Tuesday, January 18, 2011

“Get ME to a nunnery!”

As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm receiving a considerable amount of male attention. (Disclaimer: I know this happens to many white women, but since I'm alone I've only observed this attention from the receiving end of it, so it feels more personal than I'm sure it is.) It happens everywhere. Cabs, tros, on the street, in the office—everywhere.

Another disclaimer: I am very friendly and smile-y in Ghana, and I do this intentionally. On my plane from D.C. to Accra, I met the nicest Ghanaian woman named Suzi. She told me about her life and her country, and the conversation came around to race. She explained that the racism in Ghana used to be really bad between white and black people, but she said that it's better now, and that I should just be very polite to everyone because otherwise it would resemble racism and I would insult people. With that nugget of wisdom, I entered Ghana; so from the very beginning I've been as polite and kind as possible. This would seemingly explain some of the excessive flirtatious attempts by Ghanaian men, but I actually think that, given their persistence, it's probably not making that much of a difference.

What's even more fascinating is that the way men hit on me is practically formulaic! The conversations seem to follow one of two scripts.


Ghanaian man (G): Where are you from?

Me: United States of America

G: Do you have a husband? / Do you have a boyfriend?

Me: No.*

G: Can I have your number?

Me: No, I'm sorry, I don't give it out.

G: I think you are very beautiful.

Me: Thank you.

G: I want to call you. Please give me your number?

Me: No, I'm sorry. I'm only going to be here for two more weeks.

… This continues until we part ways, or until he finally gives up. Actually, the men I've talked to are quite respectful and it's possible to tell them no, you just have to repeat yourself many times.

*In the beginning, I lied and said “Yes—I have a boyfriend/husband,” but I found that it didn't make a difference, so I stopped bothering to lie.


G: (looking me up and down)

Me: (riding passively in the cab, or wherever)

G: Where are you from?

Me: America.

G: I want to be your friend.

Me: What is your name?

G: “Robert”

Me: I am Liz. It is nice to meet you.

G: Nice to meet you. I want you be your friend.

Me: Okay! We are friends!

G: Give me your number?

Me: I'm sorry I don't give it out.

G: But I want to be your friend.

Me: We are friends!

G: Where are you staying?

Me: Polykamp, near the Polytechnic.

G: I will come to Poly and see you at your house.

Me: I don't think my Ghanaian father will like that.

… This also continues until I get away, or until I make it clear that he can't have my number.

In a third scenario, I am in a situation where I will be in close proximity to the Ghanaian man for an unpredictable amount of time. In these cases, after making it clear that I do not give out my number, he eventually asks me to take his number and makes me promise to call him on a specific day or event. This happened twice on Saturday—I was out-and-about all day—so I am now supposed to call Kusi... anytime, but especially before I leave for America because he wants to come with me. And I'm supposed to call Kofi next weekend if I am coming into town to party, and my last weekend in Accra because he'll be there that weekend.

Am I flattered? ... Not really. It just feels like a race/gender thing. It's exhausting to be who I am physically. I want to take a break from being white and female. All the attention makes me wonder—do I have a sign on my head that says “Come and get it!” or “I'm woman, I'm yours!” ??? And I find myself longing for a way to cover up all my features, so as not to be noticed. I think to myself, hijab would be ideal; I feel like I understand why some women choose to veil themselves—you could be more free to go about without fending of man after man. Other times I think, “Get me outta here! Get ME to a nunnery!”

Until next time I remain,

SINGLE in Ghana


  1. Try not showering for a few days and then see how they like ya! The men will back off but the goats will probably be attracted to you!

  2. All too familiar... There is no solution? Just patience. Or embrace your long blond hair and all the attention it gets you... wait...

  3. LIZ! I just want to say that I have LOVED following your blog. It sounds like you are having an amazing experience. All smiles.

    Question. Have you noticed how the men treat the Ghanaian women? Have you gone out with Ghanaian woman and does that change how you are treated? I'm just wondering how much of what you are experiencing is due to your foreignness vs your womanness?

  4. Great question... I'll keep investigating gender relations via observation!

  5. Similar things happened to my wife while we were attending school together at the University of Kansas. The Ghanan males were "the worst". They'd try to pick her up when we were together.

    I couldn't help but laugh.