by Eketi Edima Ette
Let me play devil’s advocate here.
If you’ve been on Twitter since 2014, you’d know that #MenAreTrash is a hashtag that trends every now and again. Like the battle between Nigerian and Ghana Jollof rice, it wanes and then something happens and it gains momentum, then wanes again.
Is the hashtag right? Of course not. It is a generalisation and those are never good. But before you go on being righteous, before you generally dispense abuse at those who use the tag, before you tell us how many good men there are and how you’re blessed to have one of them, take a moment to consider something.
There are women in this life, who have NEVER encountered a good man. Like many Nigerian citizens who have never met an honest policeman, their lives have been systematically littered by one atrocity or the other, all perpetrated by men.
Let me use one of my girls as an example. I came to know her during our field work. We’ll call her Asana.
Asana was raped both anally and vaginally by her uncle and two male cousins when she was five years old, until she was thirteen. Her father walked in one day on her being routinely raped by her uncle, and accused her of seducing him. He called her a slut, and married her off to a 45-year-old man in their community. This time, her rape and beatings were sanctioned, because she was married.
After two horror-filled years, she ran back home at 15. On her arrival, and in spite of her tears, her father ordered her to return to her husband. Asana said she’d kill herself instead. He told her she could do whatever she wished, as long as she wasn’t in his house. Even her father’s oldest brother refused to intervene.
Asana ran away. Went to a restaurant in town where she got a job to sweep, clean and serve. She’s worked hard has saved enough money to start her own restaurant. Asana says she’ll never get married, or let any man touch her because all men are evil.
Asana is strong. There aren’t many like her, who can overcome adversity like that. It’s been difficult trying to show Asana that not all men are bad. Not when she’s surrounded by evil examples and the ones who should’ve saved her, were the ones who failed her.
It’s the same way my heart broke when I got a distress call recently from one of my girls, Amaraya.
She was raped at 20 by her boyfriend. They went on their first date after he’d wooed her for months. After their third date, he dropped her off at her place. At the door, she said good night, turned around opened the door and he pushed her inside. For the next two hours, he beat and raped her.
A month later, she found out she was pregnant.
Being from a very conservative home, she was ashamed and terrified of telling her parents. So, she went to the one person she trusted the most – a family friend who has her parents ears. She told him everything, and begged him to help tell her parents.
This older man hugged her, wiped her tears and kissed her. She tried to step back, but he held her tight, forced her down and raped her. According to him, he was only “collecting his share,” because she was now “damaged goods.”
She lost the baby. She lost her soul. She lost the will to live.
When she was referred to me, she was so broken, I was terrified that I’d mistakenly say something in favour of men, that would send her into a downward spiral.
It took three years for her to heal, and for me to convince Amaraya that not all men are trash.
I was ecstatic when she told me she was in a new relationship. She sounded so excited. He’d been after her for months and she’d agreed to date him out of resignation.
“Auntie, I’m not afraid of him. He actually touched my hand and I didn’t flinch. I don’t have nightmares anymore. I told him about my past and he was so understanding. I love him.”
She even shyly admitted, “Auntie, I actually like his touch.”
Then a few weeks later, she asked to see me. She was crying. Turns out that her sweetheart, has several other women on the side. He’s a regular Casanova and community penis.
It’s been almost two weeks. We’re back to square one – all men are trash again.
Before you hurry off to say, “Eh yaah, what a horrible story. But that doesn’t mean all men are bad….” take a moment. Wear their shoes. Empathize.
Because the truth is, even if there are charlatans who’ve jumped on this tag just to be woke, this tag is run by a lot of angry, broken women who are in pain. They don’t know any different.
Just as you and I know that not all men are trash, I’d like you to know that not all women are generalising for the sake of it. You know good men? Good for you. Now, educate and show them off to others who haven’t had that privilege. It’s better than the verbal abuse.
Kudos to all the good men out there who steadily put the bad ones to shame. God bless you.
Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija