A good number of Kenyan men have a problem when it comes to approaching women. Some freeze and turn into ice the moment they see a hot woman they are interested in. They will walk behind or besides her for kilometres, mustering the courage to mumble “hello”. The greeting is so whimpish, it puts the woman off. Tales have been told of those who send their kid brothers to say ‘hi’ and do the introductions on their behalf. In the case of big kahunas, they send personal assistants or body guards to get phone numbers for them.
Others engage in odd mannerisms — like talking with fake accents, dangling car keys or bouncing as they walk, which they think will endear them to women, only to put them off. Yet another group comprise those who talk nothing but rubbish. They shoot themselves in the foot by asking typically silly questions like: “Which tribe are you?” or “Do you have a boyfriend”, seconds after introducing themselves.
Another odd group comprise of those who bang the nail on the head right away, creating very awkward situations with their sexually provocative compliments. They shamelessly blurt out, “nice ass,” or “awesome boobs,” or “yummy lips,” embarrassing their objects of desire.
“One Saturday afternoon, as I was walking home from a studio session, I passed outside a restaurant where there was a group of men eating. Truth be told, I did not notice them since I was on my phone,” narrates Edel Muthoni, an upcoming musician.
“I, all of sudden, heard, ‘Now that’s what I’m talking about’ as the men giggled sheepishly. I decided to ignore since I was not even 100 per cent sure that I was the target of the catcalling. One of them whistled suggestively, saying, ‘manze huyu haezi potelea kwa mattress, amejibeba (she is well endowed),” she goes on. As a furious Muthoni quickly walked away to avoid further lewd comments, one of them was already behind her trying to get her attention.
“Nice tattoo,” he mumbled before adding: “Would you like to give me your number?” Muthoni was already angry, she didn’t bother stopping or talking to the guy. The man went on to bother her by blocking her way, poking and patting her as he begged for her phone number.
Muthoni’s case is just an example of how shady and creepy some men are when approaching women. Frankly speaking, some of the stuff ladies are subjected to are enough evidence that, indeed, many men need a crash-course on how to approach members of the fairer sex.
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Be it online, on the streets, at work, at restaurants, in matatus or at functions, a good number of men just don’t seem to get it. “Like a clumsy hyena, a Kenyan man will approach a woman and the experience is nothing but sexual harassment. Actually, if the laws were to be stringently applied, millions would be in jail,” complains Yvonne Achieng, a human resource officer.
She says there is no problem in a man trying to hit on a woman he finds attractive, but, sadly, the approach always leaves a lot to be desired.
“A man once grabbed a huge chunk of my backside at Nairobi’s bus station, in the name of getting my attention to start a conversation,” agonises Achieng, adding that she can’t stand men who introduce themselves and shamelessly stare at a woman’s bust. Then there are those creepy dudes who hit on women using tired and annoying pickup lines.
“Hey girl, can I get your number?” Or “You look good, I love your smile, are you on Instagram?” Or “Unatumia jina gani Facebook nikutumie friend request?” minutes after striking up a conversation with a female stranger.
Caroline Gichovi, an entertainment journalist with Kenyan Weekly, opines: “Where do men get these boring ‘openers’? They are annoying to say the least. Most are overused and women yawn the moment they hear them. Yet men still expect genuine responses when they know too well women no longer take such seriously”.
She narrates how a guy once walked up to her at an event and blurted out, “You must be tired because you have been running on my mind from the moment I saw you walk in here”.
This was before he sheepishly asked: “You are so pretty girl, do you even poop?” Gichovi wonders what happened to cool pickup lines or a simple and decent “hello” for a conversation starter.
Dropping sexual compliments too early
Rose Njambi, a waitress, says she hates men who hit on her while at work, just because her job entails being nice to customers.
She finds it very uncomfortable, especially with men who lace their conversation starters with sexual innuendo. Njambi’s most annoying types are men who use ‘dirty’ compliments such as “what a nice booty” or “awesome tits right there!” as conversation starters.
“It’s common to hear some start conversations with ‘hello miss big booty’. I mean, just because huge booties and hips are celebrated, they assume such racy compliments are welcome from any stranger,” she says.
“I have on multiple occasions got very creepy messages like ‘I’d like to tear that p**** up,” “I’d love to be between those thighs,” and the vague-but-just-as-creepy “The things I would do to you if I was your man,” in her Facebook inbox, from random men.
Maurine Aketch, an administrator narrates how an aspiring politician asked her for a date, which she obliged to and the man blurted out that he wanted her to bear him a son.
“I was shocked, he was talking about marrying me as a second wife and asking me the possibility of bearing him a boy. Never mind this was our first date,” she said still bewildered at the encounter. She adds that there are men who send random M-Pesa and airtime right from day one and think that is how best to tune a woman. “They expect ‘ujijazie’ that he wants you by sending money. Others, especially the moneyed guys, think if they dangle suggestions for stuff like a holiday to exotic places, then you should be up and game asap,” she added.
Hitting on a woman while drunk and the bragging brothers
According to Dennise Wairimu, men who brag about their two or three degrees and other academic exploits, their place of residence, with an exaggerated sense of entitlement or fat egos put her off.
This, she argues, is very common with the lakeside brothers. “Most of the time when a Luo man is hitting on a woman, they often do so with big vocabulary or talk about how they are alumni of this or that prestigious university. I recall one even told me his grandfather was a chief and that saying ‘no’ to him would be an insult to his lineage, those alive, dead and the unborn. I got a migraine listening to him,” laughs Wairimu. A woman who requested anonymity told this writer how an MCA colleague of hers from Nyanza once hit on her while drunk and used the most graphic language while at it.
“We went for an official trip to a neighbouring country and he apparently got drunk to boost his confidence. Alcohol not only slurred his speech, he told me how he has always wanted me because he heard women from my community are dynamite between the sheets,” she says.