Monday, November 12, 2012

Re: Are You The "Michelle" To his "Barack"?

This is a response to Oluwamayowa Idowu's post on Bella Naija titled: Are You The "Michelle" To His "Barack"?

Alright. In 2007, it was cute, impressive and admirable to see a budding presidential aspirant, Senator Obama, campaign alongside his wife who outwardly portrayed beauty, strength and support. In 2012, it still is all the above things and more because more than just a mark of history, Barack Obama's successes, poise, oral skills and down-to-Earth nature of presidency are worthy of commendation amidst his political shortcomings. What else is beautiful about Barack Obama? His family. It is important that a man who is tasked to rule over the USA, and frankly - the free world, is sure to be able to hold together a family first. The Obamas represent themselves as close-knit, happy and full of joy. Yet, that's all we know because that's all they are clever enough to show. As a matter of fact, that's all that concerns the viewing public.

Unfortunately, people have decided that the Obamas should become the epitome of marriage.

Enough of the romanticization and idealization of the Obamas. Enough! Enough of the one-size-fits-all propaganda that women are being bombarded with in the name of potential. Instead of being a remarkable example of two lovers and their ability to overcome and thrive, two camps have stolen this story, sensationalized it and used it to enforce their own agenda.

The first camp uses this story as a weapon of chastisement for women who have refused to marry less rich men for other reasons beyond simply being less rich. And women are buying into this nonsense because many women like to make men feel like they (women) agree with the men so that men will like them. They also use this weapon as a broom to sweep under the carpet the crap that plenty women take from men daily; crap that money could never erase. The average Nigerian woman who's married to the average Nigerian man will face patriarchal bullshit in her life and marriage and will be unable to seek help because the church, the society and her family will send her right back to the mess she's trying so desperately to run from. When you do not take into account the societal disparities between the US and Nigeria, you simplify the struggle of the Nigerian woman and reduce her to a weave-loving, BlackBerry-craving, unable-to-love person.

The second camp uses this story to propagate the agenda of the men who have thrived on excuses and continue to do so. The world, as we know it, is a men's resource center. So, the story of the Obamas fits in nicely with the goal of men who have decided that they do not have to work for the commitment of the women they want to be with. If a woman decides that she wants to request a similar number of cards to the ones she brings to the table from the man she would like to marry, that's not gold-digging. Many women have been chastised by the members of this second camp because they did not genuinely fall in love with someone who's not earning the same salary as they are. Look, there are gold-diggers just as there are women who choose to marry who they will marry best. Not every less rich woman who marries a rich man is a gold-digger. Not every rich woman who marries a less rich man will become first lady to the president of a country.

Potential happens to be the most abused term in the whole hoopla about Barack and his Michelle. We are all born with potential so if that's all women are required to seek in men, that's unacceptable. Maybe women should be asked to look for potential + competence (compotency), rather than just potential. May I also add that any man who graduates from 'the' Harvard University has a kind of potential that is matched by few other degree-granting institutions. Employability, is only one aspect of this. Barack Obama was not a mere intern at a law firm; he was an intern, at a leading law firm, with a degree from Harvard. If you graduate from Harvard, you probably don't even need that much competence, because your degree is competent enough. Sad and often overlooked reality. This does not mean that a man's university diploma should be the deciding factor of a man's 'compotency'. I believe a woman would know if the man she plans to marry will achieve success whether or not his current salary is meager compared to hers. Have you ever stopped to wonder whether Michelle Obama even regarded her marriage to Obama as 'marrying down?' Maybe not. I'm guessing that Obama displayed ALL of his present day strengths in some form or another even though not in presidential capacity. They may have regarded themselves as equals after all. So, carrying the headache of their economic disparities at that time on one's head and laying it out as a codebook for women is seriously flawed. Usually, a man's small salary today is not enough to blindside a woman from his 'compotency'; especially a woman who loves him.

If you like, go about with an 'Am I a Michelle to his Barack' mentality, and ignore very real signs that are glaring in your relationship. Disney couldn't write a better fairy tale: Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, the Little Mermaid...none of those come close to the disaster that romanticizing Barack and Michelle poses. And we all know how disastrous these fairy tales are.

So, instead of asking women, 'Are You The "Michelle" to his "Barack"?, ask yourself, am I competent enough to allow my potential flourish? Assuming, the double-standard of this enabling resource center for men (a.k.a the world) allows you.

Long live the Obamas. May they outlive the bullshit recipe that men, especially Nigerian men, are concocting in their name.