Ajibola Fimogboye, the archetypal, ultra-educated, no-nonsense, upward climbing, intelligent, organised, disciplined and successful Nigerian is one of the new species of black women who are taking over the boardrooms and managerial seats in London by storm. They possess a calm assurance of raw ability, ambition and zest. They are career-minded, pushy and extremely hungry to climb the greasy pole of corporate corridors and rule from the top.
In the UK, the topic of currency among black men is the rise and rise of black women to positions of leadership in offices and in businesses. In the war of the sexes, black women are winning. They are cutting through the finishing line with amazing speed while their men are trailing behind. Among black male Londoners the situation is vexatious. A black woman on top is viewed as an erosion of their divine right as the dominant sex.
This is the changing destiny of women in Britain where they outnumber men by 1.3million. The Head of state is the powerful and influential Queen Elizabeth II. To the outside world, Britain presents herself as a macho, brawny island of beer, rugby and football. Her social emblem is a menacing image of a bulldog with outstretched tongue. That was the mythical emblem of chauvinistic Britain beloved by generations of both British gentlemen and hooligans.
There is now a paradigm shift in her image as Britain, in the Millennium, walks on the meek street. The male chauvinism of the heady 70’s, the bravura, the grit, the ability to take it on the chin commonly associated with the British male have all collapsed like a pack of cards. The change in baton not only encourages British women to dump the kitchen for the boardrooms but also empowers black women to jettison the culture-driven submission to their black male and rush for the corporate height. Black women are no longer ready to live ordinary lives. They prefer to shout their arrival from the roof tops.
As black women soar on wings like eagle, so what are the psycho-social and cultural implications of their success on their community and in the wider world? The first casualty is the institution of marriage. The natural fascination for the marriage altar as the foundation for a future life of bliss, sex and comfort is receiving a melt down under the weight of accelerating social mobility. Getting hitched to a Mr. Right for a life-long union is becoming obsolete and ‘uncool’ to use the street slang. The achievement-driven Western culture is encouraging well-educated black women to embrace the notion of equality with their men more than ever. Respect, humility and submission from a wife to the husband which are universal virtues shared by all cultures are becoming insignificant among the growing rank of successful black women.
With cash to spend and bright opportunities before them, black women are becoming ‘singletons’. Their desire is to be single, free and independent. In the traditional marriage arrangement, men are supposed to be the providers and women the receivers of the provision. The provision may be roof, food, love, clothing and protection. With Western opportunities, these provisions are readily available to women. The prosperity of the West has therefore blunted the role of the male as hunter-gatherers to their peril.
The image of the black women the world endlessly peddles as ‘victims’ and ‘weepy’ can no longer hold. In many black households in London, women are becoming both producers and controllers of the cash tills. However, this change in hierarchy has its own mysterious narrative. Black people who live in Britain are classed as belonging to a minority group. In Britain and most other European countries, black men fare worse.
Centuries of white discrimination and racism have turned them into unproductive lepers. They are permanent underclass in a booming and prosperous Britain. They are the unwanted barbarians at the gate of the rich. Arguably, the most obnoxious stereotype of the black man is the unproven assumption that the black man is naturally a thief, lazy, aggressive, stupid, violent and unpredictable than other colours. Academically, black men are seen as under-achievers. To support this belief, in Britain for example, black girls are said to consistently outperform black boys. In all these, what is conveniently forgotten is the absence of level playing field for the black man who has been mortally cast as a useless villain.
The negative effect of this belief is the shift of trust and responsibility away from the black men to black women. Conservative British bosses in weighing the risk shy away from employing black male to managerial positions and instead roll out the red carpet for black women. Why? Black women are perceived as cleverer, less threatening and not as violent- oriented as their black brothers. The net effect of this is that professional and managerial jobs held down by black women in London have increased compared to low grade jobs reserved for black men. This structural imbalance which confers class and mobility on the black women not only encourages arrogance and snobbery but also makes them attractive to other men across the racial divide.
What this means is that many professionally successful black women are marrying white men. Each adaptive lifestyle creates avenue for love and romance. Professionally successful black women now take up membership with their local gyms which are fast becoming love nests for libidinous white executives and uppity black women. In this way, affluent and rich black women are ending up marrying white men who share everything with them bar the skin colour.
However, the illusion of success and its visible trappings like fine cars, houses, clothes and jewelleries is blinding our women from the damage their materialistic excesses is having on their homes. Homes are becoming fragmented and black kids are walking the streets with confused identity of who they really are. There is a moral vacuum in the lives of our children through absent fathers who could not play the role of nanny any longer to their successful wives. Respect, togetherness, marital support and submission are readily sacrificed by successful black women to prove the point that they could go it alone.
Unfortunately, black men who could not surrender their maleness, authority and headship of their households are driven into the cold to the chagrin of a wider, sceptical, racist society which views every black person as product of a broken home. Can we therefore justly say that black women are winning?