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

 

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!