The Harm That Is “Playing Devil’s Advocate” In Abuse Situations

As a child growing up in Nigeria, there are statements regarding men and women that seem almost normal until you begin to introspect. 

Some of these statements include: “Men are attracted by what they see and women are attracted by what they hear”; “Men are the head of the family who provide while women clean” and “Men are logical and women are emotional”.

Growing up, I always had slight issues with the statement that men were logical and women were emotional. Maybe because it implied that women could not think adequately and all around me in school and other places I knew of, it was girls who were topping their classes academically and were the best bookworms I knew of. 

My life today as a bookworm is a throwback to the culture of reading that I developed in secondary and primary school.

Now, I was reminded of the lie that men were the superior logical gender, when in 2018, feminist and writer Doreen Caven started a hashtag on Twitter called #TweetWithMaleLogic. In it, she created scenarios to show that contrary to popular opinion, men are not as logical as they have been painted to appear. 

In one of the tweets, I remember she shared a scenario of a woman sharing her abuse story and the man with the “logical” reasoning thought it okay and normal to defend the rapist and play “devil’s advocate”.

I have not been able to forget that particular tweet. Majorly because it perfectly showed the length to which men and sexist people would go to make it seem like abuse is trivial. This, while looking like supportive people. One minute they appear as though they are sympathising with you. Then in the next breath, they ask your permission to play the devil’s advocate and then go on to gaslight you and ask you to imagine things from the abuser’s perspective. 

They ask you to reimagine what you know to be true to the point that even you who live with the continual feelings of lifelessness would begin to feel empathy towards the broken childhood that your rapist or molester. You begin to wonder at how his family would cope should he lose his job. This is even when on some mornings you are so weak that you do not have the energy to work and go about your own business and search for money.

But why does anyone want to play “devil’s advocate” mainly in cases where women are the aggrieved parties? Why do men who are staunch Muslims and Christians remember that the devil needs their help when a woman comes online to out her abuser? Why don’t they ever advocate for the devil when praying to God and ask that the devil be invited into the kingdom of God? Are women so below humanity that when we are violated, the actions of the “devils” who hurt us are worthy enough of being advocated?

Speaking with Nana, a writer and mother, she explained that this all boils down to victim blaming and even the role that religion plays in blaming women in abusive situations. 

In her words: “I strongly believe that it is because religion is practised in a way that insinuates that women exist only to please men. It sees women as tools to help men achieve greatness. So anything short of that is simply not acceptable.

Recently, though not in Nigeria, a sheik blamed a girl for being raped by her father.

He said she wasn’t covering up properly around her dad and allowed the devil to use her to ruin her father’s image. The solution is for religious women to learn their religion on their own first. To know their God, first.

And then to mingle outside of their religious community; it’s the only way to get support when things go south.”

At the root of this issue, we must ask why the devil, who is the chief of villains, gets the chance to be advocated for when women have been abused and harassed.

That sends a message that women’s wellbeing is lower than humankind’s biggest villain and that we are not worthy of being defended and supported. And that? That is the definition of ridiculous.

Must Read

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here