and in the home. This is one of the reasons why many women in the workplace tend to experience burnout frequently.

Unfortunately, many companies don’t usually appreciate these caregiving roles women are expected to offer. Hence, women are not compensated for the time they put into planning these events. These roles are also not put into consideration when looking to promote dedicated employees. As a result, there are less women in leadership and many women feel unseen, unappreciated, and undervalued at work.

To reduce this inequality, companies should think about how important these caregiving roles are to the success of their business. If taking notes, remembering employee birthdays, company trips, and having great events moves the company forward, then those who plan them should be rewarded. They should be paid for the extra work and these activities should be used as points for consideration in promotion.

Another great way to even things up is to assign caregiving tasks to men and women. Women shouldn’t be left to handle the brunt of the responsibilities alone. This would make more employees appreciate it, reduce burnout for women and give them more time to focus on their primary responsibilities.

50 Random Facts About Me

It is not my birthday, or any special event today. Yeah, if you ask me why I am putting this up then, I probably have no particular reason to share with you— it could be to intimate you if you are looking forward to being my friend. Asides that genuine reason, perhaps, a few readings here and there (and a bit of idleness) may have spurred me into putting these together.

So, here goes some personal pieces of information about me. Yay!

1. My name is Roseline Adebimpe Adewuyi.

2. I was born in Jos, the capital city of Plateau State, Nigeria and I have a twin brother.

3. Very few people call me Kehinde; some family members and those who know me from childhood. My parents call me Rose. My twin brother calls me Kehinde. When he calls me that name, it forces me to awaken the twin flame in me. He rarely calls me “Rose” The few times he called me Rose, I know he is up for a serious discussion and mischief.

4. Football is the highlight of my teenage years. I didn’t have female friends in my neighbourhood. So, I was friends with males. How can I ever forget being part of the female football team of my department during my undergraduate days at OAU. We did play some inter-departmental games. I miss kicking that round-leather ball around.

5. As much as it seems that I am an open book on social media, I am still very private and secretive. I only share what I deem fit to share. I can count the number of times I have had some issues with my friends who do not like my supposed covert and secretive lifestyle.

6. I prefer selfies to full pictures. Selfies are my all-time favourites. I have never seen the need to shift attention to my full body. I always believe that showing my face alone is enough, and, for me, that is the epicentre of all attention.

7. Over 90 percent of people I have met in my life especially Nigerians always think I am Igbo or Edo at first instance.

8. I love watching YouTube— I spend most of my time obsessed with Nigerian vloggers because I find their content hit closer to home than foreign-generated. As a vlogger, if you use a Nigerian accent, I flow with them better than with a vlogger with a British or American accent.

9. I consider my eyes the most beautiful part of my body. No other part comes close.

10. I have had experienced the pleasures and challenges that come with attending three Nigerian universities: I had my undergraduate studies at Obafemi Awolowo University, the University of Ibadan for my Masters, and the University of Ilorin for the one-year mandatory NYSC.

11. My favorite subjects in secondary school were Literature-in-English and French. Now, I am into French literature.

12. One of my stand-out strengths is inquisitiveness. I can ask questions for Africa. My close friends know this about me, and I do not tire to disturb most of them whenever I get the chance. They have indeed tried to accommodate my excesses.

13. I love dancing a lot. Most times, I go to the bathroom and I dance in front of the mirror for over an hour. This has been my habit for some years now especially at night and when I am with my family, I dance in the sitting room after dinner. If I am a good dancer, I am not sure, I just move my body in sync to the beats and sounds, and I let the waves do the rest.

14. I am not big on gadgets. I can use gadgets for years. If they do not spoil, I always want to use them for a long time because I grow fond of them.

15. I abhor drugs, abeg. I always have. I always will, in God’s Holy Name. But, you see injections, I never mind them, the number of times I get those subcutaneous prickles no matter. I am like an expert on the art of needles. When injected in the hand, I do not look away, I open my eyes wide as the needle goes under my skin.


16. I do not like haggling prices for any reason. That is why I love countries or places where you make your purchases with fixed prices. Systems with fixed prices save one stress and time. Haggling prices is wearisome.

17. I am not into Hollywood movies. I am sure I can count the number of Hollywood movies I have seen in my life but with Bollywood movies, I have seen a lot of that. I love Nigerian movies a lot, too. I know more than 70 Bollywood Actors and actresses by name.

18. I am good with dates but not good with locations and names. I know the birth dates of my friends by heart, but when I visit a place only once, it is quite difficult for me to navigate my way. I have attended a number of conferences too, but I do not really know people by name. My introverted nature may just be blamed for this imbalance, too.

19. I am claustrophobic. So, I always love sitting in the front seat while aboard public transport. You will never find me anywhere else. I always take the first or second front seat. I never mind having to wait for another bus at the park. I love exploring new places. It is however ironic that I dislike having to experience any stress that comes with moving from my current location to the other place. It is interesting to add that I eventually enjoy the experience that comes with the journey.

20. I have never cheated in an exam. This is one of the principles I uphold strongly. I would rather I failed.

21. Nollywood and Bollywood were the bases of my entertainment. Many people may choose animated movies and cartoons over my choices, though. I was not introduced to that world as a teenager.

22. I always sleep with a blanket or duvet, whether the weather is temperate, hot, or cold.

23. When stressed out, sleeping is my go-to coping mechanism. It is more like forget your worries for me.

24. If you want to make me happy, please, just order me food and make it pounded yam, amala, pounded yam, and the like. If I do not eat swallow in two to three days. I feel very empty. It can be a struggle for me when I travel to a place where ‘swallow’ is difficult to find.

25. I am a Yoruba lady but I do not like spicy or peppery food.


26. I feel like I am Nigerianised or Africanised. I prefer Nigerian songs to foreign songs and movies too.

27. I am a feminist and a devout Christian.

28. I have never read any of Chimamanda’s books before.

29.Facebook is my most used Social Media platform.

30. My dream country is India. I believe that I have watched a lot of Bollywood movies not to visit that country in my lifetime. The day I achieve that I will shout to the rooftop that I achieved one of my biggest fantasies.

31. I believe that I have never achieved anything in life because I have not aced something uncommon like a feat. Yet, we keep moving. People view achievements differently. I do not see it that way because my definition of achievement is like a feat. What only VERY FEW PEOPLE have ACHIEVED is what I consider an achievement. Like maybe 10 percent of the world and this makes me think that I might never get to say what I have achieved in my lifetime, but in all, I am grateful for the gift of life.

32. I am reserved. Most of the places that I have been to in my life, I have been the most reserved. I have gotten an award for the most reserved like three times in the past.

33. For someone who does not like cooking, I have always found myself been the most consistent cook in a lot of spaces I have found myself. I am a gourmand, and I do not like eating out because I believe it is not economical. In all, I pray that I have the mullah to employ a chef soon!

34. I spend mainly on consumables. I rarely buy clothes, shoes, and bags. Sometimes, I laugh at myself like se kii se wipe, mowa aye wa jeun (hope I didn’t come to this world to eat). I saw a tweet recently that some people are food bougie, I know I am one.

35. I can’t wear heels to save my life. Sneakers to heels please. I am looking forward to a day I will have a collection of sneakers.

36. I have never owned a handbag in my lifetime. I go out with school bags, small long bags and, a drawstring bag.

37. I value friendship a lot. And, I have more male friends than female friends. I have never fallen out with any of my female friends. It has always been a perfect relationship. Conversely, with my male friends, plenty of fights and, I wonder why.

38. My fantasy is to be included in a groom squad someday. I hope my male friends will make it happen. I also want to be a chief bridesmaid someday.

39. I love the idea of family. Family means a lot to me.

40. I love dark decoration. I love my room dark.

41. I prefer chats to calls. Ironically, though, I can listen to long voice notes. Yes. I send them as well.

42. My type of style of dressing I would like to adopt is the androgynous style of dressing. You do know what I mean. Yes? Look it up. Winks!

43. I am prudent with money to a fault.

44. I love being indoors. As long as there is electricity and internet, I can be indoors for weeks, without stepping out of my house.

45. I have never been a morning person, I am not always active during that period. Evenings are my really active periods. Call me a nighthawk.

47. I am a music freak. I am always on the go, bopping to music while walking, working, doing chores and, other things.

48. When I upload pictures of myself, I get more of CUTE as a compliment than BEAUTIFUL or PRETTY. Some have attributed the compliment to my innocent demeanour.

49. I am not picky when it comes to food. As long as it is food, I am open to trying new things.

50. I see myself as a highly valued and principled person.

There you have it. What is that random fact about you that you have never shared with a soul before, or do you know something about me that I have not shared? Open your mouth now, or forever hold your peace!😂

P.S: Do not mind my rumpled clothes, there is a long story about it. Kindly ignore!😂

Amazons 1 – Precious Gaza

The month of March is Women’s history month – a month dedicated to celebrating women who have contributed or are currently contributing their quota to gender equality, the betterment of humanity and to the society. Today, I would like to shine my spotlight on Precious Gaza, an International relations graduate, an emotional intelligence coach and, a girl child education advocate. In this piece she bares it all giving us an insight into how advocacy has been for her as a Nigerian woman. She talks about how she started advocacy, and the challenges so far. She also tells us what inspired her to become an emotional intelligence coach and how life has been for her as a sickle cell warrior.

Hear from her directly:

Can we meet you, please?

My name is Precious Gaza. I am from FCT, Abuja (yes, my state of origin is Abuja! Lol). My tribe is Gbagyi.

Tell us about your educational background?

I have a BSC in International Relations and Diplomacy from Baze University, Abuja. My Post-Grad Diploma from Liverpool John Moores University is in view.

Why did you relocate to Nigeria?

Lol I relocated because my visa expired ni . Just kidding, I relocated because I have work to do in Nigeria.

How do you cope with sickle cell?

My journey with sickle cell has been one filled with depression, therapy sessions, hopelessness and now, my heart and mind are in a very good place. Thank God! So, because I have this condition, I am not waiting to reach a certain level before I do all I want to do! My life is a very fulfilling one and it drives me to keep on fighting. It isn’t easy, I take breaks and cry if I need to.

What inspired what you do as an emotional intelligence coach?

I saw the role emotional intelligence plays in my life and how it has helped me and how it is helping me in my journey to success and I am like “why aren’t people aware of this?”. So, I start putting out content, then more people start coming to me for advice and I am like “You know what, let me go into this!)

Tell us about what you do online building a community?

I would say vulnerability and consistency. The other part might be luck or the fact that people just like my face lol.

Tell us about your advocacy journey?

I have been involved in education advocacy and policy for nearly three years as an advocate for children and a voice for parents in marginalised communities in Northern Nigeria. I am really passionate about reforms in education such as providing access to practicable knowledge and skills that are not typically included in a school’s curriculum. I also want to help underserved children gain access to quality education. My interest in advocacy began with helping internally displaced children with their special educational needs at IDP camps and rural communities in Northern Nigeria. So far, my team and I have supported girls from displaced families with school supplies for the year. (January, 2018). Through Train a Girl (TAG) Initiative, we partnered with another organisation – Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative (MANI) to host a forum on the “impact of sexual abuse on mental health.” (May, 2018). We also partnered with Parents Summit Africa to teach responsible parenting to young mothers in Nigeria (February 15, 2020)

If you would do something differently, what would that be?

Nothing. Everything I have gone through or done has shaped me into the person I am today.

Who inspires you and why?

Everything around me inspires me. My environment, people, challenges, etc. I even inspire myself. So, I cannot mention one thing or person.

What motivates your posts on twitter and how do you handle trolls on social media?

Conversations or things I am mad about inspire my tweets lol. The nature of my job has given me the privilege to speak to a lot of people. LOL trolls? I do not engage with them. I understand that trolls project their insecurity or hurt on other people so what I feel is a pity and I do not take it to heart.

What pieces of advice do you have for young girls out there?

You are enough. Do not beg for love.

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

I particularly do not fancy this question because plans do not always work out exactly the way we pictured it. Exactly a year ago, I was not an emotional intelligence coach. But I knew I was always going to work with people, be speaking at places and consulting. However, it is good to have goals… with an open mind tho.. I see myself happily married and being an authority in my field and impacting more lives than I am now.

 

I am sure that this has been an insightful and inspirational moment with Precious Gaza. If you would like to know more about her or support what she does, you can check out her social media handles.

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/preshgaza
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/preshgaza/?hl=en
Twitter – https://twitter.com/preshgaza
Linkedin – https://www.linkedin.com/in/gaza-precious-238616127/
Website – https://preshgaza.disha.page/

I would be dedicating this space from time to time to women who are making a difference out there. The feature will be called Amazons. Feel free to reach out to us if there’s any woman you know who you would like us to interview and talk about how she is making a difference in Nigeria. Thank you.

 

Do not dim your light and sparkle!

Lillian had worked really hard this past year. Everyone knew this. She was the only one that got a fat bonus check at the end of year ceremony and it was well deserved too. She also won the employee of the year award for her kindness, thoughtful, resourceful nature, expertise and willingness to learn new things. Everyone knew that she was gunning for the big leagues. Ever since she joined the company, she’d always hoped she’ll be VP and sit on the board of directors. 

From the first day she became an employee, she had put in her best. She was always punctual. Never missed a deadline or a pitch meeting. Every presentation she led was always on point, accepted by the board and impressive to the clients. She single-handedly brought in the firm’s three biggest clients – each signing million-dollar deals monthly! Lillian was that good!

Every new employee looked up to her. She was the only employee in the history of our firm that had been promoted and compensated more than 7 times within her 5 years of service to the company. Nobody had ever matched or beaten her track record when it came to drive, focus, determination and winning. Lillian was definitely destined for the big leagues! 

When she finally got to Principal officer last two years, the final position before VP, there were no new openings in the company for VP so she had to settle for bonuses and commission from time to time. But we all knew what Lillian wanted. Her dream from day one was to get her seat at the table. If she did, she would be the youngest member of the board and the first female VP! 

Luckily for her, early this year, Mr Ross, the only foreign VP resigned. Work stress was beginning to take a toll on him. Coupled with the harsh weather conditions, he wasn’t doing very well in this part of the world. His loss was going to be Lillian’s gain as everyone expected. Everyone was rooting for her including the HR. We all asked her to pick the application form and put her documents together. We were all very sure she would make a perfect replacement for Mr Ross. 

But Lillian didn’t apply. I asked her why until I got tired of asking. I could see she was having second thoughts. She would say she’s thinking about it today and say something else tomorrow. At some point, it started to irritate me because everyone knew she wanted this. The HR called her to his office and advised her to apply probably as a way to show her that the spot was hers for the taking. Still, she didn’t. One day, she confided in me. She said she felt it was too much. 

How could a single woman earn about 4 million naira monthly and drive a new Lexus jeep? She didn’t want to scare potential husbands. She wished she was a man so she would take the position. In that moment, I felt like slapping the foolish mentality out of her senses. This was the dream job of a lifetime and everyone was practically begging her to take it. I wish with all my heart that we could trade places. My salary was not even up to a tenth of what she was refusing! 

But then, I guess her story is not alien to many Nigerian women who have felt the need to shrink themselves so that they don’t threaten men or scare potential suitors. I don’t think this is a very good mindset. The world is ours for the taking and I believe that as women, we should reach out and take what we deserve. Anyone who stands in the way of our success or doesn’t want to see us succeed isn’t a person we should be seen with. Let’s root for each other and be with people who root for us too. You don’t have to dim your light for the men in your lives to shine. No to men who can not handle your success. Do not limit your potentials.

Didn’t she deserve better

Violet blinked back the tears welling in her eyes. Her vision blurred as pain pulsated through her frail body. She felt the world spin. Her head was throbbing a little more than usual today, she observed. Her threshold had gotten better with time but this pain was more than she could bear. She touched her forehead and felt a huge bruise – larger than the ones he used to give her. This was definitely going to scar. He must have bumped her really hard against the wall this time. 

From the corridor, heavy footfalls stamping their authoritative presence marched towards her room. As they came closer, she shrank back in fear because they belonged to the one who had imprinted her many times. The door handle turned slowly and it creaked open. The handsome face she had fallen in love with walked in with his perfectly built body. He looked at her pitifully. 

“Oh baby,” he said, coming closer to her, “Did I hurt you? I’m sorry. You know I hate it when you provoke me. Come on. Get dressed. We are eating out and we’re going shopping.” 

He pulled her up into a hug. She stood up and slid her little arms around his waist. 

“I love you very much,” he said, sniffing her long black hair. 

She knew she was supposed to say it back to him. It was their way but today, she couldn’t. The words stuck in her throat so she just nodded, hoping that he would not ask her to answer. 

“You should say it back,” he said gently, tipping her chin. 

His gaze met hers and she could feel a glint of warning in them. 

Forcing a smile, she replied, “I…. Love… You…. Too…,” choking on the words. 

“Good,” he said, releasing her and tracing the welts on her face. 

****

Sitting on the floor of her room later that night, the words her mum had spoken to her over the phone on the first night Sean had raised his hands on her echoed in her thoughts. 

“In marriage, my daughter, you have to endure. You need lots of patience and lots of tolerance otherwise you will lose your home. You know that you are the woman. It’s your job to bring peace and keep the home whatever it takes. Just be calm. It will be alright.”

“But it hurts mum,” she had said, “He just lashed out at me. It felt like he was a different person.”

She traced the bruises and scars all over her body and wondered if there was a purpose to all of this hurt. What did she do that was so wrong? Didn’t she deserve better?

 

ARE FEMALE BOSSES REALLY WICKED?

When you are a woman trying to rise through the ranks and live your dreams in the workplace, it can be very challenging especially when you get to become the boss of some people or someone who has to supervise people. This happens more when you are working in a male-dominated work field. People judge you based on your gender not based on your competencies. It is like they’re expecting you to perform below expectations just because you’re female.

This sometimes affects the way the ones you are supervising or are in charge of see you and relate to you. This is particularly true if your junior colleagues or subordinates are males because many of them do not believe that they should be led or supervised by a female. They would sometimes communicate these beliefs by disregarding or disobeying clear direct instructions just because it is coming from you. They might also talk down on your suggestions and act like you shouldn’t be in that position you are now. Many times, they would be offended when you correct them or they would harbor resentment when you are stern because of that egoistic mindset a lot of them have been raised with. This is usually the case when a man is married and feels like he has “your type” at home. So If you’re a person who asserts doesn’t tolerate any form of laxity or incompetence, it could make some people see you as wicked or overbearing just because you’re female but they wouldn’t mind at all if you’re male.

If you are bold, outspoken and authoritative as a woman in the workspace, people tend to see you as wicked but they don’t judge male counterparts too harshly. Someone said, “When women raise their voices, they’re seen as aggressive but when men raise their voices, they are seen as assertive.” It is like people don’t expect you as a woman to ever put your foot down or frown at anything anyone does. They also do not expect you to appraise the people working under you from time to time as a boss should. They do not expect you to challenge any inappropriate behavior people (especially men) working with you mete out because you are female. Apart from their ego, some of the men for some inexplicable reason feel like it is a privilege, not a right or something well deserved, for you to be in that position you are currently in now. They feel like you somehow smiled your way to the top. These attitudes that show up in their action can be very frustrating and challenging to deal with on a regular basis.

Going to work often and facing these challenges regularly can be exhausting. It could also start getting on your nerves and infuriating you. This could make you tempted to challenge everyone who acts like they are trying to undermine you. It could also make you lose your cool and lash out in anger but never do that. Think of the young women who you are paving the way for and be an example to them. Be calm and tackle things with tact and grace. Always ask yourself if this confrontation would be worth it. Don’t just fly off a handle, act in a rash so that younger women coming into the workplace would see these things, and emulate them. What you give out would be what may be used to judge other women after you so let it be something good.

If you are among the female bosses who are stern or wicked maybe because you got tired of being walked all over or being disobeyed or taken for granted, you should stop doing that. Think of the effects of what you are doing on people around you. You will not earn their respect by being mean or strict unnecessarily. You would only succeed in making enemies and giving people more reasons to resent female bosses. This is definitely not a good example for the younger generation or the kind of reputation a person should uphold. Let go of all the hurts you have held in, hold your head high and do your work calming. It is work, not a battlefield.

My candid advice to every woman who is a boss or in levels or positions of authority (or aspiring to become one) would be to never listen to the voice of their attitudes. People would always have an opinion about you. They would always have reasons to undermine you or think you are incompetent. Ignore them. Know your worth and remind yourself how hard you have worked to get to where you are. Always remind yourself that you were not gifted that title, level or position. Know and remember that whether anyone agrees or not, you deserve that job. You deserve that position. It was not donated to you as part of a charity. You earned it so do not let anyone gender-shame you into thinking otherwise so that you do not start feeling insecure or incompetent.

Then, choose your battles wisely. Decide what actions to ignore and what to address. Always lookout for the outcome, that is, what you hope to achieve after every challenge or confrontation. Never let yourself react rashly or thoughtlessly in anger or out of raging emotions. Know when to put your foot down kindly but firmly. Know when to insist on your or on the right way. Also, know when to ignore the haters and just do the work. Show them how it is done!

Never fall into the trap of trying so hard to prove to those who have misjudged you that you are good enough or that you deserve the spot you are currently occupying because no matter how hard you try, there are people who would never believe in you. You will not ever win their approval. If they eventually do, their prejudice may not let them admit it to themselves or to you.

Finally, surround yourself with a healthy support group. Find and connect with women in similar or different fields of endeavors who are facing the same challenges as you and connect with them. Find out how they are coping and share with them too. It helps to know that you are not alone. It would also help you gain more tips on how to deal with things like this. As part of your support group, have a handful or more of male counterparts or colleagues in the office who see humanity and competencies before they see gender. These would be your allies and would always stand by you and urge you on to achieving greater things in the workplace.

”FOOT YOUR BILL MY FOOT”

Growing up in Nigeria, I have heard many men I know often complain about how society is hard on them as regards being responsible and having enough money to cater for themselves and others also. They also complain about how many women feel entitled to their wealth and money even when they barely know them. For instance, a guy asks for a girl’s number and the girl already sees him as potential lunches, dinners, credit alerts and airtime even when she’s clearly seeing someone. Sometimes, even just casual friends expect their male friends to buy gifts, help them pay for stuff and so on as though they’re entitled to it. 

I strongly believe that if you didn’t give someone money to keep for you, you should not be entitled to it. Whenever I see the men I know or hear about men (even people as young as I am) going through this, I feel so empathetic. Life is hard enough as it is and so many people are saddled with enough responsibilities that may be overwhelming them and so I don’t think it’s fair for people to take advantage of those who are not supposed to be responsible for them. This strong concern and empathy I feel for men made me decide to help out in my own little way by doing things differently and consciously deciding to not be part of the problem. 

Whenever I am on casual outings or unplanned informal hangouts with a colleague or someone who is just a friend, I like to foot my own bill or go Dutch as some would say so that he doesn’t have to worry about mine as well. I do this from a good will and because I know that men my age are already worrying about adding to the family income, supporting the younger ones and even sometimes fending for a fiancee or girlfriend and so I don’t want to add to their burdens. But instead of seeing the empathetic reasons for my actions, I am often criticized or seen in the wrong. People say I am being too independent or too feminist. Some even say I am proud. The funny thing is that such words don’t even cross my mind when I do that. Those periods, I simply act out empathy. Examples could be outings with a male colleague who I know is struggling through school and I am more buoyant than and I feel why put unnecessary burden on him so I foot my bill. I simply put myself in the shoes of these ones, share their feelings and get to be sensitive. These thoughts simply trigger these empathetica actions of mine but always come out bad.

Sometimes even with people who have told me they are recently out of jobs or not earning enough currently but they wanted us to just stroll by some place and grab lunch, when I pay for mine, they get offended. They think I am trying to prove that I can pay for my lunch or something like that but the truth is that I know that sometimes they want to do these things not because it is convenient but because it is what society expects of them. So, I feel I should show them that they don’t have to – when it is inconvenient. If you want to give me a treat, that is okay too but don’t do things for me as a casual friend because as a man you feel responsible for me. That’s all I am just thinking and it is coming from a good place to help reduce the pressure. 

But many men don’t see it. One even told me that it was disrespectful to pay for the food or my groceries (if I was out shopping with a guy) when a man was with me. I was quite taken aback. How can paying for my own food or stuff (because the person I am with is not my father) be disrespectful? Now, I am really in a fix here. I thought everyone keeps complaining about girls and women feeling entitled and not caring if the men had enough money to get by. But here am I caring and contributing my quota and it is disrespectful? 

One of the most important reasons that inspire me strongly to do this is the fact that I have a twin brother (who is the same age as me, of course) and I know that the pressure mounted on him is so much – compared to the one I’m currently facing or the ones I will ever face. When I happen to go shopping with a guy, I think about my twin brother and I wonder: Wouldn’t it be nice for a woman to think about my brother’s welfare for a change instead of thinking of how best to milk him dry? Then, I decide to pay for my stuff so that I would be one of those few people who don’t want to make life harder for the men of our society.

WHAT SKILLS ARE WORTH MONETIZING?

Recently, I realized that some people who have been participants of some programs charging people as much as ₦25,000 or sometimes more when they ask them to help edit their application letters. I wonder why. The funniest thing is that their editing those applications doesn’t guarantee the person interested a spot in the program, conference or event. Once, I tried to talk to someone who I suspected was involved in this and the person said it was a need being met so it needed to be paid for.

When the person said that, it reminded me of the time when I wanted to make enquiries about a Postgraduate Program. I knew a woman who had just recently finished from one of the schools I had in mind and so I sent a message to help put me through because I was interested in getting my degree in the same school as she. When she responded, she said I was going to pay ₦25,000 before she could answer any questions I wanted her to. My eyes widened in shock. What for? I wondered. She said it was her consultation fees. I left disappointed because ordinarily if I were in her shoes, I would gladly help.

These experiences sound ridiculous to me and they make me wonder: At what point would you say it is okay or ethical to monetize a skill? What kind of skills should be monetized? I understand people who go to the University just like I did, graduate and want to make money from what they learned or yet took time to learn a skill. Even when they don’t have regular or salaried jobs, they use some aspects of their training to earn money for themselves. For example: I could take up a translation gig since I studied French. A nutritionist could create food plans for people.

I don’t understand people who got lucky with something or a process charging people like they are an authority on that field. I also don’t think it is fair to charge someone ridiculously for something you could do freely especially because it is really nothing. Maybe it is just me being humane or being me but I feel very uncomfortable with it. Please what do you think about this? At what point is it ethical or okay to monetize your skills? What kind of skills or information or knowledge should we monetize or sell and how much is fair? Is it okay to monetize skills you acquired for free or trade information you just stumbled upon by chance? What type of consultancy services should we say it’s okay to monetize? How much of an expert do you have to be before you ask people to pay for certain information you have? Kindly share your thoughts in the comments section let’s talk about it. What are skills worthy enough to be monetized.

Lillian, a 25 year old young lady just graduated from the University. While waiting for her school to upload their results online so that she can apply for NYSC, she decided to explore her options. Not knowing where to start or how to go about it, she decided to contact Rhoda – a facebook friend who has talked about getting and being a part of such or similar opportunities. She chatted her up on facebook messenger. The following conversation ensued:

Lillian: Hi, my name is Lillian Joseph. I came across your last post on your blog about a training opportunity you were fortunate to be a part of. Please can you tell me more about it and how you were able to gain access to it?

Rhoda: Hello Lillian, Sure. I will send you some links. Go through them. You will find all the information you need to apply for the opportunity. The slot is available now so try and apply as soon as possible so that you’ll stand a chance to be accepted. If you have any more questions or need any help or assistance, please let me know.

Lillian: Thank you very much. You are most kind.

Rhoda sent the link as promised and Lillian went through them and found out that she was qualified. What she needed to do was to write an application letter and attach a short essay that was less than 500 hundred words stating why she felt she deserved a spot in the program. After carefully reading through, understanding and then, following their guidelines, Lillian was able to finally draft her letter and type her essay of about 495 words. Then, she messaged Rhoda.

Lillian: Good afternoon Rhoda. How are you doing today? Thank you very much for those links you sent me. The websites were very helpful. I have written my letter and my essay. Could you send me your email so I can send it to you to help me go through and make corrections?

Rhoda: Hi Lillian, I am fine – thanks for asking. I am glad you’ve gotten this far in this short while, I’m impressed. Now, if you would like me to edit your application letter and essay, that would be ₦25,000 each.

Lillian: ₦50k?????????????????? Just to edit my letter and essay?

Rhoda: Yes. I am sure you are a smart lady. You know how many years people apply for these opportunities and they don’t get it but like I stated in my blog, I only applied once and was shortlisted and I finally took part in the program. Now, I have been able to secure big opportunities and jobs because of that single training I was a part of. Think of what it will do to your CV especially if you are planning to work for international organizations.

Lillian: Yes, I know it really helps. I have read testimonials of people from all over Africa who participated in the program and were able to secure enviable international job opportunities. But please I just graduated. I do not have any money. I have not even gone for youth service please help me. ₦50k is too much for me. I beg you.

Rhoda: I am sorry you don’t have much money. Okay, since it is my birth month, I’ll do it for ₦30k. This is my birthday plus ex-student discount. I have never done this type of favor for anyone before. But honestly, this stuff is actually supposed to cost 100k because of what you stand to gain. You will definitely start up on a six-figure salary when you are done.

Lillian: Oh.. Thank you very much. I get… But please, do you have any inside connect that will guarantee that I’ll be given a spot in the program after you edit the stuff for me?

Rhoda: (LOL) Wait, do you think this stuff is Nigerian? They are Africans but they are not into nepotism or bribery and corruption o. No lobbying is allowed. No “helping”. I am just trying to help improve your chances of getting in by giving you the secrets that helped me, that is all.

Lillian: Hmmmmmm…..  Sis, fear God na.. You are ripping me off without even assurance of a spot. This stuff is not hard. Just to look through and tell me if it is OK or not and tell me what to change. I know if I were in your shoes, I will help someone else o.

Rhoda: You are sounding like this because you do not value what you are about to do. The girl that I wanted to ask about PhD from asked me to pay ₦25k consultation fees. I did not pay because I am not yet serious about doing the program. When I get serious, I will pay.

Lillian: Hmm… My mother has a PhD, she will guide you, and anyone free … It is well.

******

WHEN THE NORMAL BECOMES ABNORMAL ALL IN THE NAME OF PATRIARCHY

One fine Tuesday morning in January, Dennis walked into his class for early morning lectures. Since he was late, he took one of the vacant seats in the last row, just beside a girl in his class. As the lectures commenced, he scribbled fast and paid rapt attention hanging on to every word the lecturers spoke. After classes, his stomach growled and rumbled so loudly that he picked up his bag, sprang up from his seat and started towards the door a little faster than he should have.

 

Suddenly, all the students started towards the door as well. It was as though someone had rung a bell because they all seemed to have the same ideas he had. They swarmed towards the door like bees buzzing and brushing against each other. When Dennis heard the commotion and felt people pushing, he turned to see the crowd coming towards the door. That made him scurry faster because he didn’t want anyone else shoving him. When he had walked as far away from the class as possible, he turned back slightly to look at how far away from the crowd he was.

 

Still walking with his back turned, he bumped into Violet – the girl he had sat by in class.

 

“Aaaaaaaaaaaargh!” she screamed, pushing him off and dusting her clothes.

 

“Oh my God! I’m so sorry dear,” he replied, turning to her.

 

Some of their classmates gathered and were watching the scene she was creating.

 

“Are you blind?” she hollered, pretending he didn’t just acknowledge his wrong.

 

” Honestly I didn’t see you. I turned back to…  I wasn’t looking…, ” he answered, nervously.

 

“Mind where you are going before you wound somebody,” she cut in angrily.

 

“Sorry I bumped into you…,.” he said.

 

She made to leave and then turned back and added, “Next time, don’t be looking back like that. You’re not Lot’s wife!” Then, she just hissed and walked off, ignoring his series of apologies.

 

“I’m really sorry Vi,” he called after her, apologizing again.

 

By now, everyone who attended the lecture was outside and had witnessed the little drama Violet and Dennis just had. They all had mixed feelings. Most of them expected Dennis to be provoked and offended at her reaction and rudeness but he was just calm and apologetic about the whole thing. When they couldn’t bear it any longer, some boys came and nudged him.

 

“Why did you apologize to her?” one said, “She didn’t deserve that apology.”

 

Another said, “I really hate that girl. She’s so manner-less and proud. I would have hit her or just walked away! A man should never apologize to a girl anyway!”

 

The third one said, “Boy you tried o. Even after your apology, she still scolded you and walked off without acknowledging it.”

 

Dennis shook his head and said, “There’s nothing wrong with apologizing when you’re wrong. I hit her and I’m sorry. It’s not my fault she overreacted. My own is to say sorry whether she accepts it or not. That is the only way to show I really didn’t mean any harm.”

 

One of the girls in the crowd said, “She’s supposed to be grateful you apologized. I have always known that men don’t apologize and so when they offend me, I just let it go.”

 

Another girl said, “Exactly! But, really Dennis, you should never let a girl talk to you like that! How would other girls know you’re a real man if you let stuff like this happen?”

 

Dennis cleared his throat and answered, “It is only people who let ego come in the way of common sense that would feel too proud to apologize when they’re wrong. It doesn’t matter the age or gender of the person you offended. Saying I’m sorry doesn’t make you any less human or any less a man. Oh and if any girl here thinks it’s okay to disrespect me because one person did, you’re not people I want to be friends with. Good day class.”

 

With this closing statement, he walked towards the cafeteria to grab a quick lunch.

 

****

 

Why do many people see well-behaved and courteous men as anomalies? Why do people think it’s awkward for a man to apologize to a woman? Why do people think that women need to earn courtesy from men? Why are well-behaved men criticized or bashed rather than praised. We even see young boys who learn from their fathers subtly and feel women are not to be regarded. Good manners and courtesy are not gender specific. As we teach girls to behave well, let’s teach boys too. As the boys learn and practice what they’ve learned, let’s appreciate or encourage them rather than put them down or make them feel less for behaving like a good human being should.