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Nigerians are good at a lot of things, and pretence is definitely one of them. Whether it’s pretending to like people we don’t like, or pretending to not like people we like so it doesn’t get in their heads, we pretend a lot. 

But the most amazing aspect of this pretentiousness is how we love to claim we don’t have sex. Which is funny because, according to the Society for Family Health Nigeria, we use about 400 million condoms yearly. If we are not having sex, who is using the condoms?

When it comes to those of us who do admit that people have sex, there’s a habit of slut-shaming that is downright outrageous. For some reason, sex between two people is treated like only the woman was involved in it. There is still the conscious or subconscious belief that, somehow, a woman’s worth is tied to her vagina, and that her marginal utility begins to reduce once she begins to have sex. And any woman who enjoys sex? That’s a slut!

Slut-shaming here is so commonplace it’s almost the norm. You start experiencing it once you hit puberty – sometimes even before. One of the most infuriating things about it is the sheer audacity of the people who engage in it. More times than I can remember, I have been slut-shamed for merely walking on the road or refusing to give out my phone number. It’s sick. Whether I politely decline or rudely ignore them, I’m still going to be called a slut. 

The openly sexual male is a player, while the openly sexual female is indecent and a prostitute.

More often than not, this is usually the first time a growing girl experiences it. It gets confusing. Do I give out my number so I can have some peace? What happens when I pass this route again? As you grow up and learn how to deal with that, you start facing society members who believe you slept your way to every good place you’re in. An expensive phone? You fucked for it. A promotion? You fucked for it. A car? You fucked for it. Seen with a rich man? He’s definitely your sugar daddy.

The slut-shaming isn’t just external either. It happens internally as well. Family, friends, colleagues say stuff about you. I was once called a prostitute by a close relative because I opened a bank account without parental consent. I was called a “hoe” and worse by a considerable number of people – some of whom were supposed to be my friends – because of sex between some dude who lied and me. He did the lying, but I got the smoke.

There’s also the issue of the very people you’re sleeping with slut-shaming you. I mean, we are together but somehow you’re the stud and I’m the slut? Incredible. Nothing seems to stop your sexual partner from slut-shaming you for the sex you are (or were) having. Guys get out of relationships and begin to call their exes all sorts. Sometimes, they go as far as commodifying you and your body parts, to the adulation of other members of society. Then you begin to wonder if you had the sex in question alone.

People try to pass slut-shaming off as a joke but the reality is that it sucks big time. Nobody wants to be insulted for simply choosing to live free.

You see, the openly sexual male is a player, while the openly sexual female is indecent and a prostitute. I love adult jokes – I crack a ton of funny ones myself. But someone called my attention to it saying it was making people around think of me as loose. Can’t lie, I felt rather disappointed in everyone involved. I compared myself to a man in the same circle – If my jokes were dirty, his were downright filthy. However, he was funny and I was slutty? I keep my jokes to myself now. These people are clearly unworthy of such premium content.

Sometimes I deliberately do more of what I was doing just to spite the shamer. Sex? I’ll have more of it. Dirty jokes? I’ll crack dirtier ones. Short skirt? The next one I’ll wear will be shorter – with a thigh slit. I don’t think the comments made by the slut-shaming blockheads should weigh anyone down and stop them from enjoying themselves. I mean, we only live once, don’t we? If we live our lives always keeping what people will say in mind, we will simply not live for us; we’ll live for them.

But I understand that not everyone has thick skin. Sometimes, people try to pass slut-shaming off as a joke but the reality is that it sucks big time. Nobody wants to be insulted for simply choosing to live free. I don’t see slut-shaming as a hurdle. It’s more like a speed breaker – sometimes, the comments might slow me down, sometimes I just ignore them and speed along and sometimes, I don’t even see them and I just speed through. Bumpy, but we move.

Tobi Adebanjo is a freelance writer and student

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