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Try out PMC Labs and tell us what you think. Learn More. The transition from premarital sexual relationships and courtship to marriage and parenthood in southeastern Nigeria involves particularly dramatic adjustments for young women who have absorbed changing ideas about sexuality, marriage, and gender equality, and who have had active premarital sexual lives. In the eyes of society, these women must transform from being promiscuous girls to good wives. Historically, the rise of romantic love as a marital ideal has sometimes been perceived to be associated with greater gender equality, as changes in expectations for and practices in marriage are tied to the erosion of a highly sex-segregated division of labor.
In many settings, transformations in the dynamics of marital intimacy have been interpreted North street MI cheating wives offering women the possibility of utilizing emotional leverage with their husbands to negotiate more equitable domestic arrangements CollierHirschRebhun But in Nigeria changes in marriage and in the public and private dimensions of gender asymmetry have not occurred uniformly or beyond the continuing influence of powerful kinship systems and structures of inequality.
Further, once a couple is married, kin relationships frequently impinge on contemporary conjugal life, perhaps most overtly with regard to fertility and parenting. A gendered division of labor continues to characterize many spheres of Nigerian social life, even as urbanization, formal education, and broader trends toward individualism produce changes that push against entrenched gendered social organization.
In marriage, women are constrained in many ways they did not experience when they were single, even as they have new North street MI cheating wives, having achieved a status that is highly valued. These changes, and the ways women adjust to them, highlight the complex and multivalent dimensions of gender dynamics in the context of contemporary Nigerian courtship and marriage.
The transition to marriage has always been characterized by noteworthy adjustments. Nearly every society marks the onset of marriage with rituals that ify and facilitate these transformations. Nevertheless, marriage in contemporary southeastern Nigeria seems to involve particularly dramatic adjustments for young women who have absorbed changing ideas about sexuality, marriage, and gender equality, and who have had active premarital sexual lives.
As Nigeria becomes more urban and as most females attend secondary school, a ificant majority of young women are exposed to these new ideas.
Further, most women are sexually active before marriage. Underlying a more rigid structure of gender roles for women after marriage is the fact that, despite many changing ideas about sexuality, marriage, and gender relations, both men North street MI cheating wives women still view marriage and parenthood as the sine qua non of a life well lived FortesSmith The ambivalence is multifaceted. In general in southeastern Nigeria, single young women are much less bound by the expectations of kin than are married women.
But the expansion of formal education and the economic reality that le almost all families to encourage young adults to seek livelihoods to support themselves—and often their parents and siblings—have created a situation where large s of young women live independently of their kin. Although many young women face both social and economic pressure to have premarital sexual relationships, many also seem to experience their sexuality as a resource and, of course, often a source of pleasure that they control CornwallSmithLuke In contrast, married women are made to feel—by their husbands, their families, and society—that as persons they are above all wives and mothers, and that their sexuality, their mobility, and their social and economic agency are circumscribed by the fact of their marriage.
Indeed, in some respects and certainly more so by some men than otherswomen are made to feel that their sexuality belongs to their husband and his patrilineage. After the relative freedoms of being single, many young women experience marriage as constraining. But it is imperative to recognize that women are trading some forms of independence for a status that they themselves value, perhaps above all else: namely, the identity and the experience of being a married woman and a mother.
While southeastern Nigerian society has relatively strict expectations regarding the sexual behavior, mobility, and overall independence of married women compared to single women, the same society also richly rewards women socially and symbolically for being wives and mothers. It would be inaccurate to suggest that young Nigerian women are somehow forced to marry against their will, reluctantly giving up the freedom and autonomy of being single.
To the contrary, the overwhelming majority of young women seek marriage and parenthood as the ultimate expression and fulfillment of their ambitions for themselves as persons. But in the context of the rise of romantic love as a relationship ideal for marriage, in a time when global notions about gender equality circulate widely in Nigerian vernacular forms, and in a society where men and to some extent women still enforce a system of gender inequality that allows men much more autonomy after marriage—including a powerful double standard about infidelity—these issues have become the subject of ificant personal and social preoccupation.
Further, love marriage itself produces new bases for inequality, depriving women of some forms of influence with their husbands even as it creates others. The settings where I conduct most of my research are in the midst of ificant transformations that both frame and affect sexual behavior, courtship, and marriage. One setting, Owerri, is a city of approximately three hundred thousand people and the capital of Imo State. Owerri has grown dramatically over the past decade through rural-urban migration—a trend that is North street MI cheating wives characteristic of Nigeria and all of Africa, which is the continent with the fastest current rate of urbanization in the world.
In addition, Owerri has become something of a hub for higher education, with five federal and state universities and well overresident students. The city is a magnet for people seeking better opportunities. In Nigerian popular discourse, Owerri is also known as a bastion of extramarital sex, symbolized by the scores of hotels that serve as rendezvous points for overnight trysts. The relative anonymity of city life protects both married men and their typically younger unmarried North street MI cheating wives from attendant social risks. Ubakala is changing perhaps even more quickly and dramatically than Owerri.
Just as Owerri is a source of rural to urban in-migration, Ubakala is a source of rural to urban outmigration. Particularly striking is the large of young people who have migrated. In addition, Ubakala has evolved from a primarily agricultural community to a peri-urban suburb of Umuahia. Most households in Ubakala no longer rely mainly on agriculture and instead typically combine some balance of farming, wage labor, and small-scale commerce, not to mention dependence on remittances from migrant household North street MI cheating wives.
Further, many married couples are separated geographically for extensive periods of time by economic strategies that require migration. In the literature, and in popular lore in Nigeria, the Igbo are known for their entrepreneurial acumen, their receptivity to change, and their willingness to migrate and settle throughout the country in order to pursue their economic interests OttenbergUchendu aChukwueziGugler As in much of the world, age at marriage in southeastern Nigeria is rising for both men and women.
While national averages are now above 20 years of age for women and 25 years of age for men, these figures are skewed by areas of the country that are much less developed than the Igbo-speaking southeast. Among the population I was studying a population that was, North street MI cheating wives, even by Igbo standards, disproportionately affected by rural-urban migration, proximity to town, and city lifewomen tended to marry in their early to mid-twenties and men in their late twenties and early thirties. The intersection of later age at first marriage and high levels of rural-urban migration, including among young unmarried women, has created a situation where young women are less subject to the regulation and surveillance of their families and communities and where married men can engage in extramarital sexual relations in relative anonymity.
Some of the dynamics which are typically glossed in both academic and popular Nigerian interpretations under the label of the sugar daddy phenomenon accurately characterize features of the relationships between younger unmarried women and older married male lovers.
But even in sugar daddy arrangements, the motivations of both young women and married men are frequently multifaceted. For young unmarried women who partner with older married men, economic motivations are prominent. It would not be wrong to suggest that the fact that women utilize their sexuality for economic purposes is a consequence, in part, of gender inequality. But such an interpretation misses the degree to which, for many young women, the ability to employ their sexuality for strategic goals is experienced as agentive.
In research, I worked extensively with unmarried young people Smithab. Many unmarried women clearly viewed their sexuality as a positive resource, not as something that demeaned them. The challenge that these young women face is that even as they are able to utilize their sexual desirability to meet educational, economic, and social goals, they must ultimately navigate the marriage market, where society in general and men in particular have different expectations for what they want in a woman.
Igbo society expects a wife to be faithful to her husband and devoted to her children. For most men, the idea that a young woman has been something of a free sexual agent, utilizing her body for economic purposes, or even just for her own pleasure, contradicts the ideal-typical image of a good wife. As a consequence, young unmarried women are traversing a complex landscape before marriage, as they seek some sexual partners for purely economic purposes while also keeping an eye out for a love match, or at least a man who could compatibly confer the status of wife and mother.
My Nigeria research was part of a larger comparative ethnographic project in which I also had colleagues working in Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Uganda, and Vietnam Hirsch et al. The study of adolescent and unmarried young adult rural-urban migrants, conducted from —, included survey interviews with more than Igbo-speaking rural-urban migrants in two Nigerian cities, as well as in-depth unstructured interviews with 40 of these migrants.
In addition, with the help of a younger unmarried research assistant, I carried out several months of participant observation in urban venues where young people are employed, where they go to school, where they seek entertainment, and where they tend to meet and socialize with their sexual partners. Much of what I know about the perspectives and behavior of young unmarried women comes from this study, but also from many years of interacting with Nigerians in a range of informal contexts.
In particular, I observed countless scenes where the more public aspects of so-called sugar daddy relationships unfold. Over the past two decades, I have had scores of conversations with unmarried young women who accompany married men to bars, eateries, and social clubs. However, rather than being threatened by my talking to their girlfriends, many men especially if they can count me as a friend seem to like it when I do so. Much of what I learned through surveys and intensive interviewing has been supplemented, reinforced, and sometimes challenged by what I have observed in the contexts of everyday life.
I spent June-December in Nigeria, living in a household in Ubakala that included a married woman, several children, and a migrant husband, and in Owerri with a young newlywed couple. Four local research assistants were hired to assist with marital case study interviews in both sites and to contribute to participant observation in Owerri. Two female research assistants conducted the marital case study interviews with women in Ubakala, while I conducted the interviews with men.
In Owerri, male and female assistants conducted marital case study interviews with men and women, respectively, and also undertook participant observation in married households and in contexts related to extramarital sex, such North street MI cheating wives bars, clubs, and brothels. I conducted participant observation in both Ubakala and Owerri, and was also responsible for key informant interviews in each venue. Marital case studies were conducted with 20 couples, 14 residing in Ubakala and six residing in Owerri. The couples were selected opportunistically with the objective of sampling marriages of different generations and duration, couples with a range of socioeconomic North street MI cheating wives educational profiles, and, of course, those living in both rural and urban settings.
People in Owerri and Ubakala are better off economically than in many other regions of Nigeria. While the sample in the marital case studies is skewed to what might be described as an aspiring middle class most couples were not actually middle classbecause of rising education levels and increasing urban exposure that are common in southeastern Nigeria, most Igbo people share many characteristics and aspirations evident in the sample. For individual couples, men were almost always older than their wives typically 5—10 years and tended to have higher incomes.
Interviews were conducted in three parts, generally in three sessions, each approximately one to one and a half hours in duration. Husbands and wives were interviewed separately. All respondents agreed to participation after being presented with protocols for informed consent approved by institutional review boards in both the US and Nigeria. The first interview concentrated primarily on premarital experiences, North street MI cheating wives, and the early stages of marriage.
The second interview examined in greater depth the overall experience of marriage, including issues such as marital communication, decision-making, childrearing, resolution of disputes, relations with family, and changes in the marital relationship over time. All interviews were tape recorded and transcribed. In this article, I focus on couples that were married in the 10 years prior to the interview in order to examine the transition to marriage and the ways that women adapt to married life in the cohort most affected by recent and ongoing changes in courtship North street MI cheating wives marriage.
Most Igbo men and women enter marriage with premarital experience in romantic and sexual relationships. With later age at marriage and high rates of rural-urban migration that place unmarried young people farther away from the moral gaze of their parents, their extended families, and their communities, opportunities for premarital relationships are common.
Further, sexual and romantic relationships before marriage are widely seen as markers of North street MI cheating wives urban and educated SmithCornwallbut also as a sort of rehearsal for marriage Smith b. Of course there are many different kinds of premarital relationships, and whether they serve as a precursor to marriage depends partly on the nature of the relationship.
The age and life course position of the individuals are crucial in situating the purpose, meaning, and possible outcomes of a premarital relationship. Regardless of whether sexual relationships evolve into marriage, premarital experiences create expectations that both set the stage for and contrast with the gendered division of labor that is characteristic of marriage. Of particular interest here is the dynamic between interpersonal intimacy and material exchange—or, more crudely, between love and money. In addition, it stands for a more subtle reality in which the very expression of love involves gifts, economic support, and a range of material exchanges that both solidify and build upon the sexual and emotional dimensions of intimate relationships ColeCole and HunterHunter Young women in southeastern Nigeria commonly complain that men will make promises they do not keep—particularly with regard to love and fidelity— in order to persuade women to become their lovers.
She was swept away by all his rubbish talk about love.
But he was just playing her. She did not benefit at all. Sometimes women seek emotional satisfaction in one relationship and economic support in another. A common situation—and certainly the common story in everyday discourse about unmarried girls who keep more than one lover—is that a woman will have an older often married lover from whom North street MI cheating wives seeks mainly monetary support and a younger man perhaps a fellow student for whom she has romantic feelings.
But it is not simply between kinds of lovers that emotion and economics compete, it is also within specific relationships. Many young women have only one boyfriend. In their relationships, men and women frequently engage in both subtle and fierce negotiations about the relative importance of love and money. At its simplest, sentiments of love can often make up for a lack of material support and vice versa. Love and material exchange cannot be easily separated in practice.
One quintessentially Nigerian example is revealing. Applied to the arena of sex and romance, it implies that a man did not deliver on his promises of love and material support Smith b — Young women can tolerate less money if there is more emotional support and affection and little or no emotional intimacy if there is a lot of money. But ultimately almost every woman wants both. In premarital relationships, young women exhibit a considerable degree of agency in their dealings with men.
In sexual partnerships that are more economically oriented, such as with sugar daddies, young women frequently keep more than one lover albeit usually unknown to the men. The relatively recent advent of cell phones in Nigeria as an almost ubiquitous aspiration of modern consumptive identity has produced a wave of female demands for this technology and the pay-as-you-go credit necessary to make it work.
It also extends to the realms of love, emotion, and sexual fidelity, and to relationships that are less overtly economic and more likely to be precursors to marriage. Most young women expected fidelity on the part of romantic lovers in a way they obviously could not with sugar daddies, and they could enforce these expectations firmly using methods that, arguably, a married woman cannot.
Fundamentally, this is a consequence of the fact that in a premarital relationship a woman can opt out with few consequences. While I know of no quantitative data that can support the claim, it is my observation that men who were courting potential wives were more likely to be faithful, or at least to be concerned about the appearance of fidelity, than typical married men.
Single women can much more easily punish a philandering man than a married woman can—simply by opting out. But the gendered division of labor both economic and emotional undergoes transformations after marriage, and with it, the dynamics among love, money, and infidelity are also altered. More and more Nigerian women marry for love, but of course not only for love.
They expect their husbands to be good providers, responsible fathers, and socially competent men who represent their marriages positively to the wider community. When I asked elderly Igbos about their betrothals, about their marriages, and about love, I was told numerous personal stories and popular fables that indicated a long tradition of romantic love. Uchendu b confirms the North street MI cheating wives of passionate love in his study of concubinage in traditional Igbo society.
Interestingly, both men and women were reportedly accorded ificant socially acceptable extramarital sexual North street MI cheating wives. Exactly when Nigerians in general and Igbos in particular began to conceptualize marriage choices in more individualistic terms, privileging romantic love as a criterion in the selection of a spouse, is hard to pinpoint.
In some parts of Igboland and in many parts of Nigeria, the social acceptance of individual choice in mate selection is still just beginning.North street MI cheating wives
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