So here’s the thing for many Nigerians (read men) on social media spaces: clout reigns supreme. Nothing else really matters if one isn’t able to draw attention to themselves, mine that attention for more followers and grow a fanbase they can literally capitalize on. Jokes are easy routes, sensationalized situations work too but most recently there are various levels of extremism. Jokes, “opinions” and views that blur the lines between harmlessly sharing one’s personal thoughts on a particular subject and the furthering of hate and unhealthy sentiments.
Lately, though, there’s been the conversation on the boundaries that dark humor run in and whether or not the Nigerian men who use it as an excuse to trivialize assault and harassment really understand what it means. No, they don’t.
Nigerian men’s version of bringing awareness to women’s issues is to mock their pain and call it “dark humour.” Not dismantling patriarchy, not calling out men, not proactively protesting in the streets. Sit with their phones and “satirise” women’s legitimate fears. Cowards.
— Bernard Dayo (@BernardDayo) December 11, 2019
Dark humor is basically supposed to feed off sensitive issues that should evoke hilarity yet provoke intelligent dialogue around the issue. Making jokes off the harassment, assault, and other devastating brands of violence women face each day shouldn’t be funny, when the people making these jokes, in reality, don’t take these issues seriously. Trivializing the pain other people go through, particularly when we contribute actively or subconsciously to that pain, is never funny, period.
There are so many pointers as to how Nigerian men continue to disregard the daily experiences of women who have to deal with defending and protecting their bodily autonomy and to further make jokes off it points at a sickening new trend that shouldn’t be allowed any space to exist.
When women went marching in Yaba to stop the culture of unchecked harassment of female customers by male marketers, the major opposition to these protests were men. When women come out to share stories of their assault in spaces that ought to provide support and affirmation, men lead the pack of wolves who insist on discrediting their stories.
So if these men will not stand up for women when necessary, if they will not lend their voice and back it up consciously with better actions, then their “dark humor” can’t exactly be funny. These jokes simply mock the slow progress that is being made in curbing assault and signifies the low number of men trying to make a change.
Not sure anyone would find a joke about a SARS official killing a random man for refusing to heed his catcall.