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I had gone to pick up a package from a courier company at Jibowu. After getting down from a bus, I had to walk past men who were loading buses and looking for passengers. I have no problem with them, they have families to feed. What I had a problem with was that for less than 3 minute walk, I had to deal with at least six of these men who felt the need to say something – from innocuous (fine girl, good morning) to downright insulting (see as you no fine sef dey bone).

The same thing happened on my way walking back from the courier to office to the spot where I took a bus home.

Every time a woman talks about being harassed by men on streets the responses are always funny to see. Of course other women can relate so you get a lot of sympathetic/empathetic comments from them. It is the male reactions that are hilarious.

First you have the I am not one of them men. They are quick to deny ever having been openly disrespectful to any woman even though no one is accusing them directly. They play the you people are generalising card like pros. It doesn’t matter what the woman has been through. What is most important to them is that they are not painted with the same brush as those other men who don’t have sense.

Then there’s the I had no idea this was happening men. They are ignorant of anything outside their comfortable bubble. They’re horrified by how much women go through and want to do something about it. They ask specific questions – when, where, how. And suddenly the game changes. Of course they have seen men talking to women on the streets. But that’s not harassment, not from where they are standing anyway. The man was just being friendly, it’s not like he grabbed the woman or shouted at her anything. These women like blowing things out of proportion please. And he wipes his mind clean until the another woman tells and he story and he can bring forth his righteous indignation on her behalf again.

Religious brothers are the funniest. The woman must have done something immoral for men to harassing her like that. Maybe her skirt was too short, jeans too tight, make up too loud, or she swung her hips a little too much. She probably didn’t have respect. Somebody says good morning to you, why can’t you just answer? Or calls you a fine girl, why not smile and say thank you. Women of nowadays are too extra. It doesn’t matter even if the woman does not break any of their rules, well, the Bible does say to turn the other cheek. Forgive, forget and move on.

Of course there’re the men that just do not have sense. I have no other way to categorize them. They will turn the situation into a battle of the sexes. The our pain is painer than yours gang. The men also experience harassment gang. Of course we only hear about it when there’s a woman telling her story. Any other time is just wrong. A woman has to raise the subject else it’s not important enough.

Men will never understand what it feels like to be a woman. To put on mental armour as you wear your clothes because it doesn’t matter if your street is in Banana Island, or in Alagbado, if you work as a sales girl in Iyana Iba or an accountant in VI, there will always be that man who believes he has a right to your attention. Anything short of a smiley response is you being rude.

Of course there are men who make an effort to understand and empathise with women about issues concerning harassment. I just wish sometimes that more men would hold back on the judgment and mansplaining and actually listen. Really listen.