If a girl says yes right away to a guy asking her out, she is considered ‘loose’ or a ‘slut’ yet she can’t wait with the answer either because then the guy may lose interest. Sadly, in many of our societies today, dating is an exchange of services – boys get sex and girls get money, food, clothes etc in return.
Much of the dating culture is linked to and rooted in the social, religious, traditional and financial situation. Polygamy is common in the dating setting. It’s not just men with money that has many girlfriends, but also common for girls to have more than one boyfriend to support her.
So what is dating? Getting to know one another and then love will develop some say but others mean that dating in Zimbabwe is equal to being in a relationship (as many date people they already know). Do Zimbabweans date out of love or get married for what they can gain from the relationship? Examples were given of women leaving their husbands if he loses his job. Reflecting on all this, why is this linked to inequality and masculinity?
Different views were represented. Some said that a man’s power in the relationship comes from something he can get (money, materialistic items) while a woman’s power comes from her sexuality. The other view exists where it is seen as boys are expected to always have to ‘treat’ the girl. This meaning that the guy is financially responsible for entertaining his date only. Girls become dependent and this leads to power inequality. Girls on the other hand are seen to exploit the situation and the relationship becomes a social setup. Values twisted.
Participants discussed these aspects and considered it to be unfair. As the YMCA, we believe that change is possible and that it begins with the individual.
- Who said a girl has to wait to be asked out on a date? Girls should take up the courage to ask that special guy out and whether or not the feelings are mutual, the girl should not be bullied/harassed for her actions
- Equality within the dating setting – parties should agree before-hand to splitting bills
- Dating should not be seen as or agreeing to not accept stuff/money in exchange
- It’s not only boys who have to change behaviour. Girls have to change as well
In exploring power and control as well a gender expectancy, the dating platform provided an introduction to the linkages of dominant masculinity, gender equality and dependency. Raising awareness and understanding with participants.
The powerspace was place of empowerment indeed….a transformative masculinity one.
Article content provided by Marte Steiro – YAC 2017