British boxer of Nigerian origin, Anthony Joshua has himself caught in another duel;
In an interview with GQ from March 2017, the 27-year old said he wants his son to ‘spread his wings’ but he tends to be much stricter with his niece.
"I don’t think I’m that strict with Joseph, I don’t know why" he said.
"But with my niece I’m strict. I think it is because she is older, but also he’s a boy — he’s going to be a man’s man, he’ll want to spread his wings, be a Jack-the-lad, build his character."
He added: "But I am sure there are things I will be strict about. But with my niece, there is none of that Jack-the-lad nonsense for her!’ ‘My view is you have to be a good woman, respectful, one day you will be someone’s wife, you have to learn family morals… what it is to be a good woman"
Naturally, AJ’s comments haven’t gone down well with most people. It’s 2018 man.
People don’t get to say things like this anymore. Talking about a young woman like you’re preparing her to be an extension of a man doesn’t earn you points.
It’s misogyny, straight out of a place where men rule as the supreme gender.
Bad behaviour, really.
The interview is from 2017, by the way. AJ could have printed these unspoken rules on walls around every floor in his house or wherever his niece stays nowadays. Or still, changed his mind for all we know.
(That’s a saying on the streets of Lagos; “to ba we lawini 55, eni t’oma j’eko ma j’eko)
What it means basically is, even if you tie 55 turbans, your knock will find you.
You're shaking this table too much
The volume of reactions from Nigerians shouldn’t be surprising, but the tone is what makes you want to check where people are tweeting these things from.
One tweet reads; “answers concerning his son and his niece are seen to be sexist and misogynistic, showing toxic masculinity.”
This is very straight to the point. No words have been minced here.
It’s also very ground-breaking.
One of the aptest examples of the extent of sexism in Nigerian society is that, before education became slightly cheaper (and then expensive all over again), most parents made the sacrifice of a young daughter’s independence so the boys could go to school
It’s a human thing to some degree; the #MeToo movement continues to collect the scalps of media personalities and executives who harassed women and turned an industry ‘misogynistic’.
But let’s be guided.
Women have to be either thick-skinned or deaf to walk through markets in Lagos. And some streets too.
Our President confined his wife’s importance to the kitchen and “za oza room” on international media.
We’ve built a society on the belief that the woman is a nurturer, unambitious and willing to tend to a life or three, a house, a family or nothing at all; the man is the ultimate machine, the earner, the one who must be bright-eyed with the glint of potential, the one who must be hardened for the rigours of life and taking care of a woman.
The pressure that Nigerian men are placed under, at least in the mind, sets a dangerous precedent, that is already com-busting; regardless of how we may ignoring the apparent presence and effects of depression in young Nigerian men.
Did his comments hit too close to home?
Anthony Joshua’s comment mirrors what happens in most Nigerian homes. Men come with the right to rebel, pre-installed. Women have to be respectful, you’re going to be someone’s wife.
What is lost in economic and social value is in numbers.
On the average, there's a pay gap of 80% between what men and women earn.
And that's even for the few women that rise to the same position as men. To earn those roles, they usually have to outliers in every sense of the word.
The reactions to AJ's comments look very pretentious.
Each tweet that calls out AJ's behaviour is ammunition for the argument that social media has plunged the Nigerian youth into a virtual, unrealistic world where trending topics can win elections and everyone needs to put up the leanest, meanest appearances.
Because for the most part, our society does not echo these views.
Ironically, the tweets are also a pointer to the fact that the status quo does not have to remain for too long.
They may not have it figured out but a younger generation that comprehends a very sensitive issue is raising conversations about an imbalance that we were raised on.
There are people sleeping on this table that we're shaking; but there's enough reason to be slightly optimistic, if that's the case.
#MeToo is the biggest contemporary proof that conversations can start something, or at least, in the case of #H&M or #CoolestMonkeyInTheJungle, continue them.
Maybe we’ll have that hashtag soon and begin to unearth the stories of how someone placed the ladder to Nollywood stardom in the boxers of Nigerian movie directors.
Until then it seems like we’re throwing a boomerang at a glass house we should be aware that we helped build.