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RAPE AND THE PENIS ENTITLEMENT

“God gave men a penis and a brain, but unfortunately not enough blood supply to run both at the same time.” – Robin Williams.

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Yesterday, I stumbled upon some screenshots on a friend’s post, capturing a certain Twitter user’s rape experience. As usual, there were comments outrightly condemning rape and (unfortunately) comments blaming the victim. I took time to study the comments (a sampling of which I have included in the comment section, not to vilify the commenters but to elucidate the point I seek to make), especially from male commenters, that tacitly or explicitly blamed the victim in a bid to understand the mindset of many a Nigerian with regards to rape. These popular opinions—most of which point to the worrying fact that A LOT of Nigerians still don’t understand the concept of consent—have been distilled and simplified below:

A) THE MAN IS JUST A HELPLESS CAPTIVE OF HIS BONER— “YOU STARTED IT! YOU MUST FINISH IT!”

“How can you turn him on, let him hug you and then tell and expect him to stop – when he’s not wood!”

This is one of the opinions that we, as a society, have to expunge from our social consciousness—this idea that the man’s phallus, once excited by sheer proximity to a female of consent age, hijacks the man’s ability to control himself, and if the female happens to share the comfort of a bed with said man or the privacy of a single room, then she would be “stupid” to stop him from finishing. This mentality is rooted in the overly patriarchal paradigm that men’s pleasure comes before the desires and expectations of women—that if a woman even remotely hints that she’s interested in sex and manages to turn the man on, then all her protestations afterwards should be relegated to the background until the man has satisfied himself.

We see this play out in every rape case where the victim happened to be raped in the perpetrator’s apartment. “What was she doing on his bed? She even let him take off her panties. She should shut up, stop complaining and enjoy it joor.” This is absolutely ridiculous. The idea is that men, once excited, cannot tell when a woman is uninterested. It therefore shifts the blame completely to the woman.

 

B) “‘NO’ WITHOUT FORCE, IS THAT ONE A ‘NO’?”

To many Nigerians, a ‘No’ is not enough. A woman has to kick, scratch, beg, cry, kick some more and scream before they decide to take her claims of being raped seriously.

“You said no but you were lying there. Abeg, you wanted it. Please shut up.”

It’s because we allow ideas like this to fester that we’re able to excuse rapists and make their victims bear the brunt of the blame. Many men amongst us (some of you reading this) have this sick penchant for assuming a woman is kidding when she says no the first time, trying harder to have their way because she’s shown little restraint. If we’re honestly concerned with doing away with rape culture in our society, this mentality absolutely has to go.

 

C) “I BOUGHT YOU FOOD. THEREFORE I MUST HAVE YOU.”

We’re all familiar with this one. No sooner has a girl spoken up about her rape experience than supposed sane individuals would roll out the “he took you out and bought you dinner. What else were you expecting?”

This one is rooted in the misogynistic and patriarchal indoctrination that sex is a transaction (or has to be.) Men and women are taught to believe that settling the bills at dinner or spending money on junk food and drinks has earned the man a night of unhindered, even passionate sex. For many men, if she consents to having drinks and/or dinner, she has consented to sex. And so he does all within him to get the girl to come back to his apartment. No prior discussion on the prospects of sex, nothing. She ate, I paid. We must fuck.

And when it goes south—when she refuses and he overpowers her—we all line up to remind the girl of her stupidity for not going home immediately dinner was over; how she brought it upon herself by agreeing to “eat his money.”

 

D) “YOU’RE IN MY HOUSE. YOU HAVE NO EXCUSE NOT TO HAVE SEX.”

“What was she doing in the house of a guy who isn’t her boyfriend? She wanted it jaré.”

Ours is a hypocritical society, one with a very nascent grasp of liberal sexual interactions. It is this overt subscription to a narrow viewing of sexual relations between members of the society that serves to stifle the freedoms of women and their sexuality. We spend so much time telling women what to wear, how to keep their legs, where and where to visit and how to interact around men and NOT enough time telling men exactly what not to do around women.

Such is the reason why this idea that if a woman somehow finds her way to a man’s house, it means she must want to have sex with him. The whole victim-blaming ordeal (yet those who victim blame by subscription to these mentalities are always first to deny their victim-blaming) stems from this idea that a man can do whatever he wants with a woman, provided she’s in his house. As morally reprehensible as this sounds, a lot of the intellectuals you hold in high esteem on this platform subscribe to this idea.

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Rape is a terrible thing for anyone to have to experience. It is much worse when the people around you tell you it is your fault you got raped.

The benefits of taking precautions cannot be overemphasized. You’re, first and foremost, responsible for your safety.

But there is a fine line between advising on safety by being cautious and outright victim-blaming. And most Nigerians don’t know where that line is drawn.

We must be wary in our advocacy for “precaution” that we do not stifle the rights of women, the very rights enjoyed by their male counterparts.

The question I always ask people who crawl out of their crevices to tell women they’re the reason they were molested because they didn’t take enough precaution is: how much precaution is enough to eradicate rape in our society? You say women should wear long skirts. Why not a burqa? You say women should not walk around after a certain time of the day. Why not women shouldn’t leave their houses at all? You say women should arm themselves with tasers and pepper sprays. Why not hand them guns and butcher knives? Because the more extreme our precautionary contrivances are, the more we would assume women are safer. Yet our contrivances are extreme for the very fact that they limit the rights of women.

Consider India for instance. New Delhi’s public transport was rated the fourth most dangerous in the world for women in 2014 by the Thomas Reuters foundation, and is touted to be the rape capital of India. Recently, a story went viral of a nursing mother gang-raped in a bus by 6 men, her child dying in the process. The government has invested billions of rupees into ensuring safety for women using public transportation, like installing panic buttons in buses, trains and phones. However, consider a hypothetical solution like an outright ban on women using public transportation. Surely this would end women being raped in buses and trains. Yet this very solution would stifle the very rights of women to free movement that the men who rape them enjoy!

Which brings me to the most important point: we do not do enough to educate men on acceptable norms in intergender/intersex relations. It is easy to say “I condemn his actions…” but every time a rape case is headlined, is that nearly enough?

Who are the perpetrators of rape? Are they aliens? Do they just spontaneously and randomly appear out of thin air to rape women? No. They’re part of us. We know some of them. We relate with them daily. They’re your acquaintances at work. Our friends and family. They live amongst us, normal, healthy humans.

We tell women to be cautious. But we (and by “we” I mean fellow men) do not do NEARLY ENOUGH to instruct ourselves on how to relate with women. Why? Because these issues do not directly affect us. We see women (and a few concerned men) take to the streets to protest against rape and domestic violence. But how many times have we seen men come together to instruct themselves (in seminars, public forums or on social media) on how to interact with women and exactly why rape is bad?

On India’s rape culture, Mira Veda, a columnist for Huffington Post observed in an article titled Is Delhi the Rape Capital of India?:

“The gang-rape murder of 23-year-old woman by six men makes me think that perhaps my mother was right and India has just gotten worse for women. This gang rape is not an isolated event. Men molest, cackle and constantly disrespect women in public places all the time in India. Unfortunately, this is a known fact to a lot of Indian women who have either traveled or live in the country.”

While India is a more extreme society, isn’t it true that we make light the issue of molestation when we talk about our interactions with women at our local pubs?

Truthfully, barring psychosis, men CAN STOP when a woman tells them to! The reason they don’t is because they see no reason to. They ride to satisfaction on the backs of your victim-shaming opinions—opinions which, not only give them leverage but also an alibi.

We can call women stupid for “putting” themselves in positions that enable rape, but stupidity is subjective. Rape is not.

Let’s be guided, please.

Written by Godswill Vesta


About shakespeareanwalter

Walt Shakes(@Walt_Shakes) is an award-winning Nigerian writer, poet and veteran blogger. He is a lover of the written word. the faint whiff of nature, the flashing vista of movies, the warmth of companionship and the happy sound of laughter.

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