Sitting on a Man

Uju Anya

Women have a long history of naked protests against abusive male authority. See Kenya, Uganda, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire.

Igbo women in Nigeria have a protest called ‘sitting on a man’ with nudity, lewd songs, beatings, vulgar displays to bring public scorn and shame on violators.


Remember the slander and abuse hurled at a black woman who spread her legs to directly confront police in a naked protest last month. Recall that when your tl waxes poetic about the beautiful courage of #nakedanthena bussing wide open her magical pussy.


While you contemplate the rank racism and misogynoir of calling a white woman who staged a naked public protest ‘goddess’ and a black woman who did the same ‘ratchet’, Google the history of women using nudity and lewd acts in civil disobedience.

Evolution of a Superweapon (as she’s about to hit forty) – Hawa Jande Golakai

RUIN: A PHOENIX ARISES (a pictomap of womanhood)

Thou shalt not hurt or publicly display rage, pain, shame, loss, filth or any form of brokenness.

Thou shalt despise correction and never seek help.

Thou shalt keep your face in the Strong Black Woman sunshine until it burns you to a crisp.

RUIN: A WOMAN IN HER PRIME (a pictomap of womanhood)Thou shalt BE.

Be intelligent (but non-threateningly). Be sexy (but don’t show it off like a ho). Be ambitious (but not aggressive). Be curious (but don’t nag). Be firm (but not a bitch). Be a giver (but don’t cling). Be a great parent, daughter, friend, neighbor. Be a bawse. Be rich (by magic). Be a great partner by never asking for anything you want directly. Be knowledgeable of everything under God’s sun.

Be.

BUT NOT ALL AT ONCE. NEVER SHOW OR BE AWARE OF ALL YOUR POWER. Don’t be kind and good; be “humble”.

Never get tired. Ever. Always prostrate yourself to give and forgive.

RUIN: ASCENDANT (a pictomap of womanhood)

Thou shalt allow others to define how strong, sane and sapient you are.
Allow every hardship to break and reshape you. Never be proud of crafting your fears and weaknesses into strengths.

RUIN: SCION (a pictomap of womanhood)

[If thou so chooseth]: Thou shalt have a close encounter of the 4th kind with at least one of your ova. It’s worth it 💚💛💜❤🌺🌻🌺💙🏵.

PS. Make it accidental, to maximise the horror and comedic effect.

SUPERWEAPON ( a pictomap of womanhood)

(OR.)

Damn all the advice to hell. You were there alone; you built the only map out.
Assemble all your broken pieces and create anew. Be your ancestors’ wildest dreams and deepest nightmares.

I LOVE YOU, HJG. God continue to bless you and entertain your madness. 💛💚💜💙💜❤🌻🌺🏵👑

Hawa Jande Golakai was born in Germany and hails from Liberia, where she spent a lively childhood before the 1990 civil war erupted. She writes crime, speculative fiction (fantasy, science fiction, horror, magical realism) and is in an unhealthy relationship with all twisted tales. A medical immunologist by training, she now works as a literary judge, creative consultant and educator. Golakai is on the Africa39 list of most promising sub-Saharan African writers under the age of 40. She is the winner of the 2017 Brittle Paper Award for nonfiction, longlisted for the 2019 NOMMO Award for speculative fiction and nominated three times for fiction. In addition to two novels, her articles and short stories have featured in BBC, Granta, Omenana, Cassava Republic, Myriad Editions and other publications. Currently, she lives in Monrovia with her son and too many chickens.

Photo Credit: Kanda V. Golakai

Runs Girls and the Sliding Scale of Nigerian Morality

Editor’s Note: Twitter outrage has become commonplace (while Facebook has become some form of family friendly place to air achievements, family portraits and unpopular opinions with relative safety). On the upside these ‘outrages’ have effected changes, as more and more people are using this platform as an avenue to hold governments to account and share histories that would have otherwise been lost in obscurity (particularly Black History).

Nigerian feminists have been using social media to educate Nigerians at large about social inequalities and highlight how cis-heterosexual men are at the top of the foodchain, how they use their privilege to keep women and sexual minorities oppressed.

The latest topic being discussed with a lot of passion is the rights of sex-workers/runs girls/side-chics (or the lack thereof). The trigger for this discussion is Falz, a Nigerian musician who embraces social consciousness, (wokeness) served with a side of misogyny.

Tracy in this article discusses how problematic Falz’s politics is.

Definition of terms

Sex Worker aka Prostitute: A man/woman/gender non-conformist or trans person who sells sexual expertise to a variety of clients. Sex workers do this professionally. By the way, sex work is illegal in Nigeria and this tends to lead to police brutality and abuse by clients or pimps.

Runs Girl: A young woman, often an undergraduate who dates rich,(married) older men. These relationships are transactional and have time limits. A runs girl doesn’t only offer sexual gratification, she also adds to the social value of the man she’s with because of her youth and attractiveness.

Side-Chic/Side Piece: This is man/woman/gender non-conformist or trans person who is dating a married person (male or female). A side piece provides the comfort of a home for clients without the responsibility that comes with marriage. Unlike the first two, side-chics/side pieces usually have a relationship with their ‘friends’ while the friend in question may provide cash or economic opportunities.

Transactional: exchange of goods or services for cash. It can also be exchange of emotional labour and investment between two or more people.

Read on…

Another day, another PSA by an entertainer about the evils of runs girls. The reactions have come in with people asking, almost in anticipation of the ‘backlash’, why this particular societal problem should not be addressed amongst others, whether people are claiming that runs is a good thing, whether those people would let their daughters live that lifestyle and, as always, whether the people protesting against this message are actually runs girls themselves.

On the other side are people questioning the need to address this topic at all, claiming that what a woman does with her body is her business and asking artists to leave runs girls alone.
What I, along with others, can’t ever get my head around is the equating, or at least placing alongside, runs with crimes of corruption, fraud, theft and actual violence. I can only imagine that it is the kind of thinking that leads to garbled songs like Child of the World ( see my critique of the song here misogyny or a massive overreaction ).

First of all, what is ‘runs’ and where, on the sliding scale of the transactional nature of Nigerian romantic relationships, does it fit?

I used to lump it in with sex work but now I’m not so sure. The term appears to cover a range of relationships where there is the expectation that a woman will be kept financially by a man, often older and far richer, by mutual understanding. In return, he gets the pleasure, sometimes exclusively, of her company including sex.

The above will of course sound familiar, not just because a kept mistress is one of the oldest practices in the world (Solomon had ‘concubines’ – I really hope they were closer to runs girls than sex slaves but I am pessimistic). It also sounds familiar because of the ‘husband-provider’ model that is supposed to be God’s will for marriages (although there is scant authority for this in the Bible).

In some cultures, this starts with symbolisation at a couple’s traditional wedding, where hubby stuffs wife’s purse with cash to show his ability or willingness to provide (she of course kneels to show submission But. That. Is. Definitely. Another. Article).
In what is essentially a two-income economy, this leads to some very strange expectations and actions. A woman who works is still responsible for the family’s domestic tasks including childcare. If a man earns less (or nothing at all), he is still ‘the provider’ and anything his wife says or does which appears to undermine this is seen as pure disrespect.

Some wives hand their husbands their salaries, or money, so he appears to pay for things. When a man loses his job, he is supposed miraculously continue to ‘provide’, which mostly consists of hanging about the home making grand plans, while studiously ignoring the housework.

Couples are very reluctant to enter into relationships where the woman earns more. Rejecting a higher paid job is one of the ways women can make ‘noble sacrifices’ for her marriage. Not all Nigerian marriages of course, but this type of thinking still surprisingly persists among young people.

I say all these to illustrate the transactional nature of marriages. In addition to the ‘provider’ male partner, you have the girlfriend’s credit alerts, bills for sick relatives that materialise shortly after a relationship starts and other things. At what point does the providing that the male partner is supposed to do metamorphose into ‘transactional sex’? People who keep carping on about prostitution being is illegal are missing the point – I highly doubt runs and other kinds benevolent relationships are illegal in Nigeria.

Another question is why the anguish by entertainers and other people, who seem to have no problem with men boasting of their ability to attract beautiful women with their wealth? Isn’t putting a line about runs girls, in the middle of a song about corruption (which has led to the loss of hope for millions of Nigerians) a bit like rapping, ‘Slavery, genocide….and dressing like a chav! Those are the three things I won’t have!’?

Is it a matter of distaste – seeing young women actively vying for a position with Alhajis? Or are entertainers pestered by runs girls the second they sit down in a hotel, or other public place, and put their phone on to check instagram?

I remember being spoken to very rudely in Nigeria by a non-Nigerian older man because I asked him for a pen. Mum explained that he thought I was a – (she didn’t say runs girl, but something very similar. On that same trip, a young man tried to offer me sex in exchange for financial upkeep – so go figure. I guess I was ahead of the times).

There are valid debates, from personal moral, religious and even feminist points of view about sex work and transactional sex. However, if you have a problem with sex work and that problem only manifests in shaming and ridiculing women involved in whatever form of transactional sex – but mostly the sugar baby/runs girl variety where women tend to have more agency – and does not include –
bashing the men who participate in transactional sex or men who use money as a way of attracting sexual attention;
addressing the problem of women being forced into transactional sex by, for example, lecturers who demand sex for grades (or more precisely not unjustifiably failing a woman), or employers who harass their female employees into sex with them or their clients;
addressing the entitlement to sex after money is spent on a woman (what’s the argument men use as an excuse for marital rape in Nigeria again? Aaaaah….bride price!);
addressing the economic reasons why women are drawn to sex work, including a bad economy, gender based discrimination, and the fact that women are often sexually harassed out of money making abilities, and linking them to their hatred of sex work; or
acknowledging that women carry out real crimes – embezzlement, murder, trafficking – instead of treating sex work as the most predominant ‘crime’ committed by women.

Then, to use Adichie’s reasoning, you don’t have a problem with transactional sex, you have a problem with women and particularly women having agency and real choices about it which is why people call you a misogynist.

In fact the only thing this serves to do is demonise sex workers along with women who have sex on terms that some people don’t agree with. Actual problems, like trafficking, are ignored.
As long as they can provide enough evidence of their near-destitution to activate our saviour complex, actual prostitutes are also not often the target of these kind of attacks.
Any woman can, of course, be labelled a prostitute at any time and in the middle of any argument. On hearing this, the woman is supposed to sink down to her knees, continue sinking until she resembles a tightly wound ball of wool, cover her eyes from the sun and shriek “No! NO! Please! Not that! Anything but that!”.

Luckily we have feminists who are brave enough to tell us that actually a woman is or should be entitled to sell sexual services if she truly chooses to and if she does, she is not exactly selling her soul or body (wives do that, not prostitutes ha ha).
But the weaponisation continues of course and female entertainers routinely find themselves victims of men taking it upon themselves to announce, without a scrap of evidence of course, that they can only afford things or advance in their careers because they are paid to have sex with older or influential men. It’s the kind of thing that in reality is a warning to all women that their reputations can be ruined by associating them with sex work.

I’ll tell you what. Let’s fight it from both ends. People are free to have an opinion about sex, transactional or otherwise, but let’s end the demonisation of women who participate in transactional sex, starting by realising that most relationships have some element of the transaction about them, and let’s end the assumption that the only way women can make money is through transactional sex. As a bonus, let’s disabuse ourselves of this notion that it is women’s job to guide the universe into sexual morality and stop the hand wringing and redefining of the term ‘societal ill’. Deal?

The Politics of Pretty IV: Fair and Lovely – Daphne Lee

First of all, I was thrilled when 9jafeminista asked me to contribute a post for this blog’s The Politics of Pretty series(here, here, and here). I was also a little apprehensive because I wasn’t sure I had anything to say that would be of interest to Nigerian women. However, 9jafeminista said that she wanted the post to reinforce the fact that body shaming and unrealistic beauty standards are part of the worldwide phenomenon that judges women’s appearances and forces us to constantly question our validity based on the way we look, primarily through the male gaze, and largely as dictated by parameters and ‘rules’ established by the American and European beauty and fashion industries. WTF, right?

Think about it for a second: Asia and Africa are two huge continents that comprise peoples that are pretty different as far as cultures and appearances go. Yet, most Asian and African women subscribe to the same beauty standards set by the West. Thank you, colonialism. And yes, although our countries have been independent of colonial rule for decades, our minds are still f****ing colonised thanks to the powerful reach of Western media.

Anyway, this post is not going to be a cultural studies lecture about the way women have been taught to think negatively about themselves. I don’t want to speak for all Asian women. I don’t think I should speak for all Malaysian women either, or even all ethnically Chinese Malaysian women. The only perspective I feel I can offer is my own, so here it is:

I am fifty-one years old and I was born in a small town in Malaysia’s southern-most state, Johor. My (late) parents were officially ethnically Chinese, although my mother also had Malay and indigenous ancestry.
I have always been fat. Definitely fatter than my three older sisters who were slender, small-breasted, narrow-hipped teenagers whereas I was a D-cup by my early teens.
Let me add that while I was considered fat by everyone I came into contact with, my fair, rosy skin was seen as my saving grace. ‘Well, at least she’s fair,’ has been a common refrain throughout my life. When I married my ex-husband in the 90s, his parents objected because I was Chinese and they were Indian. However, my skin colour meant that “At least their children will be fair.’ Anyway, I digress, although of course, skin colour is just one of the physical features for which women are judged.

Anyway, when I look at pictures of myself as a child and also a teenager, I am amazed to see that I was not what I would now consider fat. I am aware that the way I think is problematic because I am implying that being ‘fat’ is undesirable. Well, I am still struggling not to think of ‘fat’ as a negative adjective and, back when I was a teen and tween, I felt (and was made to feel) that my size was a problem. I was teased by other children as small child. I was taunted by strange boys and men as a tween and into my late teens. Someone I considered my ‘best friend’ told me, when I was fifteen, that I should not consider performing at a school concert because I would be laughed at for being fat.

This idea that I was abnormally large was reinforced by the fact that, as a teen, I could not find ready-to-wear clothes that fit me. I wore my mother’s dresses instead, and was encouraged to seek out and hide my bulk in baggy t-shirts. (Thinking about that now, I am filled with rage and also sadness. Hide your body as it may be an agent of sin. Hide your body because it is not attractive enough to be an agent of sin. Either way, it’s f***ed up.)
When I was sixteen I was 159 cm (5’3”) and 54 kg (about 123 lbs). Let’s put the word ‘fat’ aside for now. Was I ‘too large’? I’ll let you be the judge, but I know I felt as big as a house.

When I lived in the UK (in my early twenties), I enjoyed five years of never having to worry about finding clothes that fit. I didn’t feel ‘too large’ because, although there were lots of people much smaller and lighter than me, there were also those who were much larger and heavier. Still, years of being told I was fat resulted in me going to see a ‘doctor’ about my weight. I was put on what I quickly realised were amphetamines. I lost my appetite and got lighter, but, thankfully, my student budget and love for pork pies and macaroni cheese meant that I didn’t continue with the treatment for very long.

In my thirties, I got married and had kids. It was OK to be ‘fat’ because I was wrapped up in motherhood and had no social life to speak of. When my marriage broke up, I lost a hell of a lot of weight. While it sucked being miserable, losing weight seemed to be the silver lining around the big, fat grey cloud of my divorce. I won’t deny that I liked the way I looked then. For the first time in twenty years I was below 60 kg, but I put it back on as I got over the breakup and started putting my life back together.

It’s interesting that losing weight was a result of things going wrong. A friend, commiserating about my husband’s infidelity, said, ‘Well, at least you’ve lost weight and look great.’ That made me so angry — probably partly because I secretly felt the same.

What would the average woman rather be? Slim and sad or fat and happy? Most would claim to prefer the latter state, but I think many identify being slim as the remedy to all woes. Obviously, being thin doesn’t automatically make you more content. Neither does it ensure good health. In fact, there are lots of people who say they want to lose weight for health reasons when they are really only interested in the effect it has on their appearance. For example, they diet and exercise, but also smoke and drink. If it was suddenly confirmed that being massively overweight was good for our health, I wonder how many of us would start trying to become fatter!

In my forties, I started dating African men as there are now, in Malaysia, many students from that continent. African men didn’t think of me as fat. ‘Fat? You don’t know what being fat is,’ said one of them.

I’ve also been told by my African dates that they don’t like thin women. They like their women curvy. Some even specify (on dating sites) that they are looking for BBW (big beautiful women) to date.

On the one hand, it makes a change from Malaysian men preferring very slim women, but on the other hand, I think to myself, ‘Why does it even matter what men think?’

Whether men like their women slim or thick, it’s still about their preference, their say. A man’s opinion of what a woman looks like should not signify, but, in reality, few heterosexual cis women are unaffected by the opinions of men.

Like, right now, I can tell myself that being this shape, this size, this weight is fine so long as I’m healthy, but I also find myself ‘warning’ guys I meet on Tinder that I am not slim. I want to pre-empt any disappointment my appearance may cause, but why should I care if they are disappointed? I tell myself I care about my own feelings and want to avoid being told that ‘I don’t date fat women’ or ‘I would ask you to be my girlfriend if you were thinner’, but wouldn’t it be great if I ceased to care that they might say that? Wouldn’t it be great if I could respond with ‘F*** you, your loss’ and not feel hurt and humiliated by their judgement? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I didn’t want to lose 10 kg, if I didn’t desire a flatter stomach, less ‘bumpy’ hips, longer legs wobbly underarm flesh?

It annoys me that I feel this way. It annoys me that I think about going on a diet. It also annoys me when I encounter women discussing dieting and losing weight, and talking about ‘sinful’ foods and being ‘naughty’ when savouring a delicious meal. It especially annoys me that I feel a twinge of envy when friends lose weight and look fabulous in photographs on social media.
It annoys me even more when people tell me that I don’t look fifty-one. It annoys me that they feel they are complimenting me by saying I don’t look my age. I know they mean well, but I dislike the assumption that a woman would rather look (and even be) forty or thirty-five than fifty-one.

I am thankful though that, in this matter of age, I am not struggling in the same way I seem to be when it comes to my weight and size. Wrinkles and white hair do not cause the anxiety that flab and fat do. I don’t know why that’s so.

What I do know and acknowledge is that the way I feel about my appearance is complicated and that it’s OK that it’s complicated. Most days I feel like I’m fighting a losing battle against the popular belief that women should be as slim as possible. I am battling my own desire to be thin, but at least this desire isn’t tied to the idea that being thinner would make me better or happier or more successful. I know I am a product of my environment and of a culture shaped by industries that thrive on women hating the way we look.

Being aware of this is vital for my mental well-being and survival. Knowing that my appearance (the appearance of women) has no value except what the media has chosen to bestow on it, takes away its power to break me, like it has broken better women than myself.

When I turned fifty last year, I realised that I had spent more than forty years being low-key unhappy with my appearance and trying to change it. It struck me as such an incredible waste of time and I told myself that even if I couldn’t totally stop wanting to be thinner (it’s hard to overcome a lifetime of brainwashing), I should simply just tell myself that I didn’t want to be thinner. In other words, I should fake it til I made it. The battle continues.

Wish me luck!

Daphne Lee is an Editor, writer, intersectional feminist and an atheist.

The Politics of Pretty II: Womanhood as a Performance

Editorial: According to L’Oreal one of the foremost beauty brands worldwide, “African beauty and personal care market was estimated at €6.93 billion in 2012 and it currently increases between 8% and 10% per yearIt is expected to reach €10 billion in 2017Nigeria, the beauty and personal care market could reach €2.5 billion by 2017…”

As we all know, the ‘beauty and personal care’ industry thrives on colorism, fat shaming, hair and unrealistic beauty standards.

Temmie Ovwasa, visual artist, multi-instrumentalist, contributes this poem.

UnTitLed

When I was Thirteen,
I wasn’t like the other Girls in my Class,
The ones who seemed to have matured a lot faster than their Age,
Breasts were a symbol of maturity at that stage,
Big Buttocks emphasized by tight School Uniforms.

I was the early Bloomer who suddenly stopped blooming,
I could never seem to put on any Weight despite how hard I tried,
And trust me, I tried.
I was skinny, lanky and so very awkward.
I wanted to look like a Woman.

I’m twenty One,
Standing in front of the Mirror,
Staring at my wounded Reflection,
Wondering how and why I gained so much Weight so fast,
A size Ten,
Still considered “too Fat” ,
Protruding Belly,
Inconspicuous Buttocks and Breasts,
Round, puffy Cheeks.

Dissecting my Body,
Wondering if I should ditch Antidepressants,
I heard they make you Fat.
Loathing myself,
My skin,
For being exactly the way I wished to be Eight years ago,
It’s almost like the Standards are never the same,
They get more unattainable, the Older you grow.

They sell Insecurities disguised as Self-love and Healthy living,
The Teas, The Pills,
I’ve had One too many,
The quick fix for your depressing Flaws.
Nobody wants to run out of business,
Your Misery feeds their Children,
Your Misery fuels their Cars,
Your Misery credits their Accounts.

So do not Love yourself Darling,
You can always look better,
You can get that Nose you’ve always wanted,
Buy Your Hair,
Buy a new Face.
Buy a new Race.
But your Misery will never Fade.
They will keep Feeding you lies,
You will need to keep up this life,
As your Body begins to twist and turn,
New dents formed,
More needles, More needles,
But this Misery still doesn’t bend.

In one part of the world you are too Fat,
In another, too Skinny,
It’s almost like,
Your programmed to force your Body into the mold of the Capitalist,
So if he sells Black today,
Then Black is in,
And if Tomorrow,
Beauty means peeling your skin,
Then you will.

I’m Temmie Ovwasa,
21 year old post-human Artist.

A love letter to Nigerian Feminists – Ayodele Olofintuade

Dearest One,

How have you been? I mean how are you really?

I hope you’re making money, I hope you’re taking out time to be with friends, time to breathe and party. I hope you’re getting laid, getting well laid. But most importantly I hope you’re healthy and happy.

I understand how difficult it is to be a Nigerian, woman, to self-identify as feminist, to do this work of nation building by dismantling the patriarchy one damn brick at a time.

I understand how it feels to have reductive terms like ‘bitter aunty’, Facebook/Twitter feminist, etcetera thrown in your face each time you stand up for yourself and other women. I understand how tired you get when you open your account in the morning to the howling of trolls in your mentions, on your feed. I understand how you sometimes despair when ignorant people with the emotional intelligence of a rock and the IQ of the size of a grain of sand starts TELLING you how to be.

I am in your shoes.

But I want you to know that you’re doing alright, you’re rattling cages, things are no longer the same and it’s because you’re lending your voice and muscles to making this change. You are doing amazing darling. You are the dreams of your ancestors, you are beautiful, inside out.

Well Done!!!

Don’t forget to keep your eye on the ball. We will have equality, we will have bodily autonomy, we will have our sexual and reproductive rights. We will use our voices.We will have anything we set our sights on because we are human. We will have all our rights, we have power, we will use it.

I’m sending you peace and love. I’m sending you basket-fulls of not-giving-a-fuck.

Soar.

Catcalls – Jumoke Verissimo

Each girl eats her own eyeballs,

floating heels,

confidence-padded into breasts,

kettle-mouth lips

blow off the steam of male gaze;

in a market world women are

crafts.

 

Her designer labels with absolute names

the reason for her aching ankles

becomes the shame,

beauty the reason for the spare time

becomes the shame.

 

The horde’s hoot hang to her feet

as she flees from a body being stripped

of a dress that homes

shame.

When a girl discovers she’s dressed in disgrace—

wearing a blemish no foundation

power

can hide—she moves away from

herself.

 

The market stalls are no shelter for men,

trading in leers that rush after short skirts

teeth spaced for the

tongue to wag;

there’s no signpost to read their

folly.

Here are men who once

bargained with brains

now they trade their hearts

as ignorance wares.

 

And when tongues rip the cloth

off the girl

the shredding men’s eyes will go

home

to cover a sister, a mother, or a

partner

shame them with another

performance

a poor showman of his market

failing

PEACE – Adeola Olagunju

I have lived a tortuous life
And since I made 30
I’ve finally found a glimpse of hope

My life has been plagued by various traumatizing experiences since “childhood”
Childhood?
No, I didn’t have any

Being left vulnerable as a child threw
me in the hands of the beasts
The beasts who abused me
The beasts who silenced me
The beasts who normalized danger

It was my fault
wasn’t it?
What was I looking for walking the
streets by myself?
But, wasn’t I just a child?

I have embodied this guilt all my life
I blamed myself for everything
For being abused
For my parent’s failed marriage
For being an “Olodo”

I live my life in perpetual fear
I carried this baggage of worthlessness everywhere I went
My life has been about self sacrificing
Over giving
Being a doormat
Serving
Taking responsibility for what is not my “issh”
Jumping into battles not my own
People pleasing
Playing Messiah
Getting busy
Fixing everything/everyone around
As it is easier to look at the other; rather than the self

Plenty toxic friendships and one sided relationships Abi…why shouldn’t I thank my maker when crumbs is thrown my way? after all love is work…

Biko, Who needs a doormat?

They took everything from me
Gave me this rage that consumes
me day and night…Anger became my only fortress

Fight, flight or freeze
Hiding and avoidant
I wanted to end this suffering by keeping my inner child in a deep place inside, and staying as far away as possible. But, running away doesn’t end this suffering; it only prolongs it.

So much weight my soul is weary

25 years after, 2 days ago
I took a cathartic journey back in time
to where I grew up in Ibadan
I went by every freaking house I was abused
To pick up the bits of me I buried there.
To reclaim my life
To find the cure for this disease
I’ve had to live with it

The hardest part; to forgive
To forgive all you “mofos”

So I can finally stop clinging to everything
that abuses, torture and drains me
So I can finally stop running
away from healthy love
( as I always find it strange)

I am breaking away!!!
Now I know I deserve better than a sick life
I am worthy
It was never my fault
And I am lovable 💚

Hey, Adéọlá, I am so so sorry.
I am coming back home to you.

It’s closure time.

26166793_10215062681904389_345533380904293351_nAdeola Olagunju is an artist and photographer. She lives and works in the universe.

stop judging our bodies! – Okwei Odili 

​When Malcolm X told a thick crowd of African Americans that the most abused person in America is the black woman, he didn’t say it under the influence of ogogoro or overfeeding.

He said it because among our people are men like Trick daddy, African American men who hate African American women. Because these men hate themselves. Because these men cannot fight for their mothers and sisters.

According to failed and now fat rapper, Trick daddy, African American women are ‘hoes’ that need to sit up before the Latina and white ‘hoes’ take all their men. 

SAD.

Let us bring it back to Nigeria where many women are bleaching.

I shared an article talking about the pressures on women in Nigeria to emulate fake/un-African beauty standards and it was a Nigerian man here who said, Are the women being forced by men to bleach? Well I’d like to tell you about someone I dated as a young woman, who actually bought me the cream to ‘tone’. I dumped him.

I will also like to refer you to mainstream Nigerian music videos by popular Nigerian males filled with non African women, who look different than us. Each one fairer than the next. Diversity is the spice of life, to me. So I appreciate everybody. But to belittle one over another, especially the queens, I can’t take.

Not everybody has the psychological strength to refuse what is subtly or not subtly drummed into their ears. So yes, because men and women rely on each other, they have the capacity to influence one another. So yes, the bleaching continues.

Africa is the seat of the diamonds and gold, cocoa and rubber, oil and super humans, yet we assist those who hate us, to hate us. How dare we assist them, to un-glamourise us, we who are queens and kings, colorful, even when we are sleeping.

SAD.

Time to stop this. Leave African women alone. Stop asking us about our hair, stop judging our bodies. Our hair, breasts, nose, hips, vagina and all are OURS. We don’t tell you what to do with your body.

And STOP that fucking picture where all we do is carry water or firewood on our heads in 2016. 

Stop comparing us to anybody because we are too damn magical for all your collective idiocies and divisional tactics.

– OKWEI-UGO ODILI.

Personhood and Bodily Autonomy: aka Who owns the breast? The man or the Baby?

One of the funniest jokes in the whole wide world, and one of the most serious question is … who owns the breast? Man or baby.

Now you might think we are exaggerating but we dare you go to any gathering where alcohol and food is flowing in abundance, and a lady with an amazing posterior, aka breast, passes by, and come back with that claim of exaggeration.

This topic has been discussed for years, accompanied by titters and uncomfortable avoidance of one another’s eyes, but it never loses it’s freshness … who owns the breast?

Ownership is the operative word here.

A sitting senator, Shehu Sanni, last year did a brave thing, something that most Nigerian politicians shy away from. He declared his assets.

This honest and forthright deed broke more than the taboo of asset declaration and Nigerian politicians, it also broke the silence on what an average Nigerian man considers his property.

Senator Sani Jibril
Senator Shehu Sanni – Hero of our democracrazy

Senator Sani Jibril listed his wives and children in the asset declaration form. And instead of being outraged, Nigerian journals praised him for this heroic deed with the blazing headline Meet The Senator That Declared His Wives Among His Assets….Right Or Wrong?

Actually, the headline was clickbait for those nosey feminists and gender rights activists, because the content of the article did not question the rightness or wrongness of his declaration. It simply went on about his ‘bravery’ and ‘heroism’.

Let’s be candid, we know that a lot of Nigerian men consider their wives and children as their property. And post-birth, women are ‘allowed’ by their husbands to ‘breastfeed’ the baby, with the ‘understanding’ that the breasts actually, really, truly belongs to him.

Don’t get us wrong, women also discuss this ‘important’ issue with a lot of tittering.

Wikipedia defines bodily integrity[autonomy] as the inviolability of the physical body and emphasizes the importance of personal autonomy and the self-determination of human beings over their own bodies. It considers the violation of bodily integrity as an unethical infringement, intrusive, and possibly criminal.

In simple English, Wikipedia is saying that your body belongs to you, to do with as you like. Bodily autonomy is your right, as backed up by Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and The African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.

The question is why do Nigerian men believe they OWN a woman’s body?

Culture: They believe that once they pay ‘bride price’ this means they have bought their wives. Actually any man who thinks this way is recognized under the law as a criminal, because in a sense, you’re admitting that you’ve partaken in human trafficking.

Religion: Many clerics, both in Nigeria and other parts of the world are fond of misquoting and taking things stated in their different holy books out of context.

quote

Sexism: The sexism prevalent in the country, due to the fact that a lot more value has been placed on a male child, gives men the impression that they have the right to the body of any woman they meet. That’s why the boys at Yaba, or any large market, would grab at any girl they see, sexual harassment is rampant in both schools and offices, unchecked. Because men have been taught that women are less, that they are the head, women are … sidekicks.

And why do women take it? Because of the above listed, and a lot of us don’t know that we have the power to sue harassers … and win! Check this out … Former Microsoft Nigeria Employee gets N39m for unlawful Sack after Sexual Harassment and this Supreme Court – Female Child can Inherit Property in Igboland.

Yes we understand how utterly outrageous it is that we are celebrating these victories in 2016! But it’s a start and we know we are not alone, or helpless, or have to submit to dehumanization because culture or religion or the patriarchy says so.

Now back to the question – who owns the breast? Man or the baby?

Please answer the question with the fear of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and The African Charter on Human and People’s Rights… who owns the breast?

…You give away your power the moment you start to believe that you have none…