A quote…. A plea…. An advice…..
“Treat women the way you would like to be treated
the way you would like your sister/mother/wife to be treated”
**Emphasis on the second line highlighted boldly**
Awwwww. How kind and thoughtful and sweet. Right? Well…. I see that quote all the time, I see the sentiment shared in so many different ways by both men and women and while it’s an honorable and sweet sentiment, I find the underlying implications are worrisome.
I thought to myself, hang on! So basically, to get one human being to treat another with some decency, kindness and compassion, we have to have appealed to their sense of family? That essentially, there are people who in their dealings with others can only be decent if they see the person they’re dealing with [in this case, women] as their family member? I have to say “what if I were your sister/mother/wife and someone was treating me this way” before I can access & unlock the kind/decent/compassionate side of a man’s brain? So on the flip side, if a person[man] can’t picture me as his sister/wife/mother then good luck trying to get him to NOT treat me like shit? Wow! If we were to reach then it follows that as a woman, how you will be treated has nothing to do with much – not your conduct/interaction/aura – but heavily dependent on if the other person has a mother/sister/wife [and they have a cordial relationship at the very least] and can picture you from that point of reference?
That is so fucked up!!
How then can we access this special reservoir of this unique brand of gender-relative courtesy, kindness and compassion from the people who don’t have good relationships with their mothers/wives/sisters? What can we say to them? Such people have no benchmark in the first place, so who will be their reference point in their interactions with me? Or the ones who simply don’t have the ability to stretch their imaginations that far? Say for example, a man beats his wife and/or insults the crap out of his sisters & mother on the regular [they exist] then comes to the workplace and slaps his female colleague; based on the above sentiment, can you really fault him? Isn’t he in essence treating his colleague as he would his wife/mother/sisters? What about those guys that we see on the news who shoot/stone/behead women [and children] in those extremist religious places. Do you really think they give a shit about whether that could be their mother/wife/sister? Haven’t we even seen scenarios where its family members instigating and leading these killings for all kinds of fucked up reasons? If they had any respect for people’s right to life and existence [which is usually the crux], we won’t even be having this conversation. If being a decent person in your interaction with others is going to be based on appealing to people’s sense of family ties then we must also appreciate the fact that people’s interactions with their sisters/wives/mothers vary greatly. Right? It goes beyond that. IT SHOULD! IT HAS TO! The focus should be to teach people to respect EVERY human on account of their HUMANNESS; nothing more.
I think that these types of sentiments and reasoning for what constitutes [im]proper behavior and expectations is the sister-root from whence other unhealthy facets stem. You hear stuff like “we are both from Imo state”, “na my Muslim/Christian sister/brother”, “we are from the same village”; which is all fine and dandy but what about the other persons who don’t fall under any of these umbrellas, what then? Are they fair game for shitty treatment and bad behaviour? Like when an ex told me he was pressured because the girl he had been cheating on me with was from the same state as him; as though my state of origin had suddenly changed from when we first met.
I once got into it with some royally stupid security guys at the entrance of an eatery/clubhouse and after calling me every name in the book, one of them goes – “I just dey leave you because you fit be my sister” – LOL. If this is how you act towards a person who “fit be your sister” then I shudder at how you’d treat the one wey NO fit be your sister. I soon realized that when Nigerians say stuff along these lines, they’ve already been hella disrespectful and are just trying to wrap it up with some faux sense of nicety and/or are just being a typical Nigerian by bringing up stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with the situation at hand. It means nothing. Hogwash. Don’t think for a second that based off that flouncy sentiment, that person will hesitate to do you dirty if the opportunity presented itself.
Come to think of it, I don’t think I have ever seen/heard anybody advising women to treat men as they would their brothers/husbands/fathers. And why not? Women can be mean too, women can be badly behaved too so why not? Abi the menfolk don’t need gender-relative sensitivity and kindness? I daresay that the former advice in itself, as honorable and well-meaning as it is also has a colorful sprinkling of sexism but I’m not going to get into that right now.
The quote rubs me a certain way especially because, I remember dating a guy who was so big on family; infact, his sister & mother are his life and it was adorable; except it didn’t stop him from cheating on me repeatedly, didn’t stop him from lying every chance he could [and even using his family member’s as a crutch for more lies], didn’t stop him from being an all-round dodgy and shitty boyfriend even though he wouldn’t want any of that for his mother or sister. So what then?
The point I’m trying to make here is, why don’t we just forget the gender and advice human beings to treat other human beings decently? You know, from one human to another and cut out this “e fit be your mama/sister/wife” bullshit. It’s not helping anybody and it does nothing to curb people’s propensity to be vile because frankly, if you treating people decently is based on anything other than the simple/most important reason – THAT THEY ARE HUMANS, JUST LIKE YOU – then there’s a fundamental problem with your socialization process. I think that while I appreciate the sentiment and see how well-meaning it’s usually intended, I’d rather live in a world where people are taught to treat others well because….. Human.
It’s tough being a woman, even tougher being a woman in Nigeria. So while I’m looking for a guy to escort me into some premises because “prostitute until proven otherwise”, I’d appreciate it better if society implored people to treat me with common courtesy and decency simply for being human, just like the next person.
This one time, in a silly & careless but totally necessary move, I left a place I shouldn’t have been at in the first place and walked by myself on a lone, dark and quiet street until I found and got into a random cab back home at 4am [all the while praying to Jesus and promising to never be so foolish]. Now if you know me, you know that was totally uncharacteristic and in hindsight, very stupid – I would never get into a random cab at night by myself and I’d never be caught dead on a lone dark street by myself let alone at 4am [nothing good happens outside at 4am]but I had to. This happened almost a year ago and even as I type this, I can’t help but wonder how inconsequential and low a person must think of you to not even bother checking if you at least got home safe, knowing fully well you were out in the dark by yourself at 4am on their account. It basically says, you can be dead and your bits chopped in a bag folded in a cab’s trunk for all I care [yes, I’m dramatic and I imagine the worst]. You’re going to teach a person like that common courtesy and decency by that quote up there? Good luck to you!!
Oh and my apologies to the boy I once told in anger that somebody will treat his sister worse than he’s treated me. What can I say?….. I’m a hypocrite. Nothing will happen to your sister okay 😀
Oh btw, I am currently obsessed with this picture of Ms.Cookie….
So much that I made it my screensaver…..
To unlock my phone, I have to slide my finger right across her boobies 😀
Air kisses to all of you :* :* :*