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Poverty Porn Shouldn’t Be A Feminine Art- Chinyere Fred Adegbulugbe

Poverty Porn Shouldn’t Be A Feminine Art- Chinyere Fred Adegbulugbe

It was sunny the day I met Grace. As I drove past her that hot day, her protruding belly and the infant she straddled were difficult to ignore. The heaviness with which she climbed into the car when I stopped to pick her was enough to tell her story. A story of rejection… A story of unrelieved hunger … A story of tears and even more tears… I didn’t need to ask her any questions; her entire story was indelibly etched in her tired and sad eyes. Nevertheless, I asked. Like I already anticipated, hers was an everyday story. A story of many Nigerian women today. She was seven months pregnant and the baby she was carrying was only 14 months old. What about the man? I mean you are not likely to find her type in fertility clinics discussing artificial insemination procedure. She narrated how he had abandoned them immediately she took in for the second child. Since then he now lives in another city and has never contacted her. With no marketable skills or job, she trudges along daily, depending on trickles from neighbours, relatives and friends, who themselves are not necessarily any much better. That day she was coming from a relative who had promised some money for her medical needs.

Needless to say that she was sent away empty-handed because even the would-be benefactor had nothing to give away. Like I said there is nothing extraordinary about her story. There are countless Graces all over, plodding along each day not just because they don’t have education or job (that’s another story entirely), but because somewhere in their brain is deeply rooted that belief that it is not their job to take care themselves and their children. Someone has at one point made them believe they can get away with being totally dependent on another human being -a man.

 

You see, when American writer, Pamela Redmond Satran, in her work, ‘30 Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know by the Time She's 30’ insisted that a woman should always “ have enough money within her control to move out and rent a place of her own even if she never wants to or needs to’ the message couldn’t have been any more straightforward. She simple preached the gospel of financial freedom for every woman. As I listen to women-whether friends, colleagues, relatives, frenemies, single, married, widowed, separated or divorced, one thing has become clear; a woman is more fulfilled when she has her own money. It is not about feminism or women’s rights activism.

 

Financial freedom should always be the key message. Don’t get me wrong;I have absolutely nothing against feminism. I even fancy myself as a closet feminist and that is because I have long recognized that what the true feminists are struggling to achieve lies right at the heart of the authentic survival kit for every woman. Poverty porn with the female as its poster child may have been appealing for a while but in the long run both the cast and director have since realized that they have been saddled with the wrong script. It’s no long selling, period! Women no longer have to be the face of poverty. Women no longer need to be helpless. Women no longer have to be dirt poor and long-suffering to earn the coveted ‘virtuous’ medal. I know the strong inclination and tradition to heap ineffective and ridiculous curses on such men like Grace’s partner who has been off the radar for more than a year now and I honestly don’t see the point.

 

Karma already knows his permanent address and whatever a man sows he reaps. It’s an irrevocable law in creation. But let’s assume that in answer to the feverishly muttered midnight prayers he is suddenly struck by lightening at midday; how will that put breakfast on the suffering woman’s table. How will that translate to any form of security for her and the children? Don’t be surprised to see the truant erstwhile husband and father shamelessly appear on the child’s wedding day in borrowed agbada and a handful of his equally misguided kind in tow. But you see, life goes on. The many years she had skipped meals and other basic needs to ensure that the child turns out into someone that can be married at all will only be spoken about in whispers. We have all played this card for way too long and it is high time we all stopped already. So while spend so much resources preparing our young women for the future and all the beautiful things it holds, including marriage, the gospel of financial independence should become core part of that course. Believe me, I have heard enough of the proverbial ‘stories that touch the heart’ to last me seven lifetimes. And the future? I can only say that from the quality of young men we see, we are still so far from the comfort zone.

 

Ali Nuhu,Kemi Adetiba,Helen paul

Icon Master Class February 2016

10 Great Reads For This Valentine!!!

10 Great Reads For This Valentine!!!