Finding Epie will not fix our rape culture problem

I was about  20 years old and in my final year of university when I was first sexually assaulted by an adult man.

I didn’t resist.

Don’t get me wrong I was in shock that this was happening to me. ME of all people. Like what?! Which motherfucker??! I was enraged, livid, murderous. He knew me. Knew my parents. Knew my family. Knew I was the kind of girl who could speak for herself. I knew his wife, his children. That didn’t stop him. I daresay THAT was why he targeted me.

And I didn’t resist.

Why, you may ask?  Because what I felt at that moment as he slid his hands up my thigh, as he pushed aside my panties, what I felt was resignation. Resignation and a bone deep tiredness born of disappointment, disillusionment and disgust. That moment was a culmination of what I had always known about my community but had hoped would be something I was wrong about.

As a girl growing up in Cameroonian society, you understand pretty quickly that you are not yours. Yes, you are you but you are not yours. You are there for men (regardless of their relationship to you) to control, to look at, comment on, maybe admire…or grope, insult, dominate and eventually own, because that is what marriage (still the highest achievement women can have in our society) is in our communities. Ownership. Don’t believe me? Look at the disproportionate praise and admiration men who do not treat their wives like trash get. Never mind that being married to someone should mean you place that person’s welfare as high as your own.

I was 10 the first time I was catcalled. I was walking up Clerk’s Quarters road in Buea trying to catch a taxi to GRA where we lived. A truck full of soldiers drove by to the camp at Long Street and the whistles erupted almost immediately. I ignored them. Realizing they would get no response from me, one of them called out:

Tu te prends pour qui? Avec tes grosses fesses la, espece de wolowos.

As I moved into my teens and developed as a woman, it became worse. It was almost as if my developing body was an invitation. I don’t need to give too many examples. Any Cameroonian woman (or African woman, or woman for that matter) can tell you what “worse” means. Worse is at home, at school, at work, on the streets, on the farms, in the markets. Worse is normal. Worse is expected. Worse is defended.

Worse is quite literally life. Your value as a woman in this society hinges on how well you can deal with worse. Your value hinges on if and how well you can love worse, marry worse, understand worse, make space for worse, forgive worse, turn a blind eye to worse. It’s why we praise our parents and grandparents relationships even though we KNOW the fuckshit the women almost always had to put up with.

This is the culture in which we live, move and have our beings. A culture where you as a woman are not safe from any man, regardless of his relationship to you. A culture where you are expected to take precautions to ward against a danger even though you don’t know which face that danger will be wearing when you finally meet it. A culture where you will ultimately get blamed and disparaged for other people’s decisions because you had the effrontery to become their victim.

I am tired.

I have written abut our communities and our messed up approach to sexuality Here, Here and Here.

 

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15 thoughts on “Finding Epie will not fix our rape culture problem

  1. “Your value as a woman in this society hinges on how well you can deal with worse. Your value hinges on if and how well you can love worse, marry worse, understand worse, make space for worse, forgive worse, turn a blind eye to worse”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Loving the part where marriage is still considered a woman’s highest achievement! Just look at the number of comments n likes one would hv on social media when they marry, bt not nearly a tenth of that when they reach anoda career milestone…

    Liked by 1 person

    • The symptoms of the infection are many, my dear. I just hope we deal with it before more of our sisters spirits are broken. But then again, breaking spirits is the goal of patriarchy isn’t it? 😦

      Like

  3. I was about to sleep when your blog post caught my eye, too tired to write all I can, but didn’t want to sleep without saying thank you for your courage to speak on this topic. I just learned of a certain Epie a couple of hours ago through facebook browsing, still don’t know the whole story, but from the comments, I know it will break my heart already. Thanks for writing about the broader conversation, good job

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Sis Mah. I appreciate your encouragement. I truly wish I didn’t have to write this stuff. I relive these humiliating moments of powerlessness over and over when I witness them in our community and I’m my wits end what to do to make people stop and think or even just listen.

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  4. Rape is not our culture, it is a crime and we have to be strong and denounce it. I know it is not easy. If we do not stand up and fight for ourselves, our daughters, aunties, mothers and grandmothers, who will fight for them. Let us fight to stop rape in this generation and for the future.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I appreciate your perspective and believe me when I say I agree with you wholeheartedly when you say rape is a crime. Degradation of women (and rape is just one of the symptoms of this), however, is our culture. We do ourselves no favors if we continue to act like it isn’t.

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  5. Its the sad truth my dear.
    Right now, women better stand for themselves coz we are all we got. Its a mans world! Sad but true

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This!
    I can relate to this growing up in Cameroon. Our rape culture is subtle and shrouded in silence. I am so happy to see these conversations coming up and the public anger that accompanies it. Before now, no one will offer a word. Ashia for what you went through mami.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We can only hope that if we put ourselves out there enough we might shame wider society into action. Someone always has to be the scapegoat right?
      I am tired.
      Thank you for your kind words ❤

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      • What saddens me most aside the role that our so called “culture” has played in this is the degree of ignorance , neglect , blithe that men display , when they are in the company of offender. They forget they are equally as guilty , yet they seize the opportunity to either fuel the situation of uplift such people..
        I believe our society is deliberately turning a blind eye to these atrocities for fear of being belittled (men) or stigmatized.
        It is sickening

        Liked by 1 person

  7. thank u for this wonderful text…as this matter is soooo upsetting to me…13 thoughts on EPIE VICTOR won’t change our societies view on RAPE but it may alleviate some of the pain this girl is goinx through…Thought,ya!…but especially actions n a possible trial n conviction would mean we as girls/women would get justice for being violated…but possibly preventing another lady to fall prey to him..this is not his first act n must certainly won’t b his last

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hey Len,

    I’m sorry to hear this happened to you. I hope writing this was helpful for you. Hope you’re doing well.

    -Chris

    Like

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