Mervis is 32; happy with her rounded figure, smart, direct and articulate. She has been told that her lack of dates is due to the fact that men do not like smart or direct women.
“Are men really that insecure? I’m certainly not going to be less than what I am just for someone else’s insecurities. Are there no good men out there who appreciate a confident woman,” she wonders.
Success is subjective, as one woman notes. However, she believes some men prefer women who cannot think or hold an opinion.
A successful woman, she says, is a strong woman, which means she will question things and will not be with a man simply because she has nowhere else to go.
“Men are intimidated by those educated simply because they will want to be part of the decision making by questioning things to understand better or offer options. Sadly, that is looked upon as wrong and not a woman’s place so, in short, men simply opt for those less successful than themselves so that they agree with anything they say,” she says.
On her part, Kaboni Gondwe notes that it is not right to generalise.
“There are some, of course, that feel intimidated by strong women, but you will find that there are some who are married to strong women, but abusing them because of their strength or success. There are always good and bad people, weak and strong people. But then define strong? Does being educated and holding a good job equal to strong? Do you mean strong professionally, financially or emotionally?
“Emotionally strong people cannot take abuse and will guard their self-esteem well. While some people can be professionally and financially strong making strides in their workplaces, but as a person they are fighting demons within and cannot stand up for themselves. Men these days want women that will take care of themselves anyway. If you talk of kuopa maphunziro ndi chuma, zinatha,” she says.
Chimwemwe Manyozo notes that the majority of women who are said to scare men off because of their success are either married or in relationships and, therefore, he dismisses the notion.
He thinks those that are single or successful now, but are not sought after, it is usually because the potential suitors are not comfortable with their character and not necessarily because of their qualifications or wealth.
“The issue of fear to me comes out usually when the person you like, does not like you back and you are trying to make sense of it. And that is where you say people are afraid of your success. But in the end you will notice that people that are at the same level of education, intellect or career, easily match.
“That is how you would rarely see a woman graduate, going for a bricklayer or a Junior Certificate of Education [JC] holder. They will go for someone at their level; someone who will understand their language. So, this fear narrative and its generalisations, to me, does not make sense,” he says.
Chancellor College sociologist, Charles Chilimampunga says there is evidence that most men are reluctant to approach women who are way more successful than them.
He argues that this is because men tend to want to dominate women.
“Men, in their nature, always want to be in control. They would not want to be dominated by a woman. They think that if a woman is more successful than themselves, she will be controlling and less submissive, but that is not always the case.
“It is all just a feeling that men have that if they have such a woman they will be dominated. But then there are certain women that are not dominant at all, even when more successful. The major problem is just inferiority complex,” he says. n