A lot of people mistake me for a butch. Or at least a girly bi. I do recognise and appreciate sexy women. Especially curvy ones with hourglass figures and ample asses. I don’t want to have sex with them though. Or form romantic entanglements. Also, for a long time, I couldn’t wrap my head around same-sex attraction. I’m less puzzled now.

In my mind, love is love, and gender doesn’t come into it. We love who we love and we have a right to love. I don’t know if that makes me an ally – I’m told ally-ship is defined by the supported, not the supporter. But all this pre-amble shapes my perspective on life and relationships. Let me explain …

I have this theory about men and women. It mostly applies in hetero-normative interactions. I don’t know if it’s the same in the gay world, and I don’t have the lived experience to dig into that. And I’m not even straying into trans politics right now. I’ll restrict my musings to the typical cis guys ‘n gals.

And this isn’t just in dating. It cuts across to work, friendship, parenting, supermarket trips, any space where men and women mingle. So here’s the theory. Basically, a man’s superpower is compartmentalising his shit…

Mark Gungor explains it really well. Heads up: he’s a pastor, so you’ll find some bible verses in the full version, but you can mute those sections if you need to. The rest of what he says is dope, accurate, and funny as hell.

The clip below is just a teaser, but if you want to watch the whole two hours, you can find it here.  (There are 6 more hours of him online if you want to complete the series. It has a corny name but there are good nugs in there.)

It makes sense that men have boxes which never touch and women’s brains intermingle everything. That’s why when a man treats you badly (particularly sexual assault or rape), we say, ‘What if it was your mother? Or daughter? Or sister?’ Feminists believe this is reductive. After all, in our intermingled female minds, every woman is someone’s daughter, sister, mother. DUH!

So I don’t have to be your mother / daughter / sister to earn safety and respect and – you know – NOT BE RAPED. But to him, he has a mama box, a baby girl box, a kid sister box, an ‘other women’ box … and the boxes never touch.

In fact, he does everything in his power to keep them far apart. It may also explain why he dates and/or socialises with one type of woman – the ‘smart, modern, enlightened’ one then marries a more domestic kind of woman who will cook, clean, maintain demurity, and be nice to his mum.

Women he beds vs women he weds. #WifeMaterial vs #EntertainementValue. #NurturingVsMentalStimulation. #Patriarchy. Mind you, I’m the kind if feminist that believes all women’s choices are valid, and it’s her right to be whomever and whatever she chooses. But your choices dictate your box …

This is kind of a survival mechanism for him. Because – if he’s a good guy – and he saw his sister / mama / daughter in every woman, he’d never get erect. Then you (as the woman that’s trying to fuck him) would have a whole other problem on your hands, not to mention your thirsty lady bits.

Disclaimer: I’m talking about good men, because yes, I believe they exist. I’m not talking about the ‘kuma ni kuma’ creatures. Those ones deserve nothing but castration with rusty slashers. This theory only applies to the good guys.

Anyway, because a man’s boxes don’t touch, and he has all his women in different boxes, he doesn’t find it weird to keep them separate. That’s why he can tell you loves you and still cheat. You and his mistress are in different boxes, and the boxes never touch. You shouldn’t even know that box exists.

Now us, women, everything is connected. My car can make a blinking noise (yes, I know blinking has no sound) and I’ll suddenly be yelling at my kid because the blinking light reminded of how she bats her eyelashes when she’s being sarcastic. So now I’m screaming about five hours of labour while he sits quietly and wonders if he should call the mechanic or drive to Mathare …

This plays out in relationships – whether they’re romantic or casual. A man has his boxes. He has one for each of his women – and for each of his men too. He’ll never call Toma for beer because Toma is his computer guy. And he won’t invite Dwayne on a road trip coz Dwayne gets drunk and refuses to share driving hours. Kila mtu anapewa lane na anafaa kubaki kwa lane yake.

Now, for women, everything is connected. So yes, we have a hair-friend, but we can still talk to her about cows and shoes. And we have a mummy-friend, but we’ll still chew out or child-free pals with baby pictures. And we have a biashara buddy but we’ll still whine to her about boy drama. It’s all intricately connected, and we have a birds’ eye view of everything, pun intended.

So when we come into a man’s life, whether as a kinyozi, a platonic pal, or a daddy’s girl, we want to be his everything. And we’ll often to do this by spotting the other women in his life and hunting them down. Then we vanquish them in uniquely female ways that – if the genders were reversed – would be counted as abuse … but we’ll talk about that later.

For now, I might get so cosy with his mum that she starts to take my side in fights. I might charm his sister and make her my best friend. I might mark my territory with dramatic PDA. Or I might befriend his pals behind his back and subtly warn them off. Either way, the plan is to be the last woman standing.

This isn’t a good thing or a bad thing, its just a thing. Or rather, a theory. And yes, many of these ‘uniquely female tactics’ and thinly veiled emotional abuse. But because this type of psychological manipulation is subtle and insidious, you don’t see it for what it is. Plus, it doesn’t leave visible scars, so it’s harder to spot, address, resolve, or recover from. Also, many women do it, so in a way, it seems … normal. It’s just how women are, right? Men can be trash and women can be evil. Boys can boys and girls can fuck you up before you even know it …

So while ‘rival men’ will strut and pose and throw punches, competing women will perform spy-level surveillance and cold war psychological techniques. Half the time, the dude won’t even know what’s happening til’ he dials that gal pal he hasn’t talked to in ages and she refuses to pick his call. Or he bumps into his (female) barber on the street and she’s hostile, standoffish, and bitchy. He’s thinking wtf kumbe Dada Manywele kaambiwa ‘back off sis, he’s mine!’

And because men’s boxes don’t touch, even if you – as a woman – explain what’s going on, he still doesn’t get it. For him, it simply doesn’t compute. Of course there are exceptions. There are men who have power. Or money. Or charm. Or magic sticks. These men have entire harems at their disposal.

And they get women, pun intended. They wield us and manage us like a pro. And they still keep us in our designated boxes. You may think you’re his whole world until you jump out of your box and spot all the other pretty boxes. And if you try to peek into them, he will stubbornly shove you back into your box.

I don’t know how to bridge the boxes and the wires. I don’t know what the middle ground is between male segregation and female interminglement. And I thought I’d avoid the mess because I’m a platonic. I thought I could dodge all the relationship drama because I’m not in his bed. I thought I could dip into all his boxes because I’m his best friend. I thought I could ignore his women’s attempts to push me out of his life. I thought I was safe in #BFFB.

But guess what – I’m a still woman. I may not want his dick and he may not want my kitty, but in the same way his girlfriends want to be his everything, I want to be in all his boxes. Except – of course – the box where he keeps his boxers. Hiyo hata sikaribii. Naachia the ones who deal with his dick.

But yes, I want the keys to all his other boxes. Not so I can keep his women out, but so I can find my way in. And yes, I do want access to his #NothingBox, even though I know it never ends well. I want him to talk to me, especially when he doesn’t want to. Mostly when he just wants me to go away.

So that’s my theory. Do with it what you will.

Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.

♫ Good lives ♫ Eve 6 ♫

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