ERA OF MANXIETY

By SILAS NYANCHWANI

May you live in interesting times
-Ancient Chinese curse

We are living in interesting times in deed. Difficult for men, perhaps. When it is a woman passing you a lighter in a night club as if it were salt in a hotel, you certainly begin to get worried. When women are drinking from the brown bottles, or strong alcoholic drinks with labels such as crying tigers, beckoning you to follow your instincts, or a lion sweating near a mountain, or something named after a Turkish goddess, you begin to have this unsettling feeling that we don’t have homemaking wives in future. Not in the least when you enter the club together in the evening and are huddled together in the morning with your girlfriend.

When you are in popular joints and half of the women are dressed in football jerseys, no less noisy than men cheering their favourite club and jeering the opponents, you can’t help but appreciate that women in deed wanted equality. Equal job opportunities; equal political opportunities; equal going out opportunities; equal cheating rights; equal hanging out rights; equal sports fanaticism rights; and all other bad habits that were a preserve of men.

Women have now crowded the male space. Whether it is a latent, unconscious or conscientious admission that it is in deed cool being a man in the cosmic battle of the sexes is another matter altogether. But the phrases women empowerment, gender equity and parity, portend more grief for men than anything else in the world. Forget nuclear power. Forget Osama and terrorism. The terrorism we should be afraid of is feminine terrorism. That it is emanating from Kenyan women, led by Nairobian women, makes the next few years quite a bumpy ride for men.

Well, this is not a sexist or chauvinistic debate I’m launching here. First I must acknowledge the strides women have made in recent times. They are landing plum jobs, getting better salaries, getting their MBAs in droves, driving big cars and generally enjoying the city’s good life with all its trappings, which is good by me. This is about how men are dealing with women’s new status. Some are rebelling, call them retrosexuals. Some have been ‘feminised’, call them metrosexuals.

It is amazing how society can change in 10 years. In 2000, women were rather shy with alcohol and drunk only Redds or any other feminine drink with feminine poise. Men settled the bill. Women danced with men. Soccer was still an alien concept and “The Bold and the Beautiful” was a popular soap opera.

Ten years on, women barely out of teenagehood are buying themselves expensive liquor, smoking their favourite cigar and are at home dancing with members of their sex. Men have been relegated and increasingly often turned down every time they offer to dance with a stranger in a club. Women take themselves out. This portends quite a future for future aspiring fathers like this one.

The current generation of women are growing and acting like they don’t need men. See, as men we were brought up to believe that we need to be someone’s hero, provide, be a father. Women ought to always look up to us.

Women have decided that they can raise children on their own. They can settle their own bills and don’t need to look up to men for the provision of basic necessities. The only role left is sexual. Funny enough, more and more women are going the casual and physical way. More and more women are learning to separate sex from love. Resultantly, we have men increasingly being used as studs, some without even knowing. Sexual liberation has been the worst form of feminine emancipation. On this one, two wrongs do not make a right.

The women of this generation are growing with the understanding that marriage is a place besieged, and are arming themselves with academic and financial tools that will guarantee their safety and peace in marriage after the almost certain divorce. Some are opting for singlehood, having herded a man into the bedroom chamber to sire one or two pretty ones.

From now on, man must learn to readjust to these realities. We can no longer be men as we used to be. Some of the roles have been usurped. The current anxieties being experienced have been labeled as “manxiety” by online lexicographers. What an apt name for the current state of affairs. It is not funny.

Nowadays, you cannot date without the ever rife fear that she is cheating behind your back. It is frustrating that the demands of women have increased double fold and most of the time if one man cannot provide, another one will or she will for herself. Talk about having your cake, liking it and eating it-with impunity.

More and more men are feeling like they are playing a peripheral role in relationships. Women cannot stop to go for their degrees, careers or social callings because their men feel otherwise. They want the same freedom that men enjoyed in the past. In fact in future, spouses will be arriving from the night club at 3 a.m. and feeling nothing odd about it.

Men might feel like they are being pushed to the corner. Men may want to stay put and assume their status is intact, but that is a misguided approach. The current academic, career, marital, post-marital anxieties need sobriety and proper comprehension. Men ought to learn to communicate better, respect female independence even when it is a real threat to their person. Otherwise women apparently have no use for us. Soon we would be entirely for cosmetic reason, much more like our forefathers used women. Call it revenge.

So much for the shoe being on the other foot.

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