#MeToo Because Men Still Scare The Shit Out Of Me
Tweets like this piss me off because the writer refuses to hold men responsible for their actions/inactions. It enforces the daft notion that women can prevent rape by reasoning with a rapist. Men who tweet like this just don’t get how society solidly backs rapists.
These men need to understand how unsafe the entire world is for women, how we learnt to self-preserve while they played and enjoyed being children and teens. While they learnt about sex on their own, our first lessons on sex was from predators and perverts that leered and made horrible passes at us.
Although I was sheltered and fearless as a child, secondary school humbled me and made me realize boys/men could be the worst of human species because society allowed them. Puberty happened and I learnt how everything girls did or didn’t do could make boys attracted to us for the wrong reasons.
IJ (The moniker for my secondary school)humbled and intimidated so much that I still get nightmares ten years after I left. In IJ, there were rules to make the authorities feel good about themselves, but there were no rules on how to make we, the children, better human beings. Neither were there rules to protect us from male teachers who pulled our brastraps and made some really unfortunate and inapprioprate jokes.
I learnt to fear men at ten, on my first night in secondary school. That night after night prep, I was strolling back to the hostel when I saw girls running for their lives. I asked someone beside me what happened and she told me “Boys are chasing girls to the hostel” as if it were some routine sport. Looking up, I saw the vicious senior girls who had bullied me earlier in the afternoon making a run for it, that was when I knew shit got real.
Girls were policed for their hairstyles, housewears and uniforms, not because they were supposed to look smart or anything but because they were not supposed to ‘attract boys’. We were banned from making hairstyles that fell across our faces because ‘boys liked it’ and our uniforms had to be loose and long. We were already sexualised before we knew what sex meant/did for the human race. The boys only had to cut their hair low and appear neat, but girls had to tug at their skirts, wipe lipgloss and wear hairstyles that were ‘boy-proof’.
I would also come to realize boys in senior classes slapped their female classmates for fun and nothing could be done about it. I never understood why they didn’t report to teachers, the only thing that made sense was that the girls in my set refused to be bullied, at least physically. Those boys had some sort of power afforded to them by their masculinity and they flexed it.
By the time I got to SS1, things weren’t any better, in fact, there was a time SS2 boys vowed to beat up any of their female classmates they caught after night prep, for some reason. One of those nights, I had to fetch water for a mean SS2 girl and we were only a few metres away from the girls’ hostel when some of the boys walked up and gave her a couple hard slaps across her cheek. After recovering from the slaps, she said nothing and just continued as if she didn’t just get humilated in front of her juniors.
It was during that same school session I came to completely fear men and their species. If you ever attended an ajepako Nigerian secondary school, you’ll understand the meaning of ‘mass quave’. I still don’t get the meaning though, many adult males I’ve asked understand it, but I don’t, I’ve tried and tried. That assembly morning, three senior girls and some of their male class mates knelt in front of the entire school. Our designated ‘Moral policewoman’ and by default, CRK teacher, took over from the principal to tell the rest of us how “these children had committed a horrible act”.
At different times, these girls had been horribly molested (mass quave’d) by several of their male classmates who felt it was okay to chase a girl, corner her and stick their fingers in her vagina for pleasure. Narrating this story in the most self-righteous Nigerian way possible, Mrs Moral Policewoman decided to punish the girls because “if they didn’t enjoy it, they would’ve reported the shameful act”. I remember one of the girls crying bitterly while Madam CRK flogged them and it was definitely not because the cane hurt that bad. I cried for them at night not because I liked any of them but I was hurt at the humiliation added to their injuries. That would be my first lesson in victim-blaming and slut-shaming.
That didn’t stop the boys though. It happened to me. But I got lucky enough to not get fingers in my underwear. I got lucky enough to see a man walk by. I got lucky enough to shout “help me”. They still gropped me though. While I ran, I felt different hands under my shirt grabbing what they could but I still ran. When I tripped I felt hands on my skirt, hands whose faces were covered with House wear shirts, but I still got up and ran.
I never told anyone about it for a long time because I blamed myself for going back to get the bandana I forgot. Instead of blaming the institution and society that fostered teenage predators, I blamed myself. Even though I didn’t know what sex meant, was dorky, got constantly trolled for looking like a caricature version of E.T, those boys only saw a walking pair of breasts and vagina that night.
“Get over it, at least you didn’t get raped though”, was what I was told the first time I mentioned the story to anyone. I have never talked about the anxiety attacks I got until the boys in that set graduated. I was lucky but men still scare me till this day. Bu default, I am uneasy around unfamilar men and 4eyed Henry’s tweet only makes the case for them. Society made it okay to punish teenage girls for being molested as if they asked for it. Society also continues to encourage rape and sexual assault as consequences/deterrents and not the disaster they truly are for women.
Men have still assaulted me in various ways after that, no matter how careful/careless I was. I hate how women cannot randomly decide to say ‘f**k it’ and act carefreely without having their guard up one way or the other. I hate how women cannot decide to comfortably choose when to/to not have sex without fearing being raped or slut-shamed.
Not all men are actual rapists but until society decides to do better in raising sensible men, creating safe spaces for victims and just stop being generic assholes to women, I’ll continue to be afraid of men.