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Liz Awoliyi: What I’ve Learnt About Being Female



Liz Awoliyi 1A few Sundays ago, (Valentine weekend to be precise) I attended church and got a fantastic lesson on being female. The guest speaker at church was a very well spoken and accomplished lady known as “The Love Doctor” and the subject matter she discussed with us resonated with me so much I thought I should share.

She wanted to talk to the females in the house, she had this to say: “Women – be tender, be gentle, be kind”.
I’m naturally an intimidating person. I know that, I’ve been told that over and over again. Oftentimes I’m referred to as “aggressive”, I’m working on that. The aggressive nature shines its head in my approach to life, in my hungry, ‘go getter’ attitude, in work and even in play.

Being told “You’re too intimidating” can be incredibly aggravating, especially when you don’t consciously go out of your way to be so. Oftentimes you don’t even realise you’re intimidating anyone. As modern 21st century women, we are encouraged to be assertive, accomplished and independent. So when someone now turns around and tells you, you’re ‘intimidating’ or you’re aggressive, it sounds like you are being told to take all of that back and pretend to be something less than you are.

But I’m learning that as I grow older, change is the only constant; and for every thing, there is a season.
It’s the gentle, kind and tender season. I’m learning that I have to be more gentle, bring down my voice, and act like a lady. The man that God is going to send my way will still accept me for me but see my efforts to be the best me.

As she spoke about her youth I could see myself in the woman “The Love Doctor” described. I too, am filled with so much passion, and there’s a lot of aggression in how I go about things. I’m learning to deal with myself in that regard, talk gentler, sit like a lady and lower my voice, etc.

A lady got up in church sharing with us that at 10 years old she lost her mum. She explained that she had never had a female role model and didn’t have a clue how to be gentle, tender or kind.

Another said her nickname at work is “Aggressive So and so”
The Love Doctor’s advice was that it is possible to nurture yourself out of being aggressive. A lot of times we put up a tough exterior because when you meet people you don’t want them to look at you as a weak or a ‘mumu’. Meekness has bad press.

Some of us women have learnt to fend for ourselves for so long, that we’ve became way too aggressive along the way. If we hadn’t been aggressive, the world would have pushed down on us; but life comes in stages, and if you’re looking to settle down, looking for a life partner, with mutual respect – you will need to unlearn certain things.

Here is a summary of a few things the Love Doctor shared:

• Ladies, there’s no threshold for how kind you should be
• Be meek and humble
• Work on yourself and you become admirable to the man that God is going to send your way.
• At each stage of our lives what we have learnt guides us and has guided us thus far. However we need a new syllabus for each of the stages you are about to encounter.
• Don’t think you can’t learn anything new, you continue learning. Don’t limit yourself, particularly the great gifts.
• Say to yourself, this year I will learn “gentleness”, I will learn “tenderness”, “ I will learn Kindness” – Your capacity to learn is limitless.

And for the men, women are intrinsically made for love. As long as the man acts right, a woman’s love deepens and deepens. So whilst we women are working hard at acting like a lady, you guys just do you part and be the man!
I don’t have all the answers, never have never will; we are all constantly learning. I hope this messages touches someone else out there.

If you want to read more on this topic I suggest reading – ‘Fascinating womanhood’ by Helen Adelin.

Tv/radio presenter, occasionally I write! Social media strategist. Online Editor of Genevieve Magazine @LizAwoliyi


  1. Go getter

    March 17, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    Interesting topic. I find that working in the west as a black female people automatically label us aggressive when we are go getters. Never really understood. Maybe they feel intimidated.

  2. @edDREAMZ

    March 17, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    God bless all our women……

  3. yems

    March 17, 2015 at 4:46 pm

    This piece spoke to me!

  4. anonymous

    March 17, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    my gf still told me on sunday how OFF COURSE I look intimidating naa,with my no make-up face and my iro n bubba i wore to church cos i wasn’t in d mood for figure hugging and heels.Biko i can’t come n go and kill myself..humility?not to aggressive,tenderness,I’m working on it,So help me God but mehhn if this guys too can just try and not be so lackadaisical about issues,they make us have no choice than to be a man and a woman…choi! tenderness ok I’m working on it

  5. ChiChiChilolo

    March 17, 2015 at 5:25 pm

    Good for you!

  6. jefka

    March 17, 2015 at 5:48 pm

    while being tender, humble and all the above mentioned,
    be careful not to cross the line and then start acting foolishly all in a bid to come off as meek.
    being a virtous woman isnt an avenue for timidity.

  7. Ross

    March 17, 2015 at 6:01 pm

    Nice piece. I just wish African women won’t always approach being ‘A Woman’ from the angle of being validated by a man. Our one service is to God and HIM alone. Everything else falls into line behind this dedication.
    When these kinds of sessions are held, I feel like it is important for men to be held in a room and taught the same about what being true men are.
    African women are described as aggressive a lot and if you look at it well, its because we are not protected by our men. If a woman feels a mans protection (even if she’s not married), she will blossom and become softer and more mellow and feminine, because she doesn’t have to fight all the time (As the writer hinted). The African woman is always fighting. We must bring up our boys differently. We must teach them that to be real Kings, all women around them must be treated as Queens.

    • NIBU

      March 17, 2015 at 8:04 pm

      God bless you for this comment. As for the article, I have no words.
      Anyone interested, please watch this video:

  8. Eyitayo

    March 17, 2015 at 6:04 pm

    I love dis “As long as the man acts right, a woman’s love deepens and deepens”

  9. NellyF

    March 17, 2015 at 6:45 pm

    Methink there’s too much emphasis on being tender and gentle and kind (I dunno if its in the same context the bible encourages us to) but there should be a balance. Cos truthfully, marriage (for instance) teaches you a lot of lessons you cannot but toughen up while trying to be the best you can be!

  10. Jagbajantis

    March 17, 2015 at 6:49 pm

    Both men and women have lessons to learn in gentility and humility, but Nigerian girls can frown sha. They have that hyena stance at all times. There are ways of being assertive without being aggressive. These are two different things. I know it is just TV, but if you look at Kevin Spacey’s wife’s character in House of Cards, she is driven and assertive, but she never ever raises her voice or loses her cool.

    We have been brought up in a culture where posturing and grandstanding gives the appearance of strength and power. I like some steel in my woman, and all the chicks I have dated have been strong, assertive, go-getting, domineering, but under the cover of calm. Here is my 2 kobo:

    1. No need to scream at the top of your lungs like a Gala seller if you want to get your point across firmly. I find that staying as cool as a Cooling Van and repeating your position firmly helps more and unnerves people

    2. Learn as a woman to be able to refuse men’s advances with balance. Let a man down gently no matter how little you think of him as a potential partner. Remember that there is tomorrow o. An exception would be if the dude has behaved like a dog. Give him a bone to remember then (no pun intended)

    3. Learn to see other women as sisters and not heads to stepped upon or competition.

    4. Smile more. Relax your face muscles. Nigerian girls can carry face sha. They are instantly recognizable in any international crowd. If you have nice teeth, bare them. Show your dimples. Frowning gives you a double chin sef. Why so angry

    • nene

      March 17, 2015 at 10:01 pm

      truth! every single word. i usually know nigerian women by their “face” as you stated in your last point.

    • Ms. A.

      March 18, 2015 at 12:21 pm

      With your no 2 point, I actually disagree. I used to be of the school of thought that a gentle and kind let down was the way to go, but with time i found myself being ‘followed’ by a string of guys i actually had zero interest in and who i thought i had successfully and gently told i was not interested.

      Men, Naija men especially, usually take a woman’s no as a yes…or a possible yes. They always think you need just a little prod, cajole, convincing or wooing to give in to them. Seriously, like play like play one guy i thought i had lost sent me Asoebi for his grandmothers funeral. The same Asoebi his brothers’ wives were wearing.

      Sternly,(almost bordering on rude…almost) without mincing words or extending any further hand of friendship is the way to tell a Naija guy who is interested in you that you do not return his affection. If that fails….which it possibly may, there’s always the good ol blocking of number and a restraining order.

  11. Jagbajantis

    March 17, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    One more thing. Liz, if that is truly a photo of you, you are hot. Chei, brown-skinned women are my weakness o

  12. sika

    March 17, 2015 at 7:03 pm

    When a woman is assertive, they call her aggressive, a bitch or bossy. But when a man is..they call him a man. The man God has made for you will not need you to tone down anything to attract him. Who says you cannot be aggressive and be gentle when you need to? The aggression is important for survival, and when you fall in love, love makes you gentle and very soft towards your partner (thats assuming your man is the type that genuinely loves to make you happy and isnt cheating left right and centre). You should not change from being aggressive to being soft cos you want to land yourself a man, be yourself and the right man will love you just the way you are.
    you dont want to be soft and gentle and attract silly men that will take advantage of that. Any man that finds you intimidating as you are isnt worth your time…if anything thats a good filter to trash out men that you honestly dont need. I dont believe all men should see your soft and gentle side..only that one man who is meant for you should. This is my opinion.

  13. Nike Skelly

    March 17, 2015 at 7:39 pm

    The word ‘intimidating’ can sometimes be someone else’s displacement of insecurity. .. having said that, most people finds very assertive ladies as either ‘show off’ or ‘arrogant’. My take in life is quite simple “DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU” The fact that I am confident and outspoken should not be an encouragement to someone to deem me as aggressive, and I should not have to change who I am to fit into someone’s spec in order for them to feel good. It is important to respect each and everyone’s different ways of life as long as the person is not being insulting to feed into their profanity. Very nice article from Liz. Thanks for sharing

  14. jaiyeola olomo

    March 17, 2015 at 8:19 pm

    The article is full of truths and needful truths. If any single woman or even married were to have the mindset of that article their marriage would take a lot for it to fail. Change is the only constant thing and to have a rigid unchangeable mindset is to subconsciously set yourself up for failure in marriage and life. This applies to both gender -change.

  15. fisayo

    March 17, 2015 at 10:18 pm

    Nice writeup but i dont particularly like the angle it took.must you be gentle and meek because you want to attract potential suitors?that would be being two faced. Be gentle and kindetc because you want to!. Iv always had the problem of being regarded as bossy but when my now hubby met me,he said im assertive and he dosent in any way feel threatned. I admit sometimes i take an attack stance and that comes from being petite n young loking which is usualy taken for granted. In all, im trying to be gentler. so help me God.

  16. Easy n Gentle

    March 17, 2015 at 10:34 pm

    How come one never meets these supposedly ‘strong’ and ‘assertive’ women save for the Internet. Oh well!! One thing I want to emphasize in her article, we need to learn how to unlearn. Life is in stages and we humans get lured into our habits and what has worked in the past forgetting that no two situations are the same and that each stage needs a different set of skills or at the very least, tweaking of the old ones

  17. tunmi

    March 17, 2015 at 11:21 pm

    So nothing for the none heterosexual women or the women who are not in search of a man. Aggressiveness, humility, lmao I laugh in Twi. Issorai, with all these changing faces no come break ya neck because as den say na woman be neck, man be head. Oxygen and Magnesium (SDK, page number…) I just cannot belive it. Beht, what else is there to expect. The banality is no longer fun

  18. Stella

    March 18, 2015 at 5:48 am

    @fisayo… So you ARE trying to be gentler? So you’ve embraced change then, your are doing that now that your suitor found you. Either ways, you see change and ability to know when and how is the beginning of wisdom! All the best!

  19. yup

    March 18, 2015 at 6:16 am

    Dts true ooo,but I believe we should strike a balance between aggressiveness nd being gentle,am nt d gentle type nd I get what? CRAZE!!!!!!…but somtyms u shud act cool,nt all tyms,nd y z d article talking abt finding a man or seeing d man,biko,talk abt d fun involved in a woman”s life,dnt let it look like our lives depend on marriage,nyc article sha,bt come to tink of it,how can someone be gentle wen dere r some useless men outdere to sexualy harrass nd embarass u,men too shud be gentle nd mature,……..may d Lord help us cuz wen u want to be gentle,society wil teach u to be harsh nd mean………..above all,*lovejoypeace…..sorry dt my comment z nt organized jare

  20. omoge

    March 18, 2015 at 9:27 am

    I find this article very apt, yet annoying. Annoying because it reieterates everything my ex told me, he said “you behave too much like a man, and no man wants to marry another man; you are too tough, too strong, too ambitouse, too driven, you act like you dont need a man, so i cant be with you” And i wept for days, and as i write this i can almost feel the pain still lingering.
    I find it apt because, im trying to learn to unlearn many things i learnt whilst growing up, how to be tough in the face of challenges and take care of myself by myself; but im trying to be a lady: Gentle and Meek . But ultimately I know im a fantastic person and ANY man should consider himself blessed to have me. P.S : I have a better boo

    • jaguarnana

      March 20, 2015 at 10:16 pm

      Please ignore this article and go on to be true self. I do not see anyone writing articles on how the numerous meek, unambitious uneventful men should learn how to be more aggressive and successful. Be yourself! of course exercise self restraint and be self disciplined but never listen to the bullshit of having too much of a frown or lowering your voice or not speaking up when your requests or complaints are not heard. who are you having a pleasing demeanor for sef? yourself or for the world? what a cock & bull idea to be spreading to hardworking women out there. if you feel irritated then feel irritated don’t smile over it. I certainly was not born to carry a smile for the worlds pleasure I smile when I’m happy and my frown is an expression of my displeasure and If I carry a stone face when you approach me it simply means I’m not feeling you because I giggle like a teenage in the presence of a man I like. Women stop plastering ourselves with the same brush we are individual intrinsic beings not china dolls painted up for the worlds pleasure view. wth!

  21. chy

    March 18, 2015 at 10:25 am

    I think its good to be assertive and intimidating in certain situations but it better to show your humanity all the time.

  22. SuZs

    March 18, 2015 at 11:50 am

    Wow!.. This is soo on point! i totally feel you , I’m told the same things.. Aggressive, too intimidating…independent..etc . but i’m learning to tone it down a bit . Even the Bible says we should have a meek and quiet spirit, which is of great price in the sight of God …. And meekness is not weakness, it’s just power under control.

  23. Ms. A.

    March 18, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    With your no 2 point, I actually disagree. I used to be of the school of thought that a gentle and kind let down was the way to go, but with time i found myself being ‘followed’ by a string of guys i actually had zero interest in and who i thought i had successfully and gently told i was not interested.

    Men, Naija men especially, usually take a woman’s no as a yes…or a possible yes. They always think you need just a little prod, cajole, convincing or wooing to give in to them. Seriously, like play like play one guy i thought i had lost sent me Asoebi for his grandmothers funeral. The same Asoebi his brothers’ wives were wearing.

    Sternly,(almost bordering on rude…almost) without mincing words or extending any further hand of friendship is the way to tell a Naija guy who is interested in you that you do not return his affection. If that fails….which it possibly may, there’s always the good ol blocking of number and a restraining order.

  24. Nkechi

    March 18, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    Yesterday, walking through the streets, I did not make eye contact with people as I have almost always done by default. I just looked ahead. With a pleasant smile on my face, yes, but my shoulders were steely. People usually overtake me, brush me, make an extra wide step so they can go ahead of me even though I have right-of-way, etc. I’ve been told I need to toughen up (I live abroad). Yesterday, I toughened up. It felt nice.

    This article is useful. It is important not to be a walkover (like I am sometimes — no, a lot of the time). But it’s also important to have a pleasing demeanour, even if one is tough and no-nonsense.

    The things you pointed out, Liz, are really useful:

    (1) don’t raise your voice.

    (2) Let people down gently the first two times (you are justified to make your no strong and forceful if they still come back for a third asking).

    (3) Don’t be afraid to unlearn things. It is part of growth. Last year, I unlearned the acceptance of sociopaths and sociopathic behaviours around me. I was surprised at my strength, but I guess when one hits rock bottom… Not everyone is nice like you. Know that for a fact. House of Cards is getting a lot of play in this comments section, but watching HoC helped me read more about sociopaths: 6% of the population. So, what are the chances that a family member, mother-in-law or co-worker that is making things complicated and manipulating you and those around, is a sociopath too? 6%. Remember that.

    • Ada

      March 19, 2015 at 12:53 am

      Omg same. The sociopathic thing. Its the same reason I am obssessed with house of cards, I find that I attract manipulative sociopathic people which I guess is because of my very bendable and considerate personality. they will chew you out and spit you out and ask why you are in pieces. Because after all, whatever they did was good for you.

  25. tunmi

    March 19, 2015 at 2:24 am

    Please do not change who you are. Your ex was the insecure one. Please believe me that there are plenty men (assuming you are heterosexual) who are drawn to a driven woman. Leave your ex and if you are going to develop or grow do it for yourself, but please keep true to yourself. Your ex did not know how to deal with someone who knows herself. He’s the inadequate one not you.

  26. tunmi

    March 19, 2015 at 2:28 am

    Oh my gosh, I have no words. Chimamanda said it best:

    “We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise, you would threaten the man. ”

    Please do not shrink yourselves. Be that driven, aggressive, ambitious, strong, go-getter person you truly are. There is nothing worse than a person who dims their light for others. We can akk shine brightly. I get it, Naija is a very marriages centric society. Believe that there are men who are attracted to that power you exude. There will be men who match you in that power, or they will be your complement. But do not ever reduce your worth, please don’t.

  27. Diesel

    March 19, 2015 at 9:48 am

    I love this, the message here isn’t about shrinking yourself.

    Its about being an extraordinary woman, not your every day woman. We must aspire to be more than the average but still have GRACE.

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