Rape And The Nigerian Experience

Some days ago, the Nollywood actress, Genevieve Nnaji, took to her Twitter page to condemn the murder of Tina Ezekwe and Vera Omozuwa. While lamenting their demise, she said that women “live in constant fear of men”. This comment has raised dusts all over the social media platform and beyond as both men and women questioned, rejected or agreed with her. It was indeed a deep recognition of what many women pass through, or believe they pass through.

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But the key question here is, “Are women really afraid of men?”

Many women in the world can attest to the fact that they were raised to see men as the stronger sex. Women were taught to stay away from men so they don’t get hurt. Women were taught that they are no match to men in physical fight. And the majority of them have experienced that feminine “lack” of physical strength. But does that mean that women live in constant fear of men?

Maybe Genevieve Nnaji made that comment without knowing how deep it will cut. Her statement caused women to reflect on why they avoided men, especially in dark and lonely places. She caused men to wonder if there is an impending gender-war brewing. From all I could see, men do not understand the reason why women should be afraid of them and women couldn’t tell exactly why they are afraid of men.

Some women may be fast to say that they are truly afraid of men forgetting that they have male colleagues with whom they work comfortably with. Many women are not afraid of interacting and relating with their male relatives, friends and neighbours. So, it will be out of place to say that women are afraid of men.

But that notwithstanding, there is a deeper reason behind Genevieve’s statement. Truth is that what women are afraid of are not men, but what men represent. Women are not afraid of the male gender; they are afraid of what men are capable of doing. Put simply, the problem is with the action and not with the doer. In other words, women are cautious around men because they wouldn’t want to experience those actions.

Now you may ask, “What is it that men do that women don’t do?” And to that I will tell you, “Nothing”. I will explain this with these three major vices attributed to men folk – physical assault, robbery and sexual harassment.

Physical Assault

Experience taught women that they cannot fight men, at least not physically. People like me tried that severally and failed woefully and bitterly. So deep down women know that they wouldn’t want to challenge or stand to experience any physical attack from any man. So women are not afraid of the man but of the pain he will cause them.

Note that men are not the only ones that physically attack people. Women do that too, a lot. And theirs are quite deadly. But then, a woman doesn’t run away from another woman. Even if she’s being attacked by many women at the same time, she will stay back and fight it out because somewhere at the back of her mind she believes she will not be injured by a woman as she would have been hurt by a man.

Robbery

Someone said that if she’s jogging and sees a man behind her, she will move faster. She’s not the only one here; many women can attest to that. If you ask why they do this, they might tell you they suspected that the man was a thief that wanted to snatch their phones or purses. And sometimes, they’re right.

For some reasons, it is hard to attach a feminine face to robbery. Most robbers are men. Even our folktales represent stealing with male characters. This explains why people hardly feel uncomfortable when they find themselves on lonely roads with a woman. Some of us do not enter public transports when it is occupied by only men even though we know that many deadly robbers are women. This is just to say that when women think about thievery, they think about men; it is not the other way round.

Sexual Harassment

This is the height of it. Every girl-child is constantly warned by her parents to avoid being alone with men because she might get raped. This same child hears stories about girls being sexually harassed by men or she might even experience it. So women actually live in constant fear of rapists. Unfortunately for men, the face of a rapist is the face of men. So when women fear rapists, they actually fear men.

I think it is extreme to say that women are afraid of men. No, women are not afraid of men; they are only afraid of vices committed by hoodlums. They are afraid of dangers that will put them through pains. The only crime committed by men here is that many hoodlums are men (though this is not scientifically proven). It is therefore left for the men folk to sanitise their gender so as to get rid of the bad eggs among them.

But we should not forget that all vices do not bear men’s faces. Women do have their own areas of specialty when it comes to heinous crime. But that doesn’t make us afraid of women. In other words, we don’t need to tag faces to crime as that will be deceptive. Rather, we should focus on how to eradicate crimes.

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