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The Woman, The Beautiful Woman

In this technology-inundated day and time, there are a number of friends I love to call (not ping, not text) so we can talk, like really just talk. Eketi Ette is one of them. When I suspect or know for certain that she’s going through something, I pick up my phone and dial her number. And what should ordinarily be a brief condolent call would always, ALWAYS spiral into a LONG gistversation peppered with humour and edutainment. Whenever I’m about to call Eketi, I make sure my credit is fully loaded, because that woman can sabi gist eh, sotay when that snooty MTN woman intrudes with her robotic ‘Your call credit has been exhausted and this call terminated’, I just want to swear at her and her generations for interrupting a beautiful conversation.

And so, it came as no surprise that following her abrupt exit from the Flash Blackout writing competition, that I’d call her to know how badly bruised she was feeling. But if I thought I was inviting myself to a pity party, I was grossly mistaken. Ma girl was fired up with good humour and gist, and before you could say ‘Here we go again’, we had started bouncing from topic to topic. The wanton bedfellows known as NCC and MTN. The corruption-eroded fabric called Nigeria. The public office of our politicians that is curiously not about service for the people, but about service from the people (Only in Nigeria). Relationships. Marriage (Don’t worry, she wasn’t trying to convince me to get a wife). Religion. Karma.

And finally, women.

To give you a better understanding of what I’m about to talk about, here’s a screengrab from one of Eketi’s Facebook posts that I’d like you to see and marvel at:12541094_10205102589677075_4866766291836345300_nAre you astonished yet? My immediate reaction, which came as a comment on the post, was:eketi

The male privilege is a recognized societal vice. It is that phenomenon that has thrived for centuries, since the inception of time, nurtured and pandered to by religion and culture, two very powerful tools that orders the lives of most every individual. The male privilege cuts across race, tribe and nationality. It is the reason why the fragile male ego and dictionary terms like ‘manspreading’ are a thing. It is also probably one of the reasons feminism roared to life.

Yes, the male privilege is real and here to stay. And it has begat a lot of evils, like the entitlement of the average Nigerian man.

The evening I had the talk with Eketi, she took me on a tour over the inundation of sexual harassment she gets virtually, in the one place on the social media where all sins are committed away from the eyes of God and man – the inbox. All she had to do was be a woman, a beautiful woman. And the hills were alive with the sound of music privacy of her inbox was alive with the entitlement of the Nigerian man.

There is the presumption that she is a woman just waiting to swoon into the arms of the first available suitor. No, not just any suitor; but this particular suitor who has just sent her a message for her to marry him because God gave him the epiphany that she is the one for him.

There is also the assertion that because of her strong Christian beliefs, she must be wife material. Not just any wife material (no, these things are never that simple), but the missionary wife material. You know, the kind where she is expected to journey with her husband to the far reaches of Gabon because she has the smile and soul to bring hope and Christ to the godless masses.

And then, there’s the examination of the man who wants her to prove that not all beautiful women are proud and full of themselves; all she has to do is get off her high horse and say yes to him.

The common denominator that these kinds of entitled men have is one thing: the ability to transform, once the woman says no, from Enrique Iglesias wannabes to rabid jackals, snarling and tearing at the woman, desperate to wound and shred her self esteem. Suddenly, she’s no longer the beautiful, God-fearing woman who his pastor foretold would be the love of his life. In her place is now the bitter, cold-hearted shrew who will shrivel up and die by her middle-aged years. She is no longer the one whose Facebook posts are so inspiring and whose beauty shone so much, it drew him to her, oh no. In her place is the one he indignantly lectures: “Do you know who I am? Where I come from, women are not allowed to look up, let alone talk anyhow.”

It is almost comical how rapidly the amour turns into an animal. And because I’m a man ho does not know how it feels to be on the receiving end of such unwarranted, unbecoming attention, I laughed. My friend was talking to me about these rigours and I laughed. At some point in our conversation however, I stopped laughing. I’d made one glib remark: “This makes me wish I could become a woman for a few days just so I can know how it feels.” And she gravely replied, “Trust me, you don’t.”

For a long time, I’d always known about the suffrage of women (not in the political sense); I’d always been acquainted with it, but in an abstract way. The way the white man knows about racism, but doesn’t really understand its import. The way a heterosexual is aware of the persecution of the LGBT, but doesn’t quite grasp the travesty of it. I knew about the woman’s suffrage, and yet I didn’t.

But then, the social media gained more prominence and more women, especially locally, began to find their way to rostrums, upon which they gave voice to their convictions, and then I began to understand just how abusive the entitlement of man has been, how denigrating the society wired to the male circuit breaker has been to the woman.

“Trust me, you don’t,” she said to me, and went on to paint the pictures that should make me grateful I was created a man.

There was the depiction of the woman who can sweat her way to the utmost echelons of success, and still fall short because she doesn’t have a husband. She who is in a childless marriage, and gets pressured to answer a Sunday service altar call for barren women, when in fact her husband is the on with the fertility problem. She who is branded a hostile deviant from norm and tradition, simply because she chooses to preserve her individuality by keeping her maiden name or hyphenating it with her married name. She who, upon this, is drilled with suspicion and distrust, should she want to travel with her children, whose passports bear their father’s name and hers of course doesn’t. She who gets patronized when her status as a single mother is perceived, and exhortations for the provision of a new husband are given instead of encouragement for her to be the best mother she can be. She who is overlooked as a potential inheritor of her father’s wealth, chattel which is passed on to kinsmen in the absence of a male heir. She who suffers the malignancy of men and fellow women when she gets up on a dais to identify herself as a feminist.

She – that woman, who makes the stunning transformation from beauty to bitch simply because she said no to the entitled Nigerian man.

I didn’t need to walk a mile in her shoes. All I needed was to glimpse those small-sized stilettos that looked like they’d pinch at my toes, and my journey continued, my journey to comprehension of the pain in the life of the woman, the beautiful woman.

NB: The ‘beautiful’ here is not entirely about the physical attribute of the woman.

I am @Walt_Shakes on twitter

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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  1. I keep going back to that inbox, and I keep dying. My God. That dude gives men the world over a bad name. Shait!

  2. Frankly speaking…many of us need to unlearn subtle things we learnt and we aren’t even aware of our learning…
    It’s a very very bad thing I tell you. I thought I was unschooled but I nearly messed things up over the weekend with my beloved. In retrospect I realised I was suffering after effect of male-entitlement thinking and she is delicate. Now that’s coming from someone who thought he understands how not to display such annoying and misplaced personality trait.
    We have miles to go and it behooves some of us not only to unlearn but spread the right thinking.
    Well said Walter.

  3. Sigh. Sometimes that kind of dude and all the other creeps that come to the inbox make you want to believe there are no more good men. There are though.

    Remain strong Eketi. I may not agree with some of your views but I am proud of the woman you are. Very proud.

  4. And the question now is should the plight of denigration of the beautiful woman be left to the woman to trash out by herself alone, using only the resources at her disposal. Or should the whole world rally with her to honestly and transparently address these issues? Which of the paths would lead to a better destination?

    Moreover, laws have been put in place in developed societies to address so many forms of mistreatment against the woman; the United Nations through so many outlets and dialogues are addressing discrimination against women. Coming down to less developed societies like Nigeria efforts at addressing these issues face stiffer challenges, probably due to poorly structured nature of the various institutions of government.

    Women empowerment, like every other noble institution, will take time before its foundations are rooted deeply in our society. However, the particular protocols taken to build this institution will determine outcome of its impact on the society in the future. In addition, I will like to propose the addition of women empowerment and gender equality in primary and secondary school curricula coupled with things like projects and field trips to different communities where drama and other works can be staged to teach women empowerment and gender equality—so pupils and students (the world’s future) will be ingrained with the seed of love and honour for the woman; at the tertiary institution level, the sociologists, economists and political scientists should research and develop a knowledge discipline dedicated to women empowerment and gender equality in emerging economies and developing world through which seminal field works and workshops can be initiated and implemented, at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, in different local communities to address cultural discrimination against the woman (this could attract funds and grants from the World Bank and the United Nations). And by the beginning of another generation, women empowerment will likely look back and thank the whole world for rallying with her.

    • shakespeareanwalter

      I laud your comment, but…

      ‘And the question now is should the plight of denigration of the beautiful woman be left to the woman to trash out by herself alone, using only the resources at her disposal. Or should the whole world rally with her to honestly and transparently address these issues?’ …

      You know that’s not really an issue, dont you? The fight for any minority is not theirs alone to fight.

  5. Oh well…
    Can’t say I’ve not had my doses of all the typical male lords who see us as wife materials and batches in the same breath just because you said No.

    I will be real rich now, if I can make money from these kinds of messages I get all the time.

  6. this morning I woke up to decide to never talk about feminism any more. people have channelled their minds in a particular way and refused to change it.
    a Facebook friend of mine whom I also happen to know personally although from some distance woke up some morning to share how she is a Womanist. how she believes in getting married. in respecting her husband. how she doesn’t want to be a guy…. what I was most amused with was her conclusion. she wrote that all she BEGS of her future husband is that he give her a chance to prove she is more than the kitchen. People applauded her. She got tons of friends request. Because she had said something that appealed to the men. They called people who advocated for women rights ‘frustrated women with low self-esteem’. (Never mind that intelligent men also advocate the right)
    All these things she wrote on facebook were contents of a speech she had given in Addis Ababa. She is barely twenty-four but has achieved a lot in her short life. So I wondered how her womanism will hold up if she eventually married someone who refuses to grant her ‘beg’. What if he says ‘ No, the kitchen and no more is what I want you for’
    What will happen to her travels? Her lecturing job? She will be the ‘good African woman’ respecting her husband.

    Why marry a man I have to beg when I can marry one who is esteemed in his own self to know that I am not his ego pumping machine? Who doesn’t need an unsuccessful woman to give him the feeling of pseudo success? Who isn’t interested in competing with me when he knows we can be a strong team achieving a lot in the world.
    But you see, as the men hailed her, women did too. They needed their ‘humility’ to be shone abroad. I equally suspected that the young lady didn’t want people to think of her as proud. I mean, she became a lecturer when she was about 21 or 22. She has travelled farther than many men. If she dare adds she is a feminist, this will be a husband less life for her. She needed to show that she was still ‘African’ and thus ‘marriageable’.

    On the part of inheritance, it makes me strive harder to be great. And I will retain my maiden name when I become so. That name will be me telling my father; your girl child made your name known in the world. You didn’t need to put us through near hell for being female, and I am uninterested in inheriting your wealth because what you did as a man, I, your female daughter will exceed by far.
    Women need to stop suffering under the let me humble and religious and get real. Christians are real, religious people ain’t.

  7. Thanks for this piece Walter, You might not understand but you empathize with us!

  8. Gosh.. thanks Walter I have actually seen worse.
    If you say otherwise, people will label you a feminist, sad and bitter. It’s well for those who care

  9. I can totally relate with all written above.
    Being a woman in this time and age is a gruesome task. Men and even myopic women have made it so.

    I pray they start paying us money for all the marriage proposals we receive from social media.

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