By Njundu A Drammeh
It is still a man’s world or so we men make it so. From the menfolk to Lamin Bojang, the show of solidarity, of support, of excuse of action as aberration, of minimalism, of pontificating on morality while mindboggling is not surprising. When it comes to issues of sex and sexuality, or matters that border on them, involving women, we men not only become prudish and moralistic but also assume a holier-than-thou attitude which smacks of double standard. We condemn, blame, castigate, insult, label the lady who let her guards down, as of easy virtue; the temptress who is responsible for the fall of Adam from grace to earth; the seductress tainted with the brush of Satan; the willing collaborator or accomplice. Her character and honour would be impeached.
Whatever happened to her is well deserved, invited or welcomed. In fact the loudest condemnation would come from likely abusers.
And a similar situation but just that the “victim” in this instance is a “man”. And that has made all the difference, a very significant one at that though. It has revealed the true character of our society, nay of our world, we men. Similar “victimhood”, not sure if the General who let his sensual part took control is a “victim”, but different reactions. “I stand with you General”; “I feel for you”; “We wish you all the best”; “This is not the end of world” are some of the statements of solidarity I have read from posts since this imbroglio or saga or what have you started. And by and large from men, and some women. We can and must “solidarise” with “victims”. But it must be with all victims.
Unfortunately, when the victim is a woman, we men engage, not in support, in victim bashing and blaming and arrogate to ourselves the moral high ground of “sainthood”.
We solidarise with the perpetrator. From what I have heard narrated by those who have watched the video (I didn’t because I think it is wrong to watch), Mr. Bojang fell victim through his own misplaced trust and lack of judgment. Women victims of sexual assault fall victim equally to same. But in their case, we are judgmental….
Why aren’t we subjecting the General to harsh criticisms and judgment?
Why are we insisting that we respect his privacy and family life? Why are we minimalising his action as “injury” done to his own person? Why are we excusing it away as merely impropriety or act done on the spur of the moment, without much thoughts?
I guess the reason is simple: he is a man and was exhibiting “manhood” and masculinity. Giving in to the bewitching snare of a Siren is not equals to moral turpitude or worth condemnation. We solidarise…
I will always stand with and by female victims of sexual assault or even of “sex videos”. I will always give them the benefit of the doubt, even if the accusation is against myself or a very loved one… See, the stress, confusion, disappointment, anger, betrayal that Bojang is feeling, or you are feeling for him, is what victims of sexual assault and blackmail also go through, if not worse. But unlike him, the assault women face is always an absolute and total violation of their most intimate personal boundaries. Unlike him and men who find themselves in similar situation, the women victims get defiled, and then discarded, forgotten or marked for life. Unlike him who someone described as “super hero”, the female rape victim is often treated with callous disdain and contempt.
While in the court of public opinion Bojang and men in similar situations are treated with sympathy and kid’s glove, female victims are asked to produce evidence to collaborate their accusation or their history is recalled to impeach their character and doubt their morality. Unlike such men, the women are always put on trial, their words inherently suspect.
We cannot, as a society which believes in fairness and equal treatment of all (not sure if we are such a society), treat the sexual escapades of men as mere aberration and lack of good judgment, but “burn” female victims at the stake or refuse to view their assault as heinous, morally reprehensible and violence of the worst category. We must, if we are a fair society, condemn in the strongest term sexual assault of women and not put any premium on their morality.
But may be, this is a tall order. It’s a man’s world, and morality is as defined by we men.
Good news is that our women are refusing to be defined by what we men think they are. They are breaking barriers and the glass ceiling. Who can “cage” the half that holds the other part of the sky? I pray they solidarise en bloc. Then the privileges we men enjoy will all go away. I pray.