From the Editor’s Desk: Okay ladies, we know that one of the sentences we’ve heard said from childhood, in the over 500 languages spoken in Nigeria, is that ‘men are scarce’… and this is in face of the fact that the Nigerian Population Council busted this myth in the last census carried out whereby the male population made up 54.9% of the population.
So, really, there are more men than women in Nigeria.
But just yesterday, the amazing Ms. Funmi Iyanda, in about three to four tweets, finally put this ‘scarcity of men’ myth where it deserved to be, 6 feet underground.
Listen to her…
“Women are socialized (to be) too invested in men’s fidelity. Spending a lifetime trying to find or keep a man. It’s exhausting, tedious and boring.”
Do men know that women cheat?
“Men know that women cheat but are not as invested because they are not socialized to define themselves by scarcity of women.”
If men are not scarce then what is?
“Men are not scarce. A meaningful life is scarce. Pain is part of finding meaning. No one cheats anyone. We own no one but ourselves.
…Oh and a final one on being ‘singus pringus’
“I’m a woman, I’m unmarried. I’m not a “single lady”. I’ve companionship. My high status needs no justification…”
Coming out of my closet, I carry my heart about
It is my way of being transparent- that is coming out wearing
on the cuffs of
It is my way off attracting like-minds.
I find my kind of people everywhere I go
any closet I snoop in.
It will amaze you …the number
The caliber of people
hiding away in their closets,
coiled up upon themselves,
trying to get smaller and smaller,
just hoping to vaporize.
I am not one of them,
I come out all the time,
even though I am timid
I like to look in on them-
those still hiding away
in their closets-
Amongst this run of
hiding away their
in the Closet of
are the most gifted beings-
And many they are that will never come out of those
to get some air in the sunlight. They dread to be
to be outspoken
You know like the
I was one time peeking into such
and I found a feminist
a one who really could use the
of getting some
fresh air and sunshine
“so, what are you still doing in there”,
“I went in
for the feminist rants,
and stayed in
for the kids.”
I knew she isn’t coming out
so the answer
to the question of
“why don’t you come out from that hole already”
was out of the
who are like
I am- timid about coming out
and walking in the
Many-Colour-Coat made from rags,
I still will wear mine
and strut about in it
– even if I only do that
Love should not hurt. Love shouldn’t break you physically, mentally and spiritually.
Love should not expose you to harm and damage.
Love should not dehumanise and degrade you.
Love should not come in blows, slaps or bruises.
Love should not render you unsafe or afraid.
Love should not turn you to a shadow or a ghost.
Love should not put your life, health or future at risk.
Love should not resort to violence as a means to settle conflicts and disagreements.
No woman should be taught that love is how much hurt/pains you can tolerate from a man. No, that is not love.
Knowing what love is and is not means you value yourself and life. Love will never treat you less. Love will never seek to destroy you.
As a girl you sometimes feel like a sea shell – beautiful, intricate, thrown up from the underbelly of nature, but belonging to the world. Neighbours, friends, strangers, and family members. Unfortunately, in no way akin to beautiful sea shells, your breasts and vagina are sources of electric conversation and unintelligent analyses for people who have neither seen nor touched them.
You almost want to apologize for having breasts and a vagina. Maybe your mother will stop being so angry with you over nothing – as she seems to have been since your menstrual cycle made an appearance. Perhaps your father will smile at you a little more and not get grumpy when you receive innocent phone calls on your mobile.
“Is it not ordinary breast and vagina? What is all this?”
It is not ‘ordinary breast and vagina’, my friend. Were you not told that your vagina is a burden you carry, a red gash – an inflammation you must be careful not to trigger? When your breasts start growing, you are in double trouble. They must never quiver, they must be caged by tight bras otherwise you are calling attention to yourself and “anything wey your eye see make you use your head carry am”.
For many girl children, sex is not something you ‘own’. If you experiment at sixteen with a boy of sixteen, you are automatically the slut and he is the adventurer. Sex is just not something the world permits you to be associated with, AT ALL. If you want it, you are a ‘dog’. Your body’s biology becomes a problem. You cannot swing your hips, it means you want to be fucked. You cannot prettify your face, it means you want to be fucked. Your hormones are doing what Mother Nature requires them to do and your unconscious acquiescence means you want to be fucked, maybe by one man, maybe by two, or maybe gang-bangs are your thing?
And so what if you actually do want sex as a teenager? Teenagers want sex, dammit! It is a natural desire and it is not wrong, neither is it your fault. What you do with it is what counts and that’s where sex-education is supposed to come in. Unfortunately many parents fail at it, especially with their female children.
It is just really painful how being a girl, you as a sexual being are repressed. Your desires are required to be bound tightly with strong rope and carted into the bin of denial. In exchange you are bestowed with the burden of ducking sex. In other words, as a girl child one of the reasons you are alive is to prevent yourself from being fucked, literally and metaphorically. Never mind the perpetrators – it’s all on you.
If sex ‘happens to you’ without your permission, it is your fault. You wanted it, you Jezebel, and you made sure you got it, now you say you’ve been raped. Even toddlers have been blamed for their own rapes. You enticed your father. Your uncle could not resist your swinging hips that have only been weaned from diapers six months ago. Your neighbor’s penis got swollen and hard when he saw your lips sucking on your pacifier. Throw away your pacifier! You are seducing your uncle!
Lately, the Nigerian first lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, while campaigning for the re-election of President Goodluck Jonathan, urged women to vote massively for her husband since he has done the most good for them. I would have had no problem with her solicitation of the women voting bloc but she did not stop there. To boost the president’s feminist inclined credentials, Dame Jonathan added that her husband’s continuity in office was important because, “Nigerian women should no longer go back to the kitchen. It is not our portion to go back to the kitchen.” Having been a personal witness to the labor and enterprise of women, I have to ask, “But where are those women who are in the kitchen”?
From rural areas where women work side by side with men on the farms, to urban centers where women are co-breadwinners with men, I wonder why anyone still talks about women going back to the kitchen when it is obvious we have never been stuck in that space.
The imagery of women and “kitchen” has roots in Victorian ideals and the manner it represses women. When we talk of women and kitchen, we conjure a mental image of a repressed woman whose fate is to cook for the men in her life. We picture a virtuous woman who is wedded to the kitchen space so much that she gets an orgasm merely by stirring the shiny cooking pots. The kitchen, as it is used to describe a female space, connotes marriage-enabled domesticity. Mind you, divorcees and single women hardly fit into this frame.
There is also a class factor undergirding the “kitchen” imagery. We think of middle-class women who are at home virtually all day, studying recipes and mixing ingredients like an alchemist. When they open their boiling pots, they sniff the aroma and glower with accomplishment. With the whole house sizzling with the wonderful aroma of their cooking, their dreams are realized. These “kitchen” women can afford not to work because their husbands do. Their cooking prowess notwithstanding, they are fragile and need the marriage to protect them from the indignities of the labor market. The kitchen, therefore, becomes a safe space for them, with their dignity and existence tied to their husbands. Their kitchen occupation is also a way they earn their keep.
Altogether, the kitchen evokes the image of women who have submitted to their fate, to patriarchy and to the natural order dictated by insecure men. People use the expression of women in the kitchen frequently but do they ever stop to consider if it is true or not?
Whilst working on my Master’s degree in the University of Ibadan, I used to have a 9am class on Tuesdays. I was living in Surulere, Lagos then and also working a full time job so I had to juggle both. I would leave home by 5am so that I could make it to school before the Lagos-Ibadan expressway truncated my plans for the day. It was still usually dark and for most part of walking from the house to the bus stop where I would take a bus to Ojuelegba, I would be praying against marauders who needed the blanket of the night to cover their misdeeds.
One persistent observation, in my regular ride from Masha-Kilo to Ojuelegba, was that most of my co-passengers were women. The women, mostly petty traders, usually had some wares on their knees, tightly wrapped in multiple layers of Ankara wrappers and kept close to their chest. Some of the women had babies strapped on their backs. They way they artfully balanced their enterprise with motherhood tempted me to romanticize the poverty that placed them in those conditions but I know better. While I believe in the virtues of hard work, I also see the women straining to make a livelihood.
When I see some of the women disembark at Ojuelegba motor-park and begin to set their wares in spaces considered as culturally “male”, spaces that can be hostile to women, I mentally salute their efforts. I sometimes wondered what their private lives might be like: should they not be beside their husbands at that time of the day when sex between couples, animated by the cold chill of a day yet unbroken, was supposedly the sweetest? Do they permit themselves some fanciful feminine fantasies or they are too busy earning a living to be bothered by such encumbrances? From the distance of my own life – a professional pursuing an academic degree- I try to look beyond seeing them as women whose feminity have been bleached by the roughness of their existence. I see hard work, I see dignity and I also see women who cannot afford to be in the kitchen.
While I am in agreement with Mrs. Jonathan that Nigerian women deserve better, I must say that the flippant association of women with “kitchen” is patently false and capable of eroding the many ways women enterprise contribute to the task of nation building. Nigerian women do not have to worry about returning to the kitchen because they are not stuck there in the first place. Women transcend kitchen and its patronizing connotations. If we don’t see enough women in key leadership positions and in high political offices like their male counterparts, it is not because they are hiding in the kitchen.
Must not be too bookish: …by the time you’re done with schooling, you’re in your early twenties! Already some men consider you overage, the ideal age for marriage, in Nigeria, is between ten and twelve … but … these days some Nigerian men have become more patient, they’d still manage you in your early twenties. The trouble starts when you decide you want a postgraduate degree! Do you know what that certificate is called? It is called a Master’s Degree! You want to marry and you go and be getting something called a MASTERS do you want to be struggling that masculine title with your husband? Well, some sisters now push things further and go for a doctorate! Let’s reason this thing together, first you get a BACHELORS (mannish), then you get a MASTERS (more mannish) then you get a DOCTORATE (most mannish). My sister, your wife material has just disintegrated! The men out there with a list in their pockets, looking for wife would have no problem with all these titles if there was a way of distinguishing all these bookish things and making them more feminine, for example if the Bachelor Degree was called a SPINSTER Degree, the Masters a MISTRESS and the Doctorate a NURSERATE … our advice? Never ever disclose your age to anybody, even if you have to go to Oluwole to get a fake birth certificate and secondly, do not be ambitious, even if you have all these degrees you have to pretend you have never crossed the gates of a school before, do not think … do not breathe! Just be A WIFE MATERIAL… Dass all!
Must be great in bed: Being great in bed is an art that must be mastered by all women who are keen to be wife materials (don’t worry a masters in bedmatics is alright). You have to be great in bed without being slutty or sexy (we’ve already defined being slutty in the first installment as enjoying sex). So you have to master all those porn star moves without enjoying them. All your moves are to be learnt in order to please the lord and master. The gymnastics are not for you, you must somehow learn all these things without having to practice (remember the ‘body count’ wahala), you need to get it by divine inspiration, because wife materials neither watch, nor read porn. You have to be great in bed without being great in bed so that your husband will not suspect you of cheating on him.
Must be Forgiving: Have you ever seen a poem written in honour of a woman who did not forgive her man before? No,
seriously, how many songs have you listened to sung by a man in honour of a woman who kicked out his drunken, cheating, wife-beating ass? How many times have you seen a man, all dressed up in his best suit, taking his ex out for dinner to thank her for ending her relationship with him? When you’re out and about, exchanging gossips with your friends, how many times have you heard somebody praise a woman who said ‘rather than give myself heartache/regular black eyes/ drag home a perpetual drunk, I’d stick with being alone’. You’ll note that most poets write for their mothers who ‘suffered’ to raise them, the operative word here is suffer. You’ll be a gem only if you had to sell firewood by the roadside to send your children to school, no child has ever written a poem for a single parent who has enough money to pay school fees, or enough left over to give her children the good life, only the suffering wife and mother gets all the eulogies. Therefore, for your wife material to be complete, you must, of necessity be forgiving and ready to suffer. You must always have an ‘I’ve forgiven you’ placard hidden somewhere about your person in case you need to forgive your man, at any point. Your man lied to you about his income? Forgive him. He’s just a man with a fragile ego, and it’s your fault for not noticing that he borrowed those Louboutins, and that the car he used to take you out on all those dates belonged to his older sister. Your man cheats on you regularly? Forgive him. Those ones are the side-chicks, you’re the main chick, you’ve won the lottery of cooking and caring for him, and when you get uncontrollably jealous, fight the side chicks, whip them well-well, cuss them out on Facebook, sub them on Twitter, but always, always forgive your man. After all how else can he prove his manhood except by dashing preek to every pretty girl(or boy) that passes by?
Must be the neck: The neck, is the most important part of the body … well, except that the head is more important. But to be a wife material, you cannot, must not, even consider the possibility of becoming the head … of anything! Why? Because your husband must be the head and you the neck, silly! You know that prayer they say in church, the one about being the ‘head and not the tail’ , the next time you’re in church or in any public space where prayers are (necessarily or unnecessarily) being offered up, just say, ‘I’m the neck and not the head’ at top volume and watch proposals pour in by the bucketful. The neck is the most important part of the body because it tells the head where to turn, except that the head contains the brain which gives the neck the direction it should go. Clear ehn? Leave the thinking to the head, remember you’re there for the cooking, the bearing of children, the satisfaction of celebrating your golden/silver/ diamond wedding anniversary and most importantly for those children to call you blessed. You do want to be that crumpled looking old woman, in that sepia picture, with that slightly sad smile on your face.
Must make sacrifices: Now this is very important for anybody seeking husband. To be wife material, you have to understand that men are ‘inherently selfish’, they can’t help it, it’s their nature, just as it’s in their nature not to cry. Real men shouldn’t be called to make sacrifices so that you don’t turn them into ‘women’. Your man thinks you’re too educated? Drop out of school. Your man thinks you’re dangerously earning more than he is? Resign from your job. You are the one who was made to be nailed to the cross, the sacrificial lamb. You must be ready to give up everything you are to satisfy ‘your man’, even if he’s a lot of other ladies’ man, remember, you are the ‘main chick’.
Must be prayerful: According to non-existent statistics Nigeria is the holiest nation on the face of the earth, everybody is either a Christian or a Muslim, anybody who is not a member of a church or a mosque is a member of the illuminati. Truth. So as a wife material you must be prayerful, there are so many books out there for women (yes you may read religious books but not any other immoral literature) with titles such as Praying Wives, Praying Mothers, Preying Mantis, sorry … Praying Church. You must be ready to lead preyer … sorry … prayers at the drop of a hat, especially when travelling by public transportation, in an office meeting, at book launchings etcetera. The longer and louder you can pray, the longer your wife material becomes. Be the first to volunteer to bring tea for the men whenever there’s an office meeting, even if you’re a manager, always have your writing pad ready whenever you’re to attend important meetings in case the secretary is not around. Make sure you type ‘amen’ under all those weird pictures on Facebook showing mutilated bodies, ‘like’ all posts that have prayers on them and says that anybody that likes the post will get all their prayers answered. Retweet every post by every demented preacher on twitter, especially ones titled ‘Letter to Jeel’.
Must be Certain: You must be absolutely convinced that we are all not equals, that men and women are not first and most importantly human beings, beings who are flawed and perfect at the same time. You must be certain that everybody with a pair of breasts and a vagina is a woman and everybody with a penis is a man. You must not question beliefs, you must not dare entertain the thought that single people can be deliriously happy, or that there are men out there who don’t have this list. You must be absolutely convinced that every person who is not ‘wife material’ will be miserable and only those who do live happily ever after. You must be sure of your generalizations and stereotyping… you must receive your 12yards of wife material this Christmas, by faya by force, IJN (type ‘Amen’ in the comments section to receive this impartation).
9jafeminista: Let’s talk about your job(s) then, what you’re doing presently what you’ve done in the past… That big dream you chase after…
Michaela Moye: Ooookaaay!!! My jobs…They’ve been many! I remember someone told me to cut out some of my jobs so my CV doesn’t make me look like a flake. (Laughs) I love every job I’ve had. Right now, I’m a producer and a show host (I hate that OAP acronym), anyway, I’m a producer and host on We 106.3 FM, I recently moved from producing Love Talk to working on Morning Mojo – I like that. Even though I loved working on romance and sex stories, I like the fact that on Morning Mojo we handle more gritty topics (not that love cannot be gritty) but my feminist agenda can really soar here, I think.
I am living my career dream, as far as the type of work I would like to do is concerned. Ever since I was a teen, I wanted to be involved in radio. A few years ago, I joined an awesome team to script a radio drama and now, I’m producing and hosting. It’s great!
Before this, I had a temporary communications position at ActionAid Nigeria, another great experience.
My first job was at Leadership newspaper. I was at university – there was a long break and I needed a job. While discussing my love for writing with Kareem Baba Aminu (he’s now the editor of Sunday Trust), he said, “Why don’t you write for Leadership?” And that was it…my sister helped me get the ball rolling and I was hired. My first day of work, the newsroom door was opened, I was shoved in and told, “find something to do.” So I did. I read copy until I convinced my boss to let me have a column. My first article was on Prince Charles and Camilla’s wedding!
After that I ran a column there for a few years, until I graduated university. By then I had a few pages to my credit. I skipped law school to continue working there and it was a great year – I went on a short tour with some Naija music acts and reported the whole thing. It was amazing
9jafeminista: In the course of doing your job have you met with any kind of sexism? Maybe not as extreme as the one that happened between you and Marang Motlaleng, but sexism all the same
Michaela Moye: Yes. I had a co-worker at leadership who would refer to me as ‘baby’. When I told him I didn’t like it, he apologized. But guess what, my nickname became baby! I laugh about it now because I know he didn’t have bad intentions. To be honest, I find newsrooms to be rather sexually charged. So sometimes, a comment might be sexist, but sometimes it’s flirting or banter with sexual undertones.
One colleague kept harassing me to date him. My then boss thought it was funny that I kept refusing the guy – we were both single, why not give it whirl? I kept saying NO! That’s not the point! Just because we’re single doesn’t mean I want to date the guy. The last straw was when the colleague went to our boss to have a heart-to-heart about his feelings for me and could our boss talk to me? I was so mad. After I had my say, he stopped asking me out.
But that’s about it…my competence has never been questioned or anything like that
Michaela Moye: I believe that true love is not romantic, romance is deceptive. A person can be romantic with several people at the same time. As for as my thoughts on marriage… I don’t think it’s for everybody… at least, not in the conventional way… a couple living together all the time etc. I’m not big on long distance but God knows that when I get married, I will maintain a place for myself where I can just chill sometimes and be by myself
9jafeminista: So how do you measure the love which is not romantic?
Michaela Moye: let’s take my relationship with one of my nephews – it’s definitely not romantic, but that is true love right there! Here’s the thing, a couple can be together for three months and the romance is beginning to fade. What is left is their commitment, not even the friendship sef. Committing to making the relationship work, and accepting that if it doesn’t work, they will both walk away without trying to damage the other… that is love to me.
9jafeminista: That sounds like hard work
Michaela Moye: (laughs) But Relationships are hard!!!! I’m probably single right now because I’ve been too lazy to work at one I’ve never been romantic about marriage so i never felt bad when anyone implied that my single status was a problem or made me less than… maybe it’s just my inherent strong headedness. However, it’s important to add that I am interested in getting married – in so far as we can agree on the terms and conditions of our marriage contract!
9jafeminista: Since we are talking about love, what’s your take on sex? A man once said he believed pre-marital sex was a sin, and this view appears to be the prevailing opinion right now in Nigeria… I use the word ‘opinion’ because it’s actually not what is happening.
Michaela Moye: I pay no mind to hypocrites. I knew ever since I was a teen that I would not be married as a virgin. However, I made up my mind that I would wait until I was ready. I was 20 when I “lost my virginity” and even though I would have preferred a different partner, I was ready and chose to have sex then.
Sex should be enjoyable. And in my opinion, is not the right place to seek emotional attachment – that’s just a distraction from the physical pleasure one could be enjoying. Women should take their orgasms into their own hands and that includes giving themselves permission to enjoy sex. When it’s a physical ailment, then, of course, that’s a different matter and requires medical attention
9jafeminista: Why do you think women have this idea that they are not supposed to enjoy sex or have orgasms?
Michaela Moye: It’s the repression that has been sown in generations of women. Sex is bad. Sex is for men to enjoy. Sex before marriage is a sin. Masturbation will lead you to hell, etc
And you know, many women have one issue or the other with our bodies. Maybe focusing on the wrong things, distract from the pleasure. Or we’re not as cognizant with our bodies and don’t even know what would do the trick.
Ayodele Olofintuade: In a survey carried out recently by a condom manufacturer they found out that a lot more women cheat on their husbands than previously imagined, do you have any theories as per the repression of women?
Michaela Moye: I think men and women are more alike than we care to admit. Men cheat. Women cheat. It has always been that way. What is different is that women have been considered graceful, beyond-sexual reproach etc and so even they would not be so open to admitting to an affair besides one could be repressed with a husband, or expected to be a good girl… and with a lover one can be as free as one wants.