by Alabi Adewale
Can we let Nigerian women breathe?
Seriously, can we?
This question is quite pertinent because Nigerian women are going through a tough time in this patriarchy matrix called Nigeria. Women are taught from a very early age that they are supposed to act, speak and do things in a certain way simply because they are women. Their male counterpart, however, face lesser restrictions and are left to grow with the mindset that the world is theirs.
This ideology was what Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was speaking off in her now-famous quote about the girl child.
“We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise, you would threaten the man.”
This control mentality has to be consciously killed and buried. Women have suffered too much constriction and oppression, for men in the 21st century to tell them how to live their lives and how they should react to circumstances around them. The male privilege of free and uncontrolled forms of expression is effectively flaunted in public places, businesses and even on social media.
On a daily basis, this is made evident in conversations that take place on the internet between men and women. For example, popular lawyer, Moe Odele, known as @mochievous on Twitter, posted a tweet speaking out against NGOs who use accosted individuals for photo ops and bail when it’s time to get the job done. The tweet has since been deleted.
Responding to her tweet, a United States licensed lawyer, Michael Sevarino, replied that he was an attorney in the US and that she should file a bar ethics complaint for abandonment in the jurisdictions they are licensed in. Then he continued tweeting could help out.
“I am an attorney in the states, I can help out,” he said.
To which @mochievous replied “I am an attorney in the states.”
Which, in truth, she is.
Many, however, were quick to call her rude; stating that she failed to see that Sevariono was only trying to help. When did telling someone you can do for yourself, what they offer to help you do, become rude? A Twitter user appropriately raised this point in the comments elucidating that she said the same thing as the white man.
In fact, before you could say Jack Robinson, feminism came into the loop. If feminism was a person, you can be rest assured she has bled and died on the streets of Nigerian social media because that is the go-to reason for a misogynist’s perception of a woman’s audacity. As is made evident in @Dienekpo‘s reply;
Maybe, just maybe, she isn’t playing a feminist card?
Honestly, the earlier men get it into their heads to let women be, the better for everyone.
Soon after, Sevarino went on an aggressive rant; threatening Moe on Twitter in more ways than one. He also released personal information about her online. How do you go from wanting to help someone to threatening them? It means his intentions may not have been pure from the start. He probably may have been suffering from the ‘white saviour’ mentality hence his nervous breakdown.
For those who do not know, a white saviour mentality is a racist approach by white people towards helping people from less prosperous nations. Their help is often laced with pride and whatever project they are working on becomes about them and not about the people they are supposed to be helping.
Also, it should be noted that his sudden aggression was aided by the Nigerian Patriarchy Police who immediately came for Moe after her response. The constant policing of women’s behaviour by men is a recurring problem that Nigerian women have to constantly kick against both on social media and wherever they find themselves.
And, it’s tiring.