The Reality Is That You Will Be Treated Like Other Girls

One of my favourite works of fiction by a West African woman definitely is The Teller of Secrets by Bisi Adjapon, a Ghanaian-Nigerian writer.

The novel discusses issues like father-daughter relationships, cheating, single motherhood, polygamy and cross national identities.

Through the main character Esi, we observe how an allegiance to one’s father does not mean that one will be saved from the patriarchal beliefs grounded in him. 

For one, Esi’s father was a woman beater and offered little support to one of Esi’s sisters when she got pregnant out of wedlock. This was despite the fact that he too had a son outside his marriage. It must be said too that Esi was seen as his favourite child.

What interests me is the shock Esi received when her father offered practically zero support when she found herself trying to divorce her manipulative husband. I remember her asking herself why she thought she was different from her father’s wife and her sister.

I was reminded of The Teller of Secrets, when news came that Funfere Koroye, a man who had multiple abuse and stalking allegations against him in 2022, recently proposed to his girlfriend who actually said yes. 

Even more, I was reminded of the novel upon seeing the tweet of Uloma Nwoke, a popular Nigerian feminist who summarised that female exceptionalism never saves women because we will be treated like other women.

Although I must add that Funfere’s fiance may even be on the receiving end of violence from him, one cannot ignore that so many women have the mentality that by being special or “acting well”, they can escape the wrath of a man.

It is this mentality that sees women surprised when men cheat on them. This is even if the man in question has friends who cheat and when the man in question refers to women as food.

It is this mentality that sees women in shock when their fathers deny them land and wills all his property to a son she may not know about. 

She may assume that because he gave her “huge” pocket money and encouraging her to read up to a PhD level, then his telling her mother not to work will not to work will not translate to her. 

It is this mentality too that makes some women very vile towards rape survivors. To them, these women “wore short skirts” and were “asking for it”. 

What then happens when even with a wedding ring on, such women are waylaid by armed robbers and sexually assaulted? They may never have the words to properly articulate their pain.

It is this mentality that sees women constantly shame single mothers as promiscuous. This is such that when their “properly wedded” husbands abandon them with three kids, they almost die from the shame because they become women who don’t know how to function outside of being a man’s wife.

But what drives this intentional delusion in most women? Why is it that most women including me have oftentimes shut down our intuition pointing out red flags in a man’s character? Why do most women offer more excuses, grace and forgiveness to men when they slip and fall in a manner that may not be given to other women?

Speaking with Dinma, she explains that trying to fit into men’s standards is a futile act.

In her words: “Men claim they want a traditional woman but in reality would never go for them. Even when they do end up marrying them, they get cheated on or treated like shit. The truth of the matter is that men love going for what they know they’ll never have. They love the chase. They love it when you tell them no because somehow in their sick minds, it gives them the motivation to try harder. That’s why they try to get feminists to change and bend to their will. I can’t wait for the day when all women realize that there’s nothing you can do to please a man.”

For Oba*, she says that some women stay with negative men due to not knowing how to be alone.

To quote her: “I think it’s an upbringing thing, though. 

I mean, most mothers were raised to believe there’s a standard for women and they will be able to keep their home (man) as long as they meet that standard. It worked for some of them and even the ones that it didn’t work for, still passed it onto their kids.

My Grandma stuck with her abusive husband all her years and simply saw it as who he was, even though she didn’t condone that with her children’s husbands. She was always quick to ask them to leave the men if they aren’t being treated right. It was passed on to her and it ended with her. She didn’t pass it to her children.”

She went on to say: “Sometimes, people will rather stick with what they are used to (no matter how messy and unhealthy it is) rather than forge a new path for fear of the unknown. There are some women who, no matter how low a man goes, are willing to go with him. They will come up with all the randy excuses and bend backwards for them. 

Until it stops offering them ‘protection’, there’s really nothing one can do about it.”

When asked for her opinion, Kehinde had this to say: “It is because of indoctrination. They believe that they are less superior beings. They also absolve men of some faults. That’s why some women resign for their husbands when they are in the same workplace or just give up when arguing because they believe it’s baseless. For example, imagine a man telling his woman that there’s no need of doing a PhD or breaking up with her because of insecurity. It’s a generational thing. Some women believe that they should be cared for by a man, protected and so on and so on but the same men would also call them gold diggers.” 

For solutions she said this: “I think the solution is a reorientation among those women. Just because you wear a long skirt doesn’t mean he won’t cheat or treat you badly. It’s not about dressing decently, speaking less or not arguing. That’s basically just conforming with his rules. Him, trying to mold her. 

So a solution can be if those women can listen and understand that: ‘Their life is theirs. Their thoughts are also theirs as well. Their body is theirs.’ Yeah”.

If there is one thing all women need to learn, then it is that the fate of another woman can easily be us.

No matter how much we try to bend and conform to the wishes of men, in any sexist society, there is simply no hiding place for women.

The only hiding place exists in forming solidarity with other women who push us to be our best unhindered selves.

*Name changed to protect identity.

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