IF the experiences of the professional women I know are a reflection of the society that we live in, men who are providers are simply fairy tales in the religious books and are becoming indicative of times gone by.
“The tables have turned,” lamented a friend as she relayed how she lent her now-nowhere-to-be-found boyfriend R20 000 for that multi-million rand transport tender. After the money had exchanged hands in good faith, the tenderpreneur was nowhere to be found. Kapish!
This is the current status quo of dating in South Africa where men want to reap the benefits of women’s rising economic power while lamenting that they are displaced as men.
In a world of skhothanes (materialism) men actually look at a women’s financial standing before making a decision to court her and the financially broke ones do not make the cut.
Once they have marked the unsuspecting young financially independent woman, today’s men have no problem courting a young woman, and asking her for petrol money, airtime or at best simply moving into a woman’s fully furnished house and driving her luxury car without contributing petrol, while blaming gender equality for his being a financial abuser.
Iiponi zaseBhayi (Port Elizabeth men) are notorious for such tendencies and are well known for sucking women’s purses dry. Aunts of previous generations have warned us about them emabhasweni (at tea parties) and they are simply running rampant in our midst.
He is usually that multi-millionaire (by his own version) who lives in his parents’ backyard and will never make plans to take you on an official date, but has no problem relaxing in your lounge without bringing even a bottle of wine.
I recently had the misfortune of being headhunted by such a suitor I shall call him Mr Holy due to his vocation in the ministry. One would think a man belonging to this vocation would have had drummed his ostensible God-given breadwinner status into his skull, but he was no different.
Mr Holy and I met at an event I was organising that was to take place in two different cities. After he had inquired whether I would be at the second event outside Port Elizabeth, I naively told him that my car was due for service and there was a high probability that I might not make it.
He offered his car and I reluctantly agreed. In the name of fairness, I offered to contribute towards petrol, to which he agreed.
To digress, most men who believe they are providers usually stop a woman from paying by saying, “I got this” when a woman offers to pay, but holy man simply directed the petrol attendant to me when he asked who was going to pay. While making sure the tyres were sorted (with me in the driver’s seat), he proclaimed to the petrol attendant: “The bank is the lady in the driver’s seat”. That is not the end of it. On our way back, this brother, who was driving, woke me up from sleep to pay for the petrol again (of which he contributed nil to the outgoing trip). Is it not fair to expect him to fund one way of the trip since I had done my fair share to fund the outward trip?
In essence, this brother wanted to go to an event and back without paying for an ounce of petrol.
My feminism had lost its shine and “No, I don’t have any money” kept on sliding out of my mouth.
After a string of events in which holy brother told me he was buying a house in Bluewater Bay, had a multi-million rand construction tender and would give me work for my business, he asked me for coins for a Lemon Twist drink and raided me for the R180 he used, without being asked, to fix my car window that had been broken in a burglary.
One cannot help but roll one’s eyes at such men as they blow their own horns.
Despite my progressive stance of gender equality, a man who is courting you yet harasses you for R180 as if it was R1 800 is a deal-breaker (and a financial abuser in the making). Women nowadays must be careful of the multi-millionaire who asks them for airtime or their wi-fi to send that e-mail.
A new era, as Lisa Mundy in The Richer Sex coins it, of “breadwomen” has arrived. It’s putting more pressure on our personal relationships and creating gold diggers, if not con artists and financial abusers, out of men.