Men Need To Stop Being Nosey About Women’s Romantic Life

One of my favourite feminist essays ever is Unlearning Likability which was written by Rose Okeke, a Nigerian writer and filmmaker.

In it, Ms. Okeke discussed how the need to be likable has seen a lot of African women endure negativity and discomfort with a smile. 

She mentioned how likability can become a method of survival that in the long run still fails to adequately protect women from harm.

An interesting part of the essay for me, was the part where Ms. Okeke had gone to do something school related and a couple of older men were asking her personal questions. Due to a desire not to be seen as “rude”, she kept answering these strangers. It was her father who told her later that she was more than allowed not to answer random men who badgered her for personal information.

Now, Ms. Okeke’s experience is actually very common. A lot of women have had to deal with random men being very nosey about our romantic, work and family life. 

This lack of respect for women’s boundaries can show up when you want to buy a gadget and the man who you are buying it from begins to ask if you are single and if he can have your phone number.

It can show up in your work colleagues being curious on a Monday morning about if you cooked for your hypothetical boyfriend during the weekend. 

The nosiness of men about women’s romantic lives can also be a deciding factor on if women can get good shelter and housing. It can show up as your landlord enquiring on your marital status before accepting you as a tenant. 

It can show up as situations where single women have to bring random men to present as boyfriends to a landlord so that they can stand a chance of having the apartment even when the women are the ones paying.

But why are men nosey about women’s romantic life? Why is it that the lowest of men thinks that he is superior to a managing director by virtue of being male? 

Why don’t people question the abhorrent trend of asking if a successful woman who just made history is married with children? Why can’t people accept that not every woman will marry or have kids and that is perfectly okay and normal? Why do people see romance, marriage and children as logical rites of passage? 

This is such that no one questions the feeling of emptiness that makes some women put off on enjoying life because they fear it will stop them from getting husbands?

Speaking with Christiana, a writer and midwife, she explains that they are nosey because they think they have the right to be.

In her words: “They’re nosey because they were raised to think it’s their right to do whatever they like. ⁠Yes, I have been badgered about my relationship status multiple times. On a certain occasion, I told a man I like girls just so he would let me be. Did that stop that creature from hounding me? Nope. He said lesbians are even better. The more the merrier. 

You have to tell them to fuck off in the most horrible way possible. You can always use “nice” words but make them feel like hell. Maybe a small smile, a soft voice and then proceed to destroy their lives. It works wonders. Praise God 🙏🏽”. 

For Kistune, she says that the nosiness and bugging did not stop until she was blunt about her discomfort.

To quote her: “I’ve been in an uncomfortable state because of a man bugging me to date him.

He inconvenienced me in all possible ways, his promises irked me the most and I decided to be as blunt as I could because I just couldn’t have it anymore.”

The reality is that until women are seen as complete people regardless of the presence of a man, women will always deal with men who think a woman being single is an open invitation to lift her out of the supposed fog of misery.

We must ensure that the next generation of girls get into relationships because they want to and not because they need to be one of those who can say they have a man.

Only then can we say that progress has been made.

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