Fifty Shades of Dread
What should civilization teach me? If I lived in my village all my life and never stepped out, would that be a loss?
My granny traveled on foot, mind you, to Ibadan a distance we now cover in four hours by a vehicle. She went to that ancient city to sell a local cloth that was peculiar to my dialectical group. Anyway, I don’t want something else take over my first train of thought.
I have been scratching my head since I read the book and I had a fear, not for me but for my young daughters who have access to information in ways I never did. When friends of mine discussed the book two years ago, I wondered why they felt varying degrees of discomfort. My friends are Americans, the first lot who gave me a taste for their brand of America.
I had known quite a broad spectrum of Americans, but these two were different for me. They are writers, and I appreciated their friendship. I had just joined a writing community, and my posts tended to be quaint, exotic they said. I was determined not to write like them but write decent English and see if I could make them look over the pond that separated us and if in the process, speak the universal language of creativity.
I came from a clime where there seemed to have been a deliberate attempt to kill the reading habit we had before. When the military interfered with our evolution, they had the misguided notion that in order to promote patriotism in us, they banned the importation of books. We promptly regressed in that area, and we are yet to catch up with the 19th century in my humble opinion. I can’t believe that I once remembered going into bookshops hunting for books to read. Apart from the pulp romance books, I do remember buying books like Kafka and staring in wonder at how I could learn about the people of other lands at levels that uplifted my love for reading and books. No one was surprised when against all odds I became a writer, commercial and creative.
Today, while I decried the misguided ban on books I am sorely tempted to wonder if it wasn’t a protective measure, after all. I am wondering if I have not been too hasty in encouraging my children to broaden their minds by reading good books. I invited them to check good shops online for books. Now I wonder if they may have come across “Fifty Shades of Grey.” I am filled with Fifty Shades of Dread…
In my corner of the universe reproduction talks still gets us hot under the collar. Sexual orientations are things we talk about in whispers as we look at those involved in a different direction like they were creatures from a planet we never heard of. Parents tended to question their children very closely and would sigh if the boy seemed to like girls a tad too much but would be alarmed if he were too close to his pals.
When the wave of same-sex marriage hit the United States, those of us who ventured to understand were still puzzled. I wanted to know but learned never to judge what I don’t understand. Now I am uncomfortable learning about BDSM as concept. I am expected to understand, but I flounder helplessly in my sea of confusion.
I read uncomprehending, frightened for my society that soon enough we may be sucked into this as well, even while we are still trying to understand LGBT. Are we doomed just to copy and ape? Can we be permitted just to build on what we find comfortable for our culture? Is this the price for civilization? Will I be termed exotic, backward because I still hold the view that the dignity of womanhood is the key to saving humanity? Am I being a moral coward? When I mentioned my misgivings to a fellow woman she said I was being a feminist like you will describe someone with a disease. Am I just a dunce, as I heard someone painfully retort when I said I would not wish my daughters to read the book? He said I was being an ostrich.
I am sorry but like I said, I am from the forest, where the sun peeks through the trees. Where the rain curtains the forest in a green haze, and I can smell the sodden Earth. We have concepts too. We respect our women, we demand that they be chaste and hold a man in contempt if he hits his wife and we are thus left helpless and totally at sea to understand that it could be for sexual pleasure. The rest of the world mocks us and holds us as vulgar and barbaric, but I wonder.
These concepts will sometime in the future arrive at our doorstep, shall we open the door?. I am afraid of the modernity of such a thought, I have fifty shades of dread, which while civilization might be a good thing but like the witch it also plans on eating our culture. Culture stopped the rituals, and killing of twins but when a maiden walks nakedly, there is a grace and beauty to it. She shows the beauty of a culture in a form. It will abominable for a man in those times to pick her off the farm road, paw her, ogle her or most heinous of all attempt to rape her. You see, she has a dress code, and as she gets older, she is taught to cover up.
How shall we go on from here now? What will the elders say to this new masquerade that cannot point to an ancestor and so we can’t give him feathers or drummers?