You will recognise her, but not by any specific outward appearance because she does not conform to what society expects of her. She exudes confidence, self-assurance and a self-possession that does not belie any underlying insecurity. She is so okay with herself, that she recognises that it is better to be alone and wait for the right guy than participate in the madness that is modern-day hook-up culture.
She goes on a date and has the audacity to expect chivalry for its duration. She is probably very successful in her professional life. She is one of those women who have been both unfortunate and fortunate enough to have a clear idea of how real gentlemen behave. Fortunate because when she sees it she will recognise it. Unfortunate because it has become less and less prevalent such that it sometimes feels like there are no real gentlemen left.
She is the bane of the millennial hook-up culture of meaningless connections and contrived affections.
She is the difficult woman.
There exists a concept known as female hysteria. In bygone days it presented in many documented ways but was largely just the brainchild of misogyny and has never actually gone away. It is not so blatantly used now as it was in the late 20th and early 21st centuries but it has been replaced by a new word. This is how societies evolve. We replace words in our day-to-day communication that make injustices sound less bad. Think “separate but equal” instead of ‘institutionalised racism”. Thus, in this modern day world, we replaced the concept of the ‘hysterical’ woman with the new and novel concept of the ‘difficult’ woman.
Women are presently undergoing an unspoken, systematic silencing. Speaking about things too passionately in the workplace makes you a difficult woman. Leading a cause to further equality of the sexes makes you a difficult woman. In a speech that has been mainstreamed by Beyonce’s “Flawless” track, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie states, “We say to girls, ‘You can have ambition but not too much. You should aim to be successful but not too successful; otherwise you will threaten the man’.” No doubt there are men in Nigeria who see her as flouting traditional gender roles as she deigns to be a voice for the voiceless and call her difficult. If you know your own mind or heart and are too forthright in stating the things that you want/don’t want, that makes you a difficult woman. And with the advent of hook-up culture, expecting something as simple as chivalry in the men with whom you associate, makes you a difficult woman.
The difficult woman is the embodiment of everything that modern hook-up culture is trying to thwart in an effort to survive and remain the new standard. She’s the woman who does not tolerate non-committal behaviour. She gives no regard to the fact that gone are the days where people make concrete plans to have an actual date – that now it’s “let’s grab a drink one day when you are free maybe” or “at some point we should really meet up and do something.” She simply ignores texts that present nonchalant plans and proposals of non-dates and requires that any prospective suitor come up with actual date ideas.
A gentleman is defined as a man whose conduct conforms to a high standard of propriety or chivalrous behaviour. Here are some of the things that she has come to believe about gentlemen:
Car door, actual door, career door, mental or emotional door – if it is within their capacity to do it, they will open it for you.
A gentleman is concerned about your comfort. Not in the “let me make you a housewife way”. Just a genuine
interest in knowing or making sure that you are okay. It could be just a phone-call after a tough exam or
He will make you feel special even with small things. The way his hand rests on your back when you are out with people. The way he says and does things to get a laugh out of you. He will make you feel like you are the most beautiful most special person in the world at moments when you really need the boost and sometimes just because.
This is what separates boys from men. Gentlemen know this is the required standard of behaviour and make her aware that it’s not wrong to expect it. The people that make her feel like she is difficult and a lot of work because she expects these small gestures of chivalry, are just trying to make HER fit into THEIR hook-up culture mould.
“The one who cares more never gets what he/she wants.”
This has become the mantra of the hook-up culture. Somehow, as millenials, we have managed to tacitly agree (globally, I might add) to warp dating into this long and complicated game that- for all intents and purposes – no one is winning. But the difficult woman does not allow the world to change her fundamental beliefs about love and relationships. She stands fast in the hope that any day could be the day that she meets the right one. She does not subscribe to the machinations of the hook-up culture. She is the anti-hook-up culture. She believes that chivalry isn’t dead; it’s probably just hiding in all the places she isn’t looking.
Main image from knowledgeisking.ning.com