Saturday morning, my brother and I went paint balling. We were told that call time was 12:30 but we got there a little earlier than anticipated. You can never predict Lagos traffic even if you think you have it all figured out. Initially, it was all fun and games literally. On the end of each table was a board game or something of the sort. After an hour, things got a bit boring, but after ummm……..4 hours!!!!! You see where I am headed with this. We didn’t get there 4 hours early but we definitely waited for 4 hours before we started paint balling. I know people say “that’s Lagos for you,” but I hate to subscribe to that notion. Before I digress too much and get on my soap box, I’ll continue on with the subject of this post.
Once we split into teams, we learned each other’s names and it was all well and good until a conversation about strategy began. The strategy that prompted this post was centered around the idea that since girls “normally” go out first, the guys will do most of the work. I was given the role of being a distraction. The actual words that were said was “get ready to get shot, but just be the distraction while we work to capture the flag.” Now, personally speaking i’m not one for adrenaline rush type events, but when I place myself in such situations I get into it. I honestly cannot get past the fact that because of my gender, someone sees me as incompetent. Shocked, disturbed, frustrated, upset…….there are no words to describe how I felt and how I’m currently feeling as I type this. The reminder that I come from a society where people put limitations on my my abilities simply because I am a woman crushes me.
Yes, I lived in Nigeria for the most part of my life, but never had I encountered such a demeaning individual. Growing up, my mother had always worked in male dominated fields. Come to think of it, most of the women I knew did. So, there was never a time when I thought that I couldn’t do things simply because I was female. I was part of the team so I had to agree with the plan. What was most shocking was the fact that the other women weren’t in the least bit perturbed. I guess they were either accustomed to that type of talk or they had just accepted the fact that they couldn’t measure up. I however went into that game with an additional strategy of my own. I had planned on getting out the most number of people I could (guys preferably.) In the first round, I had the pleasure of taking down an opponent pretty nicely until the umpire gave away my location and I got shot from the back. The next 2 rounds, I took a guy out while staying out of harm’s way. So yes, I did get shot in the first round like they predicted, but I didn’t go down alone. I wasn’t useless and I wasn’t a mere distraction. I had 2 other splendid rounds to prove it. Also, let’s not forget that after we were done and I took off the jumpsuit, there were and still are 2 huge bruises on my left arm where I was shot. I don’t wear these bruises as a sign of defeat, I wear them proudly as woman with a ton of pride and one heck of an aim.
So, NO, I will never accept that my gender is inferior and lacking. I will never accept that I am a mere distraction because I am more than that. I love making new friends, but I draw the line where an ego attempts to overpower my ability.
The Woman Who Can