By: Mariam Adetona
“A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word [“accomplished”]; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions or the word will be but half-deserved.”
—Caroline Bingley, in “Pride and Prejudice.
At 28 years old, my greatest accomplishment is being a virtuous, well-mannered lady. Everyone attests to it. “She’s a role model, you should try being like her,” my neighbours tell their children. Young women stop me in the street asking me to mentor them, “My mum is always talking about how amazing you are, I’ll like to be you. At least she’ll be proud of me.” I was fully convinced of this the day my old principal called my dad to ask him to grant me permission to come give a talk to the girls on ‘Navigating This Treacherous World As A Woman While Holding Tight To Your Virginity’ in my alma mater, especially with the surge in the incidence of rape cases. I have a master’s degree in Bioinformatics and currently studying for my PhD in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology while working in a senior role in a firm in Enugu. My greatest accomplishment, however, was what my father granted me permission to talk about – my virtue.
To further reach more women and create a battalion of virtuous women across the nation, I am sending this out, for that will make the world safer for women if they learn how to be well-mannered. It is anonymous because a demure lady does not call attention to herself, she does not ask for credit for her work, and she definitely does not need to be celebrated regardless of how groundbreaking, inspiring and educational her works might be. That’s the first lesson, dear woman, you must seek to be erased. In fact, you must be complicit in your erasure.
So, here we go. Your lessons, woman.
1a) Your guiding principle in whatever you do is that in comparison to men, you are the weaker sex. Learn this, inculcate it in whatever you do, and you are well on your way to glory. On this path, you will realise boys will always be boys, and for this, you have to cut them some slack. Their every decision will undoubtedly have an influence or be influenced by you and it is utterly impossible to hold them accountable. It is not in their nature. Therefore, you will have to be accountable for their actions.
1b) You are the weaker sex, and so for the stronger sex to show how much he loves you, he will hit you. If he loves you, he punches you. He will lord over you. This is why you must learn how to calm a man down. It is a survival skill you need. Bearing the responsibility of being superior often comes with anger management issues. It is your duty to help manage a man’s temper for him, and you need to learn this to survive.
2a) Your dressing is important, you must learn how to go about it. You must not show too much skin, for that is ashawo behaviour. You might get raped for that and it will be all your fault. You must not cover everything up like a prude, else you won’t attract a man, and who will marry you then? You might also get raped for that and it will be your fault for not allowing men to see any part of your body, you tease. Balance is the key, aspire to it, woman. The trick is to be eye candy but not too distracting. Wear makeup but not too much, else you’ll tempt them. You are not to make men sin like that. They are the leaders, the better gender, the sovereign, and you – a mere lesser-than-equal being – should not use your body to distract them from doing the back-breaking work of upholding the patriarchy. It is easy for us women, but men have it so hard. Very hard. All the time. And it’s pure physiology, I tell you. It cannot be helped. That is why they occasionally grope and sexually assault you in schools, in public transport, and even in religious houses. It’s nothing personal, really. What you’re wearing does not matter. Anyways, it is only occasional, get over yourself.
2b) More than makeup, grooming is important for a woman. Shave your legs, your armpits, your vagina. Nobody likes a bush down there, get rid of it. Wax and oil your lady parts, be smooth like a baby’s back. Body hair, acne, and stretch marks are not sexy. There’s a whole industry dedicated to your beauty, for you to achieve wholesome femininity, even make you lighter and more desirable. Be thankful for its existence and make use of it. Focus on your goals – pleasing men. Never mind that men do not need to do all that. Hairy chests are sexy. Unwashed boxers have a strong masculine smell. Be sure to stick your nose up their hairy armpits and crotch, it is guaranteed to arouse you. Be grateful for it.
3) It is well known and scientifically proven that women are at their best in nurturing roles. It is the reason women birth children, not men. Men are better suited to roles allowing them to assert their dominance. They are designed to be tough and aggressive. The responsibility of earning a living is on their shoulders – not an easy burden to bear. Hegemonic masculinity asks you to be content in your easy domestic role as a child-bearing home keeper, and not expect men to help in taking care of their own children. The bible, 1 Timothy 2:12, asks you to bear it in silence and not usurp his authority. Do not blaspheme God by asking him to do things that are feminine, and out of the scope God intended.
4) Now, you must learn to care for your distant relatives. You know, those ones always putting their mouths in your business. Never mind that they are always talking about how you should cut your afro or walk with your back straight, so you’ll be perfect for marriage. Never mind that they keep saying getting an education is a colossal waste of time and money and you’d do better marrying the Londoner down your street. After all, you have light skin and so not very different from a proper London girl, you know, so you won’t be upsetting his palates. Never mind all that, it is not your duty to. Once you get your first salary at work, make sure you send it all to them, that is your duty. They will split it among themselves and pat themselves on the back for a job well done. Afterall, ojú méjì ló ń bímọ, ìgbà ojú ló ń wò.
5) On inheritance, never expect anything. Female children do not inherit properties. Even if you are given anything, you must accept it gracefully and hand it over to your brothers or husband for management. There’s no way you’d know how to manage things like that, even with your degrees. Anyway, your father’s house is not your house, your husband’s house is. Although you cannot inherit your husband’s either. His family members have a higher right to claim things you both have built over the years. This is all so straightforward, you’ll find out when you get a husband – that is, if anybody deigns to marry you with your unrelaxed, unstraightened mop of hair. You wouldn’t want to be estranged from your family members because of mere properties, after all, ènìyàn láṣọ. I mean, you’ll need a place to go when your husband hits you before sending you out of the home.
6) Lastly, dear woman. You need to know that feminism is propaganda sold by 30+ women who have had their hearts broken – because of their stubbornness – and do not have any prospects for marriage. Sure you would not want to be identified as that. You are young and have your whole life ahead of you. Even more, men do not like feminists. It is a totally unnecessary agenda. What is the matter that the values of misogyny are constantly being perpetuated, even legally? You do not need equal pay. In the unlikely event that your husband allows you to work, men are the head of the family, and they shoulder all the bills. What, then, do you need equal pay for? Also, you do not need not to be objectified, a woman’s worth is in how much she is desired. And you definitely have no business being president. You have no business breaking glass ceilings.
For further reading, check this glowing piece by Pastor Adeboye: https://twitter.com/PastorEAAdeboye/status/1282664195209732097?s=19. This is what you should aspire for. With any luck and lots of dedication, maybe you’ll have such written for you.
Mariam Adetona is a final year medical student, writer and mental health advocate. She has her works published in the Lost Anthology, and she runs a literary outfit “The Shade Book Club” in Ilorin, Nigeria.