Towards the end of 2021 I attended a program titled “Orange The World.” It was a program in support of the activists movement against gender violence. I’m not a big fan of gender equality and all the things they’re clamouring for, but knowing that this program was going to be handled by intellectuals, I determined to attend to hear the argument of these things from an intellectual point of view. The views I’ve heard hitherto about gender equality have all been from discontented, often and ill-tempered females on social media who rarely know what they’re talking about or how to present their points. But here I knew I would get a more helpful idea of what the movement is all about.
Truly I wasn’t disappointed. I learnt why it is such an important movement. My eyes were opened to a lot of unpalatable realities of our societies. And it was expedient to tackle these things head on and aggressively. Really prominent dignitaries were present and spoke with both rich and thorough understanding concerning the plight of victims of gender based violence. Towards the end of the program there was a nice poem that shed a brilliant light on the matter revealing some subtle truths about the issue at hand. I’ll speak on these things later.
I also attended another program on this issue organised by Abuja Literary Society. They came from a creative and poetic angle to create enlightenment about the matter which was commendable too. During the program by Abuja Literary Society, a lady from Amnesty International presented a report about their findings on the issues of rape and gender violence in Nigeria. The title of the report is “NIGERIA: A HARROWING JOURNEY“. I was shocked at some of the things that were alleged to have happened. I collected the copy from the lady, glanced through and since she told me that the PDF was available on their website I chose to download it and take my time to read it. I found the things written in it to be very disturbing. I’ll write my views on that report and publish it soonest.
What Is The Sixteen Days Of Activism?
To have a bit of summary of what the sixteen days of activism is, here is a what Wikipedia has to say about it:
“16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign to challenge violence against women and girls. The campaign runs every year from 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day. It was initiated in 1991 by the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute, held by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL) at Rutgers University. Since 1991, more than 6,000 organizations from approximately 187 countries have participated in the campaign…”
My Observations And Suggestions
I believe that the issue about violence against women is a very urgent issue and it’s gladdening that it is receiving so much attention. However, the way a good fight is fought can make it a bad fight. One of the people who spoke in the program at Shehu Musa Yar’adua Centre said that the movement against violence against women is not a gender war. This is good for fighting, for the human rights of all persons is a good fight. But turning it into a gender war is a bad fight. While the movement can be said to be not a gender war, I’m afraid the way it is being fought is turning it into a gender war. The protagonists? Women. The antagonists? Men. It is fought as a war of we against them. This is neither healthy nor success bound.
While I didn’t notice so much of traits of gender war in the program in Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre, when I attended that organised by the Abuja Literary Society, it took the face of a real gender war. Men were painted as natural rapists, beaters of wives, abusers of minors, and yes the very Devil. For one presenter said, “I know the Devil, he lives in my house…” At the end of her poem she presented that Devil to be her uncle. The very position of a husband was reduced to a position of abuse and tyrany which ought to be done away with. All these were done in the most graphic manners. This is not healthy and can yield no positive change.
One of the issues raised at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre was the issue of predatory lecturers who prey on those they lecture. This evil practice really does deserve an urgent intervention. The wickedness and gross immorality of it cannot be overemphasised. And it is gladdening that it is becoming an issue nationally. And this indeed will yield a positive change, God willing.
The poet I refered to above who rendered her beautiful poem gave instances of a lady seeing others graduating with flying colours while she was likely to be held back because she isn’t giving consent to be abused by a wicked lecturer. These others graduating with flying colours had consented to be so abused by their lecturers. Her own mother was all set with what to wear for her graduation. She asked a question, should she repeat a whole year in school? But the lecturer would still be there. So should she just be patient or should she fight back? This explains the really difficult positions such victims do find themselves. It can be that terrible.
While this brings to light that sex could be the difference between graduating with flying colours and the humiliation of repeating a year in school. It however also brings to mind that as a lecturer could request for sex to give good grades, ladies too could offer themselves to get those good grades. If the grades is at the lecturer’s disposal, to give or not to give, and the sex is at the disposal of the female student, to give or not to give, then the offer or request could come from both directions. They both have what to trade with.
Sometimes, the desire to have what one cannot earn makes women to yield themselves to lecturers. Sometimes after failing woefully in their exams, some female students start frequenting lecturers’ offices dressed in certain ways. Others just friend lecturers on an ongoing basis for all manner of advantages. I say this having heard of it myself first-handedly in my university days. I’ve also witnessed these things myself in places of work. In the quest for moral uprightness, best practice, and rationalism, we mustn’t close the eye to these facts too. The facts that women do make advancements for the advantages they could get by offering their bodies. While the abuse of female students require an urgent action, this too needs to be addressed.
Someone (a woman) who asked a question also raised the point that even female lecturers go after male students. And mentioned other cases where such evils are done apart from that which happens between male lecturers and female students. Someone (a young graduate) said he was given a carryover because the lecturer thought he had something to do with his girlfriend who was also a student. When you hear all these things it is obvious that our tertiary institutions are gradually becoming madhouses. It really needs to be cleaned up and reorganised to ensure that they’re achieving what they’re meant for, not to be institutions of abuse and moral depravity. If this cleanup is approached with the arms of gender bias, it would be partial, incomplete, and failure prone. But should it be approached with the arms of justice, ethics, best practice, rationalism, and morals, it would be complete and success prone. So I’m not trying to reduce the gravity of the wickedness of sex for grades, but if this is to succeed holistically it must encompass all other forms of abuse, injustice, lack of ethics and so on. For the root cause of these things are deeply seated in moral depravity and decadence.
So we must be careful that our fight is against evil, not against any gender. If evil is done by any gender, that evil must be isolated and resisted. The object of any just struggle is against evil, not humans of any category. So we must not subject our view of the evils going on in our tertiary institutions and society at large to the sentiments of gender bias.
Things Gender Activists Should Desist From
There are few things I’d like to advise gender activists to desist from. The major is that they shouldn’t use the activism that is in pursuit of justice to be a platform for them to gain career, professional, or political advancements. Why do I suspect that this may be the case? In the occasion in the Musa Yar’Adua Centre, I had the privilege of asking a question. The lady to whom my question was directed had said she enjoyed a great level of protection from predatory lecturers because her father was a lecturer on campus, for this reason, they knew they could by no means make any foolish advancements towards her. So I asked what is it, according to her opinion, that makes people not get their parents involved when a case of lecturers demanding for sex comes up? I asked this because I feel that the society is failing because parents are failing. She was protected because her parents are close by. But the parents of other students, though they may be far away geographically, are just a call away. I believe that parents have incredible powers to be able to protect their girls from such predators. And so I wanted to know what parents could do in such cases. But her response was quite shocking. She said that the reason why girls would not tell their parents about such issues is the same reason why they won’t want to tell their parents about their political ambitions in schools. That they would say they shouldn’t pursue that path. She later went on to say something I had expected would be closer to the answer which is that parents should make themselves approachable to their children. But she started with the fact that parents would stand in the way of their daughters’ political ambitions in schools.
Now of course the fact that parents would discourage their children from pursuing political ambitions is nothing close to the answer. Keeping silent in the face of rape, sex for grades, etc. has nothing to do with political ambitions. There are probably other reasons which ought to be looked into. And bringing this up in a case where it doesn’t even apply just makes me realise that some people may be merely hiding behind this movement to make a case that can help bolster their career and political advancements, for this is of course a way of saying, “show support for your female children’s political ambitions so that they can tell you about their affairs.” This, I felt was nothing more than trying to garner support for political and professional advancements of females.
Should this be the case, then it would be really disgraceful that this is being pursued while giving it the face of fighting for vulnerable and abused people. It is disgraceful that people are willing to use the case of vulnerable girls and women, who are prostrate in the dust by circumstances, to advance their own agenda that neither has anything to do with the defence of the vulnerable nor the seeking of justice for the afflicted vulnerable.
John Rider Haggard wrote in his book “Allan Quartermain” the following words, “See thou, Macumazahn, a woman will swim through blood to her desire, and think nought of it.” Today women are showing themselves to be willing to heap up bodies of abused girls and women to climb up to their own desired heights. Why should such a struggle (for political, professional, and career advancement) be given the face of defending and fighting for the vulnerable? It is sad to realise that it is very plausible that some are behind this movement just for selfish reasons. It therefore behoves every well meaning activist in this movement to be wary of such plausible abuse and misuse of the purpose of this movement, which is to seek justice for the vulnerable, and oppose such abuse themselves. It will be extremely shameful if they allow this evil to go along with the movement. Justice and justice alone must be sought.
Second thing is that activists should desist from trying to push women into the political arena as a solution to gender based violence. This also stems from the hypocrisy of trying to advance political, career, and professional advancement while acting as though it is gender based violence that they seek to oppose. It is also as disgraceful as what was described above to be putting forward such views.
On the other hand, one of the key beliefs of democracy is the ability of people to hold their leaders accountable. The people don’t need to hold positions of power before they can hold their leaders accountable. The idea that women can only be protected by law if they occupy positions of power is a myth. This assumption also stems from the presupposition that men are essentially evil and so can’t serve justice to a gender they don’t belong to. These claims all reveal that what we have on ground is a gender war which is no just war. It is not for justice but a war against men of which one of the instruments of this war is to paint men as the enemy, the Devil. If justice is the motive, then the approach needs to be overhauled and rectified.
I will not subscribe to a view that pulls women from their domestic duties especially that of raising their own children. A foremost pioneer of the modern day feminism by the name of Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) wrote in admittance, “But a child, though a pledge of affection, will not enliven it, if both father and mother are content to transfer the charge to hirelings; for they who do their duty by proxy should not murmur if they miss the reward of duty—parental affection produces filial duty.” In today’s world, because women are being pushed to pursue careers like men, parents are increasingly transferring their duties to hirelings in schools. And who else is fitter by nature and reason to focus more on the role of parenting than mothers? It is no wonder we are having endless bad news coming from boarding schools of recent concerning abuse of minors, and what we hear is just a fraction of what actually goes on. Parents just give birth and dump their children like refuse in schools not wanting to see them again. Those in day schools are left to roam about schools till about 5pm. Others leave their young in the care of house helps who are also hirelings in their own ranks. And like hirelings’ they can abuse minors, male and female alike, both physically, sexually, and otherwise without the knowledge of their parents. I’ve heard a male victim of such abuse tell me and his other friends of his experience. And such abuse is quite common.
This woke generation characterised by ignorance, arrogance, poor character, wrong values, lawlessness, immorality, etc. are a product of a generation of full time career women. So let’s quit this myth and apply our hearts to reason to draw ideal roles for each gender. Women must be educated as far as they want to, not to be hindered by their gender, they must be able to work as freely as they choose, but never at the expense of being able to raise their own children. The choice to raise their own children should be theirs, but we mustn’t present a full working class, or political class women, as the ideal. It is no ideal and women should know the harm they do to their young by their neglect and so choose wisely. But I won’t subscribe to that view that women should neglect their homes in pursuit of money or political achievements. I maintain that the home is God’s institution for raising children. And so such movements shouldn’t push women into an arena as busy and demanding as the political arena. The door should be open to willing women but they mustn’t be pushed through it.
Advise To Young Ladies Reading This
The following are my advise to young women reading this, the best way to prevent violence against yourself as a woman is to marry a man that will love you as himself. It is good that there are so much awareness and effort against violence against women, but that won’t help you should you marry a man who does not love you as himself. If you eventually marry a man that batters you, your very affection for him won’t let you speak up. If you speak up these activism can only help break your home properly, not to mend it.
What blessedness is there in life if your home be broken. So have it clearly understood that all these activism cannot protect you from harm, but can merely salvage you from total ruin, as though a man should save a sheep from a lion but only succeed in retrieving the legs. You could be saved from the hardship that comes with having a broken home, but won’t have the blessedness of a happy home either. You have the biggest responsibility to protect yourself against such violence especially in your matrimonial home. Don’t choose a spouse foolishly or blindly, and don’t be imposed upon. But choose wisely and prayerfully and may God grant you a sensible man that will love you as himself. And may he grant you the character required to build a happy home. Amen.
Secondly, never consent to be sexually abused for anything. It is even better to fail and leave the tertiary institution with poor grades or even leave it without graduating at all, than to consent to such degrading and wicked abuse. I who write these things left the university when going to 300 Level at a time I perceived that I had to get into what my conscience does not allow me to do. Today I have no regrets. So I know it’s consequences, and from a firsthand perspective, I say you don’t have anything to lose. In fact you have much to gain like I gained.
The tertiary institution is too overrated, I assure you. One of the great past presidents of Harvard said, “ten minutes a day, for ten years of a life, with the right books, will give any one an education.” How true. We are the most blessed of all generations so far, since history can tell, because we all have information everywhere. They’re no more locked in tertiary institutions or great libraries and they’re close to absolutely free. While there are courses that must be taught in the tertiary institutions, these only constitute a tiny fragment of the field of education and advance learning. I assure you, the moment you learnt to read and write, and comprehend what is written, you’ve earned your freedom. Seeing that you have all these at your disposal and endless freedom, why then should you sell yourself cheap for naught?
Graduating from the tertiary institution is not a guarantee of a good future, neither is the failure to even attend it a guarantee of a bad future. What matters in life is hard work, diligence, and a proper education. The tertiary institution is supposed to give you that education, and to certify that you have that education and that you’re both hard working and diligent, but since it is gradually turning into a madhouse and you have very countless other ways and opportunities to attain high learning, and to certify yourself to be diligent, hard working, and well educated, leaving the madhouse should not bother you one bit.
The economy of today is increasingly reliant on skills and technical knowledge, not certificates like in the past. You can acquire these skills, and certify yourselves without the means of a certificate or an academic institution.
These are just my thoughts on the matter which is just little compared to the many alternatives you to getting yourself a good education, but please never allow yourself to be abused or debased on any account whatsoever.
The struggle to end violence against women is timely and probably overdue. Nevertheless the fight must be fought in a good way. Demonising men or derogating the role of a husband is a wrong way to go about a good fight. Men are not inherently evil neither are women inherently good. But the struggle should be against evil and bad practices in general. Such struggle should not be given the face of a gender war. This would be counter productive and very damaging to the tender fabrics of our societies. Rather it should take the face of a moral war, for at the root of all such wicked practices is the increasing moral decadence of our societies.
The struggle to end violence against women must in no way be aimed at bringing down our religious beliefs, traditions and cultural values. Speaking from a first hand experience, our cultures are not such that discriminates against women. In my family (all the way to the most extended members it, as far as the sight can reach) for example, there’s not one woman who was denied education because of her gender or any family that showed preference to males over females. Everyone was educated as far as they wanted provided finances did not hinder it. So the idea that our traditions are discriminatory against women is alien to me. Maybe there are parts of the country where this happens, then they should take the struggle there and not make it as if we have the whole country built on discrimination. Failure to do this would simply mean they’re pursuing a reform where no reform is needed. And if they’re pursuing such reforms characterised already with many sinister and disgraceful hypocrisies, then we may not be getting reforms at all but be merely advancing the selfish interests of few people.
In the rare cases where there are abuses, or where cultures have elements that can be abused to do violence against women, a violent shift from such cultures is not the solution, but to enlighten people to desist from abusing such things.
We must not follow myths but follow reason and well proven facts. The cause must be protected from being hijacked by people who would try to use it for mere self aggrandisement, and people who hide behind it for this purpose must be resisted. It would be shameful to allow it go on.
We mustn’t close the eyes to other areas of abuses and the dynamics of the evil practices being addressed in this movement. By dynamics I refer in particular to the fact that though there are abusers of female students, these abusers also give juicy offers which female students may be forward to accept or even make advancements for. This would enable activists to handle the issue more holistically.
Young women have the major role to prevent violence against themselves and ending up with a broken home by choosing a right spouse. This is the most effective way of ending gender based violence in the matrimonial home. And they should never consent to sexual abuse and exploitation no matter what.
In all, let us be cautious that in seeking to do good we don’t end up doing bad. I wish every single person and group of people fighting for justice in truth the very best!
Thank you and God bless you. Amen.