We’re back from our lovely holiday which included a trip to a Cornish hospital with a torn cornea, a conversation with a taxi driver about how to keep intimacy alive when you have small children, magicians, a children’s disco and shedloads of wine. I’ve also been on Twitter. A lot. So much so that I’m definitely taking a break (soon).
Abandoning all protocol and pretense at sanity, I’ve been sliding in and out of people’s mentions like James Brown and tweeting and liking in the early hours of the morning. I’ve made political tweets about Great Britain and Nigeria and have been sarcastic at a celeb! I started writing this post when I was told (in a display of admirable restraint) by a high ranking tweep to go away.
If nothing else, publishing this post means I can finally end the pin/unpin dance with my last article which went something like this:
Day One: Pin to Twitter profile
Day Two (‘Ah Tracy, this is all a bit harsh. What if he reads it? What if his mother reads it…?): Unpin
Day Three (‘Ok, it took me a long time to write this post. I’m keeping it pinned for 7 days and then I’ll take it down. I owe it to myself’): Pin
Day Seven (4:05 am in the morning ‘Well that’s that. I’ve done my bit to spread awareness): Unpin
Same day (about 13 hours later, having watched a YouTube clip where he said he has a ‘personal problem with prostitution’, full of premenstrual ragey hormones and Aldi white wine. ‘Right! The post can bloody well stay on my profile page!’): Pin – more about this mad reaction below.
Day 11: (‘Cripes. He’s in the Independent. Better take it down. I don’t want to be outed as the misguided hater of a young revolutionary’): Unpin
Day 12: (‘Oh look, I have a new follower. Why should he be deprived of my brilliance? Courage is not the absence of fear but the triumph over it’): Pin
I’ve also formed many opinions on trending topics.
What is the point of asking Tiwa Savage the exact same question about feminism, which she answered in a Beat FM interview less than a year ago, other than to rile up women and feminists everywhere and subject us once again to the tedious debate on whether or not women are allowed to ‘choose’ not to be feminists? Wake me up when they start asking Nigerian male celebrities if they are feminists or whether they ‘believe in feminism’. Until then, #freetiwa, please.
If Olamide or Burna Boy were asked the same question, would it result in one of those lengthy laughing sessions that constitute one of the most annoying sounds on radio? We all but swoon a male celebrity replies that he can’t really cook, but can manage one dish, despite him saying previously that he won’t accept anything less than a wife who earns lots of money.
I can’t see us making Nigerian male celebrities nail their colours to the mast on feminism, but, contrary to the way it’s treated, it is not just a women’s issue. It is about equality all round and requires men’s participation. Men are (in Nigeria) the principal beneficiaries of the sexist system, dish out majority of the gender-based harm and, apart from having and implementing ideas which keep women at a disadvantage, have majority of the power so it’s even more relevant to ask them this question.
Out of curiosity, are there any feminist male celebrities in Nigeria? I’m hopeful about DJ Spinall, not because I’ve ever heard him say anything about women’s issues but because when he was asked about gay marriage once, specifically the nationwide status granted by President Obama, and he replied “it’s all love.”
I’m not sure that he’s ready to burn his bra yet but Adekunle Gold tweets and writes like he regards women to be fully human. It may have something to do with the fact he has a female manager. There’s the lovely MI of course and the somewhat shaky-in-his-feminist beliefs Banky W. We don’t ask male Nigerian celebrities if they are feminist but we are shocked (shocked!) when Tiwa repeats views which she has already made clear that she holds (heck, even I wrote a critical article about the BeatFM interview).
I don’t believe the narrative that women habitually pull other women down, are their own worst enemies, always fight each other etc but I think sometimes we could stand to consider things a bit more carefully before we take the bait. We can’t be tiptoeing around male rappers and singers who produce consistently sexist music (‘oooooh, I really like him but don’t you think his last 34 songs were a bit…off?’) and lose our collective cool when a female politician or artist agrees with patriarchal ideology into which we have been indoctrinated since at least colonialism.
I say colonialism because some people seem to think that pre-colonialism, most of Africa was a gender-equal paradise. I remain skeptical.
A Personal Problem With Prostitution
I’ve pontificated about my mixed views on prostitution many, many times. I won’t repeat them here except to say I seem to always feel the need to caveat my support for legalising sex work so people won’t think I’m one of those overly woke people who that think such work is the equivalent of working in McDonalds.
I’ll also say that my views are centered around harm to women individually and as a group. However, when someone has a personal problem with prostitution and that problem only manifests in shaming and ridiculing women involved in whatever form of transactional sex – but mostly the sugar baby/runs girl variety where women tend to have more agency – and does not include:
- bashing the men who participate in transactional sex or men who use money as a way of attracting sexual attention;
- addressing the problem of women being forced into transactional sex by, for example, lecturers who demand sex for grades (or more precisely not unjustifiably failing a woman), or employers who harass their female employees into sex with them or clients;
- addressing the entitlement to sex after money is spent on a woman;
- addressing the socio-economic reasons why women are drawn to sex work and linking them to their hatred of sex work; or
- acknowledging that women carry out real crimes – embezzlement, murder, human trafficking – instead of treating sex work as the most predominant ‘crime’ committed by women.
then, to use Adichie’s reasoning, that person doesn’t have a problem with sex work, they have a problem with women and particularly women having agency and real choices as to transactional sex.
Hating sex workers is wrong and sociopathic but not liking sex work is not necessarily sexist. It’s all in the detail and the reasons (perhaps 5 generations ago, his ancestors were attacked by a vicious crazy prostitute and her 30 cats. It could have nothing to do with the usual pseudo-religious and patriarchal reasons).
However, it’s probably more likely to do with the way we have been conditioned to blindly demonise sex workers, and by extension women we consider to be ‘loose’, and be indifferent to or even sympathise with men who we believe to be caught up in their wiley snares. All it takes for a nice, intelligent man to have an irrational hatred of prostitution, that only manifests against the women who sell sexual services, is a failure to examine his view of gender roles when it comes to controlling sexual behaviour.
RIP to the Queen
Chain of Fools, Never Loved A Man, See-Saw, Sweet, Sweet Baby, The Night Time, Think, Oh No, Not My Baby, Good Times, Don’t Play That Song, This is the House that Jack Built – I’ve screeched my way through too many Aretha songs not to feel a sharp jolt when I read about Ms. Franklin’s death (on Twitter). She is absolutely fantastic and like others have said before me, as well as having an incredible voice, is an exceptional vocalist and musician. And I’m only just learning about her role in the Civil Rights movement. Rest in peace, Aretha! You will be missed and your legacy will continue forever.