Basadi ba rata madi

Gofaone Nina Tladi

I write to you as a secret agent having peeped at the minutes of the Men’s Conference held on Valentine’s weekend where e-wallets to bae warranted immediate removal by security. This is not the first time I have heard this statement. It is said a lot as women re rata madi! To add insult to injury, there was a particular tweet doing the rounds where one disillusioned woman reiterated that she is “ready to love a man for his money and not for who he is.”

This tweet I assume was to comfort herself after a breakup upon hearing that Mariah Carey got $5 million from her billionaire ex-fiance for wasting her time,whereas she got nothing from her heartbreak. The men’s conference was a great way for the men to laugh and entertain themselves . A certain gentleman gave the following synopsis of the conference as a PSA to women on the real reason for the conference.

“Women get it wrong about men, once again! They are even worked up that men are acting childish on social media and still don’t get it. They won’t get it because they never want to understand men, it’s about them and nothing else. This is not an actual conference but a silent protest. There are some things women need to understand about men.”

In his lengthy post shared by my Facebook friend, Phala proceeds to list the ways in which women have missed the mark as it pertains to the expectations we put on them to be providers. He further expressed the silent disappointment, or dare I say hurt that men conceal regarding not receiving gifts on birthdays.This post got a lot of flack from women and the comments were full of angry reaction emojis as some insisted that the conference was just a celebration of toxic masculinity, but what struck me was the support men had for this. Most men stressed that they felt the overwhelming burden to provide and the lack of support and appreciation. I asked myself why at a time when women work just as much and as hard as men to earn a living and provide for their families that men still felt this pressure.

I believe one of the things that causes dissent in relationships is disappointment, which in turn breeds resentment. Disappointment of not having our expectations met, the financial expectations women put on men and the assumed pressure men put on themselves. I work and think of myself as a modern woman, but I do unfortunately expect my date to pay for dinner and hold the door for me.

Many of us were not taught certain things by our parents because of the discomfort of the topic or the lack of knowledge at the time. Many people did not get the birds and bees talk, or how to handle money, what to look for in a partner and how to sustain that long term commitment. As a woman, I was told that a good husband is not handsome, he must love me more than I love him and most importantly have earning potential well in my age range.

We live in a time when we are able to talk openly about issues that were previously taboo and while I was annoyed at the men’s conference, it got me thinking as to why money continues to be such a major issue. Money fights and money problems are said to be the leading cause of divorce. My mentor tells me the best time to work on your marriage is before you get married so let us hear the men’s plight and listen to understand and not to rebut.

One woman commented that she, “Would never date a guy who earns less than me. I work very hard, I am allowed to be high maintenance because I am the one maintaining it. Men’s egos are so fragile when it comes to money. With my ex-boyfriend , I got a new job and I made substantially more than him. I would always have to walk on eggshells to not bruise his ego. If I pay for something or buy him something very nice that he could not reciprocate, he would get upset. Eventually the relationship ended.”

I love the quote by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie,”We are all products of our socialisation, we internalise things from our socialisation.” This couldn’t be more true. I read those fairytales as a child, where the handsome prince comes to rescue the damsel in distress. This was many women’s socialisation. Nowhere in the story does the damsel reciprocate. In all the music videos and movies, the man’s aim is to make more money than his wife can spend. This socialisation can be very crippling for women who are waiting for the hero or are unable to leave toxic relationships because the man has control of the finances.

I have sadly come to realise that prince charming won’t come in the shiny white car, but may come limping from all the debt repayments he is making, just as exhausted and beaten down by the world as I am. For men, the socialisation dictates that they should be providers and they have reduced this to providing money which often leaves them with a great deficit as they stretch themselves to provide support, leadership in families and a loving environment. This one sided view of providing has caused many to associate their masculinity with money, and the reality is rather that basadi ga re rate madi, we like masculinity perceived as a man at his best.

It is worthwhile to take notes from the concerns raised about money from both men and women, but to put the blame on one is unfair and counterproductive. Ladies let us stop buying things: we have enough stuff filling our cabinets and closets. We must also have strong financial management skills and put some money and thought behind getting them gifts and taking them . Gentlemen, your masculinity is in your ability to lead; the car payment, fuel and insurance are killing you my brother. It’s time to redefine masculinity and providing.

At the end of the day, tall, dark and handsome with a full beard or beautiful and homely will never trump integrity, kindness and consistent.

PS: You don’t have to be a hero, you just have to be what most people aren’t, consistent!
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