I was at a poetry event somewhere in Lagos over the weekend when a young lady performed a spoken word piece themed on appreciating Sugar daddies.
Beautifully rendered and written, her poetry reminded me of the constant misgiving of the bad girl tag in Nigeria.
Growing up a Nigerian female, most likely you were brought up to be ‘good‘ and morally upright. But with time, ironically it sort of seems like now, bad girls are winning and one would wonder why there ever was a need to be ‘good‘.
The idea of being a good girl was deeply ingrained in us and in certain ways convened what my feminist community could describe as potentially sexist practices. You most likely told that crossing your legs properly in public, learning to cook, getting good grades, avoiding boys, dressing decently, going to church (or other religious places), and etc. were what made one a good girl.
These set of behaviour attributed to being a good girl and how they were gone about in an average Nigerian home, may or may not be the cause of the identity problem certain Nigerian females battle with daily. The need to stay good or be bad.
For as long as I can remember, it always seems that ‘bad girls‘ in any stage of life seem to be doing better in comparison to the good ones. In secondary school, it was always the girls in the ‘bad gang‘ who learned how to socialize better, learned social skills faster and in some cases grasped sex education faster. By University, these ‘bad girls‘ would turn out on average to be dating better, more exposed to life’s realities and sexually exploring. One would naturally wonder why there ever was a need to be a good girl still. Seeing as in the game of life, the hashtag good girls are more likely to lack complete comprehension of how society works.
Who the hell is a good girl?
In several conversations, I have had with male Nigerians, the issue of dating a ‘good girl‘ always resulted to the description in summary: ‘boring‘.
You’ve got to admit being a good girl yourself and listening to a guy who might potentially be your crush describe your camp as ‘boring‘ could get pretty err unpretty. I remember wondering for years whether there really was any need to be good. I mean, why remain in camp good girl when a team bad girl would just end up with all the good guys you admire.
I took time in exploring the philosophies behind these two camps of Nigerian females: good and bad. My discovery turned out simply put: there isn’t ever such a thing as a ‘good‘ or ‘bad‘ girl or human even. In the words of a nerd I know (who’d rather remain anonymous), and of course paraphrased:
‘people are neither good nor bad.’
The Chinese Yin and Yang philosophy essentially describes how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent. This means that where there is good, there still lies a possibility and presence of bad.
In the same sense, with humans and more specifically Nigerian females, every individual female possesses elements of good and bad. In recent times, I have come to realize that sometimes I get uncomfortable with a girl or person being described as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. If we retrace our steps to the creators of these labels, we would discover they also are made of good and bad elements.
Although I try to not make sense and rebuke man’s need to label things and people, I cannot lie that it is very much more convenient. I mean isn’t it just easier to simply say someone is a snub because they do not greet you every morning rather than actually putting in some effort to finding out why the person behaves in that way. And of course, no denying, it is human nature to find a simplistic description of everything. Hence, the need for labeling everything.
Adjectives like pretty, beautiful, cute, genetically mean something or someone pleasing to the eyes. In man’s attempt to organize things in a box of labels, we successfully choose to lazily throw in people in boxes of these adjectives and more.
In the 1930’s, linguist Benjamin Whorf proposed a linguistic relativity hypothesis. This hypothesis explained that the words we use in describing what we see aren’t just idle placeholders–they actually determine what we see.
You cannot help but notice that maybe this theory explains the methods average Nigerian parents employed in raising ‘good girls‘. To give off the aura of prude and proper characteristics at face value.
So much effort is put into teaching girls to cross their legs, dress modestly, be organized, opt for domestication, respect males, aspire to end up in a marriage situation, get good grades, be home early, aspire to be second place, frequent religious places and be ‘mature’, that little or no time is spent teaching girls greater values.
Values like honesty, integrity, confidence, self-belief, self-aspirations, spontaneity etc. are neglected: leaving an average Nigerian female in the box of head-nodding, dependent, unmotivated robots.
Where my bad Nigerian girls at?
I have learned that when a Nigerian male, in all honesty, says he would rather date a bad girl, he means he’s looking out for an adventurous, spontaneous, brilliant, self-motivated, confident, decent, morally and globally aware partner.
The same difference of a bad, exposed and aware Nigerian female is one who is confident in making mistakes and learning from them, quick to exploring herself with life experiences and constantly evolving. And honestly, it is fine for people to keep labeling, I’ve come to an understanding that in the long run, learning and unlearning certain values are difficult especially for adults which is why some individuals decide to remain in their ignorance. Therefore, I beg to allow ignorant opinions on choosing individual values.
There is no better or worse way in describing a 21st-century Nigerian female (and no, I am not referring to feminists alone), a 21st-century Nigerian female is who she is: a constantly evolving mass of adventure, colour, sound, sensation, and emotions.
I must point out that in certain cases the description of a ‘bad girl‘ actually holds water. A female who sells her body for money or is either physically or emotionally abusive and or interested in causing havoc is ‘bad‘. But that is only my opinion.
Out there, to some people, a female selling her body for money, a mentally or physically abusive female might not be ‘bad‘. Like I said, the perception of good or bad is essentially dependent on who is viewing.
And to the good Nigerian females, it honestly is fine to introspect and ask yourself why you are so accepting of a label you have been pre-disposed from birth to carry. The answer to self-identity is answerable only by the soi (French for self).
On this note, I’d like to end with this:
Yes, maybe all good Nigerian females should become bad right away.
Poultry Podcast anchors, question the level of Nigerian females in the midst of the global shake by women fighting gender pay-gaps, sexual misconduct against them and equality:
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Image Credits: Nigerian girls, Millenium Magazine