After a year and a half of not dating, I decided to get out there again. I was also tired of having the same conversation with my best friend Tabz, who constantly worried about my relationship status.
Alfred had been an acquaintance for a few months. We had interacted in a professional capacity, but he had indicated that he would like more. There was a trending issue involving women and men, and there was a divide on social media, with one group claiming women enjoy playing the victim card while the rest supported the women. I was among those on the women’s side, and I put up a status on WhatsApp, and that’s how my conversation with Alfred began.
It was clear that I cared deeply about women’s well-being while he argued that the world had order until movements like feminism began and ruined it.
“You know the problem is brainwashing from the West with such movements. Our grandmothers were happy with how things were,” said Alfred. “Let me send you something to prove to you that you’re on the wrong side of this.”
He sent me a clip with a famous anti-feminist woman who first claimed that feminism teaches women that being too feminine is wrong. She claimed that women were being encouraged to embrace being ugly to fight the patriarchy. She further claimed that young boys were being weakened by discouraging boys as young as three from fighting each other. The clip also had the woman claiming that young men were prevented from gaining meaningful skills around the house, like fixing things.
“Who is teaching women that ugly is better? There’s a difference between telling women they don’t need to adhere to certain standards of beauty and what that woman is falsely claiming,” I told him.
“But she’s telling the truth about men. You feminists don’t like strong men,” said Alfred.
“How is encouraging violence in three-year-olds a good thing? Further, why would a sane person discourage someone from gaining useful skills around the house? What does empowering the woman and giving access to basic human rights have to do with any of that?” I asked him.
“Look at the family crisis we have in many developed countries because of such movements and African women are buying into these ideologies,” he said.
“Yeah, sure, let’s blame women for the family crisis too,” I retorted.
“Do you want to get emotional too?” He said jokingly. “You know you people who support these movements don’t like it when you’re blamed or given a contrary opinion.”
I knew the manosphere had followers but hadn’t experienced one before. It caught me by surprise, and I was struggling to stay calm. However, I wasn’t going to prove his point about being too emotional to engage in a discussion. I took a break before getting back to him.
“The problem with the emerging ideas about ‘what went wrong’ with women and society is that you ignore the reason why women readily took up feminism ideologies. Giving birth and taking care of children literally changes every aspect of a woman. It is committing to a lifetime of this job, so it makes sense that women desired fewer kids or none at all,” I told Alfred.
“Our grandmothers did it without complaining,” Alfred said confidently.
“They lived in an era where they had no voice. They were also beaten by their husbands and imposed on co-wives but still stayed because they had no option. Where do you think the idea that there had to be better for women came from? Such oppression was bound to elicit a revolt. Those grandmothers speak to younger women and advise them against following the paths they followed,” I told Alfred.
“You know studies show that women were much happier then than they are today,” Alfred replied.
“Yes, Alfred, tell me more about women’s happiness,” I snapped at him.
In between the debates, he would make misogynistic remarks as a way of shooting his shot. Over the next few days, he would send me anti-feminism videos or screenshots to initiate a conversation with me. Initially, I didn’t know it was a strategy, so I commented, and he responded.
“I knew you that one would get you talking.”
“Do you go out of your way to get content that will annoy me?” I asked him.
“I think you and me would make a good couple. We stimulate each other intellectually. We would never have a boring day,” said Alfred.
“I doubt it. We’d argue daily,” I responded.
“A bit of drama is needed to spice things up,” Alfred replied.
“That’s a hard pass. You think less of women and I don’t like drama,” I said.
“You would be a very happy woman with me,” claimed Alfred.
He continued sending me that kind of content, but I ignored him. Eventually, he realized I wasn’t playing his game. Hopefully, I won’t cross paths with a member of the manosphere again.
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