Recently, I witnessed something at the office. I happened to be standing by the window, which is the only place I can get any reception on my mi-fi, when I noticed a guard guiding a supposed client into a parking space. Pretty normal stuff, he was simply doing his job. Suddenly, someone drove by him, stopped the car and on getting out began to yell at the guard. His case was this; the guard had not allowed him park in the allotted space giving preference to someone else. He was quite angry over what I consider to be something trivial. That however is just part of it. It so happened that as he drove past angrily, he just missed hitting Peaches, a colleague of mine who was carrying her sleeping toddler, by a bit. Her mother, the supposed client, was there to pick up her granddaughter. She called out to him;

Peaches: Oga, you almost hit me and my daughter now o
Angry Man: Ehn, I did not hit you
Peaches: I said you almost hit us as you drove by
Angry Man: But I did not hit you. This guard did not allow me to park and...

All the while, he’s speaking loudly and pointing at the guard who looks baffled but stays silent. This man was quite furious. Peaches had placed her daughter in the car at this point.

Peaches: Oga, that is not my business. What if you had hit me and my baby, ehn? You just drove past recklessly and all you’re saying is that you did not hit me

It’s quite obvious at this point that she is upset by his indifference and nonchalance. Frankly, it bothered me too, still does.

Angry Man: Ehn, what is it? I did not hit you. Don’t talk to me like that. I’m a married man and you’re a married woman.

Abeg, what has that got to do with anything? By the way, the angry man drives a senior member of staff and as such is a colleague as well. Peaches’ mother did not get involved but remained silent, seated in her car.

Peaches: So? You’re a useless married man. My husband would never treat a woman the way you have treated me. You are not even concerned, haba! Your wife and daughter will definitely receive the same treatment.

That goes without saying. Of course, things may not happen the exact same way but something will, eventually. It’s called Karma. Makes me wonder how he treats his wife. What’s wrong with this scenario? All Angry Man had to do was apologise..the end! Case closed. But he would not. Was that pride, arrogance or a reckless disregard for human life? Was it perhaps too much of a bother to apologise to a woman? After all, he really did not hit her.

I remember an incident that occurred when I was an undergrad. I was visiting a friend when I heard shouting along the hallway. A male student had slapped his friend’s girlfriend in the presence of said friend. This, as you may expect, resulted in a fight. Later on that day, a friend of mine who was present when the incident occurred asked me what I thought of the matter. Of course, I told him the woman beater was at fault. He looked at me and said “You’re right. But that is what happens when you disrespect your girlfriend in the presence of your friends”. Apparently, hero-boyfriend had a habit of hitting his girl in the presence of his friends and others. So, someone else felt it was okay to do the same. A lot of us are familiar with domestic violence and probably know someone who has gone or is going through it.

There is something fundamentally wrong with the way a lot of men treat or relate with women in this clime. In fact, there is a problem with the way we are viewed, thought and spoken of. It bothers me more that men are either unaware that something is wrong or just do not care enough to behave better. I have heard some men say they would hit a woman if sufficiently provoked. I have met men who took pictures of ladies they had sex with and showed their friends; dreadful stuff. I have been told by a man, who by the way is not my boyfriend-not that it matters, that I look more like a lady when I wear a skirt or a dress, that my hair looks better a certain way..blah blah. I have heard that men can not rape their wives or girlfriends..what? By the way, if you’re of this school of thought, you are part of the problem! 

Our society has taught us as women that certain actions and opinions are acceptable and nothing can be done to change them. We have become passive in our reactions to certain issues such that a contrary reaction is seen as a sign of rebellion. You become a pariah or better still, a bloody feminist. An acquaintance of mine, a captain in the army, once told me that he would shoot his wife if she ever cheated on him. I told him that was fine so long as she got to do the same in a similar circumstance. He told me to keep shut; I am unmarried after all. The scenarios described show the problem; a total disrespect for women and abuse of power.

Why do we sometimes associate gentlemanliness with gentleness, weakness or stupidity?  A real gentleman is no fool neither is he weak; in mind or body. Why do we ascribe nobility to it? Being a gentleman goes beyond opening car doors and allowing a woman precede you into a room. It’s not just about paying the bills or picking up the tab on a lunch date, people can do that for selfish reasons.

How do you treat your sister, her friend or your girlfriend? Do you willingly help with chores or do you do them as a favour? Do you laugh when your friends tell you about their ‘conquests’? Do you look and laugh at those sordid nude pictures your friend took or do you take them? Do you nudge your wife awake at 3:00 am when your infant is crying or do you see to the baby yourself? Do you think ‘yea, she deserved it’ when a man hits his nagging or controlling significant other? Do you verbally abuse women or make thoughtless comments like ‘You’re pretty for a dark skinned chic’? Thought and attitude check!

If you’re unsure about how to be a gentleman, this article may be a good way to learn.  Read it with a pinch of salt and consider the context if you choose to apply anything from it. Gentlemanly behaviour for the modern man may be a more realistic guide for whoever is interested. I also implore you to read books such as ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’ by John Gray. Quite informative. It is often said that we are products of our environment so it’s important that we teach our sons how to treat girls by our words and actions; it all starts from there. Let them read this for starters. You don’t want to be the parent of the boy who slapped a girl at school!

Of course, not all men are ungentlemanly (chivalry isn’t dead, it’s just rare these days) and proper conduct should not be limited to interaction with women. To the men who make an effort despite the odds, and there are many…Salute!!! Remember, being a gentleman never goes out of style!