No romance without the finance

Two brothers respond to Nikiwe Bikitsha’s inaugural High Heels column—a look at Afropolitan city love and life

Sandile Memela It is still a rare experience for a simple and ordinary man, especially in the African community, to experience genuine love.

When men speak about women and love one can almost hear them say: ‘The prerequisite for love is material things. You must have a posh car, a plush house, fat bank account and some status.”

Thus men who do not have these things tend to feel inadequate and not unafraid to approach beautiful queens because they will, inevitably, be snubbed or humiliated.

The worst thing that can happen to a man’s ego is for a woman to tell him: ‘You are not my type.”

Far too many women are class conscious nowadays. Many men have come to know their place and understand which women they can approach and those they can’t.

To see a beautiful woman, impeccable in dress, well connected in social circles and see her dating an ordinary Joe Average has become, increasingly, a rare sight.

It is as if all the beautiful angels who walk the earth have been put on this planet to enjoy the best that life has to offer.
Of course, that can be offered only by monied men.

During the recent Valentine’s Day spending spree, I watched young men and women as they emerged from movie houses, cocktail bars and restaurants at malls. Their faces were beaming with smiles of joy because they understand that love has become synonymous with money and what it can buy.

Yet in the same country, I have heard the cries of men whose relationships were strained and their hearts broken because there was not enough money to buy love through a candlelit dinner, a gift or red roses for the beloved. Of course, the women are responding to the market-driven image and definition of love as we have never known it to be: no romance without finance.

As a result, there is a look of arrogance on the faces of some men who have ‘made it”, a callousness that may elicit disgust or disappointment on the part of women who claim to love men for who they are and not what they have.

It is not that one wants to sling mud on the character of women in ‘High Heels”—that is, single, successful and satisfied—but we have to make them realise what makes love tick, today.

There are some women who love for the sake of it, but they are rare. At the rate that women pile up pressure on men to go shopping, shopping and shopping (ask Carl Niehaus), one can’t help but believe that there is no romance without finance.

On the same Valentine’s Day I drove around to find countless men with doomed looks on their faces as they sat on pavements or stood on street corners with some hoping to find a piece job. I found myself asking: ‘Who would truly love a man who has nothing? What woman is willing to smother him with tenderness that will breathe new life into his empty shell?” There are women who may do that but they seem to be far too few to mention. We know that there is no romance without finance for man must, ultimately, provide.

Sandile Memela is an ex-journalist. He writes on race, class and gender issues

Fikile-Ntsikelelo Moya If Nikiwe Bikitsha was paying attention to her own story, she would know what is ‘wrong” with the black brothers she encounters.

No doubt that their male friend makes a fool of himself. But from Bikitsha’s own account, the women are standing there evaluating a show. As she says: ‘We generally welcome the attention of the male kind and are eager to encourage it.”

Women have reduced men’s interest in them to an audition: that is what’s wrong with ‘black”, but I suspect with men in general. What’s worse, these men are supposed to perform for an audience they do not know. They must ‘read the mood” of those for whom they are performing. Those who refuse to play along with the childish (girlish) games of living up to these women’s fluctuating expectations are accused of being insensitive egotists or gay.

Somewhere the cravat and the impressive business card would have achieved the effect the brother desired. But as Bikitsha says: ‘This was just not one of those nights.” How are we, as men, to know what night it is if you don’t tell us?

The problem with Bikitsha and her friends is that they are not taking responsibility for what they want in men or relationships. For men it becomes a shot-in-the-dark exercise, not knowing whether the tactic that worked the last time is applicable in present circumstances.

Nowhere in the article does Bikitsha talk about how they engaged the guy. It appears that they simply sat there and watched him make a fool of himself. Surely ‘one of the big-four banks” would not have given a ‘high-paying job” to an idiot. He might have difficulty making ‘friends” with women but he is not a good-for-nothing chap. He is somebody’s ‘boyfriend material”.

But certainly, it should never be obligatory for any man to have to live up to the expectations of women he does not know. Men do not owe women anything. Why should he hide his cravat or accent if he likes it?

It is nice of Bikitsha to offer brothers a ‘little heads up”. But she should share whatever thoughts she might have with the sisters. They need the help. She must tell them that they get the men they deserve. If they are to sit there and look pretty, then they will attract men who want just that.

Fikile-Ntsikelelo Moya is the executive editor of the Sowetan

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