Nigerian Lives: 7 women share their slut-shaming stories

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Slut-shaming happens to be one of those plagues deeply ingrained in the Nigerian culture, however much we choose to deny or shy away from it.

So, we reached out to seven Nigerian women to give accounts of their personal experiences of being slut-shamed and how it has affected their self-esteem and perception.

Fisayo, 26

I have been slut-shamed a lot as a thick girl but the one that really got to me was 2018 at the beach. A random man I had never met was cat-calling me but I ignored him. I  bumped into him again at the tap when I went to rinse the sand off my body. This time, he looked at me and said “Asewo (slut), if you no want man why you wear panties come beach?” I blanked him. But this got him even angrier as he grabbed my wrist. I got so irritated and shouted at him to leave me alone. He started to punch and slap me. He beat me so bad that I ended up at the hospital and while he ended up at the police station. I started a court case and he was remanded in Ikoyi prison for 3 months. During the court case, his lawyer slut-shamed me by commenting about my appearance to court. 

This guy worked with First Bank, so I made sure he lost his job. His wife delivered a baby during that period. I may not have gotten justice because I’m broke and I’m a woman. But the memory will always linger. 

Tife, 25

About 2 years ago, I was in this random “vibe” group chat. On this day, we were talking about slut-shaming women. I was saying something along the lines of  “Why is that when a woman gets something nice, the next thing people say is that it’s from a man?”.  Someone in the group chat responded, “shut up! You’re forming saint here but it’s your type that men will sleep with in their office”. I was dumbfounded but I didn’t even say anything because people like that are really not worth the time and energy.

 Jean, 26

When I was 12, my sister and I went to buy DVDs from a vendor at Bodija Market in Ibadan. A guy cat-called us but we didn’t reply. Next thing, he said the reason I was flat-chested was because I was a slut and sleeping around had shrunk my breasts.

The second experience was when I was about to move into University. My elder sister gave me a pep talk and told me she knew I was going to be a slut who wore revealing dresses and went to parties.

The third experience I’ll share is from when I was in 100 level. My roommates hated me. I am very expressive and also a spirikoko (a spiritual person) so they couldn’t reconcile both worlds. I spoke about sexual stuff openly so they assumed I was sleeping around. They made it their duty to tell everyone I was a whore. They once told me they wouldn’t be surprised if they heard I was pregnant.

Tola, 25

My ex-boyfriend slut-shamed me. We had sex on the first date and he asked me out after that. That was when the problem started. He would call me and if I didn’t pick up or we had a fight, he would say things like “Who knows who you’re with?”, “You that can’t control yourself”, “How many people have you fucked randomly?” or, “I can’t trust you because you might just fuck anybody”. I had to leave the relationship because I couldn’t breathe.

Jrabbit, 30

I was 21 when my boyfriend’s brother asked me out. Apparently, this annoyed my boyfriend who started telling everyone I was a village whore and that he passed me down to his brother after he was done with me. I confronted him but he told me the source was lying. I was young and naïve, it made me feel awful. I couldn’t walk the streets with my head held high.

I’m fine now. The kicker is, nine years later, this guy still buzzes me randomly for no reason begging to meet with me and all of that. Then, he’ll randomly make a u-turn and start telling our mutual friends that I’m still after him, a grown-ass man in his late thirties, for goodness’ sake.

Fola, 25

I have been to hell! I’m not sure that I’m quite back yet. The five years I spent in university were the most horrible years of my life. I regret going to university every single day of my life because of my awful experiences. I was raped in school. I told ‘my friend’ who told all the guys in class. He added a lot of ‘salt and pepper’ to the story, as I later found out. I mean, a few days after I told him, I noticed I started getting weird, incessant advances from boys in the class. People started looking at me funny. I would walk down the corridor and there would be whispers, giggles and sighs. It was so confusing. The sexual advances were getting more than I could bear. I was only 16 at the time and I just wasn’t comfortable around my faculty anymore. Everybody wanted to have sex with me. I knew something was wrong when one guy whose advances I had consistently turned down told me, “what are you even acting like? Is it not you again? You’re sharing it like cake, but you don’t want it to reach us. You’d better behave. Everybody knows!”

It was the most painful thing. Everywhere I turned, it felt like they were talking about me. A girl called me a prostitute to my face and said I should stop sleeping with my classmates. She continued by saying that any day she saw me near her boyfriend, she would deal with me. I was too confused, so I just stopped going to class. This worsened the situation because when I came back for exams, I had become skinny and the rumour changed to me having an abortion. These boys placed a bet on me. The first person to sleep with me in their group would win. I had no clue. I fell in love with one of them and that spelt the beginning of my nightmares (I thought I was being slut-shamed, this time, it was something else). This man was taking nudes of me and sending them to class groups. What did they not say about me? What did I not hear? When I confronted ‘my boyfriend’, he told me, “shebi you have done it with 8 men at once before, why were you now hiding it when people wanted to pay you good money for it? Do you think you are fine? Rape ko, rape ni, how will you say they raped you and you will still be open to dating? Anyway, take this N1,000 for your troubles. Leave my house before my girlfriend gets here, please.”

I couldn’t have friends. I couldn’t concentrate in school. I ended up with a third class. I attempted suicide a lot of times. My experience was horrible and I wish it stopped there. Nowhere was safe for me because men, no matter their social standing, would make advances and when I refused it would be almost the same as what I’d always heard; “You nor dey fuck? You nor get person wey dey change your oil? Wetin dey your body sef? No be shawarma them dey use knack girls for your school?” I became a recluse. I cannot be seen in public. I am too scared and scarred. I don’t want to be seen. I wish I had the courage to kill myself because this is not a way to live, to be honest. I just wish men would leave women alone. I just wish people would leave women alone because women also say a lot of nonsense. I remember when people in the church heard about my rape and the pastor’s wife said things like, “look at how you’re dressed. Then you will say men are after you. Why won’t they be after you when you keep causing them to sin?” Slut-shaming comes in waves. Sometimes, it’s so subtle, you even normalize it.

 

Tofunmi,24

I remember meeting this guy in a friend’s house. I felt attracted to him because of his height, majorly. We had lots of wine to drink, then we had sex. It was nice, and he asked if I wanted to meet up every couple of weeks to have random sex. I declined. Fast forward to a month later, I was on the beach where I met a couple of boys. I liked one of them. We didn’t hook until the pandemic when he invited me over to his house. We had sex. This went on for months until I found out the first guy had gone into his group chat to talk about me and all his friends were chiming. I found out about it and it got me wishing the floor could open up to swallow me. Every time I saw him and his group of friends, I would avoid them. Subsequently, I began to hate myself. Over time, my friends had to help me through it all.

 

Would you like to share your story with Culture Custodian? Kindly send an email to submissions@culturecustodian.com

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