This week, Chiamaka drops her two cents on the controversial conversations surrounding Billing.
Billing, a colloquial term used to refer to someone directly or indirectly requesting for money, has been a flaming hot topic recently, especially on Twitter and it was only right I dropped my two cents. There is currently what seems to be an unending recession, inflation of prices and other terribly frustrating economic issues in the country so it is quite unsurprising that conversations of this nature would surface every now and then. On Twitter, Instagram and several other social media platforms, screenshots and voice-notes of women ‘broke-shaming’ and billing men regularly fly around. In fact, DJ YK Beats, a fast-rising DJ, has recently gained popularity by turning a particular soundbite of such instance into an incredibly catchy tune. In the voice note, the person (a presumed woman) is telling a man that she cannot date him because he is “broke, short and dark”. Instances like this have become commonplace.
A few days ago, Twitter erupted with a frenzy when a popular user said that she had gone through some of her ‘rich’ male friends’ Instagram accounts and seen multiple direct messages of women “begging”. In her words, women beg a lot and were quick to bill their friends for many of their needs. In another tweet, she explained that she did not mind that this happened since men were meant to be billed, she just did not like that it had been done to men that she knew.
The truth is most women who are deemed conventionally attractive, classed or otherwise privileged hold this belief that they somehow deserve the attention of men more than other women do. Since these types of women rarely ever have to ask to be gifted things or sent money ー men a lot of the times, ‘out of the abundance of their hearts’, just gift them things ー they find it distasteful that other women often do. It is much easier for these types of women to find men that will pay their bills, rent and meet other financial needs. But women who do not receive support from family and in certain cases have to send money home to parents have to ask in other to receive. The funny part is that, men, a good number of times, will freely give to women who they feel are unattainable. However, they find it too much of a task to do the same for ‘regular’ women, women who they normally wouldn’t accord the same reverence or respect to like the would a conventionally attractive woman.
Billing sometimes, in my opinion, is also a pre-emptive measure for the nonsense that women face. It is common knowledge, at least to women, that men will freely ask for sexual favours and comment inappropriately about our bodies even in the very early stages of any relationship you might have with them. Why then should Nigerian women not move in the same vein and become attuned to immediately ask men for money? Also before you say this is transactional sex, remember that a lot of things are transactional and as long as it's made explicit, there’s no problem with transactional sex.
While this might not apply to everyone, other subtle factors that might contribute to why women ask men for money is the gender pay gap and the fact that women were not even allowed to amass wealth till not so long ago. It would be trite to also note that the narrative that billing might contribute to the reasons why men do not respect women is simply not true. As someone who grew up in a home with my mother as the breadwinner, I know that it did not stop my father from abusing her nor did it stop society in general from downplaying her efforts in the family as a whole. Asides from my personal experience, there are also countless experiences of financially dependent women getting disrespected by men for countless reasons that are not in any way tied to money.
Billing is a somewhat controversial and sensitive topic in today’s society but personally, I would encourage women who are routinely denied good things because they do not look like society’s rigid version of attractive or they are not classed enough to receive from family and others to ask directly for what they need. Staying silent and waiting your turn a lot of the time will get you nowhere.