Time and time again, we have seen situations where a man meets a woman who is confident in herself and expresses herself freely and as she wishes — in short, a bad bitch. He pursues her knowing the things she likes and does, and then upon marriage or any form of serious commitment, especially childbirth, he attempts to rein her in and change the very things he lauded about her, admired her for, or that drew him to her when they met.
They go from loving how adventurous she is, her free spirit, her confidence and her sexiness to condemning those things about her and shaming her for doing and being those things. Before the relationship gets serious, they are fully aware of these things in the woman, but once they become tied together by marriage and/or children, those things become a problem. Her autonomy and expressiveness become a personal affront to the man’s presupposed sense of male dominance.
There is an abundance of women willing and ready to play a subservient role, the societal definition of a good woman. However, such men do not go for these women; where’s the fun in that? Instead, they pursue women who are the opposite of this societal definition and then attempt to trim their wings and break their spirit.
For example, the Keke Palmer situation. If you’ve been on social media recently, then this drama has probably landed on your proverbial doorstep. Keke Palmer is hardly ever in the media for anything negative. She makes people laugh, has memorable quotables, makes good music and great movies, looks beautiful and radiant and posts her adorable baby. However, after being serenaded by Usher at his concert (in typical Usher fashion), her baby daddy took to Twitter to make sexist remarks and opened her up to a barrage of misogynistic comments. For the past few days, her private life has been open to public opinion, whereas she already stated her desire to keep her private life private in a prior interview.
Keke’s boyfriend initially made a tweet saying; “It’s the outfit tho… you a mom” in reaction to a video of Keke with Usher at his concert. In another clearly sexist tweet, he claims that he believes in “traditional standards and morals” and the man’s place in the family.
Firstly, the supposed traditional values are dead on arrival because contrary to his claims, she is his girlfriend and not his wife. Having children out of wedlock is far from traditional. Secondly, if he hadn’t made those tweets, I doubt that the video of Keke and Usher would have caused such an uproar. Usher does what he does as a part of his performances; is it ever that serious? Also, if he was so pressed, I assume he has her phone number, he could have communicated his concerns to her in private, but instead, in a bid to assert some non-existent male dominance, he brought it to the internet.
Women do not lose their autonomy and personhood simply because they are married or have children even though society expects them to. There is no set-in-stone way for mothers to dress, and brace yourselves, women are people before they are girlfriends, mothers and wives.
In the days following this event, we’ve seen that Keke’s baby daddy is pro-police, excusing and defending their violence against black people, essentially an incel, slutshames women and allegedly impregnated a woman and then ditched her shortly before coupling with Keke. He should have just sat quietly and ate his food.
In tweeting those things as opposed to speaking about it to her privately, he exposed her and her family life to public scrutiny.
Also, regarding Keke’s very gorgeous dress and look of the night, she did not just start dressing that way. Keke has been a hot girl from time, and he undoubtedly knew that before their relationship began. He’s also posted a video of her twerking on the internet and pictures of her scantily clad in the past, so what changed? The problem seems to be the interaction with Usher, and not her dress, and also the fact that he was removed from the equation. Keke is an individual and a very prominent one too outside of him and for many men, that can be hard on their fragile egos.
As one Twitter user succinctly put it; “May our husbands not be the weapons fashioned for our de-baddification.”
Keke is evidently the more famous, more successful party in that partnership, and this is something that famously grinds men’s gears. When men feel like their partners are better off than them, and they are not fulfilling their patriarchal roles, they attempt to humble the women and “put her in her place” to feel better about themselves. Many women also feel the need to minimise themselves to accommodate the man’s ego, and this Buzzfeed article shows real-world instances of women in this position.
Beyond that, living in Nigerian society, we have undoubtedly seen instances where women claim their husbands did things for them that they did themselves, and we have seen men shame and punish their wives for doing things they used to do in the course of their relationship. The position of wife or mother seems to come with a rigid rulebook that women must alter themselves to obey, while men can just go on doing whatever they like.
Men love to chase after women who don’t fit the patriarchal mould of a good wife and then attempt to force them into that mould when there is an abundance of women who do because it is often about power and control in addition to the forced standards of respectability.
“The way my mother always explained it, the traditional man wants a woman to be subservient, but he never falls in love with subservient women. He’s attracted to independent women. “He’s like an exotic bird collector,” she said. “He only wants a woman who is free because his dream is to put her in a cage.”
This quote from Trevor Noah’s book, “Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood” aptly explains the phenomenon of men attempting to curtail the freedom of women after they have partnered with them. They do not go after women whose values align with theirs, instead, they seek to bend women to their liking.
“Traditional men” as a label has misogynistic connotations. They expect women to cook, clean, mother and be subservient while they are expected to provide financially. It is laughable when men wear said label in the world today where women provide equally or even more than said men. These men expect women to be financially responsible while also serving them, simply because they are men, with no further qualifications, and that is simply ridiculous. Beyond prescribed roles and societal expectations of who provides what, by virtue of simply being a person, everyone is entitled to make decisions about themselves and not as a secondary entity to someone else, especially when those decisions revolve around superficial things such as what they wear.
If you can’t handle a bad bitch and will grow to resent women for the things they love to do, things that make up their personality or for expressing themselves freely, then don’t date or marry one. Ideally, such men should stay away from women as a whole because even women who will do these things for men suffer at the hands of those same men. A man who needs his ego stroked constantly will be problematic whether he provides or not, or is more successful or not.
If “traditional men” must find and partner with women, they might as well find a traditional woman. Unfortunately, they often do not, because clipping women’s wings is their mission and goal.