Sometimes the words you don’t say speak louder

Over the weekend, I read with horror and shock the blog post by Sugabelly. As horrifying as that blog post was, what really shocked me were the comments (even worse was the fact that more than half were from other women). The mockery, the taunting, the jokes…over a very serious matter, over something that has caused a young woman (many young women) trauma. I still cannot understand how low we’ve sunk in our humanity. How did we get here?

I read that post on Friday night but certain thoughts were already on my mind that day. I went to get my hair done during the day and as I looked at what was being shown on TV, I was sad. The TV was on one of these music stations and young ladies were dancing like they were possessed, dressed in cringe-worthy outfits. Their male counterparts? You can imagine that they were dressed modestly and they were not dancing provocatively either. I wondered to myself as I remained under the drier, “When will we begin to take ourselves more seriously as women?”

The thoughts stayed with me till I left the salon and then I saw different kinds of women as I stepped out who reminded me of the women I saw in the music videos. When I read Sugabelly’s story that evening with the comments too, I had to ask, “How long are we going to continue like this?” Almost everything is sexualized these days and it’s alarming. I cannot believe that in 2015, women are still seen mainly as sex objects and women are comfortable with that narrative…and should I say promoting it too.

Sexual violence against women is not something that started today but it keeps getting worse and society isn’t helping. We are making it ok for men to get away with sexual abuse. I read a post by Joy Isi Bewaji where she talked about the movie ‘For Coloured Girls’ which was first released in the 1970’s. Imagine, so many years after the stories in the movie still ring true. Why? Why haven’t things changed? Why are we still gathered around in a pity party circle and not doing anything? Why are we not changing the narrative?

A few years ago, I had the privilege of speaking to a group of primary school students about forming good reading habits. Very few of them knew the intellectual minds I occasionally referred to but the minute I mentioned D’banj and the whole lot, their expressions changed. It’s still the same today. Ask a young female secondary school student who Ibukun Awosika is and she may not know. Ask her who Seyi Shay is, she is more likely to know. I don’t have anything against Seyi Shay but we need more positive role models for our children and young ladies. We need role models who these girls can run to and open their hearts to. We’ve suppressed the voice of the woman for too long. And where are we going to find these role models? We have to start with ourselves.

I imagine if Sugabelly had a positive role model in her life at 17, she wouldn’t have been trapped in the horrible circle she found herself in. Sugabelly and I are in the same age group and I remember how teenage years were more of experimenting years for me. When I say it is by the grace of God that I turned out well, I am not joking. I too, could have easily walked the same path that she did. I actually started down that path; God simply saved me before it was too late.

It doesn’t matter whether you feel she is telling lies or not. The truth is these issues are real in our society and we cannot continue to act like they don’t exist. It’s time to stop keeping quiet and act. It’s time for women to be confident and stand up for themselves. Let’s be our sister’s keeper. God created us with so much power within. It starts with you and me. It will be so sad if in the next 30 years, the movie ‘For Coloured Girls’ is still relevant. It would simply mean that we have failed the upcoming generation; failed them through our silence, through our inability to act. What a shame that would really be.

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