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Lize Shola Okoh: Demeaning Jokes About Women Stopped Being Funny a Long Time Ago

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It seems like to be female in Nigeria is to be the butt of jokes. I had put off writing about this for a while, but after the hashtag “BeingFemaleInNigeria” recently took over Twittersville, I decided it was time to hit the nail on the head.

 I’m sure you’ve all seen those comedy show adverts which I now loathe. These comedy show ‘ads’ are nothing new. It’s been the norm for so long that I don’t even remember when I watched the first one. You know what I mean na, those adverts that begin with a ‘sexily’ dressed babe that during the course of the ad leaves her broke boyfriend for another who is financially better off.

 At first such ads were sort of funny, you couldn’t help but laugh at the boyfriend’s plight and sigh at the girl unabashedly leaving her partner just for better material prospects. Usually, once such scenes end, the ad cues in the standard booming voice letting the viewers know where the comedy show would be taking place, tickets prices and where to purchase them from.

 But my people, please tell me, at what point does it become one joke too many? Really, how many times can we laugh at the same old joke? Or how long will it take for us to realise that stereotyping females in such ways ain’t just cracking it?

If not the sour taste of the subtext of such adverts, even the lack of creativity is appalling. Na since nineteen gbirigbiri wey we don dey watch the same adverts to go watch comedy show. Abeg, Mr comedian, you can do better.

 You might be wondering what has brought about this outburst, so let me explain myself. I was scrolling down my Facebook newsfeed one afternoon when I came across a video a friend had just shared. The title of the video was unsurprisingly sensationalised and due to curiosity, I clicked the play button and what ensued left me disgusted. As usual, it started with a lady and her man. In the video, she had asked him for a huge amount of money(I don’t care to remember the actual amount) but he could only afford to give her 15k and she was very displeased and demanded for more because the money wouldn’t be enough for what she needed it for. A minute later, the scene cues in a guy driving an expensive looking car and the drama that followed was ever so predictable. The guy rode past the babe and her boyfriend and overheard her insulting him for giving her just 15k. He then asked her what she was doing with such a cheap guy and told her that she could do better. What next? He offered her a ride and she jumped in, leaving her boyfriend in dust as the car sped away.

 As expected again, while in the car he sweet talked the babe and got her contact details, and then moments later, he drove into an impressive gated community, and of course the babe was impressed and fawned over him. However, he parked the car in front of the gate of one of the houses on the street and the owner of the house came out to attend to the guy. During the course of their conversation, I, as well as the babe who was easily listening in on the conversation because the window was wound down, learned that the guy was only a mechanic repairing the car for the house owner. As the guy rounded off the conversation, he promised to return the car once it was fully fixed, and then returned to the car. Immediately, the babe jumped out and started to accuse him for not telling her that he was a mechanic and that the car wasn’t his. Again as expected, the guy began to insult her for leaving her boyfriend and driving off with him. Then I heard the cued laughter from the “audience” and then the scene cut into the guy directly facing the camera to give information about the comedy show and other details.

As the video ended, I couldn’t even laugh at what I had just watched. Not because I made an effort not to, but because of the realisation of how pointless and vile the content of the video was. It left me thinking: ‘how long will women continue to be the butt of these types of jokes?’ Can these so called comedians not come up with any other material to advertise their shows? When will the subjection of the female folk to such stupid stereotypes as the average Naija babe end?

I’m not naive enough to think that such babes don’t exist, but when these are the only types being pushed by our media, what sort of portrayal then are they making of Nigerian females?

Not all Naija babes will date a guy for his money, and moreover there are other “types” of females they can portray out there that gives a positive reinforcing image of Nigerian women. All these simplistic stereotypes have been over flogged, and simply put, are lacklustre, demeaning and not funny. We are tired of the same old scenes and plots.

 Mr Comedian, please get over yourself, because we’re over it.

 Stay positive, creative and passionate!

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Sam74100 

Lize Shola Okoh is a content producer and writer who’s passionate about social change, writing, cooking, music & living a healthy lifestyle. She loves to travel, share her original healthy recipes with anyone that cares to listen, and talk about all things pertaining to natural hair which she rocks proudly when they aren't in dreadlocks or weaves. When she’s not writing for work, or on her first fiction novel, you are still likely to find her writing for her fiction stories and lifestyle blog at sewafolie.com Follow her on Instagram and Twitter- @sewafolie

36 Comments

  1. Umgbeb

    July 12, 2015 at 10:16 am

    Very well said, the Nigerian ( African) woman should be portrayed in a more dignifying manner that gives her Value and respect in the society

  2. good stuff

    July 12, 2015 at 10:32 am

    Its funny cause I got the impression the woman and men of Nigeria don’t have a problem with this. I mean I completely get that feminist ideals have been written about alot recently and from the comments people are taking it on board and definitely stand up for female equality as well but being the butt of jokes people seem to be ok with it. As I don’t live in Nigeria currently but did for a time I realised that new nollywood I guess you can call it, makes an effort to not highlight woman as the butt of jokes. But traditionally we have been and I have even laughed out loud but I agree its just not funny no more.

    The male comedians make these adverts and I guess they are well responded to. Its aimed at the masses and I believe all though we want equality we aren’t ready to see it because half the commenters for such type videos and even real life woman celebs who are well to do are blasted for showing off their boyfriends money. The masses cant seem to comprehend that woman can and do well without a man.

  3. EllesarisEllendil

    July 12, 2015 at 10:37 am

    *Sigh*

    Jokes generally aren’t funny except told by comedians/generally funny people, its sort of their talent. You don’t find jokes about women funny, I don’t find jokes about weed and Igbos being money loving importers/exporters with the attendant thick accent(some are hilarious though) funny, but calling for an outright “ban” haba!! Free speech, satire all the lovely English liberals use. As long as like you said “such babes exist” the comedian is well within his rights to satirize them and their actions.

    This article would be the equivalent of writing “Stop the “demeaning” stereotypes” about Nigerian Men because “there are other “types” of males they can portray out there that gives a positive reinforcing image of Nigerian men.” or complaining anytime Sweet Mother comes on because the “simplistic stereotype” of loving doting Mothers is a “stereotype” some Mothers abandon their children e.t.c. Can’t have different rules for sides of a coin. Sorry.

    Don’t even get me started on the “Good always Defeats Evil” Sterotype or that certain complexions are an endangered species in Igbo land???.Can’t ban everything we don’t like.

  4. Erm

    July 12, 2015 at 10:44 am

    Maybe you should stop watching comedy.

  5. piece of my mind

    July 12, 2015 at 11:05 am

    *yawns

  6. bruno FIERCE

    July 12, 2015 at 11:12 am

    yawning…….

    first of all its comedy. nigerian comdey relies heavily on stereotypes or stereotypical situations.
    the igbo man with an igbotic ascent who is always on his phone talking about his containers at the seaport

    the hausa man who has a strong hausatic ascent talking about his cows.

    the yoruba man and his love for owambe.blocking the streets to throw unnecessary parties. my child scored 7 over 10 in his test, PARTY!!!!!! oya block the streets lets throw a party etc

    this are the kind of jokes nigerians will understand.

    louie c.k and amy schummer kind of jokes, nigerians wouldn’t understand those kind of jokes

    this article could have been promising assuming the writer’s blood wasnt hot. u could have discussed about the sexist statements like when a man is behaving weak and sluggish they ask him why are u behaving like a woman be a man. WTF. this is very very common in nigeria. even many of u nigerian women do it. ur boyfriend/husband is behaving weak or ur boyfriend is talking too much and u shout at him, why are u behaving like a woman. REALLY? I have witnessed it many times.

    because being lousy and weak and sluggish are characteristics of all women while being strong and well behaved are characteristics of men.smh

    to call someone a woman is an insult, why? but to call someome a man is not an insult.

    many of u people on this blog have called me a woman as an insult, what is wrong in being a woman if I may ask? does it mean the person is weak?

    • lovely

      July 12, 2015 at 1:19 pm

      stupid Bruno….. who ask you… Anyone calling you a woman would have been very considerate.. or better put. would have chosen very subtle language to describe ur “i.too.knowtitis” ur own don pass woman level

    • vibe

      July 12, 2015 at 2:15 pm

      Seriously? This is the response you chose to give to the points he raised? To mention that he is worse than a woman, you imply that being a woman is a bad thing. I suggest you read through his comments again, without attaching Bruno to it, you just might notice the ills he highlighted.

    • fleur

      July 12, 2015 at 2:27 pm

      Bruno, they are jokes that pander to how it is we feel about our brothers and sisters. it endorses the negative projections of our brethren that give as 5 minutes of a feeling of superiority over a perceived inferior group. So we laugh because it panders to what it is that has made us a divided society, Let us not accept the grins as endorsement. Africans were once displayed as Zoo animals for the entertainment of the white elite. it was great fun at the time! But is it?

    • Babym

      July 12, 2015 at 2:31 pm

      I agree with u Bruno, when demeaning jokes are made about men, nobody seems to cry o or demand a boycott. Lolol abegi

    • Author Unknown

      July 12, 2015 at 5:35 pm

      I have to agree with crazy Bruno on this one. I hope you also all see what happens when we attempt to preserve “culture”. Yes, truth be told, outside of the cultures of the southwest of Nigeria for the most part, females are not treated with regard. From inheritance to the monarchical institutions. It is after all our history and culture. No? Hence the reason I laugh (sorry to digress) when I hear Nigerians on one hand respond to issues of gay rights equality with the whole “culture preservation” defence, which in actual fact isn’t even true, and on the other talk about women’s rights.

      Lize Okoh. Relax, it’s called comedy. It’s really not that serious.

    • EllesarisEllendil

      July 12, 2015 at 11:18 pm

      *Sigh*

      Starting a petition to make history compulsory in schools. Sorry to bust your bubble, but the tribes in Central Nigeria are generally considered the most “un-patriarchal”. In Igboland for example, while a Woman may not inherit her Father’s lands she is expected to inherit from her husbands. Barren Women can get surrogates, a Woman is not barred from heaving her own business and successful women are considered desirable. More importantly only weak Men interfere in female matters making the “Umu-Ada” and other Women’s associations a powerful lobby and don’t get me started on the priestesses of Ani and other Gods. If you have mind don’t accord them their respect. The Igbo also had the most advanced system of “peaceful warfare” I have ever encountered, just an example of “our culture” worth preserving.

    • Author Unknown

      July 13, 2015 at 2:19 am

      @EllesarisEllendis. I think you meant to BURST my bubble, but that’s okay. I agree with you that history must be taught in schools. Remember however that history must be told in its truth, however uncomfortable we might be with it.

  7. SA girl

    July 12, 2015 at 11:20 am

    I think there are a few issues at play here, firstly there is the misogyny that is values women almost exclusively for their looks, and for some the only access to economic power is by using their looks.
    Secondly for men it seems the more money they have the more cultural cache they get.
    We never seem to harshly judge the rich men that only date incredibly beauty women and see women as trophies, but we’re are much harsher to women for using these looks they are valued for to get ahead.

  8. vanilla

    July 12, 2015 at 11:54 am

    Couldn’t agree more. Some of us are dating guys we earn more than so why all d ‘all abrt d money’ only jokes. Not every time show d vain girl, sometimes show d strong & hardworking woman!

  9. Pat

    July 12, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    My dear what you narrated is nothing compared to the current. MTN advert where one illiterate money miss road got a babe simply cos his caller feel says he,s a millionaire. Are women now that cheap? I feel that advert is an insult to us and should not be aired again. There are other ways of marketing that product without making women look cheap!

    • PH Boy

      July 13, 2015 at 11:26 am

      ….sue MTN!

    • Lize Okoh

      July 13, 2015 at 11:19 pm

      Wow! I was unaware of the advert. I’m glad to see someone else gets my gist.

  10. iseemaths

    July 12, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    One simple advice… Until you learn to filter positive info and negative info from all the info being passed around in this day and age of everyone having a voice then i guess people won’t give air to dying issues (negative info)…., rather will consume positive info and use it to better all of us or add to positive info and bless others…

    In a nutshell don’t take everything to heart. Waste of mind and brain space. Thank you?

  11. Emmrys Omzy

    July 12, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    For your own comfort, just group that sort of comedy into dark comedy. I guess u know the meaning. Check the world over, you’ll probably find such type of video in their dozens. The world will continue to be the world, please relax.

  12. chy

    July 12, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    i am a woman but truth be told we re the reasons all this comedians used us for their skits.imagine a neighbour of mine left her guy of 6yrs for a chairman of one local govt in enugu state who deceived her that he isnt married.He later dumped her and trust us we went to see her and sympathise with her as if she lost a relation.we hv some good women though but the lousy ones out numberes the good ones so in alternative comedians descend on them.moreova our comedians go chop so they make funny stupid jokes out of we women to make huge money.There re some lousy men as well but trust our african mentality”a man is always right”.

  13. J

    July 12, 2015 at 1:32 pm

    Ermm you might be over it but if folks are still pushing skits like the one described in your article there’s clearly a demographic that still finds it amusing.
    Do I agree with you, yes but if you are waiting for the media to push some sort of “positive reinforcement ” then I think you might be disappointed.
    Maybe until we can sensationalize women who rise above the stereotype to a level the forces the media’s hand then it is what it is!

  14. Babym

    July 12, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    Hian! Na wa oo, person no fit joke again??? This article has just made me very weak lol. I cant deal! #sensitivemuch

  15. Naked

    July 12, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    Hey Mr Bruno, i beg to disagree on your assumption that all women are loquacious ,weak and sluggish. Infact that assumption itself is stereotyping. I have seen guys/men who can talk as if they are the village town crier, and do away with the notion that all women are sluggish. My Hr director is a Jordanian woman and i bet you she is as smart as “smart phone”. By the way I’m a guy.

    • Susan

      July 12, 2015 at 3:59 pm

      I don’t think that’s what Bruno meant to say. Like you I believe he disagrees with that notion and was only highlighting it.

    • APKX

      July 12, 2015 at 4:30 pm

      Read Bruno’s comment again and thank me later (let me make it easy for you, you are on the same page)!

      For once i agree wholeheartedly with Bruno.

    • Manny

      July 12, 2015 at 5:35 pm

      Lord have mercy. Naked, is that what Bruno wrote? Biko read again

    • Thatgidigirl

      July 12, 2015 at 7:14 pm

      Agreed that all women aren’t as described above, but i think the writer is being one sided and too sensitive. From that same video, the stereotype i see being portrayed is that “all men are dogs and liars” which isn’t true. Stereotypes and cognitive biases are part of human nature, and truth be told these comedians actually mimic what happens in our society. Forbes constantly showcases hardworking women that have excelled in their field, this means you can actually choose the type of “media” to engage in rather than isolate an incident to rant about. I guess this is a good time to be a woman in Nigeria, with all the hashtags and fight for women rights. However women like you need to be careful not to make a joke of the whole movement/ revival by proving right what we have been accused of, let us please know where to draw the line before it turns into a circus. In my opinion this article is a joke, and if the society has bestowed onto women the attribute of being overly sensitive, the writer is proof.

  16. Dr. N

    July 12, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    When I enter a dark room I don’t complain about how dark it is, I just turn on the light. For eg, I once worked where I had d privilege of being d 1st female to hold that position. I made sure I left on a high note. I was immediately replaced with a lady as it became obvious that d clientele would notice.
    So, if u dislike d comedy skits poking fun at women, u cld produce yours or sponsor someone who has better content
    One quality product at a time, that’s how we defeat d stereotypes.
    Cheers.

  17. bn lover

    July 12, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    But na wa ohhhhh…….it’s not dat hard…..

  18. nunulicious

    July 12, 2015 at 9:25 pm

    In the estate where I live, each time I step out with my man, the security men will almost fall over trying to hail and salute. “I salute sir” “Chairman” “Oga mi” “I hail sir” ” your boys are loyal sir” “morning sir”. One week, I flipped and each time they made that error I called them out. “what about me? do you see me here? or am undeserving of your greeting?
    After reading Sheryl Sandberg’s LEAN IN, I’ve decided I will demand the respect due me when it pertains to my feminity.
    Reread this and question YOUR sterotype if you imagined me as a babe with her man. Now recreate the scenario and picture me as a wife with her husband (which I am) and finally, at which point of the story did you realise the error of the security men?
    We’re all guilty of sterotype at some subliminal level.

  19. nunulicious

    July 12, 2015 at 9:26 pm

    In the estate where I live, each time I step out with my man, the security men will almost fall over trying to hail and salute. “I salute sir” “Chairman” “Oga mi” “I hail sir” ” your boys are loyal sir” “morning sir”. One week, I flipped and each time they made that error I called them out. “what about me? do you see me here? or am undeserving of your greeting?
    After reading Sheryl Sandberg’s LEAN IN, I’ve decided I will demand the respect due me when it pertains to my feminity.
    Reread this and question YOUR sterotype if you imagined me as a babe with her man. Now recreate the scenario and picture me as a wife with her husband (which I am) and finally, at which point of the story did you realise the error of the security men?
    We’re all guilty of sterotype at some subliminal level.

    • EllesarisEllendil

      July 12, 2015 at 11:20 pm

      If you never found something for the “boys” while your husband did then sorry but you don’t deserve the hailing they give your husband.
      Doubt they wouldn’t hail you if you found them “something” knowing where their bread is buttered and all.

    • anonina

      July 13, 2015 at 1:11 am

      respect is earned sister and not demanded! The boys in my area beckon and praise me all the time, up to calling my 6 year old daughter aunty kekere, small madam, why? because i never exclude them from any activity. I have never treated them like anything other than what they are(humans). So my dear its far from you being a woman and besides the boys need something to, hehehehehe.

  20. Max

    July 13, 2015 at 8:15 am

    Applause…. well written Liz. truth is that your observation is quite right and its just one of the so many other issues that resonate from the deeply patriarchal system inherent in our system.. For instance why would it be the female to whine and twist in the production of song videos… aren’t there male dancers or must every artiste be depicted as a “chicks man”.. but whether the system is right or wrong is gist for another day as it has its advantages and disadv… But pertaining to what you wrote writing isn’t going to do nothing. change can only b effected from within the system if errr for instance aunty atoke herself writes a mind reeling,thought provoking, decision inducing article on this very same issue trust me it ain’t going to move no big shot.. perhaps media sensitization on a larger platform.. but basketmouth wouldn’t blink to it.. miss Liz would b blessed to have him perform at her wedding and the average under bridge Nigerian can not afford to watch his shows. so who cares what? But trust me if just another comedian is making mainstreams with more decent and *anti-women humiliation* jokes and saying the same thing perhaps then he might grab the attention of the culprits in questions…
    **by the way Bruno its quite disheartening to hear you talk some sense I always enjoy ur comments for the comic relief it provides.. pls don’t stop…. *winks* u know stupid can b quite entertaining at some levels….

  21. red

    July 13, 2015 at 10:41 am

    someone once said if naija govt decided to pass a law that removes naked women from videos, words that advertise the female endowments(such as boobs,bum,etc) from music, sexily dressed women from billboards, silly jokes about women from comedies…how many talents will we have left in nigeria?? really, can’t we showcase our talents and build sth beautiful without necessarily running down the status of another human being? #IWonder#

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