Folarin ‘Falz’ Falana is a staple of Nigerian pop culture, weaving ideas through originality, discussing relevant socio-political issues with heaving table shaking, comic skits, criticizing corruption and vices at all levels, and making music a tool for socio-political activism in line with what the greatest musician in Nigerian history, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti gained notoriety for in his heydays.

Over the past seven years that Falz has grown and matured as an artist, from the guy who made, 'Jessica' and ‘High Class’, he has taken on pedophilia, prostitution, troubled adolescence, perils of success, rape, Internet fraud, materialistic pastors, pervert uncles and other noteworthy discussions in a world where public figures are afraid to shake tables.

On his last album 27', he made the standout song, ‘Child of the World,’ about the worrying outcomes of a focused girl, raped by a family member she trusts. The experience and trauma then morphed into promiscuity and life-altering contact with HIV — and there, Falz started getting criticisms online. 

Feminism in itself, as an instrument of social justice and advocacy, in its pure form is a needed tool to cut down entrenched patriarchy and promote the rights of women.

Criticism vs. Falz

When the visuals for ‘Child of the World' dropped, in the thick of conversations around rape, consent and tacit permission to rapists through victim shaming, critics neglected the entire positive conversations that Falz evoked in his music and pivoted the narrative in how he shames ‘runs girls’ and engages in other forms of ‘slut-shaming.’

First, who is a runs girl and what is slut-shaming?

A ‘runs girl’ is Nigerian lingo for a transactional sex practitioner that does not stay in a brothel or inhabits any form of red light zone. She is usually a high-class escort, sometimes, a courtesan to uber-rich Nigerian men — or aristos — and makes a good living in the hustle.

Slut-shaming, on the other hand, is premised on the idea of patriarchy limiting the sexual expression and sexual liberalism of a modern woman. Slut-shaming is the act of ‘policing’ a woman’s body - especially when that critic condones a man sleeping around in a roundhouse of hypocrisy.

After the era of the issue rumbling on Twitter, Falz was finally confronted on the issue at the listening party for his new album, “Moral Instruction,” and he duly responded with a criticism of buyers of sex with a quip on his joint effort, ‘Regards To Your Mumsy’ with rapper, Ajebutter22 which addressed pedophilia, predatory sex hunting and aristos and then finished with the unequivocal statement, “I hate transactional sex” to a warm applause. 

Sadly, it is a misfire from critics. Falz not only has a right to his opinion, but he is also relatively right.

First, we understand critics, but their argument does not hold water 

The argument is that prostitution is a legitimate hustle because everyone has a right to their body. Should we encourage people to accept transactional sex as a hustle because it pays?

Critics also claim that men who patronize sex workers; should be called out, great point. They’re as complicit in the act as the sex workers in the ‘oldest profession in the world,’ but does that critique of the patronage of prostitution validate prostitution? No. 

Why are we unified in our voices against other vices and condemn them while some people want to legitimize prostitution with the concept of free will, abusing that fundamental tenet of ‘free will’ to feminism for selfish and hypocritical ends?

Corruption is as old as time, but time is still no validation for corruption — a vice will forever be a vice.

So what is transactional sex? 

A sexual relationship where consideration — in form of money, chattel or gift — is given in direct exchange for that sex. 

We also need to clarify what these critics want; to call transactional sex a legitimate hustle or to also call out the buyers of sex? It seems a combination of both, depending on whom you’re arguing with and what they subscribe to. 

So, for tribe allegiance, they have to vilify any man that criticizes any woman on any premise, even though that criticism is pointless — as it is in this case. 

Unknown to these critics, legitimizing transactional sex promotes cheating

That said, how is it that most of these critics rightly complain and criticize sexually irresponsible and philandering men all day, calling mega-shots on the scum mantra but are also the same persons who want to protect the sexual proclivities of a woman under the heading, ‘it’s her body.’ Isn’t that double standard that feminism is trying to abolish?

As explained above, ‘runs’ is a core part of transactional sex and sex in this context is mostly bought by married, uber-rich Nigerian men. If these critics hate cheating, and they say transactional sex is good, they are trying to say it’s okay for single women to sleep with other people’s husbands while we only blame the buyers of sex and let the sellers of sex go — that’s just partializing and double standard. 

You cannot reap the benefits of a wrong — patriarchy — you root against. Asides that, both the cheater and the person whom a cheater cheats with are animals and critics must understand that. 

Yes, we should also shame the patronage of transactional sex, hence the scum mantra but it goes both ways.

Critics also miss the perils of prostitution

As things stand, prostitution is illegal in a lot of territories and Nigeria is one of them. Corruption and exploitation are also ingrained in the human fabric. Some of these sex workers do these things because they feel they are too far gone or because they feel out of options with on survival means. 

On a daily, corrupt law enforcement officers take advantage of them. Rapists take advantage of them, they get abused, shamed, robbed, assaulted and cursed. It’s sad that critics seem to only have a problem with a man criticizing a woman than holistically understanding the concept of transactional sex. 

Mention how they are taken advantage of by pimps and madams and if these critics are truly concerned they would be more concerned about this. 

Asides that, Falz is entitled to his opinion

From the foregoing, it has been established — at least slightly — why transactional sex will continue to be viewed with judgment and continued to be shamed, even if it becomes legal. It then becomes necessary that Falz is entitled to whatever opinion he has on transactional sex.

Critics going on rants and tirades are no better from people they criticize for hating feminism. You cannot hate people for having dissenting opinions on issues like this — they are borderline. The point of these critics on transactional sex is likely to be more problematic than the problem of shaming itself.

What is our hope as a people if our children start ascribing to prostitution as a legitimate hustle even if they become discovered exhibitionists who enjoy sex after they come of age? We need to be careful what we abuse.

If truly the outrage is to stop cheating then why the advocacy for transactional sex?