Messages, Misogyny and Nigerian Entertainment: Part 1

Messages, Misogyny and Nigerian Entertainment: Part 1

 Chimamanda Adichie once said that feminism is not a cloak that she puts on and takes off as the circumstances suit. I’m afraid that when it comes to enjoying Nigerian entertainment, whether its comedy, films, music, or blogs, I often have to take that cloak right off, put it aside and cover it with another cloak, for good measure.One thing I hear a lot, in response to Nigerian feminism, is why do they have to be so angry, rude, unpleasant? My question is this: Is it possible to be a Nigerian feminist and NOT be angry.  So much of Nigerian entertainment (and virtually everything else) has a gloss of the most blatant sexism that, let me tell you, unless I take off that cloak, I’m foaming at the mouth half the time.
Just for the heck of it, I’ll take a deep breath and try to narrow down the things that make my blood boil into a tidy list.
1. The gold-digging narrative. Comedy and comedic music are especially guilty of this. Apparently, a woman will be the most appalling bitch until you ‘show her the money’ at which point she will turn into the sweetest thing who will forgive you and give you anything. When I say woman, I don’t mean ‘good woman’, of course. A good woman, upon setting eyes on you, will apparently sell her siblings to put you through school so you can reward her by marrying her and keeping her in the background for the rest of her life, but that’s another topic.My thoughts on this? If there is a high incident of gold-digging among Nigerian women (and I’d like to see the statistics please), it’s for 2 reasons – the Nigerian economy has been messed up for a long time and pussy is easy to sell. You better believe that if dick was as easy to sell in Nigeria, these men would be balancing it on their heads like Olajumoke the bread seller.What makes me so bitter is not that very few people acknowledge the role men play in these transactions. It’s the fact that if a young woman decides to work hard at university and her job to make her money, there’s a high chance that she will be subjected to so much sexual harassment (what’s the penalty for that, in Nigeria, I wonder) from her lecturers, employers and company clients that she might be left wondering whether it wasn’t just easier to sleep with that rich married man in the first place.

2. The use of hoe/slut/pom/karashika/Jezebel (the born-again version) and other variations. Those words have become meaningless nouns to describe a range of women from a paid sex worker to a woman who annoyed you at the bus stop to a woman who has exactly the same morals as the man calling her a hoe. It’s an age-old tactic to demonise women, justify bad treatment of women, keep the ‘Madonnas’ separate from the ‘whores’ and to get other women to buy into the division, as long as they get to be the Madonnas . It started with witches in the Middle Ages and got down to bitches. It doesn’t actually mean anything. Eldee, in a recent twitter rant, called Amber Rose and Kim Kardiashian hoes (actually he said ‘hoe ambassador’ which I thought was rather clever) but in reality they are just women that seem to have normal sex/relationship lives but like to, for some reason, put their naked bodies on blast. Lesson: It doesn’t mean anything, those words are just used to scare women into ‘behaving’.

3. Don’t get it twisted. Some women will act the damn fool for no apparent reason. In Nigeria,  when a woman acts  crazy, not only is she labelled for life, society immediately identifies an imaginary pack of women, who all apparently behave the same way, and labels them accordingly. The woman isn’t just a bitch – she’s one of them ‘bitches’. When a man behaves terribly, he’s a ‘work in progress’ and ‘God is still working on him’ because you know ‘anything is possible with Jesus’.

4. Male celebrities who loudly and repeatedly insist they want a hard working woman, how they can’t stand “laziness in a woman” and how she should bring something (usually money) to the table. For a while, I couldn’t really figure out what irritated me so much about these statements. I don’t actually buy into the whole idea that the man is the main ‘provider’ in a marriage or relationship.Apart from the implication that women are naturally lazy gold-diggers (see above), what bugs me about this statement? Reading an interview with a popular Kenyan actor who has made similar statements, the light bulb suddenly flicked on. He was asked if he could cook and he said no. No. Without apology or explanation. So what does he expect to be doing so while his wife is out there hustling for her half of the moolah and she calls him. “Honey, I have a late meeting, could you give the kids their tea and put them in bed” – “Ah, but you know, I can’t cut onion without you…..”There are 2 things going on here. Firstly domestic work, usually the domain of women in Nigeria and the rest of the world, is being devalued. It doesn’t matter how well she keeps your home and your children and how much that enables you to be the successful person you are, if she isn’t earning, she’s a leech. Secondly, you want her to continue her traditional female role (I mean you may help out but the home is her ‘responsibility’), and then somehow go out and have the same earning power as you have. Bonus point: You want her to be financially independent while you remain domestically dependent.Some (must always remember to say ‘some’) of the guys have a really good gig here. They get to shame women for being poor or gold diggers while ignoring the factors that keep women from making money – less job opportunities, getting paid less for the same job, sexual harassment or coercion at work, hours spent on doing all the domestic work. And also! They’ve decided that domestic work isn’t worth anything while carefully avoiding it themselves! Hurrah!

To be continued…

 

Tracy Ofarn

 

Feminism is not for perfect people

Feminism is not for perfect people

Dearest Friend and Feminist, ‎

Feminism is not for perfect people. Come with your flaws. Come with your quirks. Come with your peculiarities. Come with your religious beliefs and come with everything you have, and as you are. Don’t be roped into thinking that you need be perfect or fit into ‘one of a kind’ mould before you can identify with this movement/ideology. This is not that place.

Be spurred by injustice. Be spurred by inequality. Be spurred by a broken heart and be spurred by love. Whatever your reason for identifying with feminism, embrace it. It is valid.‎

This idea of who a ‘good feminist’ is or who a ‘bad one’ is, simply muddles the irrefutable diversity of human differences and experiences and you know what else, it attempts at equating your feminism with some behavioural codes. I’m not a good feminist and I am not a bad feminist. I’m simply a feminist, one influenced by my environment, personal character and inherent quirks. I will be good somedays and I will be very bad some other days. We cannot all be the same and there is no one shade of this ideology.‎

And something else, when you’re called a Facebook(Twitter) Feminist, accept that tag proudly. There is something called Digital Activism and social media is as valid as any other mode of activism. The digital world is as real as the offline world. The work you do online is valuable as the offline work. This is our reality. Digital conversations are making much impact as non-digital conversations. Anyone who undermines the influence of this space is living in the rocks. Social media is real and it’s influence is real. And whether your advocacy is just online, that is valid.‎

You need nothing else except the drive for fairness and equality of all persons. You will make mistakes because you’re human and don’t think it will subtract from your right to identify with feminism.

Your existence is larger than one ideology you identify with. There is more to you. You contain multitudes.‎

You’re allowed to be flawed, contradictory, messy and confused. Don’t ever submit yourself to some purity test of what qualifies or disqualifies your feminism. There is no appointed feminist police to scrutinise your authenticity. Own that label and stumble around, make your mistakes and learn from them. And don’t be too concerned with the superficiality of your preferences; whether you love or hate men, or whether you like or detest make up, or whether you dress as a tomboy or a Madonna, or whether you enjoy erotic or Shakespearean books. 

Never attempt to organise your entire life into ‘feminist acts’ or ootherwise. Your life is fluid. And don’t be too concerned about the people who have an entire script of what you should be doing or how you should live as a Feminist when they are doing none of that. If they were genuine, they will lead the way and show you ‘the right way’ but their true intentions is that they are here to discredit you. Keep doing your thing. And if you’re bad, well half a loaf is better than no loaf.‎

In conclusion, acknowledge that you’re making a change, nothing else matters. Go eat some ice-cream or baileys and if you’re a Nigerian, indulge yourself this very long weekend/holiday starting now! Go and prosper or see a movie.

All the love in my heart.‎

​The #MenAreScum/#Menaretrash Movement: Misandry or Activism? – Editorial

​The #MenAreScum/#Menaretrash Movement: Misandry or Activism? – Editorial

Two weeks ago, in Ikoyi, Lagos, a bunch of schoolgirls sat for their finals and took to the streets in celebration. A bunch of boys from a school next door, (who had just finished their finals too) also took to the streets and started harassing these school girls  They tore their clothes, stole their phones and money, and then attempted to rape these girls, in broad daylight.
This week, in South-Africa, one girl was beaten to death and then burnt beyond recognition by her ex-boyfriend  Another was kidnapped and brutalized as she tried to escape from the car of her kidnapper.

In order to draw attention to the manner in which girls and women are being brutalized by the society, to examine the different ways that the entitlement mentality, with which men and boys are raised, contributes to the high rate of violence against women, and highlight the different ways that men can help mitigate other men’s terrible attitude towards women, the #menarescum/#menaretrash movement was trended on social media by gender activists and feminists from all over Africa.

It has become the norm on social media that whenever feminists or gender activists are advocating for the rights of the woman, men (and women) barge into the threads and try to trivialise the issues 

(by personalising it), this usually descends into a troll-fest with the activists accused of misandry and warnings issued to non-feminist women to stay off the threads because they run the risk of not being seen as ‘good girls’ and ‘wife-materials’.

The #notallmen hashtag is an example of the defences raised by men to tackle what is perceived as an attack by feminists on the institute of ‘manhood’.

However, this latest hashtag has gotten more backlash from both men and women, even those previously seen as allies to the gender equality movement. The tag #menarescum/#menaretrash is seen as being unnecessarily harsh, demeaning and off-putting. Unlike previous times when the voices of feminists and gender activists gain a lot of traction during activism on social media, the voices of people protesting against the hashtag is louder and angrier.

Although gender activists pointed out that the hashtag is not directed at men in particular, but at the structures/systems that brought about inequalities and lately, spates of brutalization against women, a lot of people are not buying it.
According to @Mr Boro, a Twitter user: 


“We have an issue at hand but you repeatedly say I’m stupid and want me to accept I’m stupid and then support you?”

“The same way you feel the need to say all men are  trash is the same way I feel the need to always disagree. You can’t gag me.”

He goes further:

“You can advocate for women’s rights without putting men down. They are not mutually exclusive.”

“Shouting men are scum on Twitter won’t stop Titi, 28 in Iganmu from getting slapped by her husband tomorrow.”

A lot of activists disagree with Mr, Boro, because they believe that with more push women will come to know and recognize their rights and men will be forced to examine their sense of entitlement and privileges afforded them by the patriarchal system presently at work on the continent.

@ChineEzeks a well-known activist and advocate for gender equality;


“The hubris & ignirance to think you somehow escaped being conditioned by a patriarchal society and the privilege it affords you. Amazing.”

“You’re not trash, but you feel more displeasure about being called trash than about women experiencing displeasure from trash. Ok.”

Also calling out people about examining their reasons for being up-at-arms against the hashtag was @Aninoritse, gender and LGBTQ rights activist;


“Of course we know not all men are scum but no oo. Correct it.”

“And correct the scum among you. No o. You’re crying and claiming we are making noise.”

“This is why the narrative will never change. Men are scum/trash. Instead of you men to band together and weed out your scum.”

The narrative emerging from these engagements seems to be that advocates should not be so ‘hostile’ in highlighting the ways inequalities have put everyone at a disadvantage. That the engagements should be less confrontational/militant.

The question is, has the less militant activism worked? In all these years of gender rights activism in Africa what has really worked? Can the answer be gotten from our history? Particularly the activism carried out by women pre- and during colonialism. Were there other tools of engagement used by women before getting to the point of ‘sitting-on-a-man’(a tool used by Eastern women to correct power imbalances) and the topless protests  carried out by women in the Western part of Nigeria to protest injustices by government authorities.

 On the other hand, post-independence, women advocates all over Africa have been lobbying their various governments for change in policies for over 30years, the advocacies are slowly, but surely, changing the landscape of women’s rights. Case in point the Violence Against Person’s bill which has been passed into law and the Child right’s act, which has gained traction in several states of the federation.

The way and manner through which feminists have engaged the issues of activism worldwide is vastly different, the end result has always been highlighting and correction of gender imbalances, can we then say that the #menarescum/#menaretrash movement has been able to achieve its aim?

An open Letter to the lord

An open Letter to the lord

Dear Lord,
I listened

Girl brutalized

Girl broken
I witnessed

Girl unveiled
Deviant!

Shameless!

Night walker!

Bar crawler!
His fists

Pounded every word

Into her pale, yellow, skin.

Yellow turned blood red.
Subhuman species!

Subpar intelligence!

Idiotic cacophony!

Ashawo na bastard!
Dear Lord

I listened

Her screams 

Rending the universe apart
I witnessed

Pain confusion

Disbelief shock

Chase after one another

Through her eyes
Street trawler!

Sex worker!

Do mi pay!

Pro- sti-tute!
The good old boys club

Surrounded him
For hitting her

He had no shame

For getting caught with her

He blushed with pain

Ashawo na bastard!
Dear lord

I listened

She cursed

She raged

Against you

Against her fate
Her man-made fate
She called down 

The wrath of the gods
Esu is my witness

Ogun my machete

Jesus Allah

Sango Aiyelala

Na thunder go fire you!

Your children shall know pain!
I witnessed

A girl

With no name

No shame

Gather her shattered bits

Into her dignity

Her spine

Straightened

She would show no weakness

She would no longer

Be a victim

She looked me in the eye

“I will like some privacy now.” 
Dear Lord

This made me wonder

Made me muse

Dear Lord

Who’s really the bastard

Who’s the fool?
– Ayodele Olofintuade

Feminism has no space for Transphobia – A series of Tweets by OluTimehin Adegbeye

Feminism has no space for Transphobia – A series of Tweets by OluTimehin Adegbeye

Having a marginalised identity does not automatically amount to expertise on any or all marginalisations. 

I learned this the hard way.

Equality will always feel like oppression to the privileged.

At moments like this I’m reminded it’s crucial to listen more and speak less. The worst thing about being loud and wrong is the loudness.

In a way, the knee-jerk reaction of cis-women to vehemently deny trans-womanhood as womanhood, reminds me of the reactions that survivors of (violent) penetrative rape had to my assertion last year that any absence of consent in sexual activity is in fact rape.

It’s this idea that validating experiences not our own (or not those that are historically mainstream) ‘diminishes’ the value of a thing.

An idea which is of course, patently false. 

Drawing borders around the validity of experiences doesn’t actually make the experiences of those outside the borders go away. It just makes it okay to gaslight the fuck out of them. 

But people KNOW what they’ve been through & who they are. Gatekeepers force madness on folks by insisting that things they know to be true are lies, then turn around & call them mad.

You’re already inside the circle. Nobody is pushing you out. We’re just saying that you drew the line at the wrong point & it needs to move.

Now comes the real question: Whether you want to stand inside a circle where you have to be next to people you don’t see as fully human.

That’s what drives pushback against inclusion really: people who have something thinking people who are less human than them will get it too. 

Transphobic cis women act as if the category ‘woman’ is so valuable that ‘men’ will want to steal it from them. How laughable is that??

Men KNOW how trash it is to be a woman in this world. That’s why they’re always on about not wanting/being afraid for their daughters followers. 

Even cis-women don’t want to be ‘women’ as it is constructed within the gender binary. That’s why feminism exists in the first place.

So why would anyone with any kind of real ‘male privilege’ want to give that up…to ‘become’ a woman?

Nigerians will defend gender essentialist transphobia as if we don’t culturallly call men ‘woman wrapper’ or ‘woman’ as an insult.

If we really care about people, we need to stop defending borders that attempt to invalidate their lives (and eventually, simply kill them).

For My Unborn Daughter -A Peom

For My Unborn Daughter -A Peom

​Your mother found her voice at 28.

Just incase you’re wondering, this poem is to my daughter – at 12 …
Sorry, I changed that to 5, because these kids are much smarter these days.
Your mother found her voice when the world had stopped talking
It was late.
She had swallowed the world too many times, all those times; the only sound that came out of her mouth was the swallowing.
She swallowed everything through a listening pipe, filled her belle with seasons and wars, and war cries and goings and cumming and everything else that made the world go round.
There were days – silence was the only sound you’d hear no matter how loud you tried.

And so, your mother mastered the art of swallowing her screams.
Conceiving everything – even the things that have no place inside a mother.
Your mother was once a world – a world, pregnant with its past… a past so present she could feel her future kick –
In pain, she swallowed her scream…
There were still days when nothing seemed to be coming out of anywhere – no matter the force you try.
The only time something tried to break out, was the world forcing it’s way out of your mothers mouth,
Not knowing whether to come out as a scream or a whisper or even … a song…
That was the day your mother – for the first time, tasted the lisp in her mouth,
Everything she could have said but didn’t say, all those years stood wobbling with buckled knees on her tongue,
Her lisp had grown with age – she could even taste how sour it was.
The salt in her saliva couldn’t save the world in your mothers’ mouth from decaying.
Every night, she dreamt of the oceans, of the dead fishes still floating, because she was taught that salt is the only reason dead things float  in deep sea. 

Your mother sinks in her dreams, unable to scream out and beg the salts to leave the oceans for a second to wrap her up in a heap and wait for her to climb back up before the salt return to where they belong. 

Your mother never came back from that dream. 

Daughter, wherever you find yourself, if you’re ever wondering if you should be somewhere else, don’t be confused with the words on the map except where it says “you are here.” 

Patience Tiencepay Lawal. 

The Bro Code

The Bro Code

In the age-old fashion of aprokoism, we at 9jafeminista make it our job to offer unsolicited advice and help to our brothers and sisters on the internet. And as we have done a two-part article ’12 yards of wife material for Christmas’ (you can find them here – Part I and Part II) we thought it unfair not to provide a list for the Nigerian man seeking to become manlier than he already is.

We Nigerians understand how these things work, a man is a man, a woman is a woman. We know that human beings are NOT beautifully crafted, complex creatures, with varying emotions and needs. Men behave like men, women behave like women, c’est fini!

Boys play football, girls cook!

As soon as a girl is born, even when she’s a suckling child, all she thinks about is marriage. Boys on the other hand don’t like getting married so girls have to do EVERYTHING in their power not only to ‘catch’ a boy, she also has to do EVERYTHING in her power to stay married to that boy, even at the cost of her sanity or her life.

Although we have a lot of evidence that proves the above assumptions false, we still stick to our beliefs because hey, it’s our TRADITION. And as we all know, traditions are not concerned about facts, they are only interested in umm… traditions (that actually makes nil sense, but it is what it is).

Anyway, so there we were on the World Wide Web, doing our usual poke-nosing, and like superman, flying around, looking for some poor victim to rescue from trouble. And then we stumbled on THE LIST! A rather long tending to boring list, admittedly, but it’s the list all the same. That elusive bro-code, the one presented to men so they’ll be able to earn their ‘manhood’, and in the process lose their humanity. We are not claiming this list is the cause of the high rate of domestic violence, assaults and rapes committed against men and is silenced, neither are we saying that the result of this list is the high rate of domestic violence, assaults and rapes committed against women. Because then we’ll be saying that this list only makes us all victims, and we’ll never, ever, say something like that!

What we’ve done is pick out the best and most important points on the list, so we won’t bore you to death(as we nearly were) or give you conniption because of outrage.

  1. Bros don’t use umbrellas: we picked this point first because it is the most relevant and important part of the bro code, because seriously, why would a man who’s a real man use an UMBRELLA? We hope you understand being a man means you’re a machine… Robocop kinda thing. Is it raining and you need to go out urgently please, please, in order to please your next door neighbor, and all the people who don’t have enough trouble in their lives but to watch you, do not use an umbrella. Please let the rain beat you well-well, let it soak your nice clothes and socks. In fact catching pneumonia from walking in the rain is a proof of manliness. On the other hand, with this sun that behaves as if it’s about to melt the flesh off your bones, using an umbrella is a no-no. Let the sun beat you, let it give you a headache, because using an umbrella would lead to the immediate vaporization of your penis, and then what will you become? God forbid bad tin!
  2. A bro does not bitch! – are you depressed? Are you constantly thinking about the fact that you don’t have a job, and you’re still staying with your retired parents, whose benefits have not been paid in months? Are you sick? Broke? Suicidal? Please do NOT tell anyone this, don’t unburden your soul to anybody. Is your wife beating you up? Please don’t complain, just be making jokes and pretending you’re alright because… you’re a bro! Bros don’t bitch! Bros don’t cry! They suffer in silence in order to look good to people who have nothing to offer in the way of support.
  3. Bros before hoes(a hoe is any woman that’s not your wife or member of your family)- this here is an amazing sontin! Gentlemen, it’s official, your female boss is a hoe, all your female lecturers are hoes, your female friends are hoes. Your best friend’s mom is a hoe, so is his grandmother and great-grandmother. The reason why we love this point is that it makes perfect sense! Is your female boss asking you to finish a project but at the same time your ‘bro’ is asking you to send an urgent text message to him? Please look at your boss in the eye and say (preferably in Ebonics) ‘Bros before hoes.’ Flash her the peace sign and watch your promotion in leaps and bounds.
  4. Bros do not make eye contact when in the urinal/if a bro strikes another bro on the crotch, both bros do not acknowledge it/bros do not do full body hugs – these points are the foundation of homophobia, but hey… as we have repeatedly said, this list is the ish. The three points above points at how men are NOT attracted to other men, only men are attracted to other men and they are afraid of being attracted to other men because men are only attracted to other men… oh wait, think we’re getting our wires crossed here…

Watch out for part 2!