THE WHORE By Karen Eloke Young

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The whore is that woman you see every day, perhaps on your way to work, in traffic, at a wedding reception or even at the club.

The whore is the average, single, independent Nigerian woman who lives alone and works hard to earn her own money. A harsh description you might think, but true nonetheless; they say the most important things to listen to are generally the things we do not want to hear… this is one of those.

Although it is the 21st century, most Nigerians still live in a pretty much close-minded society where women are still second-class citizens. It is still a ‘man’s world’ and, in my opinion, it always will be, but this doesn’t mean us women cannot fight till we take our last breath to earn some respect.

I have been called a whore (or ‘ashewo’ as the typical Nigerian would say) more times than I can count. Although it used to make me incandescent with rage especially as I rarely ever get ‘some’, in time I developed what I like to call ‘leather skin”. The disparaging words now began to roll off of me like oil on leather.

Because I am an opinionated and irreverent woman, I never hesitate to speak up for myself whenever I overhear snide remarks about a woman’s character or lack of it. Basically, most people in this society believe a woman that acts like a man is a slut.

Allow me to buttress my point with a recent experience.

I was on a random lunch date with my old high-school friend Gbemi two weeks ago, and although Gbemi is not the chirpiest person I know, that day I noticed she was quieter than usual. She barely ate her lunch, she just played around with her food and my effort at making conversation kept hitting a brick wall. After a few more minutes of loud silence I had to speak up.

“What’s wrong babe?” I asked quietly, “Don’t you like the food?”

“It’s not the food Karen, it’s perfect. I just have a lot on my mind and I’m afraid my appetite seems to have gone on a long trip,” she replied with a sigh.

“So do you wanna talk about it?” I asked as I pushed my half-eaten plate of rice aside.

She nodded.

Pay attention.

This is the crux of the matter.

 

Gbemi is an extremely good-looking twenty nine year old woman, single, smart, ambitious, with a good job as a bank manager in one of Nigeria’s most reputable banks; basically, an independent woman.

The problem is, she rarely ever has stable relationships.

And so over our now forgotten lunch, we put our heads together and analyzed her situation.

Below are the conclusions we derived after much analysis:

Firstly, from experience I have realized that most Nigerian men especially tend to be wary of young women who live alone. They always assume that a normal, well brought up woman should live with her parents till she gets married.

A flawed thinking at its best, a classic case of what I call committing the ‘fallacy of hasty generalization’. I maintain that you should not judge a woman solely based on that, a morally bankrupt woman is a morally bankrupt woman regardless of who she lives with. It is common for most to cast aspersion and attribute the success of a single woman to how many men she has bedded rather than to her mental and physical ability. I maintain that not every woman at a top position in a company slept her way to the top; not every woman who is a successful entrepreneur slept her way to profit; this kind of judgment is the degradation and sexism that women in this part of the world are subjected to daily.

Secondly, some men find independent, successful women intimidating, this breed of men is more comfortable with women they feel superior to, these men still have the “a woman’s place is in the kitchen” mentality, they are best avoided.

Thirdly, there is the very important obstacle called insecurity. Some men feel highly intimidated by assertive women, although most of them deny it but this is the truth. When a man meets a woman like Gbemi for example, even if he is attracted to her and would like to start a relationship, the underlying fear that he might be taking on more than he can handle weighs in. That little voice that says, “Dude, are you sure you can handle this woman? Will she agree to date you or laugh at the suggestion that you want to be her man?” usually gives them pause, and then they discard the thought of being with you and move on to easier prey.

This analysis brought me to the sad realization that it is indeed a tough world for the independent woman, not only does she have to fend for herself in a cock-driven world, she also has to endure the aspersions cast on her character and live with the fear that she just might end up alone if she doesn’t cede and become less successful than she is.

Thankfully, worthy men exist, men who are confident enough to be in a committed relationship with a career woman. Though they are hard to find, I believe there are still a few out there.

 

As always, I would like to know your thoughts on this subject. But before I go I will leave you, my strong, independent women, with the same words I left my dear friend with that afternoon:

” We will not bow, we will not fall, we will not apologize for who we are, we are queens, we are magnificent women, we run the world.”