I took a trip to town the other day in Durban, by taxi. This experience was far from new to me but a walk down the streets of this city offers a different experience each time. From every second lady down West Street begging to do your hair for “a cheap, cheap price” to men old enough to be your father asking for your hand in marriage, in 2014.
As I got into of the taxi, like clockwork, this man greets me. I respond respectfully, pop in my headphones and proceed to day-dream about my crush. Our conversation, rather his monologue, lasted no more than five minutes. In those few minutes he went from throwing compliments and expressing his love for me to a concluding that I was a snob who would never find a good man willing to marry me and that I was probably a whore anyway. I was so confused. I must have missed the part where I shook his sheets and more importantly, the part where I had shared my desire for being married to him.
The issue that everyone in the taxi had was my disrespect for an older man and not so much the uncomfortable remarks that this man, old enough to be my father, was directing towards me. What concerned me more was that the older women also felt and expressed that my attitude had and would continue to “cost me love.” In addition, they questioned why I put so much effort into how I look only to get annoyed and ignore any male attention.
There’s this general consensus that women like getting attention. Everything we do is for the attention of men: what we wear, how we wear our hair and how we carry ourselves. Now, I’m not entirely comfortable with spending so much on my clothes, hair and make up for the sole purpose of pleasing someone else. So I left them with a piece of my mind, asking those older women how comfortable they would be with their daughters bringing home a man old enough to marry the mother herself? And how comfortable would men be having a son in law the same age as him?
We look to older people for guidance and for protection. But nowadays, the people who are meant to guard you are the very same ones you find yourself needing protection from. Thing is, the very next day, the same women could be preaching “books before boys because boys bring babies!” When am I going to meet my husband then if I’m so immersed in my books?
Society has evolved drastically and we cannot take the mentality developed years ago and apply all of it today. Take what you want from it and raise your concerns and opinions – old people are more willing to listen than before.
Yolanda Mkhize (@YolaMkhize)