I was arranging my clothes when I decided to play Tiwa Savage and Asake‘s recently-released song, “Loaded”. They say Mr Money has paid his house rent, now has ego (money), and has refused to give us new music in a short while. So when I heard he and No 1 African bad girl had a new song together? Omo! Straight to YouTube music. No dulling.
I wasn’t disappointed, both of them brought the required vibe and ginger. Fast forward to Tiwa Savage’s part and I heard “Sex tape ole baye mi je, igbadun kekere yen – na who never f*** hands in the air.” Ehn? Oya, rewind! I played that part like one million times; taking it back to 1:22 and listening to those words over and over again until I had my fill. I even dropped my clothes, faced the mirror, fingers in the air with a facial expression and an attitude I do not remember ever having, mimicking Tiwa Savage. For those who don’t understand Yoruba, Tiwa is saying “sex tape cannot ruin my life, that small enjoyment?”
See, I have no sex tape, but I am down for whoever has one and has refused to be humiliated or bullied for it. True true, sex tape ole baye Tiwa Savage je. Ordinary small enjoyment. Wo, on to the next!
There are many ways to shame a woman, ruin her reputation or everything she has ever worked for. One of them is to release her sex tape and, voila! The moral police would troop out, talking about how she is a shame to womanhood, motherhood, femalehood and the many other hoods, how she is a poor role model to the younger generation, and so on. Releasing a woman’s sex tape isn’t only done to shame her, it’s also a way of punishing her, or taking your pound of flesh.
A woman wants to call off her relationship with her boyfriend? Voom, he opens his phone, goes through his gallery, looks for intimate moments that were recorded in trust, love, understanding and complete vulnerability, and then releases it to the world; it’s her punishment for calling it quits. A woman has casual sex with a man? He records the act without her consent and then tries to blackmail her with it. When she doesn’t yield to blackmail, he releases it for the world to see. Women also release sex tapes of other women to punish them or have their revenge. People who do this know that the world would not ask why they released the tape in the first place. The world would not punish them for committing a crime. The world would jump over logic and focus on why the woman – usually a grown woman – is having sex. It doesn’t end there, the world would punish the woman for it and try to cancel her.
Students have been expelled because people have released their sex tapes without their consent. The worst part of it is how the male students in the tapes are conveniently let go while the female students are swiftly expelled. Beyond forcing women to hide their faces and cower, sex tape ruins women and some never bounce back from it. So when I see a woman who is thriving amidst it all, I’ll give her her flowers.
I’m all for women owning their stories and determining how these narratives would shape them. Remember when ashewo used to be the vilest thing you could say to a woman? Now, we own it with our full chest. Women are now saying “yes, we are whores through and through, oya say another one.” Each day, women are realising that the word ashewo doesn’t define or shame them; the shame is on those who think it okay to spew such a word. The word has been attenuated so much that it carries no weight anymore.
That’s why I screamed and scrumt when I heard Tiwa sing that part in Loaded. Like Tiwa, people need to come and say “my sex tape was released, so? I am the victim here, I shouldn’t be shamed or punished for it.” Na f*** I f***, I no kill person.
Of course, not everyone has that luxury. A student who was expelled from school and then disowned by her parents may have no one else to turn to and be forced to start from scratch and waddle through life in shame and humiliation. Her face is forever splattered on the internet and she has to convince the world that she isn’t who they think she is. But if like the African bad girl, you’ve got the money and power and can give your middle finger to the world in situations like this, please do.
This is not a call for women to record sex tapes, especially if you do not have 100% control over them. We live in a digital world where with just one click, millions of people get to be in your business. Don’t be blinded by love or passion; if you must eat a vulture, be prepared for whatever comes after. This is a call for people to own their narratives, especially when things go south and the world is trying to nail you to the cross. Like Tunde Alabi-Hundeyin said: every story is told from someone’s lens and perspective. There’s a camera, there are words, there’s an agenda – and there are people behind this.
Stories are powerful and when you learn to take charge of the narrative, you release yourself from shame’s clench.