The age long war of the sexes has been with us since the beginning of time, precisely since the time of Adam and Eve. The roles of the hunter and the prey have been interchanged with the advent of the modern age! Modern man and woman have inculcated certain characteristics into the traditional roles of male and female. Despite the advent of the modern age in Africa, civilisation of man has not adversely affected the roles. This is to say that the role of the hunter, traditionally reserved for males is that which still prevails.
In ages gone by it was the time and reign of the ‘love messenger‘, a role played by males or females depending on the society and culture in question. Nowadays, this role has been dispensed with and we have the more direct and one-on-one encounters that has been propagated and directly influenced by the advent of western culture and society. The only time the role still subsists is where an introduction is required and once that’s done is immediately dispensed with.
The phenomenon of ‘the chase’ is an institution that is here to stay, as long as the male and female species co-exist on the same planet. This ‘chase’ is as varied and unique as the men in the world, whether they are Chinese, Brazilian, Malaysian, Italian, Zambian or Nigerian. The techniques differ, as the various individuals. Interestingly, there is ONE thing that is common to all males; it cuts across cultures, continents and societies. In fact this common denominator is anathema to the male gender and has its origin from the ladies.
What could this be that elicits such a strong and universal response? The proverbial bone of contention is the phrase, ‘Just friends’. A lot of ladies at one time or the other have utilised this simple phrase. The response from the men at the time of its usage ranges from resignation, disappointment to downright exasperation and anger. In certain cases an overreaction might be said to occur. Like the overload of an electrical circuit that brings sparks and other violent explosions. Explode is the word that resonates, when the response of the lady being ‘toasted‘ is ‘let’s be friends‘. What’s in this phrase or sentence that elicits such a strong reaction from the opposite gender?
The male species would have us know (i.e. the womenfolk) that we don’t know our minds! Us, the mothers to be of future generations have been and are sometimes tagged as nothing but simpletons during this phase. This in essence is what the woman in question deduces whenever she utters this singular phrase. How can I come to this hasty conclusion? It’s quite simple really, because from ample evidence once the magical phrase has been uttered there is now a fresh onslaught by the hunter. In order to convince the ‘babe’, ‘chick’,’ gal’ or whatever of the wisdom of her convictions, the bastion is stormed afresh and the individual’s ear talked off in order to convince her otherwise. Sometimes external reinforcement is brought in to buttress the point and elicit a reversal.
Granted, females in general are known to be complex and some are said to dither in decision making, but I wager that a lady knows when she likes a guy and when she does not. Most definitely she knows when she likes a relationship to be anything more than friendship or less. It’s her prerogative if she desires a purely platonic relationship or something more intimate.
Exercising that right to choose has been tagged ‘teasing’ by the men folk, ‘leading on’ is another concept that has been coined from this phenomenon. I think it’s about time that the men grew up i.e. that an adult female (of consenting age) knows her own mind. It is no slight to a guy when a woman tells him she wants only friendship from him. Truth be told, she has paid him one of the highest compliments that could be paid anyone.
The ensuing problem is that the institution of friendship has been marginalized and is viewed a third rate institution or something worthless. Fine, there are people who advocate that there can be no friendship between the sexes, such advocates say that it is only a sexual relationship that can exist between the sexes and nothing genuinely platonic, that has its basis in trust and integrity can survive. Advocates of this theory have to know that a lot of holes can be picked in their theory and that it is only and thus expose it as an archaic theory in this current age of enlightenment.
Certainly there are instances where the ‘just friends’ sentence is handed out and along the way one person changes their mind i.e. feelings may develop. In that situation, an evaluation of the friendship is carried out by both parties and a decision reached in the light of recent developments. Some guys that have accepted this verdict have sometimes used it to bide their time and further worm their way into the cockles of her heart! Whatever the outcome, the phrase ‘just friends‘ may not be the death knell it once was and some friendships have evolved beyond this often maligned concept that can be more satisfying than it connotes!
(This piece was published in The Voice newspapers (Benue State) during my NYSC. I recently stumbled on it and decided to share…the original article published was edited.)