Women deal with a lot of things from very early on in their lives. One of those things is the male gaze. These seven Nigerian women share what it was like for them to be pursued by older men when they were just teenagers. 

Hadiza, 22

I dated this man who was 29 at that time and I was just nearing 20. The relationship lasted about 3 months and it was frustrating. I couldn’t keep up.

I had to constantly prove I was smart and an adult. I know I’m smart but I was still a teenager. There are some things I’d want to read or find funny, but he’d look at them as childish. 

I couldn’t just go and hit up my boyfriend with crazy talk on what was trending on Twitter because according to him, it was gossip and not beneficial. Being with him felt like I was acting. I wasn’t myself. 

I was ready to meet him halfway, but it was like he wanted me to just meet him up there; like I was expected to throw away my teenage self and just straight up become an adult. It got to a point I had to go and ask myself if it’s that I don’t have a direction or know what I’m doing, because clearly, I do but he made it look like I didn’t because I wanted to have fun. 

Amanda, 23 

When I was 19, I dated two guys who were older than me. I wasn’t that free with them. I wasn’t even comfortable sharing anything with them, and I couldn’t even get angry if I wanted to.

I was always afraid of expressing myself so I wouldn’t say anything that would incur their anger. They already had a lot more sexual experience than I did. We’d have sex till I was spent up and dry. It hurt but they were only after their own pleasure. 

It was so bad and I didn’t even know how to break the damn thing off. I just ghosted them and we all went our separate ways. It was such a terrifying experience. 

Bisi, 22

There was this married man who had his wife and kids abroad. He told me we can just be friends and help each other and if anything happens then that’s fine. I always avoided him but one time I agreed to go someplace to say hi to him because it was a place I knew. 

I told him I didn’t want to meet any of his friends because he’d always invite me to go out to where his friends were. So that day he said I should just come by and I got there and met his friend. I was already annoyed. He then asked me if his friend can kiss me. I was shocked and he started laughing. That was also when he asked for my age. I told him I was 16 and he said he’s sure his friend can wait for two years. I just stood up and left. This man was about 40. 

Janet, 18 

On my first day of diploma, I was literally just waiting for class to start when this man approached me and started asking me for my name. I thought he was a lecturer so I tried to be nice. Anyways he started talking about how he wants us to be close and apparently he was a master’s student. I told him I wasn’t interested because there’s nothing to discuss with a 17-year-old I even told him I had a boyfriend because I did at the time. He said he’d take me to places my boyfriend couldn’t. I just started smiling and nodding so I could go to my class. This man started waiting for me every day after I finish class to talk. It became really exhausting that I’d have to leave classes early to not have to see him. 

Obehi, 20

A 26-year-old man tried to court me when I was 13. He was always outside my house, trying to buy me gifts and shit. I don’t think he knew I was 13, but he definitely knew I was young. I was in secondary school for God’s sake. 

The most annoying thing he got me was a g-string. It was so inconvenient because his office was right next to my house. One day I’d had enough because he was harassing me. He said I’d be alone forever because I didn’t want to open up my heart to him. I was always afraid to leave my house. 

Eventually, he stopped disturbing me. He even had a fiancé so I don’t know what his issue was. You’d think these men don’t have work to go to. 

Adaeze, 20

I knew this man when I was 16. He lived around my house and had just finished his national youth service. In the beginning, he was very friendly so I didn’t think it would be anything bad. We used to see once in a while. 

When I entered university, I was 17 and coincidentally, he had started working somewhere close to my school. 

One day he told me he was around my school and wanted to see me. After about four visits like that, he started confessing his feelings for me. At this point, he was 29. He would buy me a lot of gifts and spend a lot of time with me, even with his tight schedule. We started dating and everything was going well until it wasn’t. 

I wasn’t ready to have sex, and he seemed to have a very big problem with that. He told me that if I couldn’t, he’d find it outside. Then, he’d call me childish and make me feel stupid. Eventually, I gave in. 

He gave me the first infection I ever had. I was scared to tell anyone about it because I thought they’d discover I was no longer a virgin. I told him about it and he got angry. He told me I probably got the infection from my school’s toilet. I even had to apologize to him for accusing him wrongly. When I eventually got to the hospital, I found out it was an STI and I couldn’t talk to him because I didn’t want to make him angry.

He also had this particular female best friend. They worked in the same office and would go on dates. Sometimes, she even slept over at his place. When I brought it up, he kept saying I didn’t understand and was childish. He asked me if I thought I was smart. He never failed to make me question if I was smart. 

The relationship ended when I was 18, and it lasted 7 months. I got tired of constantly apologising and blocked him everywhere. He tried to reach me but I was done.

Jumoke, 20

I was 17 and was in my first year of university. He was 24 and in his final year. We met at a school event, and he said he liked me and wanted to be close to me. He got my number from the event organisers and kept texting me till I agreed to meet with him. 

I told him I wasn’t interested in a relationship and we could remain friends, and he agreed. I had a 23-year-old female friend of mine who had a crush on him and tried to introduce them, but he was so insistent on being with me. He eventually tried to get sexual with me and when I told him I was scared, he laughed at me. One day I just stopped talking to him. He kept asking my friends to reach out to me, but I was done. 



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