Story, story. . .
In a forest far far away, there was a lion who made friends with a goat. Then, one day, the lion opened its mouth and ate the goat.
That’s the end of my story.
Do we blame the lion for eating the goat? Or do we blame the goat for allowing itself to be eaten? Is there anything the goat could have done to avoid being eaten by the lion?
Of course these questions are not asked. We look for the moral of the story (don’t be greedy) and that’s that.
I was at Mile 2 on my way to a family meeting and I wasn’t sure of the address so I stopped somewhere to call my cousin and have her give me the number of someone else who was there. As I waited for the call to go through, I noticed a lady standing to my right, surrounded by agberos. One had her bag, another was holding her hand, another had his hand over her shoulder, another had her by the other hand. Now she was big, bigger than me actually, but these guys were dragging her in different directions in the name of showing her which bus to enter.
I watched this show for close to 2 minutes; she succeeded in getting her bag back but the guys wouldn’t let her walk away. So I moved close to them, held her by the wrist and pulled her towards me. She resisted at first but as soon as she saw I was female, she relaxed and allowed herself be led. I was still making a phone call so I put her between me and a table that was in front of me.
The guys made to follow and one overhead me mention where I was going and acted like he wanted to come close with ‘na there my bus dey go’, so I looked at him, shook my head and looked away. That was it. They walked away. After my call I asked where she was going and made sure she got on her bus.
That incident got me thinking about prey behavior and mentality. I am talking of random situations, on streets, in markets, at bus stops. Almost everyone who’s lived on the streetz (awon aburo Olamide) can testify that at some point or the other you’ve had to deal with someone who thought they could intimidate you or make you fall mugu.
Psychologists can explain more about all the technicalities of the prey behaviour.
Some people cloak it under the ‘I don’t like trouble, I am a peaceful person’. Or if it’s a woman, ‘a woman is not supposed to behave like that afterall is it not a man that will marry me?’ I feel even sadder for guys because where women will get help sometimes, everyone expects a man to fight his way out, to stand up for himself.
The question becomes which of these behaviours do we encourage?
I was at a concert in December last year, right in front of the stage with my friends when this man shoved his way past me and sort of shunted me behind and took my spot. My reaction was reflex. In one motion, I grabbed him by the back of his shirt and threw him into the crowd behind. Apparently what I did was wrong because people started telling me to ‘calm down’ and ‘he’s drunk’. See me see wahala o. I got really angry at that point. The gist is still long but my point is, I was supposed to allow him push me and my friends and take a spot we came by 7pm to secure because?
I should have been a lamb. El oh el.
It gladdens my heart when I see parents who are taking their kids for self defense classes and teaching them to stand up for themselves. This has nothing to do with ‘being rude’. You can firmly stand up to someone without a word of insult (you can also do that thing where you coat the insult so well they’re not sure if they’ve been insulted or not). Prey behavior could be learned, so parents have a big role to play.
When I get to a bus stop with several conductors dragging people upandan, I put my hands up in front of me and say ‘don’t touch me’ to any one that approaches me. It works.
At the market, I just stand and look at you or your hand until you remove it and step out of the way for me.
I don’t have to get physical or aggressive. A show of strength (and a blade in my purse) is all it takes.
It hurts me to see people in situations that they can get themselves out of.
It hurts me to see other people look away when someone – male or female – is being harassed in front of them.
One person I really admire is this friend of mine who looks like she cannot hurt a fly. She’s this elegant, fragile looking person. Don’t mistake her ‘gentleness’ for her being prey. If you try her, she will bite you. And she doesn’t just protect herself, she stands up for others as well.
Most of these ‘harrasers’ are cowards. Stand up to them and they slink away. You empower them by acting helpless.
Have you had a similar experience? How did you handle it? What other ways can you protect yourself?
Do leave a comment.