Why Do Men So Easily Harass Women? (2)

Image: We Are The City As I washed my pile of clothes over the weekend, something that happened weeks ago came into my thoughts. I was on my way home from work when I realized I didn’t have enough cash for transportation for the rest of the week. I decided to go to the ATM. At this point, I was already bone tired and my heavy backpack was making me even more weary. When I was done withdrawing some cash, I looked in front of me and remembered that I could do with some groceries. There is a mart directly opposite the bank I use so I crossed the road and went into it. After maybe 10 or 15 minutes, I was done. Adding the grocery bags meant that my already sore body was even worse off. I just wanted to get to my house, shower and fall into bed. As soon as I got out of the mart, an Okada rider in front of the bank whistled loudly at me, beckoning me to come use his bike. Now, it is almost normal for Okada riders to whistle at their customers, even though many are replacing whistles with a ‘Going?’ or other variations of the question asking whether a person wanted their services. Back to the rider. By this time, there were two of us who wanted to cross the road to the other side; a man and me. The Okada rider kept whistling and even though it is almost customary, I was offended by it. It wasn’t just that he whistled, it was also how he did. There seemed to be a disrespect to how he did that was off-putting. But I was too tired to even care. The man and I crossed the road and we both went to stand a few feet from the Okada man and his bike; him to the left and me to the right. ‘You dey go?’ the Okada man asked me. I did not answer. ‘Come make we go now.’ Again, I did not answer. I noticed that though the man and I stood close to him, he continued to direct his conversation only to me. By this point, I hoped another Okada would show up quickly, so I could be on my way to my house. Almost like the Sky Spirits heard me, two Okada riders came towards us. The man and I stopped them and without waiting to discuss the price, the man hopped on one and was gone. I asked mine how much he would take me to my house. ‘N200.’ ‘N150.’ I countered. The rider agreed. I gave him my grocery bag to hold while I climbed the machine. It was as I was climbing that everything went south. The Okada rider who had been whistling – and whom I ignored – started to shout. ‘Why are you holding her bag? Give her the bag! She no wan pay better money. Give her the bag make she hold am.’ I was shocked at the vitriol. What was this man’s problem? My Okada rider and I ignored him. Again, he continued to shout. By this point, I was mad. Normal me would have shouted right back at him but I was tired. So I asked in my calmest voice, ‘How is this your business?’ My question seemed to irk him some more and he started raining insults on me. ‘Carry your wahala dey go oh! Nonsense. You no wan pay money dey give am you bag. Give her the bag jare!’ I told him to learn to mind his business and again wondered why he felt it was okay to shout at me for absolutely no reason. If I hadn’t been the one he was shouting at, especially knowing I had not said a word to him prior to asking how it was his business, I would have assumed that he had quarrelled with the person, especially as he kept shouting, ‘carry your wahala dey do. Nonsense.’ What was the wahala? Standing on the road and minding my business? Refusing to use his services? What?! By this time, I was settled on the bike and we were about to head off. You will not believe that this man raised his hand to as if to hit me. This time, I dropped all decorum and shouted. ‘Touch me and collect slap.’ The man started laughing as we zoomed past him. He had thought to rile me up and seeing me get angry seemed to make him happy. He continued to laugh in his loud tone until we were too far from him to hear him anymore. My natural instinct was to tell the rider carrying me to stop so I could really go into it with the man. While I would not have fought him, I would have ensured he got a good tongue lashing. I was livid at the harassment, especially because I didn’t do anything to warrant that behavior. Oh! I know that he was probably unhappy that I didn’t use his bike and when he kept speaking to me, I didn’t respond. But there were two of us who didn’t respond. Why did he think he could act a fool towards me? Why did he think he was entitled to my response? The answer is simple; I am a woman. I can bet my last cash that he would never have responded to the man in the manner which he responded to me if I had been the one to leave first. This harassment of women by men has become so commonplace in our communities that it has become an endemic. I have written and spoken about it one too many times and nothing seems to be happening. If anything, the number of times I get harassed have increased. I talked about how women do not fear getting robbed, as most robberies come with a side of rape. I have talked about why men so easily

Accomplices of Sexual Harassment

(Very) Angry WomanImage: iStock Photos On the morning of March 19, 2019, I shared one of my older posts asking why men so easily harass women. Between 5:03pm and 5:30pm of the very same day, I would get sexually harassed by a stink-breathed, uncultured excuse of a human being. But let me get back to 5:03pm. I was standing at my junction waiting for a taxi for my trip home from work. I had just looked at the time when a bus slid to a stop close to me and said it was going in my direction. It was one of these clean coaster buses that is usually used as official buses or by transport companies for interstate travels. I got into the bus and saw that it was almost full; I and the woman who entered right after me took up the remaining seats. I moved to the rear of the bus where there were three men and the only space available for me. I sat in between them, with two men on my right and one on my left. As soon as I sat down, the clod on my left said, ‘Fine girl, how are you?’ I responded with a ‘well done’, took out my ear piece, wore it and started listening to radio…but not before the idiot said, ‘I have been greeting you and you cannot answer.’ I repeated my ‘well done’ and again, he goes, ‘why can’t you answer when I am talking to you?’ Seeing that he was moving mad, I decided to ignore him and listen to my music. Thankfully, by this time, I already had my headphones affixed and Sage was regaling me with urban hits on the Urban 96 show. The man kept talking to me, but I ignored him. I started preparing a video for my social media platforms and when I was done, I realized that it was around 5:12pm and…the bus driver was asking for our fares. I took mine out and gave to the guy next to me on my right. I got back to my phone to check my Twitter timeline. Obviously, the stupid idiot on my left said something to me, which I didn’t hear. He then went on to tap me on my upper thigh to get my attention. I take out my earpiece. ‘Have you paid?’ he asked. ‘Yes.’ After which I wore my earpiece again. Then he started to rub my upper thigh and I moved away from him. He did again, and I moved even more. Now, normal me would have asked why he was touching me but I gave him the benefit of doubt because he seemed to be reaching for wallet. When he paid his fare and tried to touch me one more time, I give him a stink look and moved even further away from him; in the small space that was afforded me. Seeing my reaction, he started tapping my upper thigh, asking why he was talking to me and I wasn’t responding. At this point, he was becoming obscene and people were looking back to see what the ruckus was about. I took out my earpiece and said, ‘Can you let me be, please?!’, making sure to let the edge into my voice so he knew I wasn’t joking. The bloody fool then raised his voice and said, ‘What is the meaning of the fact that I am talking to you and you aren’t responding? Why aren’t you responding to me?’ To which I replied, ‘Must I talk to you?’and the disgusting excuse of a person lost his damn mind.   ‘Who do you think you are that they cannot talk to you?! I am talking to you and you are busy pressing phone. Is it this phone that you are pressing that makes you think they cannot talk to you?! Is your phone bigger than mine?’ To which he proceeded to bring out his phone and show everyone who was looking. Let me not forget to mention that as he asked each of these questions, he punctuated them by poking me with his finger; again, on my upper thigh. By this point, I had already put my earpiece back on to shut him and his putrid breath from assaulting my senses but I had also reduced the volume of the radio. I was getting angrier by the second and I was about to bust. Even though I was tethering on the edge of going ham on him, I remained quiet, feigning an interest in my phone when my instinct was begging me to slap him and damn the consequences. ‘Even ajebo girls that grew up in VGC I dey talk to talk more of this one.’ This elicited laughter from some of the men who were on the bus.  I raised my head from my phone and darted burning sulfur at them. The others looked away in what may have been unconcern or maybe, embarrassment. Oh! Did I forget to tell you that there were 9 men and 3 women (including me) in the back of the bus? This brings me to the reason that nearly tipped me over the edge! While I was mad at my harasser, I had already figured out that he was a classless, disgusting, uncultured, uncouth, and vile piece of shit. What had me swelling up were the well-dressed men on the bus who laughed instead of checking the blatant nincompoop for his stupidity; the ones who looked away instead of speaking up against his nasty behavior; the one who said, ‘You can tell she is a small girl. She just has body’ to my hearing because he assumed that I would not do (or say) anything to him; and the women who looked at me and turned away. They were, in my opinion, accomplices to my harassment; all of them! I realized that they repulsed me almost as much as the fool who had harassed me. And because this

Why Do Men So Easily Harass Women?

Men in Yaba Market (Nigeria) harassing a woman for demanding an end to street harassment.Credit: Market March Most women have been sexually harassed one way or the other. This could be in the market, at work, in schools or just walking down the street. Some women have come to expect it as part of their lives. Before I go on my rant – and this is going to be a rant – defining what it means to be sexually harassed is the first call of duty. 1.      Sexual Harassment: Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that tends to create a hostile or offensive work environment Legal Dictionary, The Free Dictionary by Farlex Uninvited and unwelcome verbal or physical behavior of a sexual nature especially by a person in authority toward a subordinate (as an employee or student) Merriam Webster Dictionary 2.      Street Harassment: Street harassment is a form of sexual harassment that consists of unwanted comments, gestures, honking, wolf-whistling, catcalling, exposure, following, persistent sexual advances, and touching by strangers in public areas such as streets, shopping malls, and public transportation. Wikipedia I have a couple of stories to back this up. I went to Sabo Market in Kaduna recently with my sister Enigbe. The walkways were packed full with people doing their shopping. As we passed by a man selling clothes, I felt someone pat my butt and grab my hand. ‘Baby…come to my shop now.’ I was so mad in danger of popping a vein. I didn’t care that I was in the market. I went ham and warned him to never touch me. The idiot removed his hand and went, ‘Who touch you? If I want touch person, na you I go touch?’ to which some of the men around guffawed. He went to further to say, ‘you no even happy say I touch you. As you dey like this, you no happy say I touch you.’ This elicited more laughter from his fellow market men. I kept ranting which seemed to make them even happier. The women on the other hand looked away. Not only did the man harass me and lie about it, he made a U-turn, admitted to doing it and tried to shame me for not basking in his repulsive and wanton behavior. It wasn’t until I got to the shop I wanted to go to that a woman said, ‘My sister, no mind them. Na so them dey do.’ That statement made me even angrier than I could have thought possible. In another instance, my friend Ruth and I were walking under the Ikeja Bridge to go do our hair. As we set out to cross the road, we were cut off by this bus which deliberately swerved towards us. We stood where we were and the bus slowed; almost to a crawl. The conductor was saying stuff in Yoruba – which I didn’t understand – but seemed bad enough that Ruth cussed him out. The laughter from the bus driver and conductor made me ask what was said. ‘The goat was talking about what he will do to me with his penis.’ Ruth retorted. I asked her why she had even bothered to answer them but then realized I was also playing the game of ‘unlooking’; like the women who didn’t say anything when I was being harassed. When I was in the university, we had this Chemistry Lecturer that was known for his randy behavior. Rumor had it that he chose specific types of women each semester; light skinned, dark skinned, Muslim, Christian, Tall, Short and the list goes on. What wasn’t a rumor was what I witnessed myself. We were writing examinations in 100L and he was invigilating. He would randomly walk about and touch girls inappropriately. I was sitting with my friends Grace and Hasiya when he came by us. Grace had warned us about his reputation and told us not squirm or risk becoming his victim. So when he touched Grace’s hair, she smiled and said ‘Well done, sir’. He came to me and touched my arm and I said, ‘Good morning, sir’. He moved away and touched Hasiya on her lower back and she squirmed and frowned. When he saw this happen, he laughed. Unfortunately, Hasiya’s phone was in her pocket and though switched off, the man reached in to her pockets, pulled it out and said he had caught Hasiya cheating in her exams. Knowing Ahmadu Bello University, that offence was punishable by expulsion or rustication at best. We went to beg him but he laughed at our faces. He said Hasiya should come and beg him alone or lose her phone. When Hasiya realized he hadn’t made a formal complaint, she left the phone with him and didn’t get it until after two semesters. That was just one of the harassments I witnessed with this man. While this may not classify as harassment per se, I still label it as such. Ever walked into a restaurant or hotel or event location where there are predominantly men and get stared the hell down from your very first step until you fall (thankfully) into your seat? I hear men say it is a compliment to stare at a woman like that because it shows she is hot. Ermm…NO! It isn’t a compliment unless a woman loves the attention. But even at that, it is wrong to just stare at someone when you can glance at them and look away. Staring is rude! I know even the most confident men would not appreciate been stared at if they walk into a room full of women. If a man can get uncomfortable, why do you think a woman wouldn’t? Recently on Twitter, women across Nigeria and Africa complained about the sexual harassment they have been subjected to in the office, at school, in the markets, at restaurants and just about every other place. The stories were horrifying and quite frankly, scary. It seems that where

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