“Sorry ma,” He said as I alighted from my car while trying to imagine the extent of damage that had just been done to the passenger side of my rear panel. I had been driving towards a T junction and applied my brakes in a bid slow down to assess the traffic situation of the adjoining road before making a turn. As it’s characteristic of them, an impatient tricyclist intended to speed past me and in the process, came a little too close and inevitably collided with me.
Now, considering that the typical auto rickshaw or three-wheeler (popularly called Keke Napep or Keke Marwa in this part of the world) is made of a sheet-metal body, I knew I wasn’t about to view a very pretty sight. I was right, the scratch was deep. I was even more upset because I had only just spent a tidy sum getting rid of all the “blemishes” on the same vehicle when it happened.
“E ma binu, ma” He said in Yoruba again and did a half-prostrate, as I assessed the impact of what happened. His only passenger also apologised on his behalf. I was upset but wasn’t about to insist he paid for the repairs, so I went on my not-so-merry way after scolding him for his reckless driving. Little did I know that my encounter with tricyclists had not ended for the day. I hadn’t driven for up to thirty minutes and was about to make a U-turn another rider rear-ended me again. I was exasperated with having to deal with yet another careless rider and angrily asked if he was out of his mind. Naturally, he wasn’t too happy about my derogatory question and proceeded to register his displeasure by letting me know he would not apologise for what he did because of my comments.
Now, I knew that this time around, the car was fine. The impact was minor and I was going to just forget the two annoying encounters and chalk them up to bad luck when this tricyclist went on to call me a prostitute. I was shocked. I couldn’t help but wonder how a little row that had resulted from an incident that was clearly a fault of his degenerated into that sort of name calling. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have been too shocked by his utterance. It wasn’t the first time, I would witness a woman being tagged a hooker for the most ludicrous reasons.
Anyway, I made sure to remind him that I wasn’t responsible for his lot in life before zooming off. I recalled my experience with the tricyclist when I read the comments of up-and-coming comedian, Ebiye on singer, Aramide’s Headies win last Saturday.
The comedian had attributed the singer’s “Best Alternative song” win at the 12th Headies Awards to what he believed to be her warming a few beds. He had made the distasteful remark on Snapchat and though he has apologised for his damaging comments, attention has once again been drawn to the price people, (women, in particular), pay for being successful. Ebiye may have been vocal about his misogynistic thoughts, but that’s not to suggest he is by any means the only one who has the notion that women sleep their way to achieving anything worthy of note.
On several occasions, I have heard men credit the ownership of the car a woman drives some male benefactor. It doesn’t matter if she leads a conglomerate, runs a thriving business, or is unmarried – some son of Adam somewhere must have gifted her the car to her. It’s so bad that a man would insist on only speaking to a woman’s husband when he bashes her car on the road rather than appeal or attempt to engage with her.
This is not to suggest that men are not subjected to the same treatment. Men also have to deal with the constant suspicion and insinuation that their success is the result of some sharp practice they were engaged in. They are spuriously accused of being fraudsters or ritualists when they attain a level of success perceived to be sudden or unusual for their age. However, the female folk are bigger victims of this societal malady.
The fear of being judged is the reason some people never aspire to be at the zenith of their professions. People want to play safe and be average sometimes because they do not want to be in the spotlight. They want to be successful, but not too successful (whatever that means). Many are trapped in the web of mediocrity because of what people will ascribe their achievements to; and many times, the female gender constitute a majority of these people. They see the way successful women are hounded and trolled on social media and immediately make up their minds to be content with their current status. And so they never really exert themselves to reach for greater heights.
I am angry on Aramide’s behalf. I can imagine how it feels when you put all the work into honing your craft for several years and then someone who has no idea of what you went through to attain your current status credits it to a man’s generosity.
However, on the flip side, comments like Ebiye’s should not dampen any hardworking person’s spirit. Rather, it should serve as a springboard of sorts that propels them to do even more to surprise and shame naysayers.
The uncouth comments aren’t the real tragedy. The real tragedy would be for anyone to choose to play small because they are afraid of being misjudged.