I Am Going To Break Into You

I wanted to title this What Else Do You Want Me To Say. But I had to change it to this. Some days ago, I messaged Flower and told her I needed to get a blog post out this week. It had been a while I published something here and even though I have a bunch of posts I intend to publish, I could not bear to put any of them up when the whole world was going up in smoke. I knew I had to wait for this shit to either die down or I could respond to it, add to the noise that would overwhelm the government and make them act, add to the shouts that would drown the injustice and wickedness out of those who see other women’s children as their objects of sexual satisfaction. When I told Flower I needed to post something, she said immediately: Write about what is going on currently.

The response that came to my mind was, What Else Do You Want Me To Say?  Honestly, I did not have anything to say. I did not know if whatever I said would matter in any way. I did not even have the energy to write anything, to say anything. It was all just too overwhelming. Against the backdrop of Coronavirus, we see black people hitting the streets of America to protest an ideology that found its way into the soul of America in the 1500s and refused to leave after more than a hundred years after it core source had been abolished. At the same time, we see rape take over our country and from every corner of the country, we see people reporting, telling stories, shocking stories, unbelievable stories.

Which is where I will start from. When you hear a story of rape and it seems unbelievable, that is probably the more reason why you should believe it. It should never make sense. It is not supposed to make sense. There is nothing sensible about forceful sexual intercourse. All the rape stories I have heard did not make sense but then, it did not make me doubt them once. These things are abnormal. They should not make much sense to you unless you are a rapist or a rape apologist. And when you hear that unlikely story, take it.

Really, the concept of consent is still something I am trying to understand and I am going to be honest with you that I do not understand it fully well. I am learning from YouTube videos, Instagram stories, tweets, WhatsApp status updates, LinkedIn articles. I am learning from everywhere. And really, my curiosity is from a place of caution and a place of concern.

It is Saturday and all the rape stories are taking over the internet. An elderly man I respect sends me a message on WhatsApp. He says: I know you are an authority on this gender and feminism thing. I am seeing all these things about consent on Twitter. Michael, I think I may have raped my wife last week. I am not sure. How are you not sure sir? You see, Michael, we were in the middle of it – it being sex, for the primary six children here – and then she said, Stop! Stop! And I stopped, really. But she began to cry and turned to the other side of the bed. When I asked her what happened, she did not say a word. In that moment, I felt as though I had raped my wife, like I had forced her to have sex with me even though she was the one who initiated it, even though I stopped in the middle of it when she asked me to. I still felt like I had raped her. What really is ‘consent’, Michael? Is it in me stopping like that? Does that change the fact that she still felt raped? That night still sits between the two of us like an ugly child; quiet, numb, unsettling.

I did not know what to say. I did not know what to tell this man. Can we safely say the fact that he actually stopped meant he did not rape his wife? Or the fact that she felt raped meant she was raped? What’s the concept of consent? Can you rape someone and not even know it? if that is a possibility, what is our response to that? What is the penalty for that, assuming it is even a possibility?

These are the questions I cannot answer. These are the questions that are running through my mind as I type this, listening to Asa telling me to Stay Tonight.

But then, there are questions I can answer. There are stories that are clear to me, that I remember vividly, that I can never forget.

The first time a girl would tell me she was scared of being raped, I was in SS 3. We had just finished in chapel and she came to me, and whispered into my ears that she felt she was going to be raped. I did not understand. There are no rapists in this school, I thought. We were in boarding school, a safe zone. Imagine the irony. When I asked her why she thought she would be raped, she told me she had dreamt of being raped by some boys in our class.

“And my dreams always come true, Michael. My dreams always come true.”

I looked at that girl that night and I did not know what to say. How would I assure this girl that I loved and cared about that she was safe and that she was not going to be raped, and that maybe her dream was just what it was? I cannot remember how I responded that day and it is sad how I have not seen that girl since 2015 and how I have never remembered the event until today.

The second time a girl told she was going to be raped, it was much more real and I can remember this vividly. I can remember that we are in 100 level in Obafemi Awolowo University and I am walking with this girl from AUD 1 through Motion Ground to SUB. And she is telling me that she is scared, that one of our classmates has been disturbing her. And when a girl tells you a boy has been disturbing her, it means he has been making advances to her despite her obvious lack of interest. (Which, by the way, is still one of the things I do not understand. If you ask a girl out once and she says no, why do you think she will have a different answer the second time? Let us even imagine that you go the second time (you, not me. I would never go a second time.) and then she still says no, why can’t you drown your love for her and move on? What is the point of going back and going back until you become a nuisance to the society and to an innocent girl’s life? What exactly is your problem? Have you no shame? Can you not respect yourself and move on. What is it with you? Pepe is shaking his head for you.

So we are walking through Motion Ground and she is telling me about this guy, our classmate which I still saw in class today, looking like a child of God. But then, I knew my friend. I knew she was not lying. I could see it in her face, in her eyes, in the way her lips trembled when she spoke, in the way she gripped my wrist while he spoke, looking behind her cautiously to be sure we were not being followed.

“Why do you think you are going to be raped?”

“He said he is going to rape me. He said it, Michael. He said what is it that I am keeping, something that they will tear and enter if I was not careful.”

You have to have read that with your Yoruba brain. Do you know what it means when a boy tells a girl, A ma ya wole? It means, we will break in. ‘We’ suggests multiple actors and ‘break in’ suggests force. That there, is a threat of rape.

And so for weeks, my friend and I were always walking around in groups of three or four. And I always kept an eye out for the guy. When I suggested to my friend that she reported him, she looked at me and hissed. It did not make sense to her that I would ask her to open herself up to some lecturer who would only compound her problem by saying things like, ‘Has he touched you? He has not touched you now.’

When I read about rape and I see people’s comments on the current issues, my heart is drained. Rape is more about power than it is about sex. If it is all about sex, what happened to the brothels? You’d find prostitutes who are willing to have all the sex you want with you with a merge sum of money. So why not go to them if you are pressed for sex? Why go to a 3 year old who is incapable of ever giving consent or even any real sexual pleasure? Why go to an 11 year old? Why go to a girl reading in a church?

Rape is about power, about overpowering the victim, about dominating. For you to rape someone, that means you consider yourself more powerful than them (and I do not just mean physically more powerful) and you believe that you can overpower them and there is nothing they can do about it. That is why when you hear rape threats, you do not hear so much about the sex itself. You do not hear the rapist talk about how much he is going to enjoy the girl or how beautiful she is or satisfying the sex will be. Rather, you hear them talking about ‘tearing their way in’, banging her, ‘finishing’ her. You hear things like, ‘I will have sex with you till you die! I will make you regret the day you were born! I will fuck the life out of you!’

These are not romantic words. There is nothing sweet about this. Rape is a sexual assault. But it stems from an overwhelming domineering nature that most rapists have. And do I need to remind you that most rapists are men? And that most rapists and rape apologists do not see their female victim as their fellow human but as the weaker sex, the lesser being? You see where this is going? You see gender inequality rearing its ugly head?

There are those who will come now and say things like, ‘men are being raped too’. Now, that is a true statement but already, I have explained in previous blog posts on feminism why comments like this are from a place of folly. Communication is a two way street. If I am saying A is a letter of the English Alphabet. I am not talking about the other twenty-five letters. I am talking about the letter A. If you want to support me, then you join me in saying A is a part of the English Alphabet. You do not say, ‘But B is also a letter.’ Saying that would be unwise. Unwise because you have broadened the scope of our conversation thereby reducing the focus on letter A and letter A is the one this conversation is about. Letter A is the one in need of help. Now you bringing up letter B at this exact moment is not wise. You know why? It will neither help letter A nor letter B. Instead, it will make all the other letters come out angrily and begin to shout and before you know it, we do not even know what we were talking about.

Politicians, misogynists and rape apologists are three people I know who use this mechanism to change the course of a discussion. You hear some politicians say things like, ‘Racism is a terrible thing that needs to stop and we have to do that by coming together as a united country, not by looting our fellow brothers. What do we gain by looting? We once again turn ourselves to thieves and robbers. We are not thieves. We are not robbers. We are law-abiding citizens.’ You hear that and you wonder, what were we even talking about? The politician has successfully shifted your attention from the issue of racism to that of being peaceful and law abiding. It is a classic tactic to change the topic of discussion without even saying it loud.

Another example: ‘Rape is bad but you people too should stop wearing skimpy clothes. Cover your body. You are less likely to be raped if you dress decently. We are all children of God please. We are not glorifying God by exposing our body. Ladies, your body is your glory. Do not expose it to anyone who has not paid for it. Say after me young ladies, My body, my glory! My body, my glory!!’

Do those two examples above sound familiar to you? It is an evil tactic used by those who do not want us to address the issue on ground. So they try to distract us from our focus. They know what they are doing. They are rape apologists. They are not concerned about dressing decently. They are just being manipulative.

There is time to talk about decent dressing but not during a rape discussion, not brandishing it as the solution to rape when we both know that it is not the solution.

I do not understand everything about rape yet. I am still reading and learning daily. I do not know all about ‘consent’ but then, I know about my friend that had a dream that she was raped and she knew it could actually come to pass. I also know about my friend who we had to escort to anywhere and everywhere for three weeks because a potential rapist had told her he would break in.

What I do not know is more than what I know but then, my ignorance does not invalidate my knowledge. And this is why I am writing this. Tell me, what do you know? What don’t you know?

PS. Forgive me if this is a bit disjointed. It is not easy writing about many evils at the same time. And I am still trying to understand everything.

26 thoughts on “I Am Going To Break Into You

  1. I was reading this and pulling my hair at the same time, with a tiny tear threatening to drop.

    Now I get it. Rape is not supposed to make sense. Why I’ve not been able to make sense of it.

    Back to what was making me pull my hair. That part of you talking about something and then they’re diverting your attention to something else. We were having this conversation on a group chat yesterday, my primary school group chat and some boys kept saying boys are being touched in the places they don’t like. Dang! Let them talk and form their own conversations! Whatever is wrong in talking? Why wait till a sensitive topic is talked about and now sound like you’re defending evil!

    What I know is that silence means silence and never consent. Don’t wait for a no to touch anyone. Don’t assume consent for anyone.

    This really breaks my heart and the tears are pouring now without stop. I wish this will stop. It seem every girl as a story to tell! Assault, attempted rape, threats, wrong contacts, blames… How do we stop all these? How? Getting all the rapists killed, can that solve it?

    I’m sorry this is long, this is me expressing a bit of my bleeding heart.

  2. The most luminous part of this piece is shining light on the fact that every sexual assault is a flaunt of power and rape is the peak of such sexual annihilation. Thanks for writing.

  3. Very enlightening. The deception of diversion in a course of argument or discussion clearly shown for what it is and the main problem clearly stated, the rapist’s urge to show dominance. Thanks for sharing.

  4. This is absolutely valid. 🙌
    People who are rape apologists all try to shift attentions from the ideal truth.
    Rape has nothing to do with the victims acts, but all about a negative mental state which a heartless perpetrator absorbs temporarily.

  5. Great piece. Hits the nail squarely on the head. Rape is wrong. It is a show of power over a perceived weaker gender… According to Nigerian law, a man can’t rape his wife except on very few exceptions I vividly remember our criminal law lecturer telling us one of the reasons for this was so sex won’t be used as a weapon in the institution of marriage. Note: There are few exceptions

  6. Wow… Thanks for sharing Michael. The issue of diversion of attention or focus makes me so pissed off. Know when to make certain comments even though they may be right.

  7. My God.

    This just captures my thoughts on rape and assault and patriarchy. There’s no justification—no excuse at all—for rape. Yeah, consent may be wider in scope than we can imagine, but it’s that simple: DO NOT TAKE WITHOUT PERMISSION. And in act, just stop.

    There’s nothing like they are your wife (by implication, your property), or your girlfriend, or the most depressing of all reasons: I paid the bride price. Gosh.

    Well, I think we should take second looks at permission and how it needs to be firmly granted before we can have whatever we want to. My siblings, for example, do not take my shirts unless I let them. Then, no just means no. Everyone has their rights to saying no. And we have to respect that, steer clear. But then, the will to dominate, made default to many male children right from birth, withdrawn from female children right from birth; the kind of upbringing we give to our children with emphasis on gender roles and less concern for the fact that humanity binds us; and the kind of education the street imposes on us—all these just keep worsening things.

    This is the time for re-education, for demolition of default trainings, for embracing humanity not defined by gender. I hope we learn from these mistakes. I hope.

  8. Oh wow!
    This was a nice read and it made more to even realize that Rape isn’t even supposed to make sense in the first place. By the way, the Nigerian law doesn’t provide for rape between married couple but there are few exceptions. Example; when they are judicially separated.

  9. Forgive me, this will be long.

    Rape is bad. It is, in fact, evil. Just like its perpetrator. But to refer you back to your unused topic, there really is nothing else for you to say. All the possible angles to this issue have been both rightly and wrongly dissected by normal people and idiots respectively, thanks to Twitter.

    The main question now is this: what should we now do? Until the death of George Floyd, the fight against racism in the US had not been uptaken on a scale as massive as this. At least, not that I know of in the past decade. The citizens have plucked the hashtags out of Twitter and dragged them out to the streets in soulful protests. They are actively doing something about their own non-disease pandemic: racism. Of course, I don’t expect Nigerians to turn out for protests against rape. I’m not even calling for it. If we could just be more active in our fight against it. Here’s one of many things I think we should do.

    Make sure rapists don’t go unpunished

    I have never been raped, and I won’t even pretend to understand how it feels. But I imagine it is a terrible, earth-swallow-me feeling. Despite that, I still strongly believe that rapists should be dragged to the feet of justice by the victims. They should report to the police. I know what you’re probably thinking and I agree. Many police officers are corrupt. I heard Uwa’s father reported her rape case to the police and he was asked for ‘mobilization fee’ before any investigation was initiated. This is just another straw in the haystack of corruption cases our law enforcement has to answer to. But they are still our law enforcement, our own idea of law and justice. We should report rape cases to them AND other powerful non-government anti-rape organizations. After all, the government is too busy renovating the House. Many of these anti-rape bodies can easily “bypass the counter” where mobilization fees are requested, and take the cases to court. They are that powerful. After that, there should be a public show of rapists on all media. Let rapists and potential rapists know that they will not go scot-free for their evil.

  10. It is quite funny and greatly disheartening to watch people argue over who is or not to blame for rape. Apparently, so many do not even have a clue what rape presents as a package. Hmm hmm… It is a package. One in which you don’t get to pick some items and deselect others. You don’t pick the physical pain and leave the psychological. Neither do you pick the hate and ignore the memories that keep flooding in. It is an act that cannot be revoked or even compensated for.
    How should rapists be punished? This is a question left to non victims to figure out because, sadly, it doesn’t make a significant difference to her whether the rapist is dead or alive.

  11. I so much enjoyed reading this.
    It talks about the fact that rape isn’t just about the enjoyment the perpetrator get, it’s the overwhelming feeling of power they feel they possess. How the victims feel powerless but have no option but to cry and endure such pain, that’s their source of joy.

    I also feel the society should not tag victims of rape when they report such incidences. We tend to attach a stigma to them which they don’t really love. We should be more welcoming as a society and treat the victims with care. And the victim of a rape is never wrong

  12. I know sex is pleasurable but what I don’t still understand is why a man should see a lady and all that comes to his mind is sleep with her at all cost even with the numerous and peaceful ways the devil has provided satisfy this desire.

  13. I love this article!!! From the beginning to the end! Especially when you explained how people change the course of discussion using the example of letters.. It annoys me a lot when people say and do things like that. Weldone, Michael

  14. Lord knows this post is amazingly timely. There’s so much foolish gibberish all over and reading this is a breath of fresh air. Rape is not a nice experience. I’ve never been raped, but I’ve been finger tip close on more than one occasion (the first one being when I was 8) and it really scarred me till today. Seeing people try to change the topic is very annoying, and seeing the cases blow up every day fills my heart with heaviness. Let’s not talk about the foolish women who think it’s okay to be paid for silence after rape. This post is really enlightening. Thanks, Michael, God bless you.

  15. Great write-up sir. Well penned.
    The diverse insights and perspectives into this social menace was both informative and enlightening. Thank you sir.

  16. This is really worth the look. This is a light, stealing through the mouth of darkness. It’s enlightening. Thanks.

  17. “If I am saying A is a letter of the English Alphabet. I am not talking about the other twenty-five letters. I am talking about the letter A. If you want to support me, then you join me in saying A is a part of the English Alphabet. You do not say, ‘But B is also a letter.’ Saying that would be unwise. Unwise because you have broadened the scope of our conversation thereby reducing the focus on letter A and letter A is the one this conversation is about. Letter A is the one in need of help. Now you bringing up letter B at this exact moment is not wise. You know why? It will neither help letter A nor letter B. Instead, it will make all the other letters come out angrily and begin to shout and before you know it, we do not even know what we were talking about.”

    Ini,the above was my best part of the whole read and I’m glad that you nailed the matter on the head. Damn! I see the way those “people” try to twist the subject matter into a long rope and tie it around the head of victims when rape issues are being discussed. It’s so annoying and painful.
    Thanks for making your voice heard on this platform.
    God bless you.

  18. Well, rape is beyond the physical, and that’s why it will continue to beat our imagination. In other words, the world has never been devoid of spiritual forces. MAY GOD HELP US. NICE PIECE, BRO!!!

  19. This is a great one, Michael!

    I enjoy that you related it to gender equality and power. The fact still remains that a lot of rape cases are based on the fact that power is being exhibited and the subduing attribute is more of a thing.

    Another thing is, I think rape is psychological. It’s a mentality from within that power is not shown if force is not added (I mean, that’s what Government told us in secondary school). Power includes force and to show it, force must be inclusive.

    I’ve had to block my ears from rape issues since all these happened— asides from directly reported cases, I have seized to read up stories online for the sake of me.

    Weldone.

  20. Phew!
    Thanks for writing!
    Its disheartening what our society has become.
    Glad, light is shinning on it right now. Hope, justice is meted out to erring culprits.
    Hope, ailing victims find healing.
    Hope to see a restoration of the dignity of ailing victims.
    Pray for the safety of every female.
    Pray for a reformation of every male.
    Hope to see light shine on every dark corner.

  21. Thanks for pointing out the point that most men rape women because they see the women has the weaker sex and that rape is about dominating.

    We need to reorient everybody on sex education and start teaching the subject in school. We shouldn’t just keep talking about abstinence but also about sexual harassment. The government also need to review the law on rape, because the definition of what rape is doesn’t cut it at all.

  22. This really is worth everyone’s read. I love that you captured how rape is about being in control, for I have always wondered how you rape someone you claim to love. Yes, Blaming a rape victim for what they wear shows just how rotten the rape culture in our society is. Thank you Michael.

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