Can this selfie get me a date?

angry nird

It’s 2am, I just spent the evening at a club drinking tea (it’s complicated) while pretending I can’t see guys ogling my dress. I am showered but the cigar smoke is still in my hair, so here I am on my balcony trying to air it out. I am also whatsapping a friend in New York, she wants to see what “airing” one’s hair looks like, so I send a selfie.

“Ooh sexy,” she types back.
“Think it will get me a date?” I quip with a laughing emoji. There is context to this but that’s another post. So begins an idea.

I have a vested interest in online communities, mostly because I am trying to figure out a way to get a PhD out some of them. On a deeper level most of my closest friends live in different cities/countries/continents (I also don’t get out much), so the internet is our best way to connect and keep up with each others lives. I wrote a piece just over a year ago about Tinder and the confusions it is causing in the dating scene and how we need to redefine what we are looking for online. I still stand by that piece, but last night I had to ask myself a deeper question: can a simple photograph (selfie) get me a date?

I have a point, I promise.

Think about it, how many of us communicate with each other by way of photographs? To share where we are, what we are doing and wearing? Even to share who we are with. It is part of our culture, a very important part of it.

I was added to an online group a few weeks ago about dating, ordinarily I would remove myself from groups like this but something about this community got my attention. Yes, it is a community of people who support each other and there is no negativity just fun and hopefully a match or two. But what was most fascinating was the redefinition of the selfie culture that exists there. It is used to ask questions, respond to questions and explain the current mood. The conversation is the selfie and it communicates bundles. It is so much easier for people to post a selfie than to engage in comments or otherwise. No one set the rule, at least I don’t think so, it’s just the way it is and it is acceptable. The norm, even.

We would all be lying if physical attributes are not the biggest contributors to attraction. It is what gets you interested, a person’s mind and other attributes may keep you interested but it is their physicality that gets you thinking of them without prior contact. More and more we live in a beautified world and we can’t blame it all on the media anymore. There is a strange sense of voyeurism that currently exists on social media that allows us to celebrate beauty in a new and fascinating way. A place where we know is cruel to women and ugly to people that don’t fit the unrealistic/predefined standards of beauty. Yet, there is a strange confidence that selfies bring. There is a quasi-Jungian persona that we have gained in the post-self conscious era. The selfie generation have taken what the ancients used to call “fatum”, to us destiny into their own hands. Selfies create a tapestry of words that culminate in an exquisite, sublime conversation. To outsiders it might look like the tactics of vanity, to the players it is simply the only way they know how to move on the chessboard and the best steps to the dance they own.

If anything you need to respect the courage of the quasi-Jungian persona, to pitch oneself out for date, with the danger that no one will respond. The fragility of ego for some could easily send them into a panic attack. No matter what your judgement is, the pseudo-intellectuals will have reason to disagree, it is ballsy. Selfies become the currency of conversation for the soft spoken, the brazen and the fierce, there is no way to lose if you were never prepared to win.

But back to my question: can this selfie get me a date? It turns out it can, several in fact, my dad should be happy; pity they don’t live in the same country. Selfies as part of the dating currency and it makes perfect sense, just look at Tinder. Even when you are set up by friends, they use photographs to convince you to say yes or no. Blind dates aren’t so “blind” anymore because we stalk them on social media, because we need to be prepared. It is simply who we are.

We need to stop calling grown ass women ‘cute’

Red

It’s a windy afternoon in the city of Cape Town, for the second time in my four-day trip here I have had to make the grave choice of what was more important, my dignity or may hair. Dresses are not meant for this city. I am standing just outside of one of the many entrances to the Waterfront shopping mall, a guy stops right next to me mobile device out – likely waiting on an Uber. He looks familiar, he is smiling, my current dignity/hair predicament is amusing.

“You were just in the iStore, right?” he asks me, almost daring me to deny it.
“Um, yeah,” I respond apprehensive. But understanding colours my familiarity. I had seen him in there, staring.
“Yeah, I saw you. You’re pretty cute,” he smiles. This is a compliment and I should thank him, maybe flirt a little? But I don’t, I just smile, nod and luckily my car is here so I get in hastily.

Call me whatever you like, but I feel a grown woman shouldn’t be called cute. ‘Pretty cute’ most often for women doesn’t feel like a compliment but a downgrade from pretty, beautiful, gorgeous and stunning. If you don’t feel the person you’re about to compliment is any of the four words or million other words out there then don’t. Cute just makes them feel like that they are not attractive. You sully the word pretty by tacking “cute” to it.

Cute by definition means: “attractive in a pretty or endearing way“. This word is to been likened with adorable and sweet the same words you would use to describe a baby/child, fluffy stuffed toys and puppies. When you Google the word cute the above mentioned things come up. Not quite how a grown woman wants to be seen and I highly doubt grown men want to be cute either – not after they see what Google brings up. On the other hand the word beautiful is likened to attractive, pretty, pleasing to to eyes and alluring. You can see the problem here. Men and Women are creatures of physicality. When someone you think is alluring thinks you are nothing more than an adorable puppy it’s kinda harsh, intended or not.

faceCOLLAGE

In the description of the outward beauty of an adult, their intellect is just as intimidating as their physical beauty. This leads to using lesser words to describe, that’s what one of my guy friends tells me. He doesn’t do it of course but guys do, he says. They will use “cute” so they are not that intimidated, this implies premeditation. A way to level the playing field. I can’t match your intellect but beauty is in the eye of the beholder so I will behold with edit? They will use cute when they are forced to pick what category a female friend or acquaintance falls into. This is to avoid any confusion in the relationship if they are not physically attracted to said female. This is of course mind-boggling but perhaps understandable but more likely a full of shit summation. Compliments do not come with consequences, well they shouldn’t. In today’s world of sexual harassment and political correctness, you can understand the quandary presented. Just because I think a person’s genetic make up is a spectacular work of art does not mean anything. It is simply a compliment and we shouldn’t be afraid to give them. The crucial thing here is that words mean far more than we think they do.

This is the trouble with the English language, the words that get perpetuated are the ones that pop culture finds convenient. Often these words are inadvertently chosen by gender bias. Take the titles Mr, Mrs and Miss. Somewhere in history we lost the title Master, a title used to describe a boy/man too young to be referred to Mr (someone of marriageable age). While the use of classification titles for women continue because we have to know who is Miss and who is Mrs. Someone women have begun adopting the title Ms, which can refer to married or unmarried. Yet society makes it a point that Mrs should be affirmed because history has taught us that married women should wear their title like a badge of honour while single women wear theirs with pity ( by choice or not). It’s pretty disgusting if you think about just how fucked up something as simple as this can affect the greater societal psyche.

Yes I know, the word cute is not some big societal gender conspiracy especially because women also use those words to describe men as well. True, and women also please stop describing grown ass men as cute as well. There is nothing wrong with this word, it just seems a bit less when describe the attractiveness of an adult woman or man. I think the thesis of this argument is that of all the words, the treasure trove of words out there, we choose the least flattering to describe beauty. Words are incandescent as is their beauty and the feeling they bring.

In Nigeria, an accent is a catalyst for love

yaba

I have been debating whether I should write this for days but a conversation with a friend just convinced me to do it. Please hold up on the hunt for me till you’re done reading.

When I decided to spend 30 days in Lagos, I intended to just work and go back home but many people told me that would be a loss. Lagos is one of Africa’s most vibrant cities with something exciting each week. Its people are dynamic and energetic. I am yet to be in an African city that makes being African so cool and sexy and just darn fun. Yes, there are some challenges here, most of them deal-breakers but that is a different conversation.

As I come to the end of my trip, many people have asked me if I met any nice guys here (I hope my father doesn’t read this). I didn’t go looking for guys, and to be honest I had no interest but I did meet a lot of people and a number of them were guys. The dating scene in Lagos has mixed reviews from residents, some who love it and others who despise it. For most women, that I spoke to, it seems that Nigerian men are not much loved, some of them. “Nigerian men deceive with intent, it’s almost as though they set out to be evil and hurt you,” someone recounts to me. The creepy thing is this perspective is held by both men and women. My male friends warned me to not be alone with guys I just met or have only known a few days, and to watch everything I drink while out. It paints a rather terrifying picture of men in Las Gidi.

While men are deceiving with intent they also seem to be existing in a faux conservative world. More than one 20-something confessed their undying love to me after only an interaction of less than 15min, maybe I got mad game maybe not. When I relayed this to a friend he responded “it’s that tinge of British in your accent”. Nigerian men and women seem to fall for people by their accent, at least that is what I understood from his response. Here an accent is a catalyst for love, marriage and the world because Nollywood. The movies say when you fall you should fall hard and it should be a forever kind of thing – real or not. I would be flattered if I didn’t feel quite ridiculous every time it happened.

No one here ever tells you they just want to have sex, the conservative nature of the country makes that a fake taboo. It’s not like people aren’t doing it they just rather pretend. Goodness me, Nigerians can lie. Men lie about their physical desires and what they want from women, women do it too it would appear. Is there a law that says you must lie for survival? Nigerians believe in love at first sight, or at least they think they do. The way it plays out it seems Nigerians need to grab love by the collar and make it theirs immediately. They see a girl and they fall hard within 10mins. They will pledge their lives to these women, send flowers and even offer to buy lingerie. Nigerian girls must know the rules and signs of this game by now, so why are people still playing it?

No one asks you for a date, they ask you for a lifetime as though those are easy to give away. People throw the L word around like its going out of fashion, it’s rather perplexing. Why? It’s been an interesting 30 days learning and watching. The politics of love, dating and sex is weaved into the fabric of this city. Here it seems people are paying for sex one way or another, with the promise of love, marriage or money (security). In some cases all three. Quite the costly exchange for the promised.