By Bernard Dayo
Yesterday, popular Nigerian comedian Ali Baba decided to take up the role of relationship coach on his Instagram to posit that people who have nothing to offer other than sex in a relationship are, in his own words, “the ones who get jealous, suspicious and quarrelsome. You know why? Because they know that you might go out one day and find someone who has more sex to offer.”
While I was reading the build up of his arguments, I knew in my mind that Ali Baba was going to perpetuate same old toxic gender essentialism at some point. First, it is worth mentioning that the premise of his Instagram-conveyed relationship piece delegitimises relationships that exist solely on the need for sex. In such relationships, sex is the most prioritised thing and the parties involved are invested in it. In addition, this kind of coupling excludes itself from marriage culture, where marriage is deemed as the ultimate goal of every relationship.
On gender essentialism, Ali Baba makes an ignorant gendered assertion on womanhood by putting forward the logic that a woman needs “cooking skills” and a “good dose of home management” to wholesomely fulfill her “role” in a relationship or marriage. This age-old, gendered sentiment is, by extension, shared by men whose gender politics revolves around the idea that women are inherently nurturing and must be domestic-minded. Put bluntly, they see women as auxiliary mothers who, in the role of girlfriend, washes boyfriend’s boxers and cooks for him and cleans his house. To Ali Baba, I’m almost certain that this is what he means by bringing more to the table apart from sex.
Furthermore, Ali Baba’s arguments upholds and reinforces the pervasive heterosexism that is so prevalent in our society today. Very clearly, he didn’t take into consideration that there are people who exist in non-heterosexual relationships, people with gender identities that don’t conform to the sex-gender binary. The dynamic of these relaBtionships are different, valid and legitimate in their own ways. His relationship counsel, therefore, isn’t a universally binding formula or panacea but fundamentally skewered.