Comedy in Nigeria is booming after morphing into a full-fledged business from what used to be a side hustle in the 90s. A comedian can earn millions within a few minutes of standing up on a stage telling jokes. Imagine how much they make when they have a number of comedy concerts that are on the calendar all year round.
Without mincing words, the Nigerian comedy scene has a misogyny problem, with women being on the receiving end of jokes. I remember seeing this scene from a movie and wondering how millions of people actually find it hilarious. I probably would have laughed at this 15 years ago, and that was before I knew it was wrong, but there’s really no excuse now.
He is confessing to actually raping someone and it’s supposed to be funny. A dysfunctional society can be fixed by shaping the message we spread through music and movies, which are very powerful tools for shaping society. But we have done more harm than good with them by normalizing rape and blaming the victim’s outfit or how they reacted. We should never blame the victim.
It is sad because the comedian Bovi has been quoted saying, “What unites Nigerians as a whole is women. We love women… it’s like a cash cow, I milk it a lot… women have been the butt of my jokes.” I’m going to focus on three examples of controversies stirred by some misogynistic comedians.
After Aramide won the Headies award for Best Alternative Song in 2018, Ebiye shared a picture on Instagram of Aramide receiving the award, commenting that she must have had a sexual relationship with someone to get it.
This happened at a sensitive time when men were being accused of assaulting women verbally, sexually, and physically during the #metoo movement. So it immediately triggered a backlash by both men and women who came to Aramide’s defense on social media.
He apologized on his Instagram saying, “I made a distasteful joke about Aramide last night at the Headies. I am embarrassed by my comments, I’m profusely sorry. Aramide is a hardworking artist who deserves every recognition she gets by merit. I sincerely apologize and pledge that such will not repeat itself”.
But trust the apology to be feigned, because he was in the news in July 2019 for making a tasteless colorist joke about Lupita Nyongo by sharing a photo of himself with black paint on his face and included a highly disrespectful caption.
In 2017, Ayo Makun (AY) drew the wrath of Nigerians by making light of improper sexual behavior of a Big Brother Nigeria male housemate towards a female housemate by joking that the man could not control himself. Before this supposed ‘joke’, he (AY) objectified the woman on stage, in front of an audience by spinning her around and asking her to show her ‘goods.’
Without any disappointment as to their usual apologies, his apology further revealed that he had a poor understanding of why the joke was offensive. “I’m sorry that you guys misunderstood my joke. It’s just pure comedy, all I do is make people laugh and if my making you laugh is causing you pain, I am in the position to say I am sorry.” He then went on to still stand by what he was apparently apologizing for by adding that the assaulter deserves “total forgiveness because he has asked for it.”
Men can commit inappropriate acts towards women and expect to be forgiven just by asking for forgiveness. On the other hand, women are expected to forgive the men and move on with their lives as if trauma is just a mere inconvenience. This shows the kind of patriarchal and misogynistic society we live in.
Basketmouth’s case is the most popular as it incurred the most rage. In this video, Basketmouth advises men not to hit their wives, but instead to “shake them” violently enough to give them a headache. The audience is amused and even clapping their hands.
He also came under criticism for posting a joke about the difference between dating “white girls” and “African girls”. In summary, white women are willing to have sex after a couple of dates, while African women keep holding out. So on the ninth date, according to Basketmouth, ‘a bit of rape’ is required.
As usual, an ‘apology’ was rendered. “I would never in a thousand lifetimes encourage rape, I broadcasted a joke that many clearly misunderstood and have found offensive and I sincerely apologize. The intention, however, was to highlight an unfortunate trend.”
No, she’s not a misogynist. I want to point out that Chigul has commented on these. And said that her male counterparts need to restructure their jokes. She said that jokes can be fun without making a mockery of women with stereotypes that do us no good. She said sexist jokes towards any gender, in fact, should not be accepted.
“Sexist language and rape jokes do have some power in promoting sexual violence. I don’t think we have to offend just to get laughs. I strongly believe that all of us should speak up against sexism of any and every kind. Whether it be targeted at the male or female gender. If it is wrong, it is wrong!”
There is a reason though, that these female rape jokes are funny to so many people. It is that our society condones rape, it’s not a big deal here. From little, girls are taught to see themselves as negative because it is their fault that men rape them. What happens to the girls who wear decent clothes or do not walk alone at night but still get raped? Everybody, especially boys, should be taught that rape (no matter the circumstances) is not a joke!