Professor Blassey Ford is not Hauwa Liman, an African woman, the last time we checked but she carried all the stigma of Boko Haram girls that were sexually abused or killed. She predicted the pain and psychological trauma she would go through if she ever came forward. Nevertheless, she never predicted the threat to her life! Even worse is the fact that nothing would happen or change because her harasser would be believed over her. In terms of equality between men and women, we might as well look towards Western Europe and Canada since Africans cannot count on the story and safety of American women. However, African women are pulling their weight everywhere. Many of them are just as highly educated as men but the opportunity to move to the highest level still comes through politics. This is the place where most women are missing in Africa. It is unfortunate that in 2018, such a highly respectable woman as Prof Ford could not even dent or scratch her harasser’s credibility one bit, where it matters. The fact that she did not disclose her experience to her boyfriend until after they got married raises fear the Boko Haram girls dreaded the most. Rejection or humiliation by suitors and their communities.
So white men, out of privilege positions, high paying jobs or little education, angry, depressed do feel out of place. Their notion is that women are using sexual harassment as a proxy to get even. Otherwise, they asserted that there is no reason to bring back a grudge or innocent act on the part of the boys back 10, 20 or 30 years later when men are at the top of their career. It is for no other reason than to pull them down out of jealousy or viciousness out of privilege.
There is no doubt that many African men are also worried that their women have taken blindly to what they think is hysteria in U.S.A. After all, almost 80 per cent of white married American women support their privileged class of men. It is these men in privileged positions that bring home good incomes; giving their wives the choice to stay home or work. They are even more concerned about their sons being accused of abuse than they are about their daughters. We must not fail to point out to our young boys and girls that boisterous habits can damage their career into the future. After all, not all boys join the ruffian clubs, drunks or misbehave as bangers. These are specialized sets that other boys stay away from either because they have been warned at home or they consider it crude and unruly to be associated with those guys.
So many people including women are confused right now, whether this is hysteria among highly liberated women or privileged abuses that have been taken for granted for a long time. Yet, neither men nor women deny the fact that women were abused. What is baffling though is the split among American women. It is so bad, Hillary Clinton could not even get majority of white women to vote for her as Obama got blacks. White women see her as a threat to the husbands. Therefore, it is in the interest of married white women to favour the men who made their lives comfortable, reliable and secure. Anyone in their shoes would do the same. On the other hand, 80 percent of black women in America are the head of their households, whether they are single or married. Black men have become endangered species outside Africa since the day of slavery in one form or another. Therefore, it is easier to throw black men out of homes for any reason or no reason at all. Most African/black homes would then crumble without them.
It is usually said that facts are very stubborn but a lie that people are willing to believe is over-shadows the truth. Nothing changes the fact that women suffer more abuse in the hands of men, we are only saying it takes much more to believe a black man than to believe a white man. Benefit of the doubt is not created for the convenience of Africans outside Africa. So, no matter how much women cry out, a privileged white man would be more believable.
Mind you, these guys are bailed out each time they get into trouble by their parents. So, it is not that they do not know the type of spoiled brats they raised at home. By the time they start finding excuses for their behaviour, it might be too late. Indeed, poor kids from underdeveloped environment would never get away with what rich white kids get away with. If they are poor or black, they call law and order officers on them but if they are rich, they call for rehab or second chance! Give them a break, these are nice white kids.Indeed, there are young school boys that find the unruly behaviour of their classmates like those Professor Ford experienced, unacceptable. The ones that took the side of the girls that are being bullied, harassed or called names would get into trouble if he stood up to the bully and hit him. Boys in schools are trained to keep their hands to themselves, no matter whom the bullies provoked.We must impact certain rules on our boys. Never hit another boy because he harassed a girl you consider pleasant or because she might be too timid to stand up for herself. Report to the teacher, otherwise you risk suspension or expulsion. Bullies and sexual harassers in schools are never trained or kept in check enough, not to display repulsive behaviour in schools. They depend on their privileged parents to get them out of trouble. It used to be that the children of the poor in Africa are the ones that turned out to be greater or more successful in life. It was in the days when education was a leveller and open to children regardless of how rich our parents were. The more it becomes a global world, the more African culture changed especially in the way we raise our children. The change usually results in some loss of the benefit of our culture and modest way of life. Indeed, most of our professionals and many leaders today came from poor homes. We noticed a change when these money bags started taking their children out of local schools and sending them to private schools or out of the country altogether. Since they had no more stake in local schools, they let them degenerate to squalor and militia recruits. What we got from graduates of those schools are the rut we find ourselves in today. The ones that would harass Prof Ford!
- Aresa is a public affairs commentator.
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