The Battle of the Sexes
The battle of the sexes has taken over the net! A few weeks ago a popular Congolese group on Facebook – Gorgeous Congolese chicks and cute Congolese guyz – experienced a series of intense discussions around the topic of the relationship dynamic in the Congolese community. The arguments were presented, both parties were willing to share their opinions and openly expose the skeletons that have been buried centuries ago for the sake of cultural principles. The debates were not monitored, no referees to settle matters and call fouls or give out red cards. Things were getting very interesting, however, it seemed as if in spite of everything, no one party was willing to investigate the root of the issue nor suggest steps that can be taken to better things…the problem it seem was that Congolese men were too controlling and too traditional, thus many women seem very reluctant to consider dating/marrying a man from the Congo.
So to further investigate the matter, we decided to dig a little deeper and perhaps come or at least suggest solutions to this problem. Two of our own Joel Mulumba and Aurelie Mulolo did a little research and have written two articles representing both the male and female perspective. Hopefully this will allow for us to see the root of the issue and break the barriers that’s keeping the Congolese woman and man from fostering a genuinely healthy relationship.
The Male Stance
Author – Joe Mulumba
Relationships for Africans in the United States vary from place to place and family to family. It’s true that there’s more social and financial freedom in the States as well as more chance to be immature and make the wrong choices since one is sometimes left to his own and doesn’t have to answer to their community like in Africa.
There’s no prescription or proven tricks or rules to make a relationship work other than love, commitment and similarity of views. For a man to appreciate a woman in her own right, with everything she could or would bring to the table and for a woman to appreciate a man in his own right with everything he has to bring to the table, there has to have been role models along the way for the two of them who have shown them what does a successful relationship looks like.
I think what makes relationships work isn’t bound to race, cultural, social and religious background, but I also think that all these factors are highly influential in making a relationship work. I don’t believe in opposites attract, because when opposites clash, it’s not pretty to watch. I believe that there has to be a lot of things you like in your partner and vice versa for the relationship to work so that when things go wrong, you know you can trust each other to get through the storm. Maturity is a never ending learning process especially for guys. And girls too. Some learn quicker than others and love is to learn to give everyone the space needed to grow. One has to be willing to let the other grow especially when the other person is willing to grow.
The script for a successful relationship was written well before none of us was born, but like I have heard it preached over and over, it’s two beings becoming one flesh. For two beings to become flesh, there has to be things to let go. Whether it is sexism, family issues, racism in some cases, tribalism, egoism, egocentrism, money issues, and the list goes on. The strength of a couple is in its approach to conflict, the better they are at resolving conflict, the happier they will be.
From what I have seen in Africa, happiness isn’t a key factor in relationships or dating like here in the United States, where everything and everyone has to make the person happy. If the guy is charming, smart, comes from a good family, has the prospect of a good job, and takes out the girl once in awhile, he’s fulfilled most of the requirements to be the perfect man. Some guys have mastered the art of deception so well that women come to find out too late in marriage that the men they were dating isn’t the same they married. That’s not to say that some women haven’t done also their homework and turn out to be ‘witches’ after all. When there was forced marriage, the community was there to support the couple into staying together, but now that modernity, urbanism, and mass media has started to erode the bridges between individual and community, more women have more freedom in their choice of partner even though it’s not any easier.
Financial resources have always played a huge role when women are selecting the right guy. And inversely guys with deep pocket don’t need Adonis features to have the prettiest girl. This has always been true since the ages of times. African societies and more particularly, Congolese communities where men are still expected to be taking care of their women, the national lack of jobs has led men sometimes to rely on their wives to be selling all sort of products in the market to make ends meet. Even then the strength of tradition still maintains sexism against both of them. Rich men are sometimes if not most of the times expected to have more than one wife and lots of children because riches aren’t limited to materials but extends to people too. I have read an interesting argument that western women instinctively seek financial security because they are thinking ahead about children, but that article was forgetting about those financial secure women who don’t want children, but just want a financially secure man to enjoy life with.
One of the biggest debates for women all over the world is centered around birth control, which is slowly being introduced in Africa, even though it will take years before societies accept it since woman’s body usually belong to men.
Whether in the United States or in Africa, social classes play significantly in the choice of mates. African men who are insecure in their manhood and who are also sexist have been known to send requests through phone calls and mails for ‘a good woman’ like they make a request for ‘a good TV’, something for them to enjoy, and in return give the least for its maintenance. This is not to say also that there aren’t African men who fall in love with African women here in the United States or left one back home and they end up loving each other for the rest of their lives.
One interesting fact that is often overlooked in immigrant communities is the number games. In Portland Oregon, where I reside, the Congolese community is about 300 to 400 people, and when you factor in the usual tribalism, nonsense conflicts, you will end up with 50 to 100 people encountering each other and ignoring the rest. Out of these 50 people, you are supposed to find the perfect mate when you live in a city that’s like 98% percent white and 2 percent people of color. I came to realize last year that numbers are just against the Congolese, that’s not to say that it’s impossible to find the perfect mate in any other African community or outside of Portland, but financial freedom to go on a quest for the perfect mate isn’t available to everyone so people settle down when they can’t.
It’s always been easier to receive than to give and that is true for both sexes. The trick is to come to a balance. There are a thousands ways relationships could go wrong, but only one way for relationships to succeed. Long lasting relationships are not for the faint of heart, toughness is a requirement and given how societies are mostly misogynist, it takes a lot of faith in each other and in God to create happiness in a couple.
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