I Competed in the silliest Instagram competition and won. I was to get some Gelato with a celebrity. You see, I am no sweet tooth but my fat rolls testify otherwise. After a quick meeting, I decided to take my lunch break so I could get my winnings somewhere in Lekki.
The search for a bike seemed endless as I waited in the harmattan sun, the vulcanizer nearby took it upon himself to find me an okada and he succeeded. The trip was mostly smooth until we had to stop, the okada rider had to bribe a guard so he could gain access to that part of the road.
Did I mention I had been losing my war against fat and its cohorts and gelato was an obvious bad idea? I also refrained from eating all day so I could make calorific room for my spoils of war. This is not the story for today.
Every day in Nigeria, we hear derogatory statements directed toward women for a plethora of reasons. It’s as though it is a crime to be female. Just yesterday, a person called birthing a female child an “un African thing” I see such statements and wonder, why is there such hate and disdain directed at my gender? Where is our humanity? It has become normal to use the woman as a yard stick for measuring weakness, incompetence and promiscuity amongst other things. This raises questions in my mind. Is it that women have monopoly over these things or is it that there was a manual given at the birth of a girl child stipulating the above?
Let’s get back to my gelato story. As soon as I finished stuffing my face with the creamy goodness, I headed back to my office, of course, on another okada. This time it didn’t take too long to find one and I was in a good mood. The okada rider as with his many colleagues was a little rough, flying in and out of portholes as though it were a sport. To be honest, I had no problems with it. I live dangerously– I am in no way a scared cat. Except when I must ride a downward escalator– this friends, is story for another day.
The okada rider started to speak and in my mind, I said a prayer, “Dear Jesus, be a defence against mouth odour.” Little did I know that I was going to be faced with brain odour. He said I was a good sport, bold and fierce, he was sure to register that he was pleased about the fact that I didn’t complain about his rather rough riding. I smirked and kept a straight face. He then proceeds to tell me of the man he transported yesterday: of how he was afraid and “too careful.”
“Even woman no dey fear like that” he continued. Of course, my insides clenched and an anger burned– no, brewed inside me. See, I am an angry black woman and I don’t care, the intersectionality surrounding my existence is peculiar and I generally do not feel the need to please you with a smile.
Experiences like this leave me asking questions. Why is the woman a yardstick for measuring fear, weakness, incompetence and promiscuity? An average Nigerian man has an “Even Woman” statement right at the tip of his tongue. “Even woman no dey drive like that” Even woman no dey talk like that.”
Over the years, some women have tried to bridge the gap by “showing what they can do”, work harder, prioritise work over their children so they don’t look incompetent, some even refuse to get married or fall in love to avoid the perception of weakness. I have never seen a man make any sacrifices to earn society’s respect. If he gets married, he’s the man, if he cries, it’s because there’s an onion around, if he takes care of the children born from his loins he’s Superman. Flip the script.
This is completely insane.
In what world, do we need more than our humanity to qualify for our fundamental rights and nature bestowed respects. I humbly opine that women do not need to show extra-terrestrial abilities to prove themselves worthy of respect and inclusion. If men get respected because of some socially constructed, baseless respect for the penis, then, the problem is with the society not the woman.
I firmly believe that sexism is a product of an underdeveloped mind, a mind still bound in the captivity of colonialism, I am especially shocked when people beat their chest and claim that the African culture has prescribed that a woman belongs right below the armpit of the man. Such ignorance!
It is glaring that there is no apparent reason for the superiority of the male gender, yet men and some women alike, cling to some non-existent notion that somehow because of a person’s sexual organ, he is superior. Think, Humans Think.
You see, I have experienced racism in its many facets, the subtle you can’t sit with us and the more glaring kind. I mean– there was a point in my life where my ability to use a photocopying machine was doubted, not because I was uneducated or lacked the knowledge required to operate said machinery but because I was black– not just black, I was from Africa!
The world has enough perils. Did you people not learn from 2016? The year of Brexit and the evolution of Trump? The least we can do as humans is to stand together yet, people of same colour, race and creed still see a reason to marginalise, abuse and discriminate against a group of people because of their gender.
I usually have a readymade lecture for every act of ignorance and I seem like I can’t let stupidity go. But you see, this day, I was weak – just like the day a Keke Marwa driver told me explicitly that I was nothing but a woman, and because he is a man, my degrees, status and whomever I thought I was had to bow at his feet. He asserted his masculinity by verbally abusing me and threatening physical force. He vowed to “put me in my place” it is worthy of note that I had him put in police custody for threatening me.
A world where I get verbally abused and threatened for talking back to “a man” after he called me stupid had me worried, I just stood there and wondered, what are my chances of scoring a penis.