Not that I go into every relationship with my feminist views but I’d always wanted a man who understands that men and women are equal and in marriage and the two can live as equals. I saw how my mom struggled to keep her marriage. My father didn’t understand that keeping the marriage was the responsibility of both of them. My mom had to do all things good to keep the marriage in shape while my dad did very little because he was providing for the house. He slept while mom was cooking for the family. He watched TV while mom was washing and cleaning the house. All menial jobs were for my mother but in the end, he got to eat the best part of the meals cooked in the house.
They were both happy about the situation. Mom didn’t complain and dad saw no reason to help around the house. I never liked the idea and told myself early on that if marriage was about a man sitting around idle while a woman does everything, then I wasn’t going to marry. I needed to belong to a place where there are shared responsibilities and where my opinions will matter.
My first serious relationship was with Adams. He seemed like a guy who had things going for him. He had a good job, had a good living place, and knew what he wanted from life. It was easy between us because he was funny and prioritized happiness in all his dealings. But there was a lot lacking in how he viewed women in particular when it comes to relationships. He was the kind of guy who knew everything a woman should do and little of what a man should do. Every wrong thing a certain woman did, he saw it as a problem with women in general. His favorite phrase was “Women are like that…”
I told him often, “Women are not like that. Yes, a certain woman got something wrong, it doesn’t mean all women are like that.” Mostly it turned into a debate and I could never win any of such debates because nothing I said was good enough. That was a red flag for me. He was just like my father and since I couldn’t be my mother, I slowly backed out. He asked me, “What did I do wrong?” I told him, “You didn’t do anything wrong but I don’t think you and I can go far.” He thought I was crazy and he thought I’d found someone new. He said, “You women are like that. It’s very difficult to understand what you really want. How can you leave someone who hasn’t done anything wrong to you?
“You women are like that…” That’s the problem right there but he didn’t want to see it.
And then there was Kwame who didn’t want to commit anything but wanted everything. We didn’t last half a mile. Sam came along. He could ghost you for many days and appear from nowhere being all lovey-dovey as though nothing was wrong. He was the wrong kind for me so I jumped. I decided to give my heart a break and think through very well what my priorities are when it comes to dating.
It was during that long break that I found Derrick.
He ticked all the boxes and looked like he couldn’t say a thing wrong. Every beginning of a relationship is like that. Guys over impress to get you to fall hopelessly in love with them. It’s only when you both had spent a long time together that true colors begin to show. I wasn’t expecting so much from him. I was only asking him to see me as an equal partner in the relationship. He hardly showed stereotypes so I was comfortable with him. When the lockdown was announced, He called to tell me, “For the next two weeks there would be no work and very little activities so why don’t you move in with me so we quarantine together?”
The next morning, I parked up and went to him.
On the first day, I did the cooking and served the dishes. We both ate, watched movies till it was late in the night before we went to sleep. He woke up around 8am and went to sit at the hall playing video games. I slept till around 10am before I woke up. Immediately I got to the hall he asked me, “What are we eating this morning?” I asked him, “You tell me, what do you want to eat?” He went on and on talking about the food he’ll eat, how soft he wants the food, the type of stew to go with it, and how he wants it served. I told him, “Go to the kitchen and prepare it. If you need help, call me.”
He looked at me funny. He asked, “Are you being serious right now?” I asked him, “Or you can’t cook?” he answered, “No I can’t cook.”
I told him, “Put the gamepad down and follow me, we can do it together so you learn.” He sat there looking at me. I asked him, “Or you’re not hungry?” He asked again, “Are you being serious right now?” I told him, “Yeah I’m serious. We both need to eat so we both have to cook it.” He grudgingly put the gamepad down and followed me to the kitchen. I showed him how to slice tomatoes. I showed him how to grind spices in the earthenware. It didn’t turn out any better but the effort was genuine. We both combined effort, cooked, and put the food on the table.
I told him, “It’s not your fault that you don’t know how to cook but it’s your fault if you don’t learn. There are so many things you can do that I can’t do. I’m ready to learn.” I was proud of what I made him do but most importantly I was happy for myself. I felt I had grown up. Some years ago, I would have just left him right there and then but this time I stayed. We made it a point in the house to do all chores together.
During the second week of the lockdown, there was a TV program we were watching where feminism came up. He said a lot of things against the movement; why the movement was a ploy to hurt men and take their places, how it’s only bitter females who call themselves feminists, and why he would never date a feminist. I told him jovially, “You are already dating one.” He asked, “Are you a feminist? As in, you subscribe to all the things feminists say and do?”
That night, we had a long debate on what feminism is and what it is not. I realized he was ill-informed and most of the things he was saying were coming from a place of ignorance or little knowledge. I took my time and patiently tried to get him to understand but this my man would not let me speak. Me telling him I was a feminist blocked all his sense of reasoning and understanding. He wanted to win the argument by all means so I kept quiet. Then he said, “Oh, I get why you are making me do this and that. It’s all because you are one of them?”
“One of them? I’m your girlfriend and I haven’t exhibited any of the traits you’ve spoken about so what makes you think being one of them is a bad thing?” He responded, “It’s just a matter of time. That’s why I won’t marry a feminist. They are calm. You marry them and they jump over your head.”
That was where the argument ended. He was so incensed I didn’t know the basis of his anger. It was like he had something personal against feminists. I asked him, “You won’t marry a feminist, so you won’t date one too right?” He responded, “You should have told me from the start.”
It was a quiet night after the debate-turned-argument. I didn’t say anything to him again till I went to sleep and he didn’t say anything. The next morning when I woke up, he had gone to the kitchen, cooked something, and was seated at the hall eating. I took my bath, dressed up, pick my bag, and told him I was leaving. He asked why. I told him I needed to be home for something else.
I left for my house.
I didn’t know how to feel about the whole incident. It hurt somehow thinking about the strides I was making with him but I was willing to let go because there are people you don’t hold on to no matter what. In the end, they’ll hurt you easily.
For several days he didn’t call me. The day after the president extended the lockdown, I saw his call on my phone;
“Hello, I was calling to check if you are alright.”
“Yeah, I’m alright. God has been good.”
“Were you able to finish doing what you went back to do?”
“Yeah, I’m done. Days ago.”
“Oh ok, I thought you were going to come back when you were done.”
I was quiet for a while on the phone. I told him, “I wasn’t going to come back.”
He called again three days later telling me he had missed me and want to see me. I told him I’d been exposed to other people and need to self-isolate. The next time I heard from him was when the president lifted the ban. He wanted to come over to see me. I told him I was home so he could come. He didn’t come, neither did he call to tell me why.
We might not get back together again but whoever he becomes from now on, he should thank a feminist for it. It’s because of a feminist that’s why he could go to the kitchen on his own and prepare something he himself could eat. Whoever teaches you how to feed your own self isn’t a bad person.