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Author Name: Debbie Ogunjobi
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A Switch Life
Author: Debbie Ogunjobi | September 20, 2010

Back in the days when life was simpler, socialising was a form of relaxation; parties were planned with the intention of entertainment and fun. I always thought the best parties were those that had themes, like the jeans parties, beach parties, costume parties, barbeques, pyjama parties, hen nights and stag nights and so many others. The one party I never got to attend was the switch party; I always seemed to be out of town or not feeling well whenever one was happening and from some photographs I have seen I missed out on a lot of fun!! Before I get carried away let me tell you what a switch party is, like the name suggests it is a kind of switch as males become females and females become males for the evening. A role reversal theme is the key and all the men wear female attire while the girls came in male attires. It didn?t stop there, girls were expected to ask the men to dance, get their drinks and basically do all the other things that men normally do! Till date I still have photographs of my big brothers in wigs and other dodgy female attires and the best review of their appearance is a shudder; close your eyes and imagine a six foot muscled male in a mini dress and a bright lipstick showing under a moustache and even the strongest stomachs will turn!!. Most men look terrible as women and the few ones that pass muster are a bit unnerving as one is never sure what "team they are batting for" if you catch my drift; Transexuality was not the norm when I was growing up though I hear it is no big deal nowadays. While I enjoy all things girly it would have been fun to stick on a fake moustache and be dressed in some manly attire and for all intents and purposes ?wear the pants?! My opinions are mine alone and represent no one else?s but I strongly believe that only during a switch party or some other cross role acting scenario should a man ever be found in a woman?s shoes !! To my mind a man is a sum total of all that is strong, brilliant and even attractive in creation and is a perfect fit to a woman who is soft, intelligent and beautiful. Now that may sound all idealistic and even rose tinted but it is certainly the scenario I know most women wish for when they contemplate marriage or even a relationship. Like most women, I have been brought up to believe that a man is the provider of the family and also head of the home; most religions support this and a clash only begins when the man for some reason has turned his life into a switch party! Nature certainly supports my argument as the difference in the male and female physiques suggest the man is certainly equipped with more strength and brawn than his female partner. When I was growing up I remember a certain woman who had become the man in her house, she was the mother of my junior sister?s best friend and she was a bit of a threat to all the men it seemed; they considered her a bad influence on all the wives!!. She was a very popular and successful lace merchant and obviously wore the pants in the family. While she was big and burly her husband was of a slight frame and almost puny! As young as I was even back then , I could see that the situation in that household was very unnatural; the few times she was home, she spent humiliating the husband at very opportunity that presented itself and I could never quite understand why she was so distraught when he died. The grape vine had it that she had to step into her husband?s shoes when his drinking made it impossible for him to provide for her and the children. As luck would have it, her business grew and she became the man of the house, I guess she must have lost respect for him and that probably explained why she seemed to despise him so! Looking at that situation with adult eyes , I can certainly sympathise; I certainly would not want to be lumped with a drunk till death did us part and I doubt I would have been generous enough to fund the drinks like she inadvertently did ( she apparently used to give him some sort of allowance). In the contemporary world we live in most women make a decent living and can certainly contribute more to the development of the household but that in no way stops a man from being a man! A recent study in the United Kingdom revealed that the girls certainly did better than their male counterparts in the GCSE?s, in India, young girls are acquiring qualifications at the drop of a hat and the story is the same around the world. I am not in any way saying that boys are not intelligent; I am just saying that girls are getting more aggressive in the pursuit of their goals and even aspirations. A few decades ago women trained to be secretaries, nurses and teachers, these days women want to be astronauts and surgeons, we truly have come into our own but we still want to be looked after and live happily ever after! By some cruel twist of fate however there aren?t that many men who fit the high rising profiles of the new age women and that is where life itself is becoming switched! There is a new breed of men who are quite happy to be kept by their women!! They are no less educated than their wives but for some weird reason they are quite happy to live off the sweat of their women. I have heard that this is true in some cultures but it is something that I don?t quite expect to see in this neck of the woods! There is nothing wrong with a man leaning on his wife for financial support in difficult times but I somehow can?t quite accept that a man would choose to live a life philandering while leaving his wife with all his God given responsibilities! A very successful and respected woman once said she fell in love with her husband the first day he gave her an allowance. They had begun dating in the university and while she had come from quite a privileged background and had all she needed, she was amazed at this young man who had taken it as his duty to provide for her!! It wasn?t much but the idea that someone wanted to look after her convinced her of his devotion and thirty years later he continues to be the man in their family. Most women want to be looked after by their men and no level of independence or financial success is ever going to take that away. That is what the whole ?Mrs? thing is all about; it?s not just a fancy title but a sense of belonging, to be part of something. Knowing that someone somewhere is on my side, looking after me and all that is ours is certainly what I think marriage is all about. As usual my piece is based on an unpleasant revelation that came my way just a few days ago. A distant cousin that I look up to has found herself in the position of keeping her husband; he just seems happy to loaf and live off her sweat. She has apparently been living the lie of a happy marriage till it came to a head a few days ago. I normally switch off my phones before I go to sleep but for some reason I had forgotten to on that particular night and I had been brought out of dreamland by its shrieking! My sister was calling me from England in the middle of the night demanding that I wake up! I did and she proceeded to tell me that the cousin in question was at that moment sequestered in her guest room after haven been battered senseless by her husband! I asked her why she hadn?t called the police and she said the battered woman herself hadn?t wanted to!! It may be common place for men to beat their wives in Nigeria but I know the British police certainly will not look the other way! I wasn?t close to her but I was concerned enough to stay up all night trying to be of some help by listening. The argument that started the fight was based on his extravagant lifestyle which she said she couldn't support anymore and he had started punching her lights out to beat into her into his idea of submission. He thought there were richer women out there who would be happy to be married to him and support him even better than she was doing. I was shocked as I had always thought they were quite happy, nothing had prepared me for this midnight drama. (To be continued)

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