Despite the excitement that is often said to come with allowing men to “pop the question”, some feel a woman should be able to turn the table around and do the proposing.
This debate was triggered by a viral video showing an unidentified young woman in high heels dropping to her knees to propose to her boyfriend, who turned her down instantly at the Ikeja City Mall, Lagos few weeks ago.
But while these kinds of rejections may have placed a dark cloud on the idea of a woman proposing to a man, some women have had successes.
In June 2017, Edo comedienne, Etinosa Idemudia, took the bull by the horns and went down on bended knee to propose to her boyfriend, Bucci Franklin, in a restaurant, in the full glare of public attention.
“Not every time wait for bae to propose (sic). Sometimes take the bull by the horns. I was so nervous but he said yes!” she wrote on a picture of the scene she posted on Instagram afterwards.
In 2015, a Nigerian woman won the admiration of many, when she went down on bended knee at her place of work and proposed to her boyfriend. Her photographs, which circulated on blogs and news sites at the time, showed her co-workers gushing about the romantic gesture as her boyfriend accepted the proposal with a kiss on the forehead.
Psychologists think trend is worrisome
Prominent psychologists, Professors Oni Fagbohungbe and Toba Elegbeleye, said that Nigerians are simply moving with time.
Fagbohun identified physiological psychology as a factor that explains the pressure on women to get married.
He said, “The cells of the body depreciate with age. If a lady does not marry at the right time, the cells of the body depreciate. At an early stage, when a cell dies, others multiply to replace it.
“At that time, the cells are capable of rejuvenation. But after some time, when a cell dies, this does not happen. That is when we say the law of diminishing returns has set in.
“Women are aware of this even though they may not be able to explain it from a psychological perspective. But they feel it and are in a hurry to do what they have to do before it is too late. This is why many tend to take the bull by the horn and do not wait for the man to propose.”
According to him, there is also the social factor whereby the pressure comes from parents who feel their children have attained a certain milestone and should get married.
“In those days, my mother would tell my elder siblings that she wanted to carry her grandchild and would urge them to pick one of the prospective partners around them. I also remember that after my first degree, my father said now that I was educated, I should ‘settle down’ (get married). I simply laughed because I had the intention of getting a doctorate. There is always pressure from relations and friends,” the don said.
Fagbohungbe described economic factor as the biggest challenge for the man, identifying it as the reason why many male Nigerians of marriageable age are not getting married.
“Yoruba people say ‘the wife of the poor man is a wife of all men.’ That is, if you cannot adequately take care of your wife, others would assist you to take care of her,” he said.
Elegbeleye was of the opinion that the increasing number of male Nigerians of marriageable age shying away from marital responsibilities might create a big social problem in the future.
He told newsmen that it might lead to more parenthood and prostitution among women and more desperate emigration by men.
However, he noted that there was nothing wrong in women proposing to men.
The professor said, “It would be erroneous to think that our tradition is rigid. Tradition is dynamic and that is why these sorts of changes are expected. Economically, things are no longer as they used to be. There is serious unemployment out there. Marriage is not something that is easy to jump into.
“But women are now more exposed such that they now have a voice in marital issues. What is becoming worrisome is that men are running away from responsibilities.
“There is a kind of lethargy in the kind of supervision that parents can give to their children. These days, young people have a lot of freedom on their hands.
“At this point, we cannot begin to talk about tradition any longer because that era is gone. Many men who would have loved to go into marriage do not have the financial power to support the marriage, while some women who are willing to marry have the economic power to support a family. Unfortunately, this is not going to get better.”