Friday, 1 June 2012

Exploring and Questioning Norms ..........Part 3

Thanks for reading the previous parts of this post. Here is the final part:
Another Disclaimer: My opinions are just that... My opinions. I am not anti-anybody. I say what I see.

So................ here is the final part of my post on some of Nigerian norms I question:

(5) Women should be seen not heard:
Despite all the 'progress' we have made, I still feel that women are not respected in Nigerian culture. Yes, we value our mothers and appreciate our sisters etc etc.  But does the society actually respect women? I think - to a large extent - NO !

My opinion is largely shaped by how Nigerian women are generally treated when it comes to marriage. Here are instances relating to marriage that have shaped my view:

(a) Assumptions about Single Women: While we all claim to be more enlightened than previous generations, I feel single women are generally disrespected in some situations and women are generally more respected by Nigerian society if they are married.
For example, a single well dressed lady is generally treated with suspicion - and assumed to be a 'hooker' - if she is unaccompanied in a restaurant or hotel bar. I know some of you will say that they shouldn't be in such places in the first place OR that this doesnt happen nowadays BUT I recall how I was treated suspiciously when I stayed alone in an Abuja hotel. Also, a post on Linda's blog discussed this issue, so this must be common. You can read here............

(b) Propositioning Women Randomly: It does appear most Naija men see all women as fair game' - to be approached and 'chatted up' randomly. Unfortunately, it appears that the richer the man is, the more confident he feels the lady will accept his 'dog-like' approach.
When I was in Nigeria, I was lucky enough to co-own a business and I can say that whenever I started discussing business with a  potential male investor or client ; 90% of the time, their first thought was how they could get me into bed. From what I see nowadays, nothing much has changed........

(c) Marriage Pressure: No need to expantiate abi? As soon as a young lady is getting to her late 20s, she is pressured to get married. Even the most 'enlightened' of parents is guilty of this..........They start with subtle hints and then it becomes a full blown chant.........till the poor girl starts seeing 'Marriage' in her sleep, her cornflakes, her plate of rice etc etc. LOL I actually know people who are scared to call home now because of this pressure :((((

(d) The In-laws: Once a woman does get married. She is expected to welcome her in-laws into her home with open arms.................Often with no questions asked, no consultation or consideration for what her own plans might be. It's almost as if as soon as she is married.......... she is expected to become dumb and mute.
I know someone who found it difficult to pass her professional exams because her house was constantly being 'invaded' by her husband's relatives visiting London.
Another lady who is dear to me had to put her foot down and insist on less visitors when she realised that her salary was going on constantly beefing up their monthly feeding budget - as hubby's people were constantly in their home.
Another more traditional friend was playing hostess to her husband's younger siblings in London while her hubby was busy in Nigeria gallivanting with hot babes. The worst thing was her in-laws even knew her hubby's 'main girlfriend' in Nigeria............... *hissssssssss*

(e) Marriage as the Dream-killer: I will say that more often than not, most Nigerian women put their dreams aside after they get marrried.
Why is it that so many Nigerian men state that they like 'ambitious, go-getters' as potential wives. However, after marriage, they are quick to complain that their new bride is 'too ambitious and driven'. The very things that attracted the man to the woman now appear so unappealing.
So if a girl is considering marriage, here are a few questions to consider:
'You want to get a Masters degree?'........
'You want to occupy a senior position in your organisation?'.................
'You want to open your own business?'................
Well, you better discuss this with your potential hubby so your dream doesnt die. However, discussion with hubby is no guarantee these dreams will not be pushed to one side because quite a lot of Nigerian men will encourage your plans - ONLY IF they don't interfere with (a) You producing children; (b) Your husband's own plans and (c) You ensuring the home is run properly.......

(f) The Forbidden 'D' word: The 'D' word I refer to is the 'Divorce' word. More often than not, Nigerian women are made to feel that whatever is wrong with the marriage can be fixed if they pray or obey their husbands. Yes......
- It doesnt matter if he is a womaniser...
- It doesnt matter if he doesnt support the woman.....
- It doesnt matter if he treats her badly..........................................NO, NO, NO....
To wear that honourable badge of 'Mrs X'.....most Nigerian women are often advised 'to pray and humble themselves'. Ha ha, I laugh in Spanish. This kind of advice is what gives a lot of Naija men the balls to misbehave and maltreat women. Humph

(g) The Last Straw:
I am always saddened when I hear instances where widows are maltreated following their husband's death.I still see instances where...
- The wife is often blamed if her hubby dies suddenly
- The wife is expected to take a back seat in the planning of her hubby's funeral
- The hubby's people seize his properties without considering the wife or his children
- The welfare of the wife and children is ignored as soon as their bread winner passes away
- Widows live with the 'stigma' of losing a husband (through no fault of their own)
This is so sad and I cannot even imagine what a widow goes through when she has to bury her husband, take care of children - while dealing with hostile, suspicious inlaws. *sigh*

I must say that despite these irksome customs, we have still seen strong women emerge Queen Idia,  Mama Ransome Kuti,   Madam Tinubu, Queen Amina of Zaria etc etc ...........This serves as evidence that Nigerian women can overcome all that is stacked against them. However, it takes a lot of resilience and stubborness. mmmmmm

So, my dear people, I don talk finish. If I talk true, make God bless me....If I talk lie, make I continue to chop better food. Amen (I have finished talking. If I have told the truth, may God bless me, If I have lied, may I  continue to eat good food. Amen) LOL

Do tell me what you think about our Nigerian culture - and how it treats its women.
Also, do tell me which customs you DO NOT like or wish would fade away with time

Take care and God bless


  1. You couldn't have said it better jare. Either way you look at it you're at a disadvantage. If you choose to be daring and different you are an ashawo. If you are humble and timid you get walked over. If you decide to stay stingle you get stigmatized. If you decide to marry man, you stand the risk of losing sight of your dreams.

    Call it what you may, women are still not as respected not only in Nigeria but worldwide (it's just less hidden in Nigeria). We all claim fair treatment yet at the back of our mind we still think like our forefathers who pushed females to the backseat.

    The true question, will we ever out grow this mentality? Very few husbands truly respect their women as they did when they were toasting them... sha sha... wetin man go do? I must continue to pray for good man na... no be so?

    1. I totally agree that '....we still think like our forefathers who pushed females to the backseat'
      Couldnt have put it better myself
      Thanks dearie

  2. I think you are 100% correct in your analysis! I don't think women are respected or appreciated anywhere in this world to be honest. Even the most "forward thinking" Nigerian men (and African men in general) i've encountered are archaic as h-e-double hockey sticks when it comes to how they see women, in particular their wives. And i could kinda deal with that, if they'd at least own up to it. Thats half the problem, we trick ourselves (or we trick each other) into believing we've made such leaps and bounds in terms of equality and such truly remains to be seen. Tell me what is so "forward" about saying you want an ambitious wife yet in the same breath you say that your wife must stay at home and tend to her "wifely duties" but if she MUST work, you will start a little business for her to manage so that she can be home by noon to prepare for you when you get home? I've had that convo verbatim at least 5 times in the past year.

    ok, end rant lol.

    1. LOL @.....'if she MUST work, you will start a little business for her to manage'
      How many times have I heard that one....and the funny thing is the business is supposed to be run like a hobby. LOL
      Thanks Ngo

  3. In fact you have said it all. Everything needs to change especially (e), (f) and (g). Women really suffer sha. I personally know people who have been affected by this.

  4. Well, I feel that change will eventually come. Man does not accept change automatically. Nigeri and Nigerians may still be sceptical thinking that a woman's "too much" freedom is unAfrican, BUT, change will surely come.

    1. *Nodding* re: 'too much freedom is unAfrican'
      I seriously doubt change will come anytime soon because young black males seem to be even bigger chauvinists

  5. Na true you talk. make God bless you
    I do wish all will fade away with time

  6. Don't you know you are a woman!!!!!!!

    that is the most common/ frequently said sentence i'v been subjected to all my life

    1. LOL........I've heard the same thing so many times
      Thanks for that

  7. Widows really get the nasty end of the stick in Nigeria maybe followed by the spinster :).
    Like you said our generation isnt much better in our thinking. In the Nigerian community here (we are quite small) and I am the most outspoken of the few single ones. I have been warned about my rabid feminism by 2 or 3 and how it might affect my marriage prospects.
    I have discussed this issues about widows with one man. he is in his mid 30s. has a PhD. Has been here since 2000; yet his opinions were as patriarchal as an 80 yr olds. He told me that widows need to understand their place in the family hierarchy - bottom place; how they have no right over their husband's property if he dies. Now imagine the kind of support such a man will give his sister in law if his own brother dies..

    1. *shaking my head at the man*
      Unfortunately, this is quite common
      I often get asked why my husband 'allowed' me to keep my maiden name alongside my married name (my surname is hyphenated) *sigh*
      Thanks G

  8. @Ginger, it is just sad. To think he is 'seemingly' exposed compared to those in Nigeria. smh

    NIL, you have nailed it well jere. Continue to chop better food. I wonder who came up with the "a woman should be seen and not heard" thing.

    1. RE: who came up with it.........Definitely a man abi?
      Thanks sweetie

  9. wow! great post! not shy around your stands at all re u? I tagged u! check out my blog

    1. Not shy at all my sistah
      If I dont talk now when will I? LOL
      Thanks dear

  10. I agree with every point made in this post. I think women should just continue empowering themselves in case of any eventualities.

    1. Agree with you re 'empowering'
      Thanks dear

  11. this is why you are mummy :)
    you have said it all o jare.

  12. I felt an air of depression while reading through this post~ silly culture.
    However, I think that I made the list of the strong women, so edit and add my name * giggles*

    I prophesy to every naija woman that will believe, you can scale through every challenge that nature, culture or marriage will bring your way, you will make the list of strong Naija women who made it against all odds (I just joined) in Jesus name. Amen!

    1. Amen to your prayer oh
      Education and enlightenment is key to empowerment
      Thanks sis

  13. I agree with most of your analysis and there's no doubt women are seen not heard but I don't want us to be trapped in a cycle of blame. The reality though is that we all have a collective responsibility (women inclusive) to challenge what I consider to be backward and outdated attitudes towards women.

    Women need more empowerment through education and getting more involved in politics to help challenge long held cultural views and beliefs. The more women who assume positions of authority and policy making, the greater chance we have for change to happen. Because of the way politics is organised in Nigeria, women are already at a disadvantage from the onset so I believe affirmative action to reserve a percentage of elective posts and cabinet positions to women will be a step in the right direction.

    I would like to see more women be at the forefront of championing gender issues as it affects women in Nigeria. The truth is that most men ain't interested as they would rather maintain the status quo.

    Like every other thing, it will take time but I believe things are changing but maybe not as fast as we would like but I am hopeful.

    I certainly want my children to grow up in a society where women are heard not just seen.

    1. I agree it will take time and the change needs to be spearheaded by women. Absolutely
      Thanks sir

  14. You have done it again sistah!..gbam!
    Nothing to add or subtract from this article.
    Have a lovely weekend.

  15. Hmmm... What can I say? Very well written.

    1. Nothing to say? LOL
      Thanks for dropping by
      Hope all is well with you?

  16. I see the same in my boyfriends family. With the help of people like you and even more education, these things can change...

  17. Thanks Smiley
    Like you, I hope for a better future for women

  18. I feel like nigerian's just feel a need to put everyone in a category, a category they are comfortable with. So married, single, up to no good.. i mean so many nigerians still believe that if a guy should cornroll his hair he has no ambition and he is up to no good - i digress..

    it is a shame, big shame. But the way women are treated differently is not synonymous to just nigeria.. other countries do it too, especially in the word place. During redundancies, women ar emore like to take the hit, esp pregnant women or women on maternity leave... once again i digress..

    it is a big shame. most women truly give their husband the liberty to do as he wishes..

  19. So on point! GBAM! You couldn't have said it any much better. Me sef i tire! That's the unfair world we women have been born into and if you try too hard to change your own situation you would be branded as "stubborn". May God bless us (unmarried ones) with an understanding husband that doesn't believe our dreams should end because we got married or are having kids in Jesus name!


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