Seated in a Sex Education class (and by sex education I don’t just mean Contraceptive Use and Personal Hygiene Class, I mean Kamasutra and Squirt Education Class – the subject of a future post …) our instructor, made a very compelling and bold statement to the all-female class: “All women are prostitutes, it’s the degree that varies.” I was on my 3rd glass of wine (alcohol being a requirement of the class – seriously, you have to be high), so I could afford a little giggle and a high five before shaking my head and going like..,“Huh?!” The women in the class, 90% of whom were married, took offence and threatened to leave, but they remembered they had paid way too much for that once in a lifetime session. Also, at the beginning of the class, we had long established that none of us in the room were virgins and the only reason we had paid so much money was because each of us wanted to up their sexual prowess. So there was nothing to hide. All of us there, whatever our current status in life, married, single, searching, not searching, had a deep interest to know how to open wide and open good. So with the poignant face of an insulted child, we settled down as I refilled my glass. Our senga went on to explain herself while repeating her statement loud enough so that no one missed it.
“Yes, we’re all whores; it’s the degree that varies. The 1st degree prostitute is the one that stands on the street, near nude, waiting to get picked up by a man, offers her sexual services, gets paid and leaves. We often like to call her malaya. The 2nd degree prostitute is the one that doesn’t necessarily stand on the street waiting to get picked up, but she will offer herself sexually to another man who she has a certain emotional or material involvement with, whether a boyfriend, sugar daddy or friend with benefits and bedefits. This one can go by the name girlfriend, clande, funga, fuck-friend etc. The 3rd degree prostitute is the one that has a solemnized union with a man, and is obligated to attend to his conjugal rights without fail, while she in turn expects him to provide to her and her their children. Of course, this one is called – wife.”
I cannot even describe the kind of silence that fell over that room when Ms. Senga was done segmenting us. You could actually hear eyes blinking in shock. There we were, moment of fucked-up epiphany, trying to figure out whether we had been insulted or not. I personally didn’t care. Sticks and stones…, What I was trying to figure out that moment was:
- Whom among the three is the worst prostitute?
- Who benefits the most from that exchange of pussy and money/ or emotional blah blah (which are the constant factors in the three different relationships)
- Who has the most difficult “working” conditions?
The jury in my head is still out on this one. But your guess is as good as mine
Flash forward to yesterday and I’m having lunch with a couple of friends of mine. Among us was a dude whose wife kept calling and for the whole phone conversation all the dude kept repeating over and over again was “Sina pesa saa hii! Walahi sina pesa!” Being a close friend, we got concerned and asked him if he had money issues. If he did, we’d be willing to help. We understood schools had just opened, there was school fees to pay, books and uniforms to buy amidst the biting inflation. Embarrassed, he said he didn’t have money issues. Everything was okay. He’d “just made the mistake” of borrowing 1,000shs from his wife that morning, to top up on the school fees and had promised to refund her the money at around noon when some deals went through. We offered to give him the 1,000shs just so he could eat in peace, but he said it wasn’t necessary. “It’s not urgent and she knows it. She makes her money. I paid all the fees, bought all the books and uniforms, there’s food in the house and right now, right now I’m concerned about how I’ll fuel the car.” And that’s where the drama began as all the guys on the table asked:
“Why does a wife have a problem lending her husband money, yet her husband wouldn’t mind giving her his money?”
The other ladies in the table haggled back and forth with the dudes as I sat quietly, busy making little othonje from my Ugali, with which to scoop my beef stew and kales.
“But it’s the man’s job to provide!”
“But the guy has already paid fees, bought books and uniforms, paid rent and bought food. Hasn’t he provided already?”
“Ai, he hasn’t provided enough!”
“He only borrowed a k, which he hoped to refund once his deals went through before noon. They haven’t. Can’t she wait?”
“Whatever, the dude provides and that’s that. Me I can’t give a dude my money, even if it’s my husband.”
And that’s the gospel according to many women, including one Ciku ‘ Busted’ Muiruri, who has had it printed on paper; she cannot foot the bill after dinner or drinks. “If the guy asks me out, he pays. Period.”
It seems that in the modern Kenyan marriage setting, most wives believe they are best placed to decide how the family income (read her husband’s salary) should be spent, not the husband. The wife writes the shopping list, her children’s need list and finally, her wish list. A man has no list. Also, if her husband were to come home smelling of booze, she will conclude the following: -
- He has money
- He misused part of it (misuse = buying booze for friends and having fun)
- He’ll misuse whatever’s left, if any was left at all
Also in the modern Kenyan marriage setting, a man will often indicate his wife as the next of kin should he die. On the other hand his wife will indicate her children as her next of kin. If the children are too young, she’ll denote her mother or sister or someone else who can take care of the children were she to die. Never the husband.
Which brings me to ask the following questions:-
- Do Kenyan wives not trust their husbands enough to be the next of kin?
- Do they think that their husband will misuse (refer to definition above) their assets on “insignificant” things?
- Do they fear that the man will spend the money on the next woman or other women in the husband’s life and forget about his own children?
- Do Kenyan wives trust their husband’s enough to share their financial wealth?
A good friend once bragged that her husband doesn’t know if she’s on the company payroll because he never sees her money. The irony of this whole situation is not that she leaves home every morning to go to work, but that she actually works in the HR Department. For all the six years he’s been married to this friend of mine, I’m not even sure he knows that. So where does she take her money, I asked? She said she belongs to five chamaas, contributes to the workplace Sacco and a popular women’s savings scheme in the country. Because, she said, like all wives say, it’s the man’s job to provide.
I find it all puzzling really. Embedded in my last post was a statement you might have taken for granted – the world keeps turning, but society won’t move with it. It was a very broad statement that didn’t refer to any gender in particular. Here’s the thing, modern day women want men to keep up with modern thinking, for instance, to embrace the concept of a modern career woman and her unwillingness to be that traditional wife who stayed at home, gave birth to 20 children and tilled the land. The modern woman wants her husband to deal with the fact that women too can go to work, earn a salary, have at most one child (yes one) and never have to cook or clean as long there’s a house-girl to do it. Yet this same woman wants her man to stick to that very traditional role of Sole Provider? Is that really fair?
My pal, and I gather there are other wives that hold the same opinion, went further to explain:
“The minute you show your husband that you can pay for some things, even that milk and bread for breakfast, he will never ever buy it. You will buy that stuff for the rest of your life.”
And what’s so wrong with that if he’s footing the larger bills and you can afford it?
“Hmm.., atakuzoea tu vibaya na wewe hutawaiona pesa yake inaenda wapi.”
So he has to pay for everything?
“Yes! He’ll pay my MBA fees and fuel the car he bought for me before fueling his. Even money for the salon he has to give me. And because he has never known how much it is to retouch my hair or put on a weave, I have always asked for 5,000shs from the time we started dating. Nowadays, I don’t even have to say ‘I need five thousand.’ All I say is, naenda salon kesho and he knows what he has to do. He’ll never go to the salon and find out what it really costs.”
“Ok, what happens if he doesn’t give you the money or he delays to do so?”
“I go through his wallet in the evening or very early in the morning and take whatever I find.”
Isn’t that stealing?
“It’s not if he’s your husband.”
But prostitutes do that too. They actually take the whole wallet when the dude is asleep or high.
“She’s justified if she feels the guy hasn’t paid enough!”
“So you’re justified too?”
On a personal level, aside from the occasional drinks and dinner, whose tab I wouldn’t mind picking or splitting down the middle, I’ve never had a man pay my rent or any other bills I incur. And most of all, I’ve never EVER had a man pay for my hair. I’d rather cut it all off if I cannot meet my salon expenses. Those who know me can testify to this.
As a financially capable (rich) wife, why would you make it look like you’re poor and you’d rather beg or device some thieving ways to ensure your husband provides so you don’t have to? And to what extent can this man provide? How do you expect him to churn out an infinite supply of mulla when he had to beg all his relatives and friends for money to finance your wedding to begin with? Is it that married folks cannot talk openly about their finances? Why the gambling and outwitting? Ladies, why the double standards? What then is this thing called ‘trust’ that married folks talk about?
Personally, I’d rather not go through the trouble of getting married if I’ll end up manipulating my husband. With a brain, two hands and two feet, I think I can do well on my own and not die. Sincerely, why bother? Because I want to wear a flowing white dress? Because I think one of my fingers would look way cooler locked in a piece of circular gold? Because I feel I could do with another surname? Or because it’s fashionable to carry a bun in the oven for nine months? I don’t need these things. There’s got to be a better life, a higher degree and I’m not settling for less.