“Awon wa’ye wa gbadun ni,” he had said in Yoruba. The spectator’s remarks translate literally to “They came to the world to have fun.” His comments were in response to the auto electrician who had expressed his empathy in that exaggerated manner artisans are known for as he fixed my vehicle. The subject of their small talk? Women. The electric mechanic was also quick to announce that he didn’t like to subject women (compared to men) to any stress when it came to haggling about his charges.
It had been a hectic day, and I had been looking forward to getting home in good time so I could squeeze out the precious little rest one is constrained to during the week. However, the moving machine had other ideas – one minute I was weaving through the ever-chaotic Lagos traffic, the next minute, I was stuck in the middle of a busy express road with an immobile car. A good Samaritan showed up to help push the unyielding car to the side of the road, and luckily, the auto electrician was nearby.
I didn’t say a word in response to their obviously prejudiced comments. Apart from being knackered, and thinking about how I would rather be anywhere but where I was at that time of the day, I knew it was pointless to begin to attempt to school the two ignoramuses about the shallowness of their submission. But that little episode took me down memory lane. How many times had I been judged on the basis of my gender, looks or background?
There are certain prejudices that are worth fighting against. Biases relating to race, religion, gender, (especially when they impact negatively on the subject’s wellbeing or threaten his existence), are jaundiced views that give rise to oppression and inequality in the society. They cannot be allowed slide. They should never be given the chance to thrive in a sane world.
However, certain preconceived notions should not get more than a passing glance, and I’ll give you some examples of those myopic ideas or comments you ought to pay no mind;
The dependent woman syndrome: This encapsulates the little encounter I narrated above. In a rapidly evolving world, we still have people who believe that if a woman drives a car, it must have been courtesy of some gentleman. If I had a dollar for every time a man has made a snide remark about their gender’s largesse being responsible for the car I drive, I’d be a woman of means by now. The money a woman she spends, the clothes she wears, and even the height she has attained in her career must be hinged on the magnanimity of the male gender. She is but a woman; the “weaker” sex who can only handle so much. All the efforts that have been made towards enlightening society about the absurdity of this thought process count for nothing to the category of people who hold this view. You have a better chance of having a one-on-one with Mr President than helping them see things differently. Don’t waste your time trying.
The lazy silver spoon kid: You belong to the small percentage of people who were born into a wealthy family. By virtue of your parent’s possessions, you could afford not to work if you wanted. Your unborn children probably need not toil to eat if they so desire. However, you are indifferent to the riches that have others bursting an artery to get a sniff of, and you are determined to make your own way in life. But you find that people are quick to judge you. They belittle your efforts at being your own man and chalk up all the successes and little victories you have achieved to the influence of your family. I am here to tell you it’s high time you stopped trying to convince anyone that you are as hardworking, if not more hardworking than the average young person who isn’t privileged to have what you have. People will have their prejudices anyway. It shouldn’t stop you from being yourself.
The dumb one with the good looks: If you are good looking, then you cannot be intelligent. Well, most people don’t actually put it this way, but it’s evident in the way they treat people who are perceived to be more attractive than average. I have always wondered why people tend to associate beauty with a lack in the brains department. Once an individual knocks it off the park when it comes to looks, they are likely to be confronted with prejudices about their ability to offer something more tangible. Rather than expend energy trying to convince anyone that you are more than just a pretty face through words, have them end up with eggs on their faces with your success. This is one front where you should let your actions do the talking for you.
Single and lonely, Divorced and Frustrated: The single or divorced status is one of the fastest ways to get judged unfairly in this part of the world. If you are single, then clearly, nobody wants you because you probably have an attitude problem, or are under the illusion that the moon shines out of your derriere. It’s even worse for the one who’s divorced. I mean…you were “lucky” enough to be married in a society where partners are hard to find, and you let that slip? You let that slip?! You are probably unloveable then. If you are a woman, it must be because you were never submissive to your husband. And if you are a man, you must have a been a wife beater, an ogre who can’t be tolerant of a woman’s tendency to be cantankerous. If you belong any of the two categories, you can never win in this society. Quit trying to explain yourself or status to other people. They’ll never get it.
The best way to experience peace is to jettison the need to change deep-rooted opinions people have held for aeons.
Let them think what they want, you live your most authentic life.