Doubt I

M: …You live in fear, my friend.

 

Y: I’m not sure I live in fear as much as uncertainty.

But I don’t believe those two things to be very different.

Fear feeds doubt, doubt feeds fear,

vicious cycle of imaginary people spitting in each other’s eyes.

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Inspiration Journaling

A Reaction to Aziz Ansari

“I believe Aziz and ‘Grace’ are a product of a society and a culture that places consent in the realm of strictly ‘No’ means no, without a lot of focus on ‘Yes’ or silence not necessarily meaning consent. This same culture (whether partly rooted in patriarchy or evolutionary biology) pushes for men to mostly take the initiative in establishing communication and taking the lead in heterosexual interactions,while also defining seduction as a dynamic process.

With that being said, I am conflicted on absolutely placing the blame on Aziz regarding reading the non-verbal cues in that interaction. At some point she expresses that the speed at which things progressed initially made her unable to properly organise and articulate her thoughts to him. Following this, she performed oral sex on him at his request and then expressed her disinterest in having sex with him afterwards, to which he seemed to agree. Then she added, ‘Next time’. We live in a society where we police verbal communication and this is another reason I’m conflicted about this.

Fast forward to the point where they were around the couch and he requested she perform oral sex on him to which she agreed. I believe she felt some pressure- possibly stemming from her feeling bad about saying no partly because she went to his apartment, her inability to reconcile what she truly wanted, who she thought he was and what she was experiencing, and also possibly being too star struck to disagree. All of those reasons make me sympathize with her. However, I do not want to blame Aziz for not understanding this pressure due to the context involving romance.

I do believe there was some inappropriate behavior displayed by Aziz in continuously persuading her to have sex after she expressed her disinterest in that.

To wrap this up, I think the main issue here is ‘Yes’ and silence not necessarily meaning consent and an indication for us to keep dialoguing what consent truly means in sexual interactions.”

 

– C. Ilozue

Ten Things I Know About Rape and/or Sexual Assault that You Should Too

In light of recent events, I’m taking a temporary hiatus from love, from pain, from human feeling, really. Instead I’ll talk about an act so heinous, it doesn’t really rate on the human spectrum – rape/sexual assault. It’s funny because I see animals and their sexual interactions and, even when I was much younger, I had a problem with how I could not tell if the female animals were really showing consent, really enjoying the acts as they stood complacently and were pounded from behind. Docile, pliant, but not quite passionate; just furthering their species. But humans aren’t that way, are we? We hardly engage in sexual acts to “be fruitful and multiply”. We express passion, hate, excitement, happiness, pleasure and love through that medium. 

Now, I spend a lot of time with love. I am trying to make a whole blog about it, for Gods sake. I am not an expert on it but I do know a bit about it. Not so with rape, not at all. I barely know anything about it since it consists of so many different experiences and the hurt and angst of so many different individuals with different reactions that I do not know. But here I am still writing a blog post about it (and here you are still reading). Well we’ve generalized about all I do not know about rape/sexual assault. Below is what I DO know about rape. 

Ten things I know about rape and/or sexual assault that you should too:
– 

– Victim blaming is NOT okay. Blaming is used lightly here to describe victim doubting, victim indifference, victim shunning, victim hostile analysis, victim anything really. You know why? Because the only thing that should be directed towards them is love and support. And some more support.

Oldest trick in the book I just employed, eh? But as with all other cliches, still bloody effective. I could have talked about how rape is a heinous act that gets committed every day (RAINN actually reports one sexual assault in America every 107 seconds. If you don’t know what RAINN is, please educate yourself) yet there is NOT ONE self acknowledging rapist out there (yes,yes, I know about that disturbed psychopath who actually admitted to it). 

I could have talked about how 4/5 rapists are people we know and 47 percent are actual friends or acquaintances (this one needs a bit more spreading around in certain countries. Mine, for instance) and so we shouldn’t be so quick to discount the more “unbelievable” strikes of sexual assault i.e. Fathers, stepfathers, brothers, uncles, cousins, husbands, neighbors, grandfathers etc. 

I could have talked about how empathy and support shouldn’t be given more readily solely to those we know simply because we can speak to their character, but also to those we do not. Because while on the other hand, there are obviously those out there that we do not know that can speak to their characters (weak justification), until the rapist is proven completely innocent (approximately 1 in 400 cases btw), it is NEVER the victim’s character that should be in question.

I could talk about how the justice system does not make it the easiest for victims even in this century to report this revolting act, no matter how advanced the country in which it is committed.

I could talk about how acts of rape and sexual assault require the silence of the victim for the perpetrator to keep on committing these acts and he will go to any lengths to achieve this aim. Is it then a shock that emotional, physical and psychological abuse are usually the weapons of choice employed to attain this objective? How far fetched does it seem now that most victims do not report these crimes? (Yes, there are definitely also cases that aren’t reported for fear of shame, ostracizing, and all things that could be reasons for all situations. But you get what I mean).

I could have talked about how rape/sexual assault has nothing to do with what a woman is wearing, how much she has drunk, the recreational drugs she chooses to take, the jobs she chooses to do, the company she chooses to keep, the words she chooses to use, the people she chooses to love or the way she chooses to act. You know why? Because 10 times out of 10, a woman will never CHOOSE rape. And that is the only choice that matters.

I could have talked about how while rape/sexual assault isn’t exclusive to women, (yes, kids and men also get affected) they are highest sufferers. And while men should also be protected, kids even more vigorously so, this movement has more than enough space for everybody. Much like all the movements out there about social justice with opposers – #alllivesmatter #notallmen – the opposition noise is unnecessary. If we all supported the movement at hand at each moment with the importance it deserved without detraction, the hashtags I just used would not be necessary. It would be clear to all that all lives matter and it wasn’t all men. The point is each movement should get its due as presented – independently and with complete attention. 

I could have talked about how social justice should be championed by all – passively or actively. Because humanity – as social beings- require justice. You cannot hope to be human and not be concerned with the concept of it. It is not a choice we should consider that we have, like our opinions on religion or politics. It is a right we should exercise. If one chooses not to be active in their bid for justice, one can still passively participate by providing support to its victims. This does NOT include keeping silent. To stand silent is to provide consent. (I think I paraphrased two different quotes here but you get my point).

I could have talked about how rape/sexual assault has affected at least one person you know well. No, really it has. 

I could have spoken about how this issue is important to me because I, like the countless others that came before, after, and beside me, have suffered from it myself. I, like countless others, have suffered psychologically and emotionally for years afterwards. It does not make me any less of a human, I do not live any less in my own truth and I certainly did not deserve any of it. But it happened anyway. 

I know I know, I pulled another cliche and gave you 10 reasons anyway. Funny how that still works, huh?

Some of you will, upon reaching the end of this list, scoff at how logical and common place these things were. I’m glad you read it anyway and I hope we are friends in real life. 

Some of you will not agree, think some of these statements are largely assuming on my part or that I have no right to challenge your way of thought. But I would argue that I do. We grow when we are challenged.

Love is still the answer though, it always is.

Journaling

Change II

And so it hit me – full in the face. Bam! A truth I’ve been locking so far away and so deeply that it hit me with the juggernaut momentum of its escape. And all it took was a tweet to know it. I had to see someone say it before it made perfect sense to me.

“Loving someone and watching them move on with no stress is both what you wanted and your worst nightmare”.

Yes. It is what I wanted. It’s what I wanted terribly. But why did I have to read someone else come to the very poignant conclusion to understand this? Because I think I had been living out the nightmare part of it the whole time… But I’m free now, you see. I have to be. You can’t want what’s best for someone with fervour and live in your nightmare. No, you will then live in your release. In your truth and in that love. The object of the affection might be dead and gone, for all intents and purposes, but the love will last. That’s the beauty of it. Once love has been created, it does not go anywhere. It might exist in a vacuum if necessary (in those times, we are deluded that the love is gone because there is no object on which to impress it), but it really is an imperishable thing. Love is an imperishable act and once fostered, you cannot possibly exist in love and in a nightmare. The two are mutually exclusive. Instead, you can be like, “I was, till two moments ago, in a nightmare of my own carelessness THEN in love”.

Journaling

Change

People say that people don’t change, which of course, is preposterous. I will admit that getting there is a series of missteps, false starts, false middles and shaky continuums. But if a person does something to surprise you one day – just once – there is change in that. The absolute beauty of the the thing is when they never repeat it. Because from time to time we have to remind ourselves that we are human and that change is a process we haven’t quite wrapped our heads round yet. I have spent the better part of two years trying to change three things in my life. I am now so changed from the person I was back then , I am only now slowly trying to come to terms with it. But would you believe it? None of the things I focused on changing have moved even a little bit in any direction…

It’s the focus on these three though that did the other things, I think.

Journaling

Trust I

*The word should is used indiscriminately in the snippet below.*

It’s been said that you should be able to trust the people that mean something to you. The operative word being “should”, ha. We are not obligated to trust. Yes, we are born trusting but quickly learn or are forcefully taught… for lack of a better word – Better. No, we don’t have to trust the ones we love fully. I don’t think there should be a love that is totally immersed in trust. But yes, by virtue of loving, we should trust to some capacity. Never all the way. And we SHOULD – please remember that the operative word is always should – be able to completely immerse ourselves in that if we chose. That should be the standard of those we keep close to us anyway. Yet, it would be foolhardy to use all that utopia (for indeed fully trusting is a utopia) all in one place. But wouldn’t it be great if there was a thought, a slim chance that we could?

Journaling

M.I.S.S.Y.(ou)

One blow… One pronounced skip of the calming rhythm of my heart’s steady pace. That was my initial reaction to the news. One blow that plunged me first into shock then into hyper reaction then into the stark flow of silent tears then back into shock. One blow was the only punctuation I felt in the next 20 minutes of an unending sentence that I endured before I felt myself truly breathing again. Just that one blow. Only one…

Missy came into my life when I was 10/11. The years are blurry at this point. But I remember that she came when the office was still on Awolowo road, super close to Munchies. Super close to Bacchus as well (but I wasn’t aware of the latter till much later in my adolescence). And her name was as spontaneous and attitude driven as the person she was named after at a whim – Missy Elliott.

She was the perfect character from day one. And with the trepidation of the young who love all furry four- legged friends but who are also smart enough to have a certain regard for  life and self preservation, I played with her coyly at first; quickly nervous if she got irritated or overly excited with me. Eventually, and not after very long, I decided I loved her. Like you know the kind of love you have for something or someone that never fully leaves your thoughts? That importance of their wellbeing? That happiness in the reunion? I loved her.

It has always been clear how incredibly blessed I was to know Missy. How blessed I still am to have known her. It’s not common in Nigeria to have dogs as pets. This is not to say that people do not have dogs or that people have a shortage of love for these adorably loyal creatures. But what tends to happen is that a lot of people who love dogs in Nigeria do not have the means or the motivations to own dogs, and those who do tend to own them as guard dogs. It would seem of little consequence – these shifts in role title- but the only people with enough patience or time to love these guard dogs are usually those responsible for putting food and water in theirs kennels and releasing them at night. These people are also not usually their owners and more often than not, give abuse instead of love. But I, to my greatest advantage, grew up around dogs who were genuinely loved for their quirks and definitely not treated like “animals”. I was blessed in this way and was blessed to experience the best of Missy in this vein.

As an aside, I will say that the expression “being treated like animals” never sat well with me. Animals should be treated kindly and lovingly across the board, with pretty much the same courtesy we would give to complete strangers at the very least. Even in cases where we eat animals, their method of execution should be merciful and their grooming for this execution, humane. In other words, in an ideal world, that expression wouldn’t mean the things it does now. But back to Missy…

This post was really to acknowledge the life of an amazing dog. A dog that acted a good deal like a cat. One that added a lot of laughter and attitude to my life; a dog who had such emotion that sometimes I swear she could talk. And I think that single immense blow, the one that stopped everything for one second was my heart’s way of affirming what I already knew: that she will be missed tremendously.

RIP Missy

2003-2015

 

Journaling