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City of Banjul
Sunday, September 27, 2020

Admissions of a converted man-hater: Between The Gaslighter and The Springboard type of man

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With Rohey Samba

So how do I start my story? Could I just say my dad knew? Yes he knew. He knew I was young and naïve and not smart in the ways of the world. I was not smitten nor was I a guru in love, marriage or affairs of the heart. I was just being practical by assenting to the first man who requested for my hand in marriage. Yes, I was young. Maybe too young to make my own decisions. But I was perceptive enough to make out a good man when I saw one. Or at least that was what I thought then.

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I had just changed my normal route to catch the work bus. It was done following my meeting with the belligerent docker, who called out at the top of his voice in a very busy dock area that the best diploma I could garner in this life is a Marriage Certificate. Nothing more, nothing less. This was uttered after I firmly refused all his efforts to entertain and woo me with his charm. The major problem was, men like him bore me. In fact, men in general did not particularly pique my interest. I could tolerate them as far as I did household chores.
Men for me, were a competition I could afford. I could beat them in the classroom, at the football field and even in the basketball arena. The relative comfort of their enviable lifestyles were a mere threat to my existence as a woman. I could see it in the way my mother called out to her boy son, as if boy or son were not qualitative enough to describe this superior being borne to her. I circumvented the problem by being the best I could be in everything I did. A skill that was quickly learned. Smugly, I would smile when neighbours tell her within earshot, ‘Ain’t no son better than this daughter of yours!’
I hated the rigours of life under the canvass of femininity. I conscripted against every one of societal expectations about my femininely role. “I do not want a boyfriend. No thanks!” “I don’t have to be a cook, just because I am female.” “I am not a girly girl…I, a garçon manqué?” “I hate to play rounders or akara…just let me be!” With this stubborn spirit festooned with my own volition, I was ultimately responsible for the mean words Mr Docker directed at me.

I was young. Barely nineteen years of age. The insult hurt. It pinched at the core of my sensitivities, squeaking loudly and tickling an ancient calling at the core of my femininity. Maybe I was more feminine than I wanted to admit to. Otherwise, why did those words hurt? It made me question everything I held onto and believed about myself until then.

Suddenly, I realised that I was no longer a child. I was a grown ass woman, who men were going to pursue whether I liked it or not. Who was I kidding? Wearing trousers or shorts was not going to get me off men’s woos. I had a form, a shape and the body of a woman. I knew, because I had a mirror. I was a desirable woman after all! I needed only to do a little effort to get myself noticed. I needed to do better than the sloppy make-up, especially the thick eyebrows I wore daily to commute to work. They were the butt of women’s laughter and mockery in and around the office. I heard. But I did not care…

But men? I feared heartbreak, disappointments and so forth… I hated to commit myself, my life and my work to a man, any man for that matter. It was giving away the ‘me’ part of I. The essence of my being. I have been friends with men, boys and dudes all of my life to know their tricks, their connivances and their reckless agenda with girls and women. It was those oft-repeated gibes I heard often mouthed or written on walls of Schools’ toilets such as, Love without sex, is like tea without sugar…that repudiated me most.

But that was not all. The guys I became familiar with had no sutura. It was like, their consciences died and left their spirits once they slept with the naïve girls or women they were able to convince. Let’s face it, some of the women were not naïve at all. Some were agreeable, self-confident and hardworking women. I was always flattered when the guys chose to confide in me after their exploits, for I had always tried to be non-judgmental.
One would say without thinking, ‘My boy shared her girlfriend with me yesternight. Boy, the girl was hot. Couldn’t get a better vixen in bed’. Meanwhile, I knew the girl very well. In fact, she was not a passing acquaintance but a person I interacted with often. With blank stares and altered opinion of the girl, I would doubt everything I thought good in the girl, in spite of my claiming to be an ardent feminist.

When I began work, I would see how the older ones juggled their wives with their girlfriends even in the workplace. Some would badmouth their proper wives without mercy in order to justify their gimmicks. One told me, ‘If it hadn’t been for my sidekick, I would have died never knowing what real pleasure is in this life.’ I nodded, unable to decipher his meaning but pretending to be smart in the ways of the world, for I had always felt older than my age.

In effect, their lack of discretion at the expense of the unknowing girls/women made me very skeptical about men in general. It reinforced my cheerful but firm utterances of the word No, to any man’s pursuit. Yet I continued to present them with the best gifts I could afford, namely, an open mind and sealed lips. These were my greatest gifts to men who gossiped, slandered or backbit other women. I was never involved in any taysan teh as far as the word goes…

By then, I was already acquainted with two types of men. The Gaslighter and The Springboard type. Of course many years later, my classmate at a higher institution of learning, an incorrigible bachelor for that matter who is currently commander in the Nigeria Navy, would enlighten me further by describing to me the three types of men that exist in this world. These men are removed from The Gaslighter and The Springboard types, because they choose not to cheat on their women. But that would be subject of another story…
Now, The Gaslighter is the type of man who makes the most intelligent woman feel stupid by his trickery. He is either a narcissist or a man who has been traumatised in the past. If he is a narcissist, then you have a problem. If he is the latter type, then there is hope that he may change with time because clearly, he has a conscience whereas the narcissist has his ego to drive his actions.

The term gaslighter unlike springboard is not particularly mine. It was coined in the late thirties, after a play called The Gas Light, wherein a husband tried to convince his wife and their circles that she was insane. The dude would dim the gaslights and insist that his wife was just imagining it. Thus the gas lighter type of man operates using psychological manipulation and abuse to make women question their memories, sanity and perceptions.

The three stages to gas lighting have been identified by psychologists as; idealisation, devaluation and discard. The idealisation stage is the whirlwind romance stage, where the gaslighter projects himself as the perfect mate. Here, nothing can go wrong. Everything is about pleasure, the alteration of reality and bonhomie.

The next stage, is where the perfection façade fades, and the victim gets the blame for everything wrong in the relationship. This is the stage where men would come up with the blame and shame game, wherein everything is the woman’s fault. I have heard it several times without count, where a man would say such things as, ‘If my wife had not pushed me, I would never had married a second wife.’ Or ‘ My wife had gained too much weight, I could not possibly take her out anymore, so I decided on a sidekick to present to my friends.’ This for them is an act of mercy… or? Like really?
As always, I never judge…I never say. So I had no problems…

But the woman is hard hit by the transformation. This is the time when women would do everything, even lick the man’s boots in order to be in his favour. I had seen many intelligent women transform themselves into dummies just to pleasure their man because he had a sidekick or had married to another woman. Well, we cannot be the same, all of us, can we? Smdth…

And finally, comes the discard stage, where after trying so hard to get back to the idealisation stage, the woman is discarded for good, to be replaced by another gullible woman/next victim, usually in tow. At this stage, the gaslighter would takeoff, whether you have ten kids together or no kids at all. Nothing and no one can make him stay. He would cite everything from irreconcilable differences to the wife having insulted his mother who died many years ago, to shunge worsak yi andut…

The Springboard type of man is the guy who uses affluent women or women with influential fathers/mothers to reach the very top of his profession or life goals. The Springboard Man dresses to kill with borrowed or rented clothes, drives borrowed or rented cars and frequents expensive places, such as starred restaurants and luxury shops to catch his victim(s). He uses his punchronomics, that is, natural beauty, or his natural charm and so forth to win over these highly successful women who would propel him to his desired success of the moment before he moves on in search of another.

You can know him by his comments about his wife, or girlfriend. ‘Oh, I am married to the daughter of President Barrow, or the owner of Taf Construction Company’. Or ‘My wife is a PhD holder or the general manager of Gamtel.’ This despicable type of man, would endure everything just to be that someone’s husband and at the very least become relevant in the eyes of the world. Love for him is replaced with endurance and happiness with patience. But when he achieves his desired goal, whether it be wealth, fame or connection, I pity his trophy wife/girlfriend…

They are the kinds of men who are most vicious to their women, insulting, maltreating, humiliating or merely ignoring them for other women. The mistreated women would walk the length of the earth in order to find a suitable marabout to bring back the minds of their once loving husbands, ‘who have been won over by the charms of the other woman’. When in fact, the man was never into them in the first place. He just saw them as springboards to propel him to higher heights…

With my familiarity of these men, and my deepest fear of disappointment, dating was going to be a most daunting task for me no doubt. Suddenly my mind was mired in the fear of their pursuits, I mean both The Springboard man and The Gaslighter. I decided there and then that I was going to do the pursuits myself. I was going to find me a good man and stop the inevitable pestering once and for all. But it was all going to be on my own terms. This resolve would change the whole trajectory of my life for good. This was when I decided to alter my route to work for a longer one, where I would be visible to prospective suitors…
But there was going to be a role change, I was going to be the chaser, and woe behold any man who wanted to make me victim…

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