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THE DECAYING FABRICS OF THE NIGERIAN NATION

EMELUMADU, IJEOMA CHIOMA
 Published December, 9th, 2009

I have always thought that I am among the category of ladies who detest feminism. Whether it is of the big “F” or the small “f”, I have never fully understood the essence of the discipline or any other “isms” that propagate the message of gender dichotomy. I have always been a traditional person, arguing loudly that feminism is becoming a myth and entirely becoming senseless.

Recently, I have had cause to change my mind. I have had cause to declare loudly to myself that I hate men. Not the kind of murderous hatred that burns with intense passion wrecking the foundation of a person’s being but the kind of hatred that emanates from the helplessness of living with what you can not do without. This kind of hatred mocks one so much so that you want to scream and throw things. This kind of hatred is the type that explodes in your face when an insensitive guy beckons on you from his wound down car window to cross the road and come meet him there. As if that one is not enough for him, he sits in his car and lets you remain standing while he vomits all the trash in his mouth.

Some might argue that I am not the-opposite-gender friendly. No. I like men. In fact, I am one of those who can even say I love men, but there is a part of me that wishes that otolo will blast all of them and leave the world a better place. Men only think women are sex objects, especially the elderly lecherous ones who have a family to cater for. I do not understand the reason for this.

I was at the charity bus stop the other day going to Rutam house in Isolo. There was a crowd pushing and shoving past other people to get to their destination. And then, a man walked past me. I did not get angry the man shoved me; people were pushing their way through. I got maddened with anger because this man made sure his hand brushed my vagina area before he walked past. I pushed his hand away vigorously and he innocently shouted, “a-ah!”, like he was not aware of what he did. I did not out rightly pursue and accuse him because nobody will believe me. There were policemen yards away from where I was but I also could not go to them. After all, they were all men and how can they deal kindly with a common girl accusing a well dressed “responsible gentleman” of purposely touching her vagina in public when a lot of people were shoving past me in the first place. A sister of mine has also had a likely experience. It was also in a busy bus stop at Oshodi. A man brushed her buttocks while she was trying to get down from the bus. As she returned home, she said she will pretend it did not happen so that she will be able to forget.

Similarly, I was at Yaba market to do some purchases with a friend. We ran out of cash and decided to use the ATM. As we were walking to the ATM, a riffraff on the side of the road, in an effort to hold me down to purchase his merchandise, brushed my left breast. As I am telling this story, I know some critics might be tempted to say that this was a mistake as many people were in the market. It was clearly not for when I confronted this guy, he had the effrontery to say to me, “wetin I wan use your breast do?” My friend that was walking ahead of me then turned round and confronted the guy, he repeated his earlier outburst and also added, “if I wan breast, I go get am, wetin I wan use this one do?”

I recall also that when I was in national youth service corp. in Jalingo, Taraba state, I experienced this same thing. I stayed with relatives who were not really relatives. But having come together from the same hometown and to such a far place, we regarded ourselves as relatives. I remember that one of the guys I looked up to as a brother in that compound arraigned me for another elderly guy who could not keep his penis off one pant at a time. I was surprised when this guy kept on insisting that I should go greet the other man. God willing, I found out what his plan was and instead of going to greet, I marched off to confront. It was a day of surprises because my accusations were denied and I was made to apologize. I never spoke to that guy again.

I also do recall that when I was a customer service personnel in a photography company, I was made to market our product in an event. My supervisor packed me full with pamphlets to distribute to the audience. When I got to a group of elderly men, one of them said, “I thought she is selling condoms!” Need I say I was shocked? I did not even get angry with the man, I was mad at my supervisor.

I try to forget all these things but try as hard as I can, I could not. I am angry, bitter and sad. I wanted to cry but I was in public, so I wept inside me. It is bad enough that I could not slap the hell out of these guys because they will fight me and fighting in public is not expected of a woman and I could not cry because I am also expected to be strong.

Our society expects a lot from women. The women folk are expected to be strong and in some cases do as twice of what men will normally do to prove themselves. There are norms everywhere expected of a woman. One can imagine what would have happened if a woman was the one brushing vaginas and breasts. What will the society say of such a woman? But in the end, the society permits the men to do such and get away with it.

They say that writing is therapeutic. I do not know if that is true. For, as I am writing this, my heart is bleeding and I am weeping. Not only for myself but for other women like myself who the society by an inevitable force that I cannot reckon with still debases the very essence of their womanhood.



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