I was travelling one of these days when particular lyrics of two songs flashed in my head, for no apparent reason other than the fascinating modus operandi of unconscious recall.
Flash 1: Waa fe ku laleyi.
Flash 2: Now she’s saying morogo
O ti kan mi lapa o
O ti kan mi lese o…
And then a further thing happened, also somewhat devoid of any design by me: Flash 1 in tandem with Flash 2 transcended the confines of their songs and became a critique of sex (aka fucking) and then a theory of power relations between the sexes.
Of course, Olamide’s Story for the Gods – which, duh, is the source of Flash 2 – has already been characterized by some as a rapist’s anthem. And it’s easy to argue the point, seeing how the protestations of the girl are ignored till Olamide or the protagonist of his song gets his way. I’ll kind of come back to this point later.
Both Reminisce and Olamide are street. So far, their music has transcended the streetz because many of us are ourselves street or fascinated by the naked, pulsing vitality of the streetz. And since they are not comedians in the strict sense, it is fairly easy for me to take them at face value, that these songs come from a place of belief, and that these songs are somewhat “cultural”, that is, sufficiently representative of mass thought on the streetz and even beyond.
Of course you don’t need me to tell you how discourse is related to power relations. And if you need me to tell you, well, the way people talk to and think about themselves, in Art, in everyday life, is perhaps the best vane with which you can determine in which direction power blows from.
Now note the language in those lyrics. Sex is cast as violent or at least as an infliction of the male upon the female (cheeky apologies to the LGBT community). Also, note that I am fully aware of that peculiarly Yoruba penchant for hyperbole. I am. But I am male myself (and Yoruba) and I have male experiences. I can confirm to you that these depictions are more realistic than hyperbolic.
What are the implications of this outlook on sex? Well, it means that the male often takes a dim view of the woman’s sexual expectations. Sex is not a confluence of both your interests. It is not, as Devon was explaining to Jayson in Drumline, a very lip-licklingly deliberate hmm, hmm, hmm. Sex is an avenue for his satisfaction and his satisfaction alone. Your enjoyment is a foregone conclusion: the fact that his manhood is in your womanhood has to be enjoyment enough for you. After all, isn’t your entire womanhood the Mecca of erogenousness?
Forget BDSM, routine sex then becomes a theatre of domination. So it is not his business if as a female you kan lapa, you kan lese, or you’re nine – as the common wisdom goes – inches within the end of your life. And egged on by the miseducation of porn, nigga must hufflepuff all his power into you and all women without any exceptions can withstand the rigours of this hufflepuffing and can bend over backwards in ways that metals can’t understand and the bodies of those malleable teenage Soviet gymnasts cannot even begin to comprehend. You are (kind of) the receptacle of his venting and that’s that about that. Bye bye; sink you later; he’s going to his uncle and aunty in Bel Air.
The implication for females is apparent. The message has been internalized and this guides behaviour. So females really want to bend over backwards in ways to make malleable teenage Soviet gymnasts envious, because that is what the gold standard of sex is deemed to be. You were bruised ages ago? I can’t stop; this guy can’t think me a softie (meeanwhile, oh… ah… oh). Which, even if we manage to contort ourselves to ignore the intimations of rape, is the other major point of Olamide’s song. At the very least, the girl sort of wants him to go easy on her. But she can tell that story for the gods to the marines.
Far more worrying is the ease with which sex-as-dominance can morph into sex-as-chastisement. And here’s where male rape returns into this exercise. If males see sex as domination, the extreme of this position is that there is a possibility – and it indeed happens – that “sex” is cast as a chastening, as a penitentiary act, with the consequence that the penis is cast as a disciplinarian principal who whips errant girls into shape, you know, who can’t spare the rod so as not to spoil the girl.
You’re “indecently” dressed? Here, this penis will set you right. You stole? Here, have here penis. You have a vagina? Here, this penis will teach you your place. You’ve been rebuffing my advances? Here, this penis will teach you the real meaning of obstinacy. And see, to fuck her like a thief, is a sentiment I’ve heard expressed before, in the spectacular colourfulness of the original Yoruba.