Monday, September 28, 2020

Martians afraid of strong Venuses

It is said that quiet men are attracted to talkative women. Such women are perceived to be social, hence they attract visitors to a home.
But it is increasingly emerging that the word “talkative” has many definitions, and borders even on the loud and abrasive.

Soon after he left prison, former South African president Nelson Mandela divorced his second wife, Winnie.

Winnie, a woman with a strong character was known to be ruthless in quelling those who failed to join anti-apartheid cause. But during her husband’s incarceration on Robben Island, Winnie was also a vigilant crusader of the oppressed black South Africans, a role she played superbly, including flashing the ANC clenched fist symbol.

But Mandela divorced her citing, among other things, loneliness and unfaithfulness. He ended up marrying Mozambican former first Lady, Graca Machel, a gentle, laid-back, sweet, non-controversial woman, who evidently makes him happy. Graca is nowhere near Winnie in physical beauty but evidently, Mandela never took that into consideration when he slapped his Winnie with divorce papers.

Looking at the British royal family, the late princess Diana was not only a stunning beauty, making her a darling of the media, but was also strong-willed and assertive. When things between her and Prince Charles deteriorated, Diana publicly admitted having an affair, which was attributed to neglect by her husband.

Prince Charles was also in an affair with his teenage sweet-heart, Camilla Parker Bowles, a colourless soft-spoken woman, who could not compare to Diana’s incredible beauty and charm.

Two years ago, Charles wed Camilla, eight years after Diana and her lover, Dodi Fayed, perished in a car crash in Paris.

These are just a few of the examples of men who have dumped beautiful, assertive women, opting instead for less attractive but quiet and soft spoken, almost shy women. Does it, therefore, hold true that quiet women generally find husbands more easily than outspoken, almost abrasive women?

David Ogake seems to concur. “To me, an attractive woman is one who exudes quiet femininity but can correct me with gentle firmness when I go wrong. Loud, aggressive women are a no-no for me,” he says.

Ogake says laid-back quiet women find quick approval among their in-laws than those who are not.

Pastor Aggrey Sambo of Divinity Church says the beauty of an African woman is in her manners.
“A loud woman is perceived to be a noisy nag, who would never give her husband peace in the home. She is also considered rude and ill-mannered,” says Pastor Sambo.

Mpho, 24, abhors women who interject loudly during conversations and laugh in a “non-feminine voice”.

“If I married such a woman, it would be difficult to tell who is the man in the house,” says Mpho.
Pinky Molwedi, 56, says modernity might have come to Africa but the society believes that women are to be seen not to be heard.

“My husband cannot stomach it if I raised a voice during an argument. He misconstrues this as lack of respect, and I have to always ensure my voice is lower than his,” says Molwedi.
But what about women whose natural disposition is to be loud and boisterous?

“I cannot pretend to be who I am not,” says Jeannette Kgamogelo, 30. “How would I articulate my feelings and thoughts if I have to speak in a near whisper to please a man? He would have to take me the way I am; if not, too bad for him.”
Esther Chaunga, 23, aspires to become a Human Rights activist.

“Does it mean that I should not speak at public gatherings and campaign aggressively just because of a husband? We are leaving in modern times where women are encouraged to tap into their highest potential. Should I kill my ambition to create an impression of stereotyped femininity?”

Gifty Kgomotso, 40, believes it is all about the age old power and control wars between males and females.

“Men always want to be in control, so they feel uncomfortable in the presence of strong women. They do not want the woman to have higher credentials or more money. It even goes to mannerism, where they want you to act in that meek, gentle, docile manner, which has no place in today’s competitive society,” says Gift.
When asked if her strong assertive manner is responsible for her single status, Gifty’s answer is swift and emphatic:

“No way! I am beautiful, sophisticated and strike smart business deals. I can get any man I want.”
Gift yields that she has driven away several good men due to her strong headedness.

“Admittedly, I do like my space, and if I feel a man is stifling it, I tell him as much. I go out when I want and can only agree to stay home and cook for a boyfriend when I am able to,” she says.
Odireleng Bogatsu believes men feel threatened by strong women, which is why they are afraid to marry them.

“Men want a woman they can control with ease, so if you are not ready for this, you might as well forget ever getting married,” says the 43-year-old nurse.

Odireleng, who is earnestly looking for a husband, says she is willing to change her ways to endear an eligible man to her.

“I am willing to change my usually loud tone to a soft one and smile more often and argue less, because I seriously want to settle down. I have been around long enough to realize that with a man, one has to come down. Otherwise prepare to spend your sunset years as an old maid,” she cautions.
Obakeng Modise says he does not mind an assertive woman, as long as she recognises that he is the head of the home and accords him the respect due to him.

“We have to embrace women’s emancipation since there are more women doing great things out there. But they must realize that they do not have to make their point in unnecessarily loud and uncalled for arguments,” he says.

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Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 27 - 3 October, 2020.