Now that is not exactly new information, except that there are no signs of relief in sight and the signs point to worsening attacks in every facet of every Nigerian woman's life. No woman is exempt from the endless barrage of sexist attacks going on in Nigeria because there are no safe zones -- neither age, class, religion, personal success, acclaim, nor achievement can provide shelter or immunity from the tsunami of sexism. Our men, including elected politicians, can legally rape children, pastors can abuse women, internationally recognized male writers can unleash sexist tirades against their prominent female colleague on social media, the list goes on and on. The attacks just keep coming at home, at work, in church, on social media, on the streets, from significant others, friends, co-workers, Nollywood, TV, politicians, the government and random strangers. And they are getting more and more institutionalized with each passing day and each unpunished and unchallenged attack. Women are expected to deal with it. It is our way of life, our Nigerian reality.I know that not all Nigerian men subjugate, exploit, or oppress women, but an overwhelming majority of them do, and so it's safe for me to generalize in this post.
I keep wondering when Nigerian women will finally start pushing back against the status quo in an organized and significant way. But it seems that as the attacks are increasing, Nigerian women are looking to other women to bear greater burdens and responsibility for what is happening instead of calling on men to respect our rights. This is why someone like Stella Damascus can write us that stupid advice on how to keep a man.
The sad part of the ongoing attacks in Nigeria is that women are not only victims of this war, but we are also willing perpetrators of it. Heaping blame on victims and casting them as naive, stupid outcast are our weapons of choice against other women. We reserve a special vitriol and hostility for vocal victims like Ese Walters who speak shamelessly and unequivocally about their attacks. They are our worst enemies because they break our code of collective oath of silence and they force us to confront the oppression we prefer to close our eyes to and pretend does not exist.
We are so skilled at playing our role that we come out blazing immediately we hear the latest news of an attack. We don't need any rehearsal. We don't need to hear the facts. We already know that it was somehow the woman's fault and if only she didn't do whatever she did, the man would have left her alone. She instigated it. She went to the pit of hell to meet principalities and powers with whom she coordinated the entire attack that would leave her physically, emotionally, and psychologically scarred. Following our unified and well choreographed response, men immediately absolve themselves of any blame or responsibilities and cheer us on. This is one of the few times, if not the only time they actually wholeheartedly support us.
Now that I think about it, I take back the last two paragraphs. Women are only victims. Our group self-hatred, blame games, violence and lack of support for each other are signs of our collective oppression. We mimic men's behaviors and take out our internalized aggression and frustration against men on each another. But the bitter truth is that we need to put aside the in-fighting, blame games, divisions along class, tribe, religion and age and work together to end and permanently destroy the current system. And that is no easy task.