Sunday, May 20, 2007
THE GIRL WHISPERER
as published in the Sunday Guardian of May 20
IN-LAWS FROM HELL
For many women (and men), the greatest trial they will ever face is getting involved with or marrying someone under the rule of a mother or other strong women in the family. Is this possible in the modern world, you ask? Can there be people who cannot escape the rule of their mothers, or some great-aunt or god-mother no matter how old they are? It does happen more often than we realise.
Africa, as well as other places worldwide, had some societies which were, until a few hundred years ago, largely matriarchal. Women ruled, were bread winners and even fought in armies. The women-soldiers of Dahomey who continuously raided the kingdoms now known as Western Nigeria in search of bounty and slaves are good examples of these.
Cases abound of potential partners who are first scrutinized by the women in the receiving family before acceptance. And when the incoming partner manages to scrape through this examination, he or she must learn to live with “guidance” through the life-span of the relationship. For those who take the “till death do us part” vow seriously, it might be a good thing to weigh the pros and cons of living in bondage for the rest of one’s natural life. In such families, these amazons never take a back seat and the partner in issue will have many masters.
How can one tell where these closet Amazons make their habitat? There are some characteristics, one of which is that very often, the “Alpha-female” in the Amazonian set-up is usually wealthy. We all have antenna that informs us of scrutiny from the families of those we mean to join, scrutiny which any well-meaning family should do to avoid adding Jack the Ripper as a nuclear-family member. However, when the scrutiny is hostile even if there are no words spoken, care has to be taken.
The In-laws from hell will tell your partner to inform you when you may bear children, what kind of work you should do and if you should take holidays. Your home will no longer be your home but theirs. Watch out for the partner that leaves you alone in the company of his or her family members at the first meeting and disappears on some fool’s errand allowing them to slash and claw at you to their heart’s content. A partner who does not strive to make you comfortable at that most-important first encounter is probably ruled by an Amazon and it is an omen for what the rest of your lives will be like. When they ask you, “So what does your father do?”, be ready for anything. Often, these people weigh success and achievement through accidents of birth and other such meaningless barometers.
There is no redemption or return to normalcy for an off-spring of the Amazonians. The only type you may decide to stay with is the one that has warned you before-hand the way his or her family is, and has promised to shield you from onslaughts by these people.
Some will say, “I don’t care what type of set-up the family is. I’ll go in there and scatter them”. Maybe. It is more likely you will be emasculated, your opinion disregarded, made to feel incompetent on account of not coming from a background as affluent or as closely-knit. It will be a life-sentence and you might regret the day you chose to ignore obvious warning signs. They will seek to break your spirit, permanently, the way some men break those of horses so they may ride them without being thrown. You will no longer count as a person and have as much importance as an expensive piece of furniture or some other household fitting. When you meet the In-laws from hell, don’t mistake the mist for special effects. Those that stand before you are fire-breathing dragons and the smoke is sulphur.