Black men have a problem with female sexuality.
Well Rapper T.I.’s recent comments about his daughter’s virginity pretty much encapsulates many black men’s attitude towards female sexuality. To summarise what the American rapper and actor said, he basically admitted to accompanying his 18-year-old daughter, Deyjah, to gynaecologist every year. Why? Well to make sure she is still a virgin by asking doctors to check that her hymen isn’t broken as evidence that her precious virginity was still intact.
Our daughters are not going to be our little angels forever
My daughter is only 33 months (basically an advanced two-year-old) so I have a long way till the inevitable “talk.” For many black men, both African and Caribbean, with our hyper-masculinity coursing through our blood like steroids, the conversation will most likely go something like this:
Black father: “You can’t sleep with any guy till your married.”
And that’s pretty much the end of it.
As a father to a daughter, this reaction is understandable. As fathers and as men, we are naturally protective of women, more so when it's our daughters. I look at my daughter sometimes and I think she is just this amazing, mixed-raced angel that God has blessed me with.
But the reality is she isn’t going to be 33 months forever.
Apologies my brothers if I come across as belittling, but many of us lack self-awareness. I have many black men in my social circle tell me how their daughter will be a good-natured, kind and sweet woman. These are the same men who, in the past and sometimes currently, will seek out the “hoes” and “bad bitches” who they can sleep with quickly. Sometimes I wonder if they realise that these women you’re happy to have a one-night stand with is another man’s daughter?
Obviously, no man wants his daughter to have a reputation of being overly promiscuous. However, us black fathers need to accept that our daughters will grow up to be sexual. She may reach her teens and absolutely crave sex. Trying to control this, by ensuring your daughter remains a virgin, as T.I. does, is counter intuitive and could possibly damage your relationship with your daughter.
Think back to when we were teenagers. If my parents knew some of the sexual activities I was getting up to when I was 16, they would collapse in shock. Similarly, there is no way I will be able to know what my daughter gets up to when I am not around especially when she’s a hormonal teenage girl. Trying to police her will most likely fail. If she wants to sleep with a guy, she’s going to do it and I wouldn’t even know. From young, girls are good at concealing their secrets. Us boys? Not so much.
The point I am ultimately trying to make is that it’s more productive for black men to simply accept that our daughters will one day grow up to be sexual beings. If we want to protect her, we should educate her about her sexuality, not try to control it.
When my daughter is 16, where she can legally have sex, I will sit her down and talk to her on the level. With the help of her mother, I will teach her about STDs, contraception and the realities of pregnancy. Then I will leave her to decide whatever she wants to do. As a father, I’ve played my part which is to educate her. I may have given my daughter life, but it is her life to live.
Now when it comes to our sons…
The double standards regarding female sexuality among black men
In that same interview, T.I basically admits that boys who are virgins are boring to women.
Do you not see the hypocrisy and double standards here? This view is echoed and shared by many black men I know. There is this belief that men who sleep with hundreds of women should be praised but women who do the same should be shunned and disgraced.
Now, I somewhat understand the logic behind this thinking. In the sexual marketplace, now more than ever, women can get sex much easier than men. A man who has slept with 100 women has, most likely, worked much harder to achieve that than a woman who has slept with 100 men. This is mostly down to our biology. Men, on average, are always horny and women, on average, are horny only when they feel that way.
" I may have given my daughter life, but it is her life to live."
But so what?
If a woman has a high sex drive and enjoys consensual sex with multiple partners, then that’s her prerogative. Just because it’s easier for her since she’s a woman is irrelevant. She’s living her life as she chooses to live it and taking advantage of the horny men in this world. It is what it is. Men do not own her.
Many black men really need to let go of the idea that women are not supposed to be sexual as if we have dominion over their body. Women are sexual and love sex just like we men do. Who a woman chooses to share it with is none of our concern until she’s your girlfriend or wife. And if she has had multiple sexual partners before you, why does that even bother you? Is your masculinity so fragile?
Black men look at it this way. A woman who has had a few sexual partners will at least enjoy sex more and will probably be able to please you better in bed.
So don’t hate female sexuality. Embrace it.
Nipsey Hustle, may his soul rest in peace, gave the world music that hit you hard as a man.
Asking me to choose my favourite Nipsey track is like asking me to choose my favourite colour in a packet of skittles – it’s almost impossible since nearly every track of his hits me in some way.
But if someone put a gun to my head and threatened to blow my brains if I didn’t choose, then, to save my life, I would pick Nipsey’s Hustle’s Double Up. Since reaching 30, it’s a song which resonates even more. Throughout the song, Nipsey raps about how he doubled up in life; constantly achieving his dreams and becoming a truly self-made man.
It’s a mindset I am trying to cultivate now that my twenties are behind me.
Every man is his own king. And every king needs his castle
I truly believe that every man on this Earth is a king. Every man on this Earth was made to rule. However, when I say rule, I don’t mean govern other people but to have total control over his own life. So every king needs a castle.
Unfortunately, the way western society has developed over the past 20 years - a terrible economy, over sexualisation of women and men and the pursuit of instant gratification - means that most men have not behaved like the kings of the earth that we are supposed to be, particularly a lot of us black men.
If I look back at my twenties, myself and many other black boys around me (although it’s a behaviour across all race of boys in western society) were not focused on building our castles the way men like my father would have been. In my case, wild parties, casual sex, splashing money and bad decisions colour most of my twenties.
But, in all honesty, I don’t regret any of those experiences.
My 20s were one wild and crazy movie. I had some unforgettable times and experienced two immature but emotionally and physically intense serious relationships (one which resulted in the birth of my beautiful daughter) and I certainly have some interesting stories to share one day.
But my 30s cannot be the decade-long party and drama that my 20s was.
The decade of building my empire
If you haven’t realised already, I am a highly ambitious man with some big ideas and big dreams. God-willing, I will live long enough to accomplish them.
Yet to realise my ambitions, I must build. Brick by brick. Doing this takes time and effort and at 30, where I haven’t accomplished much as far as I am concerned, this will require a drastic shift in my focus. Below are the three things I have promised myself in order to ensure I have built my empire by the time I am in my late 30s.
No serious relationship till 60% of my goals are accomplished – As I’ve spoken about in a previous post, relationships are a distraction. Depending on where you’re at in life, they can be a good distraction but when you’re a man in the stages of building your castle, a relationship is a bad distraction. Most women these days aren’t going to help you build your empire as they want your attention most of the time. Until at least 60% of my goals are accomplished, I am not investing in a serious relationship with women. Just keeping it real ladies but, for now, I am keeping it strictly casual.
Work harder than you play – I played a lot in my twenties – way too much. There was a period in my twenties where I would go out hardcore partying and drinking on a weekday and go to work the next day completely shattered, affecting my performance. All that stops and has stopped for a while. I love a good party, so you’ll probably still find me at a rave in Shoreditch, but it’s limited to only a few weekend evenings. The rest of the time I am on my grind.
Save money – My greatest vice is my reckless spending. It’s not that I don’t know how to save, I just severely lack the discipline. Since university (blame student loans) I’ve had a “I’ll make it back anyway” attitude to money which I simply need to rid myself of. I am not fully there yet, but I’ve made significant progress and becoming better at saving money. No longer do I care about buying brand names – I’d rather use some of my disposable income to travel.
More than I ever did in my 20s, I now have a clear vision of where I want to be and what path I need to take to get there. Due to the childish ways of my 20s, I have created some fires I now need to put out, but I am well on my way to extinguishing those flames.
My throne awaits me. I am going to spend the next few years building my castle so I can take my crown and sit on my throne. Afterwards, I’ll see if there is a queen out there worthy to sit beside me but that’s a post for another time…
This is the first in a series of blog posts where I talk about the process of writing and self-publishing my first novel, A Prophet Who Loved Her (released in October 2020)
Even though I was technically born in the 80s (1989 to be exact) I cannot make the claim that I am a child of the 80s. I am very much a 90s baby – Pokémon, Nickelodeon, Harry Potter, Nokia 3210s, So Solid Crew and Myspace are what I grew up with and what shaped me.
So you can imagine how crazy I must have been when I decided half of my first novel, ‘A Prophet Who Loved Her’, would be set in Brixton during the 80s. Readers will follow my two main Black British characters, Elijah and Esther, as they grow up in a racist South London during the 80s and gradually fall in love.
Why 1980s and why South London?
A few people have asked me why I decided to set half of my book in the 1980s when I wasn’t even alive for nearly all that decade. One of my goals with ‘A Prophet Who Loved Her’ was to explore a significant period of modern Black British history which isn’t written about much. Apart from some of the great books written by Alex Wheatle (which were great source of information about growing up in 80s Brixton), there wasn’t much literature which explores this fascinating and important period in Black British history.
The 80s, especially in South London in areas like Lambeth and Lewisham, were a time when many black Britons, largely of West Indian heritage, were starting to find their identity as black Britons during a period of widescale racism, from the police right up to Thatcher’s government.
We don’t have enough black British books or media which looks back at the modern history of Black British people and appreciates how far Black British people have come since then. So I wanted ‘A Prophet Who Loved Her’ to partly take place in a period where I could explore this era.
The slang of the times – Did people still say “innit?”
I’ve always been someone who loves language (I studied English Language at university after all) and for me, one of the joys of setting my book in the 80s was researching how young black people spoke in Britain during the 80s. In Brixton, especially among the West Indian children who grew up in Brixton, Rastafarian colloquialisms and Jamaican patios pepper the languages of the youth (as it still does today).
Since Elijah and Esther are British Nigerian, I made their language more aligned with how British white youth spoke since they wouldn’t absorb so much of the West Indian culture as they are from an African background and grew up in an African household.
Technology of the time
There was no social media or apps during the 80s. Teenagers left their houses and did stuff! Imagine that happening now. You couldn’t stream movies over the internet(which was only an exciting concept at this point not even a thing) so there was no Netflix. You had to buy a VHS tape and play it in a VCR. Towards the very late 80s, pagers became available which was basically like text messaging and a technology Elijah and Esther use during the parts of the book set in the 80s.
The technology available during this time period informed a lot of the story. I couldn’t just have my characters call each other when they wanted as smartphones did not exist yet. Face-to-face communication was a lot common then and people experienced the moment rather than film everything and communicate everything via their smartphones. Maybe things were better back then but it was interesting to write about how black British teenagers would have interacted with each other during the 80s.
What it did mean to be Black British in London during the 80s
Right now, we live in a period where Black British culture, from Caribbean to African, is not only accepted but celebrated. Go to any British nightclub now or turn on the radio and you’ll hear so much black music, from reggae to afrobeats.
But it wasn’t always like this. Afrobeats did not even exist in the 80s as African culture was largely shunned in the 80s and the 90s (I experienced this growing up). Bob Marley’s massive success meant that black music and reggae were one in the same.
Afrobeat, which is entirely different from Afrobeats, was pioneered by Fela Kuti, It quite popular among the African diaspora. This West African sound was played in Nigerian parties and households in London during the 80s and still is till this day (I grew up listening to this in my father’s car as a youth).
Mostly, it was American rap, reggae, punk and jazz music that was popular among many black Britons during the 80s. There was not really a collective Black British culture in London in the 80s as many black Britons were too busy just trying to find a job and survive in a hostile country.
Things would change. A series of events, such as the 1985 Brixton Riots, the 1981 New Cross house fire and the Black People Day Of Action, all explored in my book, reveal how Black Britons slowly began to form an identity as they came together and rallied against the racism that blighted their lives.
A Prophet Who Loved Her, Leke Apena’s first novel, will be published in 2020. Find out more here.
Just a couple of days ago, I turned 30. The BIG THIRTY. Ask anyone who knows me, and they will tell you, a few days before the big day, I was stressed. Was this the end of my youth? Have I accomplished anything? Have I made too many mistakes?
Once the big day arrived and went, I felt oddly at peace. For the first time in a while I felt balanced. Of course, no one ever stops growing and learning but I realised that I know myself now: my weaknesses, my strengths, my likes and my dislikes and I was completely comfortable with who I am.
So, after being inspired by this great post from fellow University of Brighton alumnus Ross Asubonteng (a great personal blog by the way with inspiring teachings), I have decided to write a list of the six pieces of advice I would tell my younger self if I was given a time machine (apart from going back to 2015, the last perfect summer).
1)Women are fun but not as important as your friends are making them out to be
Don’t worry too much about the opposite sex. I know most of your friends, particularly when you arrive at university, will be focused on sleeping with as many women as their hormones will allow. But don’t be too quick to chase women all the time or have a girlfriend just because your university friends have girlfriends. Take time to explore meaningful pursuits outside of girls because in your 20s, girls are mostly a distraction anyway. Trust me.
2)Don’t be too reckless with money. Cultivate the attitude of saving
Instead of the miniscule pocket money you used to receive from your parents, you will begin to start making some decent money after university. Try not to squander it all on alcohol and partying – that isn’t to say don’t have fun – but set some money aside for a later day. Trust me, you’re going to wish you had because your life will be rocked by a huge bombshell in your mid 20s and you will struggle with this new shift in your life partially because of your recklessness with money.
3)Don’t be so naive about raising a family
That bombshell I was talking about? Well, you end up having a baby with your then girlfriend at the age of 26. At first you will be ecstatic and excited, thinking about all the things you will do with your baby daughter but you are foolishly unaware of how unprepared and naive you are about the realities of raising a family. You’re naturally a nice man, having been brought up responsibly, but while you will be a good father you will be a terrible family man at 26 (there is still much you want to do with your youthful energy, staying at home with a crying child constantly will make you deeply miserable) and this will ultimately lead to the breakdown of the relationship with your daughter’s mother. But it’s ok. Everything happens for a reason and you’ll be fine in the end.
4)Don’t be afraid to cut off friends. Loyalty is not a given
There will be friends you’ve known for a long time who will deeply disappoint you. There are friends who you will realise were never really your friends to begin with. This will hurt you but, in the process, make you stronger. You will tolerate less bullshit from people, and you will become more ruthless in your ability to cut off friends if they cross your boundaries. You are a nice guy and you will realise you’re too nice and need to be an asshole sometimes. It’s a realisation that will stand you in good stead as you move forward in life and deal with more cunning people in your personal and professional life.
5)You will move jobs. A lot. But this is not a bad thing in hindsight
After graduating you will have a series of jobs because you’re naturally charming and people like you. However, some of these jobs will be good experiences and some will be very bad experiences, but you will certainly move around a lot for various reasons. At times you may feel like a failure for not staying in a single job for such a long time but as a result of this you will pick up a range of experiences from different types of companies and different types of people. This will make you a more well-rounded person, both personally and professionally.
6)Learn to be alone for a while – it will take time for you to grow into your own
Don’t be afraid of being alone. It is this fear of not being around someone that will make you rush into a new relationship when you just left one and put up with nonsense from some friends just because you don’t want to lose them. But being alone will be crucial for your development. Due to being pampered by your parents during your formative years and your friends holding your hand throughout university, you’re not very good at standing on your own two feet but this will change gradually. You will travel alone and start to enjoy being an independent person and become comfortable in your own skin.
There will be many twists, turns and bumps throughout your 20s but you’ll be ok. You’re a strong guy, always have been. You just need to realise that for yourself. And thankfully, you will.
“I don’t want to be with you anymore.”
As a man, but especially as a Yoruba, Nigerian man, hearing those words come from the mouth of my then girlfriend and the mother of my daughter snapped my heart like a twig and was like a point-blank shot to the face of my pride.
As soon as she said those words, there was a lot of shouting, insults, tears and pleading. Here was I, as a man, witnessing my family fall apart before my eyes. Deep down inside, I knew that my ex-partner was making the best choice for herself and for me as well– our relationship was basically a sinking ship with a gaping hole, and everyone needed to abandon it. But my Nigerian pride was too much and, to be honest, I was afraid of being alone and single again.
Having been fully single for nine months now, I have pretty much moved on and accepted the fact I am going to be a co-parent to my daughter most likely for the rest of my life now but never say never right? However, being single again has taught me a few things about the importance of being emotionally independent as a man, discovering who you are as an individual and self-reliance.
The problem with many relationships – particularly with African men
Although it’s slightly changing, for the most part, African men are still very conservative regarding their relationships. The man is leader and the woman must follow his lead. This was exactly my way of thinking too. Even though I was born in England, I was still raised in a Nigerian household, so my parent’s marriage was what I used as a template for my own relationships.
Some women like this set up especially if the man is very capable and she’s naturally submissive. However, with women now working and earning, such a structure might not work in the times we live in. I know many African men who still want their wife to cook, clean the house, look after the child and still bring home the coin. It’s unrealistic and unfair to expect women to carry all those responsibilities and the man does nothing apart from go to work and come home to a cooked meal. England isn’t Nigeria (and things are even changing over there).
African men, from my observations, can be too reliant on woman to clean up their lives. I was like this as well. I am not arguing against a woman doing domestic chores, but men should be helping in equal measure. We should know how to cook our own food. Iron our own clothes. Wash the dishes. Which brings me to my next point.
Building self-reliance as a man
A man, especially by the time he gets to his mid-20s (If not earlier) should be fully self-reliant. If you can’t even operate a cooker by the age of 25, then I fear for you. If anything, most of a man’s twenties should be him learning how to take care of himself. Know how to pay bills. Keep a steady job. Try to keep your credit rating decent. These skills are critical for a man to become a fully mature adult but gaining these abilities requires a man to be a lone wolf for a period of life which means no girlfriend living with you who is basically doing all these things for you. Let’s be real, a quality woman wants to date a man who can handle himself not a baby boy she has to handle herself.
Get your money up first
Whether you like it or not, women are attracted to a man who has accomplished something. This does not mean you have to be rolling in it (although some women do have their ridiculously high standards) but in a time where women are making their coin, they will expect their man to also be making a decent living. Just because you’re a man doesn’t mean you are owed a wife. You must earn a wife.
Hence why it’s important for a man to get his money up first. Spend a significant part of your 20s just working tirelessly on your career, your side hustle or whatever it is you’re doing to make paper (as long as it’s not illegal of course). It makes no sense to be spending most of your time chasing girls when you’re broke, or you’ve just started your career. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t have fun with women but that’s all it should be – fun. Spend the majority of your 20s and even your 30s, if you have to, working on yourself and you will attract high quality women down the line.
"Let’s be real, a quality woman wants to date a man who can handle himself not a baby boy she has to handle herself."
Learning to be happy first before having a girlfriend or wife
This is the most important point in this whole piece. You must be happy first before you get into a relationship. In recent times, women have started to understand this concept but I think a lot of men haven’t quite understood it. There still a lot of African men who can only be happy if they have a woman by their side to start a family.
Now I am not saying having a wife and a family shouldn’t make you happy but you’re happiness should not only come from that. Men become very needy because they place so much emotional responsibility on a woman to make them happy. Instead, a man should spend a period of his life being single so he can learn to find happiness within himself first before finding a woman to add to that happiness, instead of being his happiness.
All men are created differently. Some men reach a level of independence and self-sufficiency at 24 and some men at 34. But what is important is that a man gives himself some time to be single so he can grow as a man without a woman having to carry him. It is not a woman’s job to mother a man like a child. Instead it’s a man’s job to grow himself so he feels and looks like someone who carries himself like a king.
A Prophet Who Loved Her, Leke Apena’s first novel, will be published in 2020. Find out more here.
That was my immediate reaction when I learned about the death of Cadet (real name Blaine Cameron Johnson) as a result of a car crash on his way to perform at a university.
Cadet’s sudden and unexpected death was honestly the last thing I expected to read on my Twitter timeline on Sunday 10th February. With a slot booked in Wireless and having just featured on the popular 'Trendy' track, 2019 was set to be an even bigger year for one of grime’s most impressive lyrical MCs. An inexplicable death of young talent like Cadet makes you ask God: Why though?
I did not know Cadet personally in any way other than through his Commitment EPs and other tracks where he featured but, as many people have pointed out, he was such an authentic rapper through his raw lyrics that you felt like you knew him on some level.
Having watched the heartfelt videos of a memorial gathering in Hyde Park which I was sadly unable to attend, I decided to honour the Clapham rapper by listing my top five Cadet tracks.
So, without further ado: CADET! CADET!
5. Cadet - Wanna Know Why (Album: The Commitment)
The riddim on this track reminds of the old grime sound from the Channel U days. When I would listen to this during my gym workouts, the energy and pure hype had me lifting weights and making angry faces at the gym. If you want that hype Cadet track, this one definitely does it.
4. Da Beatfreakz x AJ x Deno x Swarmz x Cadet - Pumpy
Obviously, this is not a strictly Cadet track however, of the tracks Cadet as appeared on, this one is my personal favourite. I love his flow and the playfully boastful lyrics: "She wants the ball like she's Pele" and "I got asthma let me pump that" always bring a stupid grin to my face.
3. Cadet - Don't It Take Personal (Album: The Commitment 2)
In my opinion, this is the best track on The Commitment 2. Although, i'll admit, I am very biased. Ghetts is my favourite MC so seeing him featuring on a Cadet track was always going to gas me up. And the pairing did not fail to deliver. The bars are deadly from both MCs. Who says East and South can't come together and create pure fire.
2. Cadet - The Stereotype (Album: The Commitment)
I think a lot of grime fans will agree that this track was the first taste of Cadet's masterful storytelling. This is such a strong track because of the vulnerability and rawness of Cadet's lyrics. Few MCs would dare be this honest. No bravado. No hype. Just a brother barring his soul for us to listen to. An amazing track and a classic.
1. Cadet - No Way ft Donae'o (Album: The Commitment)
This was the first Cadet track I listened to (in a ponsy club in Shoreditch which I didn't expect) and I used my shazam app to find out who this MC was. I love Cadet's flow on this track (he was one of the few rappers who could truly rap to any tempo) and Done'o gives the track that nice touch with the addictive hook. This will always be my favourite Cadet track.
What are you favourite Cadet tracks? Feel free to leave a comment below listing your top five tracks.
Why I respect Liam Neeson for his honesty and dislike being told that I must be outraged as a black person
When I first listened to Liam Neeson’s recent interview to promote his latest film in which he, very shockingly and bizarrely, admitted he walked around London “with a cosh (a thick heavy stick) hoping to get into an altercation with a black person to kill them," I was taken aback and immediately angry.
To provide some context (not that any context justifies Liam Neeson’s mindset 40-years ago), Mr. Neeson’s late friend was raped by a black male. Enraged, Liam Neeson took it upon himself to seek revenge on any unassuming black man who was unfortunate enough to cross paths with him.
It was appalling to know that an actor I much admired and whose films, such as Taken, I greatly enjoyed, could be capable of such terrible thoughts.
However, after my initial anger had cooled and my emotions had cleared, I looked at Liam Neeson’s confession as objectively and rationally as I could. After some thought, I realised that I respected Liam Neeson for his honesty. I checked my social media feed to find out what other people felt, and I grew frustrated by some of the reactions.
To admit personal failure is a sign of strength
One of the main reasons I came to respect Liam Neeson after his awful admission was that I realised he was very candid about a personal failure of his. In the interview, he clearly states that after a week of roaming around London with a weapon like his character from the Taken movies, he realised his thirst for vengeance was shameful and stemmed from his experiences growing in the Troubles in Northern Island, where revenge between the Protestants and the Catholics was rife.
Now, of course, I am not condoning or excusing Liam Neeson’s actions. Thinking about what he wanted to do to an innocent black man is quite horrifying. It's also immensely brave that Liam Neeson is so self-aware that he can admit his failings. No one can deny that the Hollywood actor did not show genuine remorse.
Many if not all of us can do terrible things in the right circumstances. Nobody is above moments of madness, and we should learn to forgive, especially people like Liam Neeson who can express genuine remorse.
The left-leaning mainstream media only focuses on black people when we're victims
A big part of me believes that the mainstream media, especially the liberally-inclined sections of the press, love it when a black person is victimised. It doesn't matter about the context of any situation so long as black people can be the victims, allowing left-leaning liberals to feel good about themselves for supporting black people.
The fact is if you take into consideration the entire context of Liam Neeson's interview and examine what he has said objectively, then this was an unplanned revelation from the actor in a moment of vulnerability. Personally, I believe this should be commended.
Instead, the left-leaning media and other liberals have weaponised the situation to drive home once again the narrative that black people are will always be victims.
All black people are expected to be outraged
Prominent black figures such as John Barnes, Whoopi Goldberg and Terry Crews have congratulated Liam Neeson for his outright honesty. However, many people, both black and white, have condemned these stars for supporting Liam Neeson.
There seems to be this idea, among left-leaning liberals and among black people with massive chips on their shoulders, that black people in western society should always be outraged about perceived slights against our demographic. This belief harkens back to my earlier point about a percentage of black people still needing to feel victimised and the left-leaning liberals encouraging this thought.
I am not outraged, and I won't be told by anyone how I am supposed to react as a black person. I am not just the color of my skin - I am an individual. Like Liam Neeson, I have my dark days as well. Growth comes when we recognise our destructive behaviours and rise above them. Liam Neeson has done that, and we should all learn from that.
What does it mean to be a modern feminist?
Ever since I became a father to a beautiful baby girl in 2017, I have been increasingly pondering this question. As a young father (still a fresh-faced, slightly jaded 29-year-old millennial) I am now facing the prospect of raising my daughter in western society. Doing my homework on feminism is crucial for me if I want to build my daughter to be a strong and independent woman who fulfils her full potential.
After doing a lot of reading about the history of feminism, examining media stories around the issue and engaging in my own self-reflection, I have concluded that I won’t be raising my daughter to be a feminist - well not the modern iteration of feminism.
An extremely brief history of feminism
Western women, particularly in the early ninetieth and twentieth century, were prohibited from having the same rights as men. Of course, I don’t need to explain why this was absurd. The woman suffrage movements that spread throughout western society gave women their rightful freedom to vote.
Later, we had two devastating World Wars which forced western women into the workforce while men went off to go and kill each other. Becoming part of the workforce made women realise their own economic potential – they did not have to be domesticated housewives as they could do the factory and office jobs just as well as the guys. This epiphany planted the seeds which eventually grew into the spirited feminism movements of the 60s and 70s, finally bringing about the much-needed equality between men and women.
So far, so good.
Fast-forward to 2019, and this new incarnation of feminism has me worried. Instead of pushing for equality (despite claims that modern feminism is promoting equality between the two sexes, the messages I am seeing from feminists tells a different story) modern feminism is now about cultivating female superiority while ridiculing and dismissing masculinity in its entirety.
Therefore, i have developed my own beliefs around femininity that I am going to impart on my daughter, so she grows up into a happy woman rather than a miserable one, filled with unrealistic expectations.
Women are not better than men. Men are not better than women. We complement each other
Anyone who knows me on a personal level is aware I am not religious, but I do consider myself to be spiritual to some degree. I sometimes read the Bible as I find it to be an excellent guide when I find myself facing morally tricky decisions. The Bible clearly states that women were created by God to support men and help them.
In my mind, God created men and women with different characteristics so the sexes can complement each other. This is what I will teach my daughter. Modern feminism, utilising mainstream media as its primary vehicle, seems to be driving home the message that women are competent and independent and men are bubbling and inept Neanderthals. Women have gone from being damsels in distress to the saviours of humankind. In modern feminism's attempts to rightfully champion women, its advocates have swung the pendulum too far in the opposite direction.
It’s my responsibility to show my daughter that men are caring, confident and competent – not the idiots that modern media wants to perpetuate.
I want my daughter to understand that there is nothing wrong with doing things to make your boyfriend or husband happy (and ditto for the man as well). Wanting to please your male partner does not make you a weak woman. It does not make you a conformist to the "patriarchy." It makes you the type of woman that a man will do anything to keep by his side.
Not all traditional masculinity is toxic
I don’t deny the fact that some men, particularly those with status and power, have abused their positions to sexually exploit young women. Recent high-profile cases are a testament to this. I will never condone the actions of a man using his status to dominate a woman in any way, and I will teach my daughter never to tolerate it either.
However, I will not teach my daughter that traditional masculinity is terrible. Toxic masculinity has become this buzzword that seems to encompass anything men do that make them inherently men. Cheeky banter, checking out a pretty woman, play fighting or being competitive – all of this has been categorised as toxic masculinity at some point by modern feminist commentators. Just take a look at this condescending Gillette ad as a case in point.
Quite frankly, I find the concept of toxic masculinity to be ridiculous, and I will teach my daughter not to be offended by a man who play-fights or a man who is competitive or a man who kindly and appropriately expresses interest in her.
Being pretty and feminine will always be important to high-quality men
I would love my daughter to go to university, obtain a degree which she enjoys studying and then totally owning the corporate world or be a brilliant artist. Whatever makes her happy and, it goes without saying, she should accomplish goals for herself, not to impress men.
Having said that, I will tell her that if she wants to one day marry a high-value man (one who is masculine, responsible, reliable, caring and hard-working), then she will need to pay attention to her appearance and ensure she has traditional, feminine qualities. Telling my daughter that looks don’t matter is ridiculous. There is a reason the market value for the beauty and personal care industry in the UK alone was expected to have reached over 15 billion euros in 2018.
" I want my daughter to understand that there is nothing wrong with doing things to make your boyfriend or husband happy (and ditto for the man as well). Wanting to please your male partner does not make you a weak woman. It does not make you a conformist to the "patriarchy." It makes you the type of woman that a man will do anything to keep by his side. "
Of course, I will never tell my daughter she needs to resemble a malnourished, catwalk model or she must have curvy hips and a massive backside. Beauty is subjective, and she must work with what she has. But I will teach her to take care of her physical appearance and try to stay as attractive as her age will allow. Not only to attract a man but for her own health and self-esteem as well.
You cannot have it all immediately
The notion that “women can have it all” has been the rallying call for modern-day feminists. Women cannot have it all, and I believe many women don't buy it. Modern feminists would have you think that all women can grow a career or business for twenty years and then expect, at 40 years old, to bear children with any high-value man of their choosing. While they are indeed examples of women who have achieved this, this is not happening in droves.
Thanks to the marvels of modern medical technology, women are freezing their eggs in their late thirties and forties so they can put off child rearing without the fear of being childless when they grow older. But freezing eggs is far from a guaranteed success.
As a father, it is my responsibility to teach my daughter the reality of her biology rather than regurgitate the falsehoods about womanhood that is perpetuated by our current feminist commentators. I will show my daughter that if she wants healthy children, she will need to have them while she’s in her twenties to thirties. If she wants children with a highly-desirable man, she will need to be maternal and feminine.
Finally, if she wants to be the best mother she can be in the early years of her child's life, she will need to work less for some time. Her career will be waiting for her. But I will never tell her she can have everything because it’s more likely that she can’t, and she must prioritise.
Ultimately, I must be the best version of a man I can be
Raising my daughter to have a healthy relationship with men will eventually come down to me. How I behave as a man, how I treat her mother and other women will form her understanding of intersexual dynamics. Inevitably, there will be outside influences but her first point of reference will be me, and when she's a fully-grown woman, her expectations of men will be anchored to how I raised her.
There is a well-known platitude that says women end up marrying men like their fathers. If there is truth in that, then I absolutely must strive to be a good man.
If I don't want modern feminism to be responsible for shaping my daughter's understanding of men and the world around her, then I must ensure I am the best version of a man that I can be. It's what our daughters deserve and desperately need right now, instead of modern feminism.
I am turning 30 this year. For millennial men and women, becoming 30, like turning 18 or 21, comes with an expectation. You've lived for three decades now and seen some stuff. By this point, you have mostly experienced every feeling a person experiences; love, heartbreak, friendships, broken friendships, death, promotion, job losses, etc. The one thing most almost-30 millennials have yet to experience is parenthood.
It’s no secret that millennials are having sex (Tinder is ubiquitous among my generation for a reason) and becoming vegans in droves, but millennials are not starting families. When I look at my social circle, I am the only one who has a child. And I have a big social circle.
For me, becoming a father was an accident. If I typed on this post that I wanted to be a father so desperately at 27 and that I was beyond excited to bring my daughter into this world, it would be an outright lie. Don't get me wrong, in hindsight; my daughter is a blessing and one of the best things to happen to my life. But initially, I was not ready at all to be a father, and because of that, there was a lot of drama between myself and my partner. It was a volatile period which has since settled.
When my male friends, often those who are in their late twenties, come to me and say to me "I am thinking about having a child," I look them dead in the eye and ask: "Why?"
Instead of asking that question, I have outlined four questions the millennial man needs to ask himself honestly before making this incredibly life-changing decision to have a child. Doing so will save young men from experiencing the regret and anger that I felt because I didn't fully think about the implications of fatherhood before throwing myself into it.
Have you accomplished your goals?
A man in his late twenties must have goals in his life so that by the time he is in his mid-thirties, he is stable in all critical areas of his life.
If having a child is not part of your goals or does not help you accomplish them, you don't need to have a child, especially if you're still in your twenties.
Now some of you men might say to me "But my girlfriend/wife" really wants a child. My retort is: "It doesn't matter." Having a child will bring such a massive upheaval to your life that you need to be utterly confident that becoming a father is a goal of yours at this stage in your life. If it isn't, then don't have a child. If that means your girlfriend or wife leaves you, then so be it. The two of you weren't on the same page.
Never have a child just because it's what your girlfriend or wife desires. I can't stress how important this is. When it comes to having children, you need to be selfish because the impact of children is too high.
Does your girlfriend or wife desperately want to be a mother and is she willing to put her career aside for a short period?
So, you’ve done a deep-dive into your soul and found that you do want to have children in your late twenties. Good for you, mate. The second question you need to ask yourself is: Would your girlfriend or wife make a great mother?
I've dated girls in the past that were fun. We had a laugh and a great time. But they would not have made good mothers at the time; their mentality was ill-suited for the demands that motherhood requires.
I honestly thank God that my partner is a natural mother. She is maternal to a fault. Our daughter's priorities come first. She has sacrificed a great deal to ensure our daughter is healthy and happy.
Although mainstream media says otherwise, a very ambitious woman who wants to be a director of a large company by 35 will probably be miserable if she becomes a mother at 30. I know the media is proclaiming “women can have it all” but in reality, they can’t - not straight away anyway. Show me an unstressed mother who is a full-time director; working 40 hours a week, while also being a full-time mother and isn't outsourcing her child rearing duties to nannies every week.
If your girlfriend is under 30 and wants children, as a man, you need to make sure that she is willing to put the needs of her child first and foremost before her career. If she can't, I don't see why she should have your child.
Depending on what kind of man you are, you might be happy taking a backseat in your career to stay at home and look after your child while your girlfriend or wife goes to work. While I could never sit at home and look after my child without working, if you decide to do that, then please make sure you're with a woman who won't lose respect for you overtime for being a stay-at-home Dad and appreciates your role.
Have you moved in with your girlfriend or wife for more than two years?
You want to have a child in your twenties. You can confidently say yes.
Your girlfriend/wife is willing to be a mother first and a career woman second or she is happy for you to stay at home and will not lose respect for you. You can confidently say yes.
Are you good to go? Better get procreating? Not quite.
In my personal experience, you want to raise your child in a stable household. I am very conservative about this. Although it's not the only way to build a healthy and emotionally stable child, it is still the most effective way in my opinion. It's going to be much harder to raise a child in a stable household if you haven't even lived with your girlfriend as stable housemates for at least two years.
I always roll my eyes when my mates, who have never lived with their girlfriends, say to me "we never argue, and we always get along." Well, of course you do, because you only see her three times a week. When you move in with a woman, you will see sides of her that will annoy you, and it's the same thing for her as well.
" Never have a child just because it's what your girlfriend or wife desires. I can't stress how important this is. When it comes to having children, you need to be selfish because the impact of children is too high. "
Live with your girlfriend for at least two years to fully understand her character, and she understands yours. Living together will smooth out the creases in your relationship so that when you do have a child together, your child is entering a home that is peaceful instead of one with constant arguments and slammed doors.
Are you financially stable?
You would think this would be a no-brainer, but I have seen couples have children they cannot afford -myself included. If my bank balance had eyebrows, it would have raised them incredulously when I ignorantly decided to have a child with my girlfriend.
If you don't have sound finances, having a child is going to test you as a man in a way you want to avoid. Again, take it from me. Raising children is ridiculously expensive. Overpriced clothes. Overpriced toys. Overpriced nappies. Overpriced nursery fees. If you're a vegan, forget about all that costly vegan food you love eating from Whole Foods. Having a child will bleed your bank account quicker than an ill-advised, drunken trip to the Casino.
Sit down with your partner and calculate your monthly income. All your outgoings and what you both need to cut now that you have both decided to have a child. Make sure you have emergency funds. Failure to do due diligence on your finances will make you stressed out and unhappy during a period where you should be happy and joyful.
Are you willing to sacrifice a lot of your money; time, energy, and opportunities?
Probably my most significant oversight was that I did not fully comprehend how much sacrifice would be required when raising children. Spending my disposable income on new trainers and weekly night outs. No more of that. Travelling whenever I want. No more of that. Eight hours of sleep. Ciao.
If you want to be a decent father, a lot of your time and energy will be spent supporting your partner in raising your child because you're also responsible for that child's growth. It's a gigantic shift in your priorities especially for men in their twenties, heck any man at any age. Raising a kid is one of the biggest responsibilities a man can have, right next to being the US President and look what happens when you mess up that role.
Are you happy to no longer be your partner's priority?
Understand this, as soon as your child is born, all the attention you used to receive from your partner will decrease, especially in the child's early years. While you should expect to be a priority to some degree, you're not going to be THE priority to your partner when she becomes a mother. As a man, you must be comfortable with this. If you still want to spend more time solely enjoying the love of your girlfriend while you both travel the world, then don't have a child with her yet.
To all my male, millennial friends who ask me if they should have children, I will now point you in the direction of this blog. Having a child is beautiful but have your eyes opened. It's not all fun, games, and trips to the park. It's a real responsibility. Don't make my mistake of blindly going through with it. Make sure you're ready.
"The Devil made me do it." Blaming demonic forces for our mistakes and misfortunes holds black people back
Although I am not a regular churchgoer anymore, I still speak to and surround myself with Christians who are both black and white. Even if you're not religious, I believe it's good to have Christians in your social circle. Surrounding yourself with genuine Christians helps ground me in a secular world filled with temptation and hatred. Growing up, I went to an African-dominated church in East London, but when I was an undergraduate student in Brighton, I went to a mixed church where most of the congregation was white. Attending these two churches, I gradually became aware of one major difference between black Christians, and white Christians. This difference was their relationship with Satan.
For many black Christians, I noticed that Satan is such a central and pronounced part of their Christian lives than it is for white Christians. Black Christians, particularly those who are of African descent, blame Satan for everything that goes wrong in their lives. Absolutely everything.
There was a period in my life where a lot of things weren’t going my way. Life was playing around with me or, more accurately, i was playing around with life. I was making a lot of mistakes in my professional and personal life. My mother, bless her, who is a very devout Christian, would always say to me during this turbulent period by saying: "The Devil is a liar. It will not be your portion."
When I sought consolation from my African Christian friends, they would spout similar refrains: “The Devil will not win.” “Satan’s works will not manifest in your life.” “You will overcome the demons in your life.”
If you genuinely believe in and practice Christianity, then the power of Satan is real. I am not arguing against that at all. However, I do think to place Satan or the Devil at the centre of all your misfortunes and wrong decisions will hold you back, even if you are the most devout Christian.
YOU are usually the problem, not Satan
From a Christian perspective, you can’t deny that Satan is a powerful force in human’s lives. There are many scriptures in the Bible which explicitly refer to the Devil; the fallen angel Lucifer and the manifestation of evil. However, the scriptures also mention human’s evil intentions. Have a read of James 1: 13 -16 which directly alludes to human’s capacity to follow the evil intent within their hearts.
It’s not uncommon to hear stories of pastors having extramarital affairs or embezzling money from their churches. Most of the time, when a pastor's wrongdoings come to light, and he or she has no choice but to admit their fault, the apology is always framed so that it was Satan who enticed the pastor to commit their wrongdoings.
Whenever African Christians, and it’s a trait I find common with this group, blame Satan for their wrong choices, I never accept their apology. I find it to be the height of insincerity. If a husband cheats on his wife with a young woman, he made that decision to do it. Wives will pray that Satan stops tempting their husband or pray that Satan will not put a pretty woman in their husband’s pathway, but I find this ridiculous. A man cheats on his wife because he has the desire within him to do so. The husband is the problem, not the Devil.
Self-improvement is about you overcoming yourself, not defeating Satan
Whenever something negative happens in your life, it’s easy to blame Satan or demonic influences as many Africans tend to. Lost your job. It is demonic forces. Wife wants to divorce you. It is demonic forces. Boss is giving you stress. It is demonic forces.
Believing that Satan or demonic forces are the causes of all the negativity in your life glosses over the reality of why you're now in a terrible place in your life and disables you from finding the root cause of a problematic situation. Sometimes, the reason you lost your job is because of a mistake you made or perhaps the reason your marriage is failing is that you're no longer fulfilling your partner's needs. Without rational reasoning and looking inwardly at yourself, you will never understand the root cause because you’ve blamed it on some vague, abstract concept of ‘demonic forces’ or ‘the works of Satan.’
I am a massive believer in self-improvement. But you can't improve yourself and become a better person if you cannot take responsibility for your actions and do what is necessary to ensure you don’t make these mistakes again. Even the Bible says faith without works is dead. Also if you believe Satan is working against you, you won't be able to combat Satan if you do not put in the effort necessary.
" Believing that Satan or demonic forces are the causes of all the negativity in your life glosses over the reality of why you're now in a terrible place in your life and disables you from finding the root cause of a problematic situation. "
Many African Christians need to start assessing their mistakes and bad choices as a result of their selfish desires or unwise decisions. Pointing the finger at some intangible spirit like Satan or demons will not solve your problems. Look into yourself, admit you made the wrong choice and then find the strength in yourself and through God to improve. No ‘demonic spirit’ can affect you if your resolve is strong enough.