My Unbecoming

My Unbecoming

I recently listened to a podcast in which the guest, a licensed psychotherapist, said therapy is about unbecoming rather becoming. She explained that when babies are born, they are clean slates but as they grow inside a particular society, they are conditioned through direct teaching/enforcement or subconscious learning, to conform to the dominant values of that society (social conditioning). The morals, values, and behaviours learnt through the conditioning can be beneficial, harmless or harmful to an individual or to the society. Therapy is about unlearning the harmful morals, values, and behaviours we have learnt from society.

When I was a little girl, I was the boldest, bravest and most adventurous girl that I knew (FYI, I knew a lot of people then). I would climb trees, ride bikes, try new food and speak up when I saw injustices, and just be my true self. I have been reminiscing a lot these days (major side effect of unemployment) and I am trying to figure out when exactly and why I lost those qualities. There is no exact moment because I realised that my evolution was gradual and subtle. There was no Big Bang; just a culmination of small events that resulted in my change.

Looking back, I think the first event that initiated the evolution was my fall from a tree. One afternoon, when I was climbing a tree, I climbed onto a branch which seemed sturdy to my 6-year-old self. Turns out you can’t really trust the judgement of 6-year olds when it comes to safety because the branch fell off while I was on it (Yikes). The tree wasn’t really close to my house, but my screams were heard from my house and my family ran to me. Needless to say, after that day, I never climbed trees again. I learnt to fear that day and became way less adventurous but not less stubborn though (insert devil face emoji). Oh, I forgot to mention that I have a scar on my chest from that fall that I actually don’t to fade (I am not normal).

I mentioned that although I became less adventurous, I was still very stubborn. One day, I asked my aunt to take me to a family friend’s house to play and she refused so I decided to walk there by myself. Mind you, the house was very far from ours and during that period there were several kidnappings in Benin, Edo State, where we lived at that time, but I was determined to play with my friends, so I walked there. My family and I had been to the house several times and apparently, I had subconsciously learnt the route (Smart me) because I made my way there without asking for directions. After I had been at the family friend’s house for a while, my very worried aunt called and was relieved to find out I safe and sound. Thankfully, I didn’t get beat but I got scolded for putting myself in danger. That day, I learnt that the world is not very safe for women, especially young women. I am sure my guardians were not purposefully trying to make me less brave, they were just trying to teach me the realities of the world.

The incident that discouraged my adventurousness with food was a horrible hot dog. I didn’t get to eat hot dogs until I was 10 years old. My family and I went to Mr Biggs’ often, but I usually stuck with to usual (Meat pie, Doughnut, Eggrolls. Etc) but I was very curious about the snacks I saw in foreign movies and I wanted to try them. During one of my family’s regular trip to the Mr Biggs’, I ordered a hot dog. I was the first person in my family to try Mr Biggs’ hot dog and it was really horrible which is probably why I have a conservative palette now. I think I also became repulsed my hot dogs because when I was in America, I had several opportunities to eat the original American hot dog, but I was so traumatised by my first hot dog that I couldn’t even attempt to eat any of them. I still try out food new food but I try my favourites from different places.

In primary and secondary school, I quickly learnt that my outspokenness and stubbornness were deemed undesirable in females and I decided to tame myself down a bit to avoid beatings & other forms of physical punishment (I was beaten into conformity) and ostracization. I received corporal punishments from teachers and ostracization from my peers: teachers didn’t appreciate my “unladylike” character but they greatly appreciated that I was willing to report other students whom I left were in the wrong. So, I got into trouble with teachers for being rude, but I also got flak from my peers for being a snitch which put me in a really awkward position. For a teenage girl with low self-esteem in boarding school, social ostracization is worse than corporal punishment (at least that was the case for me). So, I decided to stop reporting injustices to teachers to gain acceptance from my peers.

I want to go back to being that fearless girl who was very bold, brave and adventurous. The girl who would climb a very high tree without thinking twice, swim, ride a bicycle, walk to a family friend’s house, on the other side of town, alone (don’t do that youngins), and speak up when something didn’t sit well with her. I have gotten a bit of her back; I travelled to four countries in Europe alone and I went on a very scary amusement park ride which was vomit inducing but that is by the way. Oh, I am also very assertive now. The ease with which I say “No” is surprising to family and acquaintances.

I do understand that fear is useful; it keeps us alive by preventing us from engaging in life-threatening actions. But fear can prevent us excelling and realising our potentials. My goal isn’t to be completely fearless like extreme sports athletes (I think they are borderline suicidal), my goal is to master my fear and to distinguish the rational fears from the irrational ones.

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The skin was not made to be flawless

The skin was not made to be flawless

A few months ago, when my eldest sister was browsing through my phone gallery, she happened upon a few selfies in which I had on full makeup. After she saw those pictures, she recommended that I should that wearing full makeup every day since I have “bad” skin (dark spots and the occasional breakout). I replied that I don’t see the need to lose 10 – 15 minutes of precious sleep to cover up things that don’t bother me. She then asked if makeup doesn’t make me feel better. I replied no because honestly, the condition of my skin has no effect on my self-esteem or sense of worth at all; I always think I’m the shit. For real though, makeup has no effect on my mood.

Oh, and for the record, I am not anti-makeup, I do wear makeup. Foundation and concealers are reserved for special occasions like weddings because I can’t be bothered to wake up earlier than usual to beat my face, but I wear mascara and eyeliner whenever I am going out, but I guess those aren’t classified as makeup anymore.

I want the address the concept of “bad” skin. Today, the definition of bad skin is skin that is uneven in tone and texture (i.e the skin condition of most adults BTW) but I believe that that the definition is wrong. The main functions of the skin are the protect the body against mechanical, thermal and physical injury and hazardous substances, regulate body temperature via sweat & hair, to provide sensations and to produce Vitamin D [Source: CliniMed, 2014]. My skin performs all those functions properly so how can my skin be considered “bad”? (confused face emoji) The skin is not meant to be porcelain-like so how can that be the sole criteria for judging its goodness? The definition of “good” skin has been so skewed that people now purposefully hinder one of the key functions of their skin in the pursuit of good skin (skin bleaching).

My skin was not made to be flawless, so I am not going to lose sleep or money to get it to be so or appear so.

 

References

Structure and Function of the Skin. (2014). Retrieved from: http://www.clinimed.co.uk/Wound-Care/Education/Wound-Essentials/Structure-and-Function-of-the-Skin.aspx

I am back now

I am now officially a graduate (which is just fancy speak for “unemployed”). After my graduation ceremony in July, I had 6 weeks of compulsory internship to complete before I could collect my certificate. Although I really enjoyed my internship because the work environment was liberal (there was no dress code and they were very lenient with late coming) and I learnt of new things that would help me in my future career, it took up most of my energy and time. I woke up very early in the mornings and after work, all I wanted to do was eat and sleep and I did just that.

Immediately after my internship was over, I started packing to come back to Nigeria. The packing process drained all my energy and time: I owned a lot of unnecessary crap, so I had to sort the items to decide which items to keep and which to give away. Halfway into the sorting process, I decided it would be better to just give all it away because I couldn’t be bothered to pay an excess baggage fee on things that I was certain I would never use again.

Upon returning to Nigeria, I entered a state of post-graduation depression (it’s an actual thing). Even though I graduated from university with a high GPA I couldn’t plot a course for my future: All my job applications were met with negative/ no replies which really affected my self-esteem. The depression made me unmotivated to write which is why I haven’t posted in a while, but I am back now with a vengeance.

I really do apologise for not posting anything in a long while. I know my explanation sounds like excuses, but I hope you keep following my blog.

 

 

 

Why Rape Jokes Will NEVER be Funny

Why Rape Jokes Will NEVER be Funny

AY recently joined the long list of Nigerian Comedians who’ve joked about rape. He made a joke about TBoss’ sexual assault by Kemen on BBN. Thankfully, after his show, he got a lot of flak on social media; many Nigerian Feminists called him out on Twitter for trivialising rape and victim blaming. Even though he was strongly criticised, AY still had a lot of supporters defending his disgusting joke, chief among them was fellow Nigerian Comedian Bovi. Bovi defended his colleague by saying, “You can joke about anything as long as you don’t offended sensibilities” (There is no way to joke about rape without offending sensibilities Bovi).

In an attempt to redeem his public image, AY posted a picture of him with TBoss on Instagram and wrote an “apology”. In his apology, he said Nigerians have misinterpreted his joke [My response: Your joke was pretty clear so they was nothing to misinterpret. You said guys shouldn’t judge Kemen because they understand “Konji” which means strong sexual desire. So, because a man is sexually aroused he has a right to violate another person??], he was inspired to make the joke because Kemen was suicidal [My response: So, you justify sexual assault just to make the perpetrator feel less guilty – he should feel very guilty, matter of fact, he should be in prison. If Kemen is really suicidal (I don’t buy it for one second), he should seek proper counselling and psychiatric help. Your joke just made Kemen & other perpetrators feel justified in their actions. Kemen & co. need to know that “Konji” is not a justification for sexual assault and if you are that pressed find a WILLING participant or help yourself] and that he has a wife and daughters so he will never support sexual assault [My response: If this isn’t the most used excuse in the world. Almost all rape apologist say this when they are criticised by the public (as if rapists aren’t related to females too). Being related to a female or heck, even being a female doesn’t mean one is incapable of being anti-woman/misogynistic (a lot of Nigerian women blamed TBoss for her sexual assault) so you can GTFO with that copy paste apology].

Our society already has a dismissive attitude towards sexual assault. Perpetrators rarely get punished by the judicial system instead, victims are blamed for “seducing” the perpetrator by dressing provocatively, being out at night and so on. Rape jokes further promote the dismissive attitude. This might be a reach but I believe AY’s joke may even encourage a would-be rapist to assault a woman (“After all, AY, a man who is considered a role model in Nigeria understands “Konji” so there is nothing wrong with my action” they may think). So even though AY said he doesn’t support sexual assault because he is related to females (rolling my eyes), his actions did just that.

AY posted a picture of him with TBoss to show that TBoss has forgiven so we should all forgive me. It doesn’t work like that AY; sure, the joke was TBoss’ sexual assault but it affects all sexual assault victims. There are victims who heard that joke and were discouraged from reporting the incident to the police, there are police officers who heard that joke and felt justified in their flippant attitude towards victims & poor investigation of rape cases, there are judges who heard that joke and decided to give lenient sentences to rapist because you asked them not to judge perpetrators. So yes, the joke was about TBoss but it is bigger than her so taking a picture with her doesn’t win you any points AY.

In conclusion, I’m done with AY.

My Stance on Domestic Violence

My Stance on Domestic Violence

I haven’t written about domestic violence on this blog because I think most people can already surmise my stance on it but for the sake of clarity, my stance is to divorce the bastard and press charges. I know a lot of Nigerian women are afraid of advising women to get divorces because “Divorce is a sin” but I strongly believe that God wants women to be alive more than he wants them to be married. Human life comes first for me; every other man-made institution is secondary tertiary.

Another popular argument used to dissuade victims from divorcing their abusers is that “Children need their fathers”. Now, all things been equal, children do need their fathers BUT if the father is an abuser then the children are better off without him. Witnessing a parent abuse the other leaves children with severe emotional/psychological scars & trauma that may never be healed. So, raising children in an abusive household does more harm than good.

Recently, due to some high-profile celebrity cases (Tonto Dikeh & Mercy Aigbe), there have been various debates about domestic violence on the Nigerian Internet. I do not take part in internet debates because, most times, people just end up talking over each other rather than exchanging ideas. Even though I don’t debate online, I do read the threads just to get an idea of people’s opinions. Often, the comments I read about domestic violence and sexual assault leave me so frightened that I never want to leave my house again; the threads that I read on BellaNaija and some other popular Nigerian blogs revealed that many Nigerians are rape and domestic violence apologists.

Most of the comments I read claimed that a woman’s cheating and nagging were reason enough for her to be beaten. Gentlemen, if your wife/girlfriend is unfaithful, please break up with her or get counselling if you are still interested in keeping that relationship BUT you cannot beat her into submission. “Teaching your woman a lesson” will leave your children traumatised and also possibly send you to prison in Nigeria (Nigerian prisons are hell on earth); is it really worth it?

Am the only one that notices how nagging has become a gendered term? Presently, only women are called nags. I believe calling women nags has become an effective silencing tool because many women don’t demand expectations from their husbands so they aren’t termed nags.  According to the Oxford Dictionary, nagging is constantly harassing someone to do something (Keyword being harassing) BUT harassment doesn’t have to be involved for women to be called nags; a woman can be politely persistent and still be called a nag. Consistently asking your husband for necessities is now called nagging in Nigeria. I’ve heard many men complain about their wives nagging them for children’s school fees/rent or to stop drinking so much alcohol (Before Nkor); If your wife doesn’t get the money from you, where else is she going to get it from?? Also, she doesn’t want you to die from liver cancer.

Most times, the women who “nag” about financial demands are housewives so they have little/no means of meeting those financial demands themselves. Due to the urgency of those needs, they may understandably become impolite in their requests (because no one is perfect). The woman’s rudeness is not a justification for hitting her. You can tell her you don’t like the way she is speaking to you or walkaway. There are a lot of non-violent ways to resolve conflict; it is not that difficult.

Abusers are sane people, they abuse their victims knowing that they can get away with it and most times, they do get away with it. Nigerian society enables abusers; the society and judicial system are on the side of the abuser especially in cases of marriage. In many situations, when the victim reports to the police, they say “It is a family matter so go home and settle it”. Families also pressure victims to drop the charges; guilt-tripping tactics such as “Do you want the father of your children to become a criminal?” are successfully employed.

So, the victim forgives and returns to “normal” life but in order to prevent another incident, the victim walks on eggshells around the abuser to avoid provocation because many people have told the victim that they caused the previous incident by provoking the abuse BUT because no one is perfect, the victim does something that “provokes” the now bolder abuser which leads to another incident.

In conclusion, to stop/reduce domestic violence, perpetrators need to be sent to prison to put the fear of the law in the hearts and minds of would-be perpetrators.

So, you’re not going to change your last name??

So, you’re not going to change your last name??

Some months ago, I wrote about a question that I get quite often when I mention that I am a feminist. I do get a lot of FAQs about feminism so I decided to answer those questions on my blog. More often than not, the questions are rife with misconceptions about feminism; the asker is usually an anti-feminist trying rather poorly to be a smart ass. I rarely get questions from people who are genuinely curious about feminism ideology and politics so my answers are usually very sarcastic. However, I’m going to assume the people reading my blog are willing to learn about feminism so I am going to properly answer the questions and share my little knowledge.

[Disclaimer Alert: I am NOT a feminist scholar but I’ve read a lot of books on the feminist political movement.]

The second most frequently asked question that I receive after declaring myself a feminist is “So, you’re not going to change your last name?”. I suspect I get this question a lot because Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who is my best friend (in my head) and the most popular Nigerian feminist, didn’t change her last name. So, a lot of people incorrectly assume that feminism is against a married woman changing her last name to her husband’s. Feminism is NOT against women changing their last names to their husband’s BUT, it against the system/society that requires married women to change their last names and vehemently criticises them for refusing to do so (Just look at how many people criticise Chimamanda for not changing her last name). Feminists want women to be able to choose if they want to keep their surname or change their last name to their husband’s BUT that choice should be free from socio-cultural and religious pressure because when people are pressured into making certain decisions/choices, then that isn’t really a choice.

Am I going to change my last name? As I have stated in a previous post, I’m not keen on getting married; I’m fine being a spinster for the rest of my life. If I do get married, I will not change my last name. I will not change my last name because I am very attached to it. My father died when I was very young and I don’t remember much of him but he left me his last name; a name that I am proud of because of his integrity, a name that is respected in my state because of his love and respect for his people. I love my name because it is very harmonious and inspiring and I have accomplished a lot with my name(If I do say so myself) so I am going to keep it.

Sidebar: I may hyphenate my last name depending on how cool my intended’s last name is or how much it rhymes it mine. When I was in Germany, I met a guy whose surname is “Von Bismarck” (I think I had a crush on him just because of his surname); I wouldn’t mind hyphenating with that name at all.

About the TBoss situation

About the TBoss situation

So, Big Brother Nigeria is finally over (Thank God). Even though I don’t live in Nigeria, the madness of BBN got to me through social media. I’ve never been into any Big Brother franchise; something about Big Brother makes me uncomfortable. I think it’s like putting mice in a maze and watching them trying to figure their way around just for entertainment (overanalyzing much?? Probably). I’ve never been into the show and always thought it was garbage but this season of BBN really took the garbage to a whole another level.

I can’t believe someone thought it was okay to broadcast the rape of TBoss across the continent (What part of your brain has to be missing to make a decision like that?). What is even more disappointing is that the rapist only got evicted from the house and no charges were filed against him. The showrunners even had the gall to bring him to the viewing centre to watch the finale. The whole situation shows that many Nigerians are very ill informed on consent and rape; many people only consider the act to be rape only when the woman/girl is crying and screaming. Even in cases of obvious physical coercion, the victims are still blamed for their rape. The victims are accused of seducing/tempting the rapist by dressing provocatively, being out after dark, going to a male friend’s house and being drunk. The sad and dangerous part is that the police, lawmakers and elites (Hello, Mr Abati) hold such misogynistic beliefs; which means more often than not, the rapist will get away with the crime and continue on with their rampage.

Just to clarify, It is rape when you penetrate a drunk girl, It is rape when the girl says “No” or “Stop” during the act because you decided to try some porno shit with her without showing or accurately describing the act. It is rape if she said yes to the porno act and halfway in she decides she doesn’t like it and says “Stop”, It is rape even though she is your wife and the holy book says her body belongs to you. It becomes rape when a girl/woman indicates she is no longer interested in a sexual act and you still go forward with the act. It is not quantum physics, it shouldn’t be that hard to understand.

It is also rape when a person is emotionally coerced by a partner into having sex. This type of rape is very common in committed relationships. This is the “If you love me you will have sex with me” situation / silent treatment until we have sex and the guilt tripping into having sex. In Nigeria, one common method of guilt tripping wives into having sex is to tell them that they aren’t performing their wifely duties. Unfortunately, female socialization in Nigeria primes/grooms us to be victims of guilt-tripping; due to our upbringing, we feel very worthless when we are told we aren’t wife material or that we are failing at being a good wife, so we do everything to rectify our “flaws” even when it involves having sex when one is not in the mood.

Rape is a very serious crime that results in serious damage to the emotional wellbeing of the victim. The emotional scars stay with the victim for the rest of their lives. The society should focus on putting away the rapist rather than kicking someone who is already battered. Just like with any other crime, the blame/judgement should be reserved solely for the perpetrator and not the victim.

[PS: I know there is probably an MRA typing “Men are victims of rape too” and I acknowledge that but however, I’m a feminist which means that I focus primarily on women’s issues. Also, statistics show that 91% of rape victims are female so rape is more of a problem for women than it is for men]

National Sexual Violence Resource Center. (2015). Statistics about sexual violence. Retrieved from http://www.nsvrc.org/sites/default/files/publications_nsvrc_factsheet_media-packet_statistics-about-sexual-violence_0.pdf