"#BeingAWomanInNigeria: A woman never wins"

Written by

African woman with a sad facial expression

WARNING: This is not a fancy piece of literature. This is an enjambment of my thoughts on #BeingAWomanInNigeria.

This world is mad!

You say no? Please tell me how our world is not crazy.

What kind of world is it where a woman who has suffered sexual and physical abuse is afraid and ashamed to share her story or report the tragedy? A world where the woman who is brave enough to speak out is doubted, blamed or silenced because saying such things out loud is a reproach. The world must not hear it.

A world where a girl is beaten and punished for being raped by her parents and loved ones. Why did she go there? Why was she with him? Why was she wearing that outfit? Why did he choose her and not any other girl? Why didn't she run? Why didn't she fight? Why was she attractive? Hell, why was she a woman?

A world where a woman is ruled guilty of being both the victim and perpetrator of a crime committed against her with flippant statements like 'She must have done something to cause it' or 'She must have been rude or suggestive or annoying or nagging or bitchy' or ‘She must have led him on’ or ‘She plays with boys too much.’

Tell me what kind of world is that?

A world where a man compromises his commitments and is excused on grounds of 'human flaw; a mistake; temptation; etc.' but when the coin is flipped, the woman is very conveniently labeled a whore, a bad mother, an ill-raised daughter. I mean, is anyone else seeing these things?!!! A woman cheats on her husband and is labelled a whore; a man does the same and an excuse must be found for why he did because, certainly there must be a reason for his actions. If she is older than him, then that has to be the reason why he cheated because she's too old for him. If she is younger than him, then most certainly she must be too immature to satisfy his advanced needs.

Society readily condemns the girl who gets pregnant out of wedlock but it seems no one has a word for the man who impregnates a girl out of wedlock. Or was it not two that played that game? A girl must be a virgin until marriage but for the man, ‘bodi no be firewood’. The man-whore deserves a virgin but the virgin girl cannot desire a virgin partner.

This is an aside: Quick advice for my fellow women, the next time your husband threatens to get a second wife, you too tell him you're going to get a second husband. Let’s see how he’ll feel, walking in your stilettos. It's annoying how we use different scales for each gender when no one humanity is superior to another.

Back to my spiel.

A world where a man is quickly forgiven his foibles and the woman is hastily hushed with varying versions of the reprimand, 'think about your family'. Either way she turns, she always has to be the responsible one. What about the man’s responsibility to her? Should he not think about his family too? You know, since we all seem to enjoy this culture of "silence and acceptance" so much, I wonder just how silent and accepting the world will be if the tables were evened out. Man beats woman. Woman beats man. Good luck cooking up a convincing enough excuse for your constantly bloodied lip or your ever-present black eye or the broken bones. Or to even the playing-field a bit further, you see all those excuses that men give for raping women and the many victim-shaming justifications for rape that society panders, let’s all just for a millisecond imagine that gay men start raping men, waving those same excuses (his toned chests were peeking out of his V-neck shirt; his pencil jeans were hugging him seductively; the temptation was too strong; it was the devil; etc), just how accepting will society be then? How quietly will we resolve it? How willing will we be to sweep the matter under the family mat? I hope that tiny pixel of possibility made you cringe in discomfort and I do hope it shattered your sense of protection within your masculine bubble. Because it is not just a millisecond imagination for women, neither is it a pixel of possibility. It IS a constant consciousness in the feminine reality. Vulnerability and insecurity and the possibility of being physically exploited is a subliminal part of the feminine existence. To be honest, it is an eerily satisfying thought but this will yield nothing but a nasty vicious cycle that will end up sucking us all in.

A world where ‘a ba e de ile oko’ (‘is that how you will behave in your husband’s house?) is a resounding threat that weaves a woman into an appealing wife material but nobody seems to be bothered about the spool of wool that is the husband material because, well, a woman can’t be too picky. Girls are raised and trained to become good women, wives and mothers but do we raise our men to become good men, husbands and fathers as well? From her formative years, a girl is prepared for marriage, doesn’t she at least deserve an equally prepared mate to make all the years of grooming worthwhile?

A world where I dare not fantasize about a man who can groom OUR babies (apparently, it’s not a ‘male thing’) but I most certainly must be a certified jollof rice and efo riro sous chef to deserve a husband. I mean, where are our priorities biko?

Our world as is not very alright. This is the reality. It's insane what's going on. It is what it is.

Yes, I know it’s not all tales of woe for the entire female population. Yes there are women who will find the aforementioned situations strange because they have never experienced any of them. But I speak for the majority and because of the majority, we should do better. We can do better. We NEED to do better.

And a good place to start is simply by caring. It's amazing how passionate we can get about a movie or a sports match or a video game, yet we can easily be numb to a situation dripping with the flesh, blood, emotions and intensity of our shared human reality. It seems pretty basic but when we change how we react to situations that affect a fellow human and try to feel their experience, then we will speak up more and stand up for one another more. We need to un-numb. We need to plug in to our inner human. We need to reconnect to the reality of our shared humanity. We need one another. We need to care about one another. We share this world together. We ought to look out for one another.

This is not about women winning. It is about us all winning together as a group of humans.



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