Of all the things I’ve noticed since I moved back to Nigeria, there’s the underexplored issue of the kind of energy commitment that goes into performing femininity in this country.
Note, I said performing femininity not being female because while the two are often confused, they are not the same one does not necessarily need to be present for the other to exist.
Let’s not play games. Women in Nigeria have a lot of energy. I unfortunately am not one of them.
The performance of femininity in Nigeria is a complex formula of ridiculous “beauty” paraphernalia – Brazilian Weave, bleaching cream Egyptian milk, bi-weekly spa and salon appointments, alarming gym routines, “designer” clothes, statement bags and shoes – and advanced angling – learning the fine art of hooking a Lagos/Abuja big boy (or three) to bankroll your needlessly expensive lifestyle.
I’m a little in awe of these women and how they juggle the time for all this with social events, dating worthless rich men and managing their pseudo careers, but honestly, I don’t know if I can be like them.
I mean, do I want to be pretty and be able to wear whatever clothes I want and look amazing? Hell yeah!
Is it fun to be a glamourous social butterfly and flit from one party or event to the other and have your picture taken and be in all the magazines and have all the guys come after you and buy you nice things? Of course!
But I had a long thought about it and I just don’t have the energy. I mean yeah I need to lose weight and if nothing else, I’d like to be back to my old size and be healthy and not have random horrible health scares, but beyond that, I think it requires an incredible amount of commitment and dedication not to mention a pretty strong stomach for the sort of stuff that goes on behind closed doors in this country to claw your way to the top of Nigeria’s social ladder like a lot of women I’ve seen in Nigeria are trying desperately to do.
It reminds me of the other day I was talking to a friend of my Mom’s. (Full disclosure: This friend has always been a rather sketchy person, so I am totally used to the sketchiness of his utterances)
I mentioned to him that I needed one million Naira to buy some equipment to launch/operate my comics label Jigida Comics properly, and he said to me “Getting one million Naira in this city is really, really easy. I have a couple of friends who would happily give it to you…. but you’ll have to hang from the ceiling.”
It wasn’t lost on me at all that he was implying that I’d have to have sex with his friend(s) to get the one million Naira. I politely declined and then went to Salamander to cry into my peppersoup.
I don’t judge girls that would have taken the offer. And if you’re desperate enough, you actually might. Hell, if I was in an utterly desperate situation and the circumstances were dire enough, I actually might. Thankfully, I can live without the money and I can still draw on paper but the process of making the comics takes many hours longer than it would have if I could buy the equipment I needed. But I don’t have the energy for runs and I get queasy really easily so I can’t just close my eyes and pretend I’m far away while some yucky man that I have no feelings for sticks it in me.
Although… now that I think about it. Practically everyone in Nigeria is having sex for money. I don’t know about other countries, but from what I’ve seen of relationships in America from different ethnicities, while there’s an expectation of exchanging gifts and other such things, it is nowhere near as advanced and expensive as it is in Nigeria.
People in Nigeria demand so much stuff in relationships and it’s not roses and chocolates neither.
Houses, cars, yachts, flats, designer bags, designer shoes, gold plated phones, trips abroad, property abroad, plastic surgery, land, etc and the list goes on and on.
Most Americans wouldn’t dare to ask their significant other for the kinds of things that Nigerians ask for on a daily basis without shame.
So if you boil it down, Nigerians are having sex for money in a roundabout way because they’re not entering relationships on the basis of love or even mutual attraction alone. I think arguably, I can say with reasonable confidence that on average Nigerians have comparably greater expectations of financial gain as an outcome of entering a relationship than other people in the world (or at least those that I have encountered and whose relationships I have been able to casually observe).
So what does this mean for me?
I’m not sure yet. What I am sure of is that I don’t have the strength to do runs.
If I find a rich boyfriend, yay for me!!!
If I don’t, my minimum requirement is that he not be significantly poorer than me, and that he be at least as educated and as exposed as I am.
Beyond that, I don’t know if I have the strength to fight for all the stuff women in Lagos and Abuja are doing battle for.
I should have been born in Ghana or Cameroon or something.
I don’t have the strength to be a Nigerian.
Sugabelly is a Manga artist and illustrator of epic comics at http://jigida.com. Lover of art, digital media, anime, and pre-colonial culture. She blogs her life (and loves) at www.sugabellyrocks.com and tweets @sugabelly. Kwenu!
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.