I Deserve To Talk Anyhow, Dress Anyhow And Live Anyhow

I listened to an excerpt of Sandra Ezekwesili’s radio show where she was discussing Nigeria’s increased rate of sexual assault on women.

A man called into the program to say that the reason why men rape women is that “they talk anyhow” when approached or propositioned by men.

At that moment, my head spun and my chest tightened in outrage. But Sandra asked the question that burned through my mind. She said “If you as a man talk anyhow to a fellow man, do you expect to get raped?”

You already know what the answer was.

 

 

You know why my chest tightened when I heard that man’s words? Because it is all too familiar.

A society where women do not have agency and where their full humanity isn’t recognized, will always find a way, a reason, an excuse to blame women for their own assault.

Rape is an equality issue. It is a power issue. Rape isn’t about sex, ( not in the sense of being motivated by sexual attraction or an uncontrollable sexual urge.)

No. It is about an imbalance in power structures, such that the pervasive threat of sexual assault is used to limit women’s sovereignty and justify sexual assault itself.

As women, we are threatened with assault for not conforming with society’s “rules” on what is the acceptable behaviour for women.

Hence,
She talks back to men – beat her to keep her in check
She rejects a man’s advances – Attack her with acid or rape her
She did not “dress decently” – rape her
She was drinking alcohol- rape her
She went to a man’s house – rape her
She was out at night- rape her

The list is endless. All aimed at telling women one thing: “you are less than human. You are not allowed to do human things like us”

If men can drink, party in the club, talk back, go out at night, wear whatever they like and live however they want as full human beings, why shouldn’t women?

Why are women not allowed to exist as humans with equal agency and freedoms?

Why are men allowed to talk anyhow, be anyhow, dress anyhow and live anyhow they want without getting punished for it?

One gender is not in charge of the other, so shouldn’t be making rules for how other genders should live and meteing out punishment when they don’t conform.

That is unjust and it is a crime against humanity.

Leave us alone to dress anyhow, talk anyhow, be anyhow because we deserve the same freedoms as you.

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