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Of societal norms that hold a handful of water

Of societal norms that hold a handful of water

By: Destiny Okoduwa


Listen, would you? Jot these words down and make of it whatever you deem fit, but I will not take the blame if you refuse to see past the wavy lines of my blurry handwriting. I scribble from a place of innate experience, but I seek to make light of it as much as I can. So, cloaked in satiric words, I make it a rundown of things that are expected of you as a boy. Stop! Now move six-words backwards from the full stop, read the sixth word twice. Thanks. Now, shall we?

Never, I repeat, never should you act because actions come naturally to you. Never should you count hanging your hands like you have a bag strapped on it as a reflex. Never should you swing your arms or snap your fingers when you talk (even though it’s ingrained in you and you can’t help it). Let’s not even go near the bizarre act of batting your eyelids. Don’t be dumb. You know the set of people who are supposed to do that, and you’re not one of them. And if you think doing that doesn’t change the fact that you have a phallus dangling underneath you (even though you might be right), then you must be this hesitant cuss word in my mouth.

You see, emotions may not be restricted to a certain gender, because it is pertinent that you feel a certain way to everything that happens to you. But, there are restrictions to the kind of emotions you must project. Always remember: chin up, dry eyes. It’s sacrilegious that they’d ever find the glassy liquid trail down your cheeks. Or would you like to be referred to as a coward? As a sissy? Boy, brace up. Keep the sour emotions in check. Boys are brick walls and so do not feel the hurt of pain, regardless of how numbing or deep-seated it might be. Have you heard me?

Here’s a story for you.

Once, while a boy was buried in his house chores, his mother had a female guest who wouldn’t stop gushing over the boy’s dexterity in handling and moving from one chore to the other. She watched in awe—like it was supposed to be a thing of amusement—as he effortlessly did his thing, spewing compliments here and there. Bouyed by the utter admiration evident in the guest’s actions and words, the boy entered into the kitchen and churned out a mouth-watering meal. Dazed was this guest that, upon leaving, she said to her host, “How were you able to raise him this way? You’re so lucky he’s not like other boys.”

Moral of the story: You’re not supposed to be so good—read as ‘any good at all’—in doing works around the house, works that are meant for that gender in skirt, not even to save your life. It is considered normal if you grumble, stamp your feet, and bounce when you’re compelled to do so. Because, isn’t that how boys roll? That way, you’ll be saved the earache of compliments that do not hold water, like: “Wow! Your mother did a good job bringing you up like a female child.” “Your girlfriend no go dey do yanga for you.” Like that should even be a big deal in the first place. Like there are separate manuals for bringing up a male and female child respectively.

Boy, when it comes to talks about sex education and sexual health, and you hear them say, “Zip up.” Note that it doesn’t mean that you should censor your genitals (it certainly doesn’t apply to your gender), it means you’ve got to censor your maxilla and mandible, your mouth. Come to think of it, place it on a weighing scale, the percentage of female rape cases to that of male rape cases. You’ll agree with me that the statistics are right, very right.

See why?

Forget the fact that nobody buys that joke in this century anymore; would you really speak out should you fall a victim of forced sexual activity, be it a man or a woman? Don’t even lie. I know you wouldn’t. And it’s cool, boy. You, my boy, is an imagery for strength. The perpetrator can never be the perpetratee. And besides, you should allow society the luxury and satisfaction of basking in their ‘deliberate’ ignorance. You really should.

Destiny Okoduwa weaves short stories and creative pieces around adolescence and its intricacies. He is available on Facebook at: Destiny Okoduwa.

Feature image by Levi Hastings for BuzzFeed News

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