Why You Must Unlearn The Need To Be A Saviour

One of my favourite Nigerian feminist poets is Titilope Sonuga. Her performance poetry and poetry collections continually encourage me to be soft with myself and to always always center women’s stories even as a writer myself.

My best work of hers is her poetry collection called This Is How We Disappear. It is a collection that explores the disappearance of the Chibok Girls and the lackadaisical approach that has gone into the search for them.

The collection also explored how women disappear and lose ourselves in relationships, post sexual assault trauma and in trying to repair and save broken men and broken people.

There is a part from one of the poems which serves as an innate reminder to let go of the need to be a messiah for people who may not even appreciate the effort. 

It said: “The woman is not your saviour or salvation / some name you call upon like a prayer / she is not proof of your piety / she is not your last chance at forgiveness / the woman is not penance for the sins of your father / the woman is not God.”

Too often, women are raised to sacrifice our comfort and ability to sleep well just so we can receive pats on the head for saying a man stopped a bad behaviour after he met us. 

We praise women for being saviours to men and not even for saving ourselves from nonsense and negativity. I often wonder at the level of potential and energy that is wasted on training grown men to see us as human. What would happen if women simply stopped trying to teach men, guide them and educate men? 

What would happen if women stopped seeing our bodies and voices as rehabilitation centers for the very people who claim to be above us, for the very people who insist we mature faster but still block us out from leadership positions? What would happen?

How do we ever find peace and serenity as women, if more than half the time, we spend it trying to mould a man into a good person, trying to stop a man from listening to misogynistic music, trying to ensure a man hands us money. Trying to. Trying to…

It is my opinion that women will be unstoppable when we actively seek solidarity in ourselves and do not live our lives in a desperate audition to be a wife, girlfriend or even mother. The energy we spend trying to be picked in order to essentially serve other people must be turned around and directed towards our goals and dreams. 

The question then becomes how? How can women ensure that they do not spend energy trying to fix people? How do we ensure we are not doormats but have very strong boundaries that we are not afraid of enforcing?

Speaking with F, she says that trying to save a man saw her experience toxicity.

In her words: “I tried to ‘change’ a man one time and I don’t know if this counts as trying to save him but I ended up with swollen eyes a couple of times until I was able to summon the courage to leave. The person I was trying to save/change didn’t think he needed to change or be saved. And I was slowly losing myself while at it. It messed up my sanity and made me dislike myself for a while. Not anymore.

Now, I tell women to leave at the first glance of toxicity. I no longer bother to keep up with a man’s bullshit no matter the environment or relationship. I’ve learned to call them out on their bullshit, address it once, and if they don’t see anything wrong in their actions, I detach myself immediately. It’s safe to say there’s not a single man in my life right now because I don’t keep up with their excesses and it’s quite peaceful even though it’s boring and there’s no D appointments In sight😩”. 

When asked for their opinions, Esohe and Sefa all narrow down to the fact that women are not messiahs or people who are mini Christs for broken men. Sefa said that even if people change, no woman should try to fix people at the detriment of her sanity while Esohe said that so long as you don’t have Christ in your surname, you must not throw your energy into saving someone or moulding them.

For Success, she says that women need to “do away with society induced mentality to change men”. She added that the saviour mentality will only lead personal distress because it is children who need saving and not grown men. She went on to say that it is the duty of any male or female grown up to change and fix themselves.

There is no better way to end this essay than with the words of Mercy when she said: “Women need to love themselves as a whole”.

Truly, women need to love ourselves and also consciously respect our own boundaries. It is in loving ourselves and respecting our boundaries that we find the courage to leave situations that are sure to drain us. Situations like saving men.

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