Begging for acknowledgement, or even asking, diminishes dignity and diminishes power – Jada Pinkett Smith in her Oscars Facebook video.


Art is interesting, because it says different things to different people. Jada made that quote *pointing* in a speech explaining why she’s boycotting the Oscars this year. I don’t know much about showbiz and activism, but her words stuck with me. Probably because I placed them into a different context.

As a woman, I often want men to do stuff for me. Like send me a peach rose on Valentines’, or buy my favourite book, or carry something heavy for me, or simply do the dishes. Because I’m often seen as a strong, independent woman (must be the purple dreads), they don’t naturally do these things for me … unless I ask.

I always assumed this was all about me, but it’s really not. In conversations with couples, I realise that many women are bitter because they want their men to do stuff for them – and vice versa. Guys, for the most part, are pretty direct. They will ask you to iron their shirt, or cook ugali, or spend some time at home.

Women, we’re alittle different. We want you to do stuff … but we want you to WANT to do it. And this doesn’t just apply to our men. It’s equally true for our kids, our neighbours, even fellow women. I want him to WANT to do the dishes. I want my kid to WANT to help me with chores. Guys don’t much care if you’re enjoying what you’re doing or not. They’re just cool if they ask you to do it and you agree.


It gets even more complex. As much as we hate to admit, men and women are different, especially in the things we want, and the ways we communicate them. So, for example, a guy I know was puzzled at how overwhelmed I was that he came to help on moving day – without me asking.

To him, it was no big deal. He had some free time, he knew I was moving house, he figured I could use a few extra hands. He doesn’t get why it was such a big deal to me. I was similarly puzzled at his level of … gratitude … when I bought him a beer. I mean, it’s just a beer, right?

Because men and women are so different, we often don’t know what the other wants until they tell us … or until we ask. That’s the thing though. It can be pretty hard to ask for what you want. You can feel like a loser. You can resent giving up your power. Or, like me, you can say, ‘If s/he really wanted to do it, I wouldn’t have to ask.’

I agree with Jada that asking for anything, especially acknowledgement, affection, or love, lowers your dignity. But sometimes, we’re not really asking for love. We’re asking you to show it in a way we understand.


For some girls, love is fixing her car or changing her light bulbs. Not because she can’t do it herself, but to allow her to feel like a girl and admire your biceps. For some guys, love is seeing her in a traditionally feminine outfit, especially since he knows how much she hates wearing them.

Asking for something like that can (and does) hurt your pride, but getting it leaves you feeling warm, appreciated and loved. When it comes to matters of the heart, in the right context, trading pride for love can be a pretty cool thing. And they don’t even have to enjoy doing that thing for you. The fact that they’re willing to do it just to make you happy is the greatest show of love that exists.

Now … don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean you should coerce a loved one into doing something they’re not comfortable with. All I’m saying is if it would make you happy, it’s okay to ask. It might feel like it, but asking for something that makes you happy doesn’t make you a loser. And no, you don’t get to punish them if they refuse.

♫ Change the record ♫ Melanie Fiona Ft B.o.B ♫

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