Nigerian Men, Entitlement, and Street Harassment
First of all let me start by saying how bummed out I am that I missed the The Future Awards Symposium for Young Leaders in Ekiti this weekend. I was ill last week so there was no way I could go even though I was invited. From the buzz on Twitter, it sounds like it was a lot of fun.
So last night I went for a walk. It was an exercise kind of walk not really a sight seeing sort of walk so it involved me walking back and forth repetitively along a particular stretch of street. Now there I was enjoying my walk when three men appeared at the end of the street right in my exercise path.
I kept walking towards them thinking one of them would move to make way for a passing pedestrian but the closer I got to them, the more obstinately they stood in my path until I collided head on with one of them. Already I was irritated that he did not get out of the way in spite of having seen me coming a good minute well in advance, but when I turned around to start the next leg, one of the men tried to get my attention:
I ignored him. First because I didn't see any possible reason why he could want to talk to me. All I had on me was my ipad which was firmly in my hand and acting as my GPS to track my walk path. Since I had not dropped it, there was nothing to talk about, and more importantly I did not know who he was so I didn't stop.
I got to the other end of the street and turned, making my away again towards the end where the three men stood smoking and talking.
As I made to turn on their end, the SAME man tried to speak to me again:
Hello.... I feel like I knew you when you were tender...
Aside from the fact that this has got to be the CREEPIEST statement I have ever heard in my life, I couldn't get over the level of rudeness it requires to interrupt someone who is clearly BUSY DOING SOMETHING IMPORTANT when you KNOW you have absolutely nothing WORTHWHILE to say.
Again I ignored him and continued pounding the street wondering how long it would take him to get a hint.
When I got to their side of the street the third time, this time he said:
You look like Queen Latifah, I'm sure you wanna get to know me...
The un-imaginativeness of this one is breathtaking. So basically any woman not slim or thin automatically looks like the one fat celebrity you know. For the record I look nothing like Queen Latifah.
The fourth time, he said:
I hope I'm not disturbing you...
Ekene dili Chukwu and Glory be to God.... Wow, that took a mighty long time didn't it???????
But it was really short lived because the fifth time he said:
"I know I shouldn't disturb you but ... "
Gee, so you KNOW you are disturbing me but you just blithely go ahead and continue?
Finally, on my seventh turn, he and his friends began walking down the street towards me. I kept walking towards them but mentally I was calculating how much time I'd have to stab the second and third one's eyes out after punching the first one in the throat if they tried to touch me.
They didn't try to grab me or anything but as we crossed paths, that same guy said:
I'm leaving, do you know you may never see my face again?
Someone give this guy the blockhead award of the year because his brain must be made of concrete.
And that is the story of how my walk was ruined but there's more.
This is more than just a story of a ruined walk. It's an example of how Nigerian men feel so entitled to women's bodies that they have the guts to interrupt women who are going about their daily lives just to unwantedly insert their stupid sexual advances into your consciousness.
It was GLARINGLY obvious to anyone on that street that I was engaged in a very specific activity. In total I walked the length of that street thirty-six times. Back and forth, back and forth.
This man felt so entitled to my time and my attention in spite of me not knowing him from Adam, that he had the guts to put his desire to make an advance towards me ahead of my right to engage in and enjoy my personal activity.
More importantly, while he cannot particularly be blamed for his first attempt to talk to me, all subsequent attempts even when it was obvious I was not interested in returning his advances show how arrogant, entitled, and stupid he is. It is this same level of arrogance and entitlement that leads to the rampant street harassment Nigerian women face on a daily basis.
Nigerian women cannot walk ANYWHERE without being harassed with comments and unwanted touches from men on the street.
Why should a man feel that he has the right to interrupt the activity of a woman especially when that activity clearly indicates that she is not there to entertain his advances? And more importantly, why should a man continue his unsolicited intrusion when the woman has made it clear that she does not want or welcome it?
It's all part of the "No really means Yes" attitude that men in this country have and it is a DISGRACE.
No NEVER means Yes.
No does NOT mean "Yes, after a long time"
When someone tells you No, whether by saying it verbally or by their body language or their actions, then for fuck's sake, STOP.
Nigerian fathers, teach your sons not to be rapists and not to harass people, especially women. If your son is a street harasser, a sexual harasser or just a plain old misogynist, it is YOUR fault, they learned it from you.
Nigerian men, if you are one of the reasonable ones that does not behave like an animal towards women, please advise your friends against their animalistic behaviour.
Is it just me or has anyone else been a victim of this kind of ridiculous harassment?