opinionBy Adie Vanessa Offiong
Growing up, almost every girl was given strict warnings on how not to get close to the boys. Some ladies share their experiences and how these warnings affected them. One mother also tells how they go around it today.
"Don't ever let a boy touch you. If his hands as much as touches your own, you will get pregnant o." Aisha Bala says these were the recurrent words of her mother to her from as young as age ten. The 34 year-old banker said, "I was terrified of even sitting in class next to a guy. It was not until five years later when I did biology I knew about reproduction that I realised her warnings were highly exaggerated. I was so embarrassed because I had passed the message on to my younger sisters just as sternly and they would chuckle anytime I echoed it.
But Aisha is not the only one who got these stern warnings from their mothers and even fathers. Many girls once they began to reach puberty had this one on one sessions.
Chiaka Ezewanyi, 40, recounts her experience. "I remember one day when one of the boys in school mistakenly brushed me and he touched me. I ran home crying profusely and saying to my mum that it wasn't my fault that he touched and he also didn't know. I told her I was pregnant but was more worried about the disgrace in school than anything else.
"The look on my dad's face which was in between a smile and something else I couldn't interpret confused me. He calmed me down and explained to me that I couldn't get pregnant from being touched by a male like that. He said my mum wanted the best for me and that's why she put it that extremely. It was such a huge relief but I was also angry with her because of the way I had reacted to the boy. I was also embarrassed it would be the talk in school; and it was indeed for a few days after that.
The fulltime housewife says looking back now that she's much older, "I think there are better ways the messages could have been passed down without the drama."
Tammy Abah says, "My father told me as a teenager very clearly that there was no need rushing off to get pregnant as that would jeopardise all the future would hold. Being one with a peculiar genotype 'AS', I remember at 16, he told me to think very clearly and not fall in love with one whom I would have 'SS' children with and watch the children die. Technology back then was not as advanced today.
"My mother on the other hand didn't say very much but played the protective role and asked questions about every boy that came around and helped to ward off whoever she thought was bad influence. Knowing they had expectations of me kept me in line."
Helen Isiche said, "When my mother noticed I was getting too close to a guy, she would say in my dialect translated as 'the male and female reproductive organs don't make friends oh.' It would make me cry and I'd ask if that meant I should never get close to a man? Though the counsel was hard but it instilled fear in me and I became very careful and sensitive whenever a man was getting close. My antennas were up to make sure they don't lure me into having sex. I guess that counsel helped me to a point but above all, the fear of God kept me from doing evil."
Although these ladies seemed to have grown out of the warnings some like Miriam Oboh said it affected her relationship with the opposite sex for a long time. "It took me a long time to get out of that frame of mind and it cost me a good many relationships too. I am twenty six now and only just beginning to open up. It's tough but I am gradually overcoming it."
Mother of five Mrs. Bridget Onochie said with three teenage daughters it is a must-have conversation. But there are more subtle and realistic ways to do it. "I make them realize that the very first thing that attracts a boy in a girl is sex presented through sweet coated tongues. They tell you how beautiful you look and say all kinds of things to sweep you off your feet. I tell my daughters that the moment they succeed in bedding them, they are more or less mortgaged and at the disposal of such boys.
Onochie added that, she also lets her girls know that their dress sense plays a role. "It determines, to a large extent, the kind of guys that may approach them. Those seeking life partners will not come to a half-naked lady.
Again, men like a woman, when she puts up a resistance. They may press hard for a girl to accept them but the truth is that they hate girls that fall easily. I tell them not to apply pity when considering a relationship. They should learn to say no when necessary and keep to it."
Lastly, the mother of five tells them bluntly that men don't give lasting happiness. According to her, two things bring lasting happiness to a woman, these are not boyfriends or even husbands; they are the works of your hands and a close relationship with God.
"Excelling academically or in any other field of endeavour and being empowered afterwards puts a woman in a better pedestal than getting married and remaining a tool of no relevance in the hands of a man.
"Above all, I tell them not to be desperate as they grow about getting married because men take advantage of such opportunity to exploit a woman. It is good to be married because I am happily married but as a gender enthusiast, I have also come to realize that getting married is not the best that can happen to a woman."