Thursday, November 21, 2013

Third-world problems from a First-world Penthouse

I recently ran across a post on Tumblr that had me so enraged I had to sit down in a corner and think about life for a few minutes. I just had to center my mind, body, and soul because the anger that was coursing through my body was enough to unalign my chakrahs or whatever the hippies are calling it these days. I had to get my "woosah" on. You ever been so mad you turn into Sinclair from "Living Single" and "woo woo woo" yourself? Just step outside yourself for a second and look at your life in relation to the planets and moons and galaxies before you slap someone or become a danger to yourself? 

Yeah. That was my life. And what, you ask was the post that had me so up in arms? 

Photo credit: David Margules
Now, chile...when I tell you this picture alone was enough of an affront to my everyday wellbeing...the text accompanying this visual travesty was just...well...:

"When people ask me “Why do you never where shoes?”
I say:

“What would you trust trust? 2 million years of evolution or 40 years of commercialism and podiatry.”"


BABIES wear shoes before they can even walk. They have shoes for staying at home, for the garden, for the shower, even for the ocean. AMERICANS BURY PEOPLE IN SHOES. Think about that shit. You're born, they put shoes on you. You die, they put shoes on you!

Why?! Because they can! Because God has given them the chance to. People back home are tying together plastic bottles and rubber tires to have something to make the walk to fetch water a little easier, and here people are rebelling against commercialism and sanitation by refusing to wear shoes.

They even have signs that warn people that they must wear shoes or they won't be served. When was the last time you went home and people without shirts and shoes were just milling about the stores and restaurants?! Nobody has to be told there to properly dress up before going out.

When now their feet become hardened and uncomfortable, when they cut and scrape them and have to deal with sores and wounds and infections, when it takes them multiple scrubbings to return their soles to anything resembling clean, no one can say I didn't warn them.  

Melanin-deficient Americans have this idea in their heads that a supposed "third-world" way of living is somehow rustic, exotic and desirable. They've convinced themselves that a proper penance for their privilege is donating 67 cents to an organization that will adopt, train and feed a foreign child for them (while still keeping them in their same squalor and general area, of course) and then adopting select elements of that child's background. They'll "feed the children" themselves all the way to the nearest Starbucks' and then become enraged when this vehicle of American capitalism and commercialism sends them back to their penthouse apartments to find proper footwear before entry. They'll rail against the system and denounce "the Man", tweeting furiously from their Apple devices with an anger so white-hot you might even see a bit of steam escape their ears if you look close enough. 

To say it's ironic would be a gross understatement. 

In America, barefoot is a political statement. In Africa, barefoot is a unfortunate mark of circumstance. They're running towards what we're running from, but don't have the good sense to look back and ask why we're heading in the other direction. 


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Rape and Sexual Abuse.

(Don't hate me, I know it's been a while *cringe*)

Today's topic is way more serious than the post that I originally had queued up, but it think it'll be a good one nonetheless. Today I co-hosted an episode of No Rubber on the issue of Rape and it was an emotional rollercoaster for all involved. If you don't know what No Rubber is, allow me to introduce you to what I feel is one the greatest things to happen to this generation of Nigerian youth.

No Rubber started years ago, and in my early days on twitter I used to be up on it heavy heavy, but when i left for a few years I (shamefully) fell off. It's a Internet radio show hosted by two guys, Kay and A, who come each week with a different topic and share their matter how you might feel about it. It's all about letting loose and going in raw...hence the name "No Rubber". Topics have ranged from abortion to "ho phases" to interracial relationships and more. The reason I say it's one of the greatest things to happen to Nigerian youth is actually the platform it's hosted on.

Gidilounge radio, the gidilounge app and as a whole are absolutely sick. In the best way possible. It's like the pandora of African/Nigerian music. You can listen to the latest music, join in and listen live to radio shows, save playlists and they even have "lounges" which are preset stations for any mood you could ever be in and they play the hottest music. Personally, I listen to the 'highlife' station when I'm cleaning the house and the 'turnt up' station when I'm at the gym or whenever I need a pick me up. Not only do they have these options, but they host indie music as well, something you'd be hard-pressed to find on Pandora or Spotify. Gidilounge connects Africans in the Africa and all over the Diaspora. If you follow me on any of my social networks you already know just how hard I ride for the gidilounge app...I've actually been known to commandeer peoples' phones and install the app for them by force. Lol, it's almost an addiction...almost.

Find No Rubber online at, on Twitter at @No_Rubber and follow the hosts at @BmoreNigerian and @Bmore4life, producer Babse at @1babse. You can tune in and listen live Wednesday at 4pm PST/7pm EST/ 1am Nigerian time on either or download the app for Apple, Android or Blackberry devices and listen in to past episodes as well. As I tell you guys all the time on my Twitter (@Chinaija) and Tumblr, make sure to join the conversation each week on twitter with the tag #NoRubber or join the Tinychat hosted on the Gidilounge site. It's always a good time!

-(end shameless plug)-

Back to the topic at hand. I didn't get the chance to express all my thoughts on the matter, so I've come here to let it all loose. Some of what I say is likely going to be controversial, judging by some of the reactions I received earlier, but to be honest, this blog is my space to tackle the issues that I want to. (Also, You can listen to today's episode by listening through the Podcast app, the Gidilounge app or heading to (episodes are at the bottom of the page).)

This post doesn't encompass all my thoughts on the matter, and was written from notes I jotted down prior to, and during today's show.

Rape and our Society

Rape is normalized in our society. We make jokes about it so frequently that I've seen children use the word, without even knowing the concept. If you're a gamer, you know just how often the word "rape" is thrown out. Rape and sexual assault are things we always seem to be talking about, but no one ever really talks about. 

We throw the word around so much that it loses it's meaning, and it's seriousness. Rape and sexual assault isn't something to be made light of, it's a very real thing that happens to about one in four women in their lifetimes.

When we discuss rape, we also need to discuss that it happens to men as well. We have a tendency to brush that under the rug and in the process of that we marginalize a lot of men and young boys. They are lost, confused, hurt and angry and we don't ever seem to get around to discussing or helping them.

We view rape as a crime against the weak and vulnerable, and with this label we lose a lot of men in the fold. Because men are supposed to be seen as strong and independent, a lot of them don't reach out for help when they are assaulted for fear of being seen as weak...or even gay.

Sexual assault has nothing to do with orientation. Sexual predators are just that, predators. Rape isn't a crime born of lust, it's one born of power. Men who rape men aren't necessarily gay, just as those who rape women aren't always straight. Sexual offenders are equal opportunity offenders. They prey upon vulnerable people, no matter what gender.

The gender of your attacker doesn't determine your orientation, but it may define your attitude towards people of that gender, which is why we see women who have been attacked by men become so uncomfortable and uneasy and untrusting of men that they may seek relationships with women. I know a large number of women who aren't actually lesbians who seek out relationships with women because they find themselves unable to feel comfortable with men. 

Not all men are rapists, and not all rapists are men. As much of a joke mainstream society has made it out to be, there are women who rape. They rape women and men alike. It can happen. It does happen. It needs to be addressed. We have this romanticized view of women who rape as sexual teachers, as mentors who guide boys and girls. This view is wrong in so many ways, and not only does it allow these women to escape guilt, it also leave their victims confused. Rape is rape. No matter the sex of the offender.

Rape and Power.

One of the underlying causes of rape is a loss of power in the offender. Like a lot of serial killers or psychopaths, rapists often feel a sense of powerlessness about their own lives and seek to regain that by attacking others. Things like chronic unemployment, mental illness or past abuses contribute greatly to a persons likelihood to offend.

Which is why we need to re-define manhood. Though not all offenders are men, a larger majority of them are, and most violent offenders are men. With the ways in which the world and society are changing, a lot of the things we used to define manhood have gone out the window. Women are entering the workforce and higher education at higher rates than men, especially men of color. A lot of households nowadays are either female run or have a woman as the highest earning breadwinners. Our economy has shifted from industry to more service based and technical, which is (based on the way we educate and socialize children in the West) more suited towards women. We have generations of men who are unprepared for the world they live in an this lends itself to a lot of issues, like unemployment and feelings of inadequacy and powerlessness. If we don't re-define what it means to be a man, and with the job market still slowly recovering, we're going to be dealing with a lot of issues with the next few generations. And I believe rape is one of them.

Fake Rape Reports.

They are also fake rape reports. That happens. People are accused of rape falsely and that conversation needs to happen as well. These people take away from the seriousness of the reality whether as a joke or as a way of ruining someone's life. I have friends who have been falsely accused of rape or assault and the effect that it has on a persons' life is devastating. Falsely accusing someone of a crime is a crime, and it should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. But this is a small group of people and we shouldn't allow that to deter us from seriously talking about rape and it's consequences.

On Victim Blaming and Recovery.

People who have been assaulted often blame themselves. We as a culture have a way of looking at victims, especially adult victims, and explaining away the offender's guilt. "If she hadn't worn that," "She shouldn't have drank that much," "They shouldn't have left children with so and so," "He should have defended himself,"

All of this is wrong and we need to really be ashamed of ourselves for this. Rape is never the fault of the victim. No matter what a person is wearing, how much they drank, how good they were twerking on you, no is no. Silence can be no too. The only 100% sure yes is a "yes". Tread lightly.

When discussing victims, we need to look at the fact that a lot of victims don't seem themselves as victims. Sexual abuse in our culture has become so normalized that people don't often realize they were abused or the extent of the damage done to them until years down the line. I don't know if any of you paid attention to the interview that Chris Brown recently did where he talked about losing his virginity...but that story he told was a textbook example of a victim who has no idea he was a victim. The idea of older sexual "mentors" or "teachers" is so prevalent in our society that an 8 year old can confidently say that a sexual act with a teenager was consensual and beneficial. If you cannot legally give cannot give consent. 

We need to have an open space for people who have been assaulted to speak and open up and ask for help. In our community we have this sort of disdain for people who seek outside help for personal problems and that needs to end. Some problems cannot be left to our aunties and uncles or to God alone. Therapy is a needed element to healing.

It took me years to be able to recognize that, but talking to someone outside the issue is absolutely necessary. Even if you cant afford or can't access a professional, talk to someone. otherwise you're left to internalize the issue and let the trauma eat you alive. Whether it be through a hotline, through the Internet, church, distant family, friends, etc. Just talk to someone. Get your thoughts out, and get help.

Hotlines and Helpful Resources

National Rape Abuse and Incest National Network hotline - 1 800 656 HOPE (4673)
Suicide and Crisis Hotline (Canada-wide) 1 800 448 3000 (& visit link below for further info)

If you are outside the United States, please visit this site and see where you may be able to find help: RAINN international