A couple of Sundays ago, I was sitting with a friend when I heard my gate creak open. I craned my neck and looked through the netted window and spotted a young lady stepping out of a jeep parked in front of the gate, and walking into the compound.
She turned to bolt the gate behind her and I remembered admiring her shape. Very shapely, well rounded, a little bit on the plump side, not too tall but then, perfect height for the body that housed it.
Because the mosquito netting across the window was a bit tinted, I watched as she walked towards the main house and thought to myself, “this boy in the BQ no dey hear word sha, even on a Sunday afternoon?” Suddenly, I noticed the young lady was moving towards my door and as I quickly began to calculate whom I had an appointment with for Sunday afternoon, the parlor door opened…
… and my 11 year old daughter walked in.
I almost jumped out of my skin.
I see her every day, we sleep in the same room and on the same bed. I have a mental picture of her in my mind’s eye and somehow, that picture is always of a little baby who needs help to put her shoes on properly. Not of a slowly maturing young lady, blossoming right before my eyes. She had gone for a sleepover in her friends’ house and their mum had brought her back after Sunday service and dropped her off by the gate, waiting for her to walk into the house before driving off.
Somehow, I spent the rest of that day in a near daze, gazing speculatively at my little girl and running the thoughts that had flashed through my mind those few minutes before I realized she was the one, over and over again.
Now I know why sometimes I have to say to my mum, “stop it please, respect the fact that I am an adult and I can make my own decisions now. If I discuss issues with you, it is because I want to. I am not a baby and I am more than capable of taking care of myself and my issues”.
Sometime last week and after the sensation caused by Amber Amour (the young lady who got into a shower with a drunk man and went on Instagram and twitter to accuse him of raping her); I got a bit confused by all the conversation that was swirling around the issue.
“No means no!”
Yes, “no means no”, but what about you? Your daughter? Your baby?
How would “No means no” help her if she got into a car with a couple of boys who suddenly drive off the road and head into the bushes with malicious intentions in mind? If she speaks up to them at some point in the ordeal, “listen, no means no. I am saying no to you now and I mean no. No amount of coercion by you is going to get me to say yes. No means no, stop it now or else…”
Or else what? You are already caught up in the middle of that situation, one you surely do not want to be in at that point in time.
“No means no” should not be for our girls.
What of if she follows a man into his room, sits with him to “study” and he suddenly begins to make advances at her. She refuses and they begin to struggle.
Tell me, of what help would “no means no” be in such a situation? I once sat with my daughter and two friends in a car while we ran some errands and somehow, our discussion geared towards rape. As this friend narrated what she had gone through at the hands of a friend she had gone to visit, and how all her screams, begs and entreaties fell on deaf ears, I watched my daughter’s eyes blow up to the size of saucers.
The coup de grace of the story was this friend speaking about what she recognized as her errors in that situation and how she worked hard to ensure those memories never repeated themselves in her life again – I knew that in the telling of that story, a lot of discussions I had been having with my daughter as her body began to form, made practical sense.
One particular piece of mind fuckery I cannot believe every time I hear it is, “even if you have agreed to have sex, and are already in the act of coupling and then the lady decides she no longer wants to have sex, once she says no, the man should stop” I think that propagators of this school of thought should stop saying it out loud around young girls and ladies.
My theory is simple, when a man wants to have sex with you as an adult, you know. Yes you do.
So, if you do not want to have sex with him, why not nip his expectations in the bud? Why go over, and commence the process of having sex, then when he pulls out his “weapon”, you suddenly decide… “you know what, I’d rather be dehusking melon seeds at this point in time, ain’t nobody got time for this sex shit. No means no”.
Guess what dear, very few men are going to be able to stop at that point in time. Very few. You will get raped more often than not. If the tables were turned and the man aroused you to a point of no return and then decided he was no longer interested, all the blogs in Nigeria would be kept busy with your whining and psycho analysis and half-baked relationship advice and analyses from social media agony aunts and professional aprokos for at least a week.
So, while we drum into the heads of our sons and younger male protégés that when a lady says no, however difficult or uncomfortable it would be for them to take a deep breath and pack their rattle snake back in, it is in their best interest to respect the lady’s wishes and do so; we also need to teach our daughters about safety and responsibility.
Yes, the guy should respect your wishes and not force control over your body, but what if he doesn’t? Wouldn’t you rather take all necessary precautions and ensure you have a buddy system or something in place to encourage your safety? Wouldn’t you rather NOT have to face that situation in the first place?
I was once called a helicopter mum for saying this, but I’d say it again:
Try not to be alone and in compromising positions with members of the opposite sex. If anyone tries to take advantage of you, whatever their sex is, or you feel uncomfortable around them, please report to a trusted person. Learn what appropriate and inappropriate behaviour is and do not be afraid to yell if your personal space is being breached. Do not start what you have no intentions of finishing, and if you would rather not receive sexual advances from someone, then let them know that sex is off the cards for you.
Yes, you might know that no means no, but what if the other person does not? Or he knows it and it means nothing to him? Or he feels that your resistance is just the initial gragra and by the time you feel him inside you, you would have a change of heart?
Seriously, the advice on this could be as endless and as varied as we have different personalities, but think about this: years down the line, people still live with the trauma of any sexual assaults or molestations they may have encountered. Parents who have heard about assaults on their children when they were vulnerable still beat themselves up with guilt at not being able to prevent it, years after the incident happened. When offenders are apprehended, sometimes justice could be a simple slap on the wrist – but the victims and their support network have to live with the trauma, sometimes for life.
So while we chant the “no means no” mantra, let us also pause and remember to teach our children to remain safe. To think of safety – theirs – first, over and above any other consideration.