Traditionally, friendship between the two sexes was an unknown notion, a taboo even. Men and women lived in totally different domains with women being the inferior lot. A girl had no business hanging out with a boy unless their aim was to make babies and discuss matrimonial-related matters. In schools, boys and girls were regarded as separate entities and were not allowed to mingle whatsoever unless under supervision.
That was light years ago. It is the 21st century and many Africans have, for the most part, abandoned old customs and are now building a culture around the benefits of modernity. Women can now be friends with men, just friends and nothing more.
So I wonder why, as a young ambitious working unmarried lady, some obviously old fashioned persons can not understand why I refer to Juma as “just a friend”. He lets me spill my guys, emotionally, without moral censure or misunderstanding. He understands me. We are platonic friends and there is absolutely nothing sexual about our friendship.
Yet people around me seem to be disappointed or they are certain there is more to our friendship. My female friends have that ‘we-know-there’s-more’ smile every time I talk about Juma. My dear mother simply doesn’t approve of this relationship and wishes I stopped calling him ‘friend’.
Despite the fact that it seems to me that society wants men and women to interact simply in the sphere of physical intimacy and eventually marriage, is it really that unrealistic to think that a non-romantic rapport with a member of the opposite sex can occur?
I know men who prefer the company of their female friends to that of the males, arguing that the women add some form of tranquility to their lives while being reliable sources of information when it comes to dealing with women in general. And I know women who would rather have male friends because they find them more fun and very trustworthy.
However platonic relationships are not exactly a bed of roses. They can be filled with thorns and razor-sharp rocks. This is especially so when one person starts having ideas that don’t conform to the whole idea of platonic relationships. The end result is usually tumultuous. Trust the male members of society to in most cases have ulterior motives!