How “Shooting Your Shot” As A Woman Gives Better Control Over Your Love Life

One of the best Nigerian movies I watched of recent on Netflix has to be Kambili: The Whole Thirty Yards

Without giving too many spoilers, it essentially follows the life of Kambili as she grows from trying to prove she’s wife material to her ex boyfriend, to actually living for herself and building her business and personal development.

In one scene that stands out for me, her boyfriend had broken up with her over a fancy dinner. Shortly after, she was complaining to her male best friend that she thought that her ex had brought her to the dinner so that he could finally propose to her.

That scene opened a Pandora’s Box of questions for me. I have also seen that scene play out in Nigerian series like Before 30 and in real life where a woman holds her breath waiting and acting in weird ways because she’s expecting a man to propose to her.

This is when she can ideally have a conversation stating what she wants and if he doesn’t align with her she moves on without even needing to publically propose to him.

Now, I’m personally not the biggest fan of marriage. I advocate that women date men without marriage in mind but rather to enjoy the pleasure of his company and to grow together. This is because in my experience, I have observed that dating without marriage in mind makes it easier to abandon men who are not what you seek for; for the simple fact that you are dating him for what he is showing you and not if he has the potential to change in marriage or if he has promised to give you a dream wedding.

All of that said, the ideas that govern the selection of a marriage partner, also find their way into the selection of a boyfriend or girlfriend. This is even when these parties may not want to marry. One of such ideas is that marriage and relationships have to be initiated first by the man. This is such that women are encouraged to play “hard to get” and men are raised to see themselves as those who must chase a woman even when she has made it clear that she is not interested.

But what is the downside of a woman never taking full control of her relationship life but instead waiting for any random man to select her?

Furthermore, why are relationships between men and women especially so heavily defined by a power chase as opposed to a selection of a mate that can help both parties grow?

If women cannot adequately approach men who fit their criteria of a partner as confidently as men are raised to do, can we say that that relationship is one upon which foundations of respect and support truly rest?

The problem with not “shooting your shot” as a woman is that it makes you accept any man who comes your way. I believe that was the intent of patriarchy when it created this ridiculous belief that only men can kickstart relationships. How incredulous it must be to continually see men who have what you want in a man but instead a woman is raised to keep quiet and accept the subpar man just because he was the one who explicitly asked her out in years.

The ridicule of women who actively take charge of their relationship life and start conversations with men they like is one rooted in deep sexist thoughts. It bears no difference from the thought that says that men are the head and must determine a woman’s direction in a family.

To better understand the importance of a woman shooting her shot and why women are shamed for doing so I spoke to three women.

For Oluwatoyin, she explains that it is better for women to approach men who try not to be sexist else the experience can become gory.

In her words: “I believe that as a woman, you cannot be liberal with Nigerian men as they are largely patriarchal and sexist. 

I’m all for shooting your shot or asking a guy out but only if you know for sure (like 100%) that he has unlearned gender roles and those crap. Sadly, a lot of our men do not fall into this category.”

Oluwatoyin went on to say: “Also, as a woman, if you don’t want a man, you are probably going to reject him and that’s it. 

Men, on the other hand, are very very wicked. A man that does not want you will say yes to your shot, make you feel like you are in a relationship with him, meanwhile he only sees you as a woman he’s “using for sex”.”

Speaking with Eniola, a designer and events manager, she tells me that shooting her shot is natural to her personality. 

To quote her: “I always shoot my shot because I can’t help myself. I am self-assertive and don’t like not knowing or if I am being honest, in some control. It hasn’t worked out for me in terms of relationship but I have always chosen lovers this way.”

When asked why it is important to take charge of one’s relationships as a woman, Oreoluwa, a writer says that it helps her compartmentalise her communications and interactions with men. 

She also says that positioning herself where potential partners are helps her segment her relationships.

In her words: “It helps me to compartmentalise my relationships with men. This is such that I know who my friends are, I know those who can never get me are and I know those who I hope to get in the future.”

She concluded by saying: “Women are shamed for shooting their shot because of the patriarchal system and mindset that states that men are in charge and are to take the lead. I’ve noticed too that men don’t really know how to say no. Also you shooting your shot at a man doesn’t necessarily mean that he likes you. On the flipside, when girls shoot their shot it often means that they really like you.”

As much as women are shamed for wanting to shoot their shots in relationships, we must remember that the shaming of women in love related issues can very easily slip into other aspects of society.

If women are shamed for wanting to take ownership of the direction of love, marriage and family, it shouldn’t be surprising when little girls grow up thinking that positions of leadership and political posts should only belong to men.

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