I am yet to figure out what’s worse as a single girl in Lagos, walking into a pharmacy to buy a pack of condoms or walking into a pharmacy to buy the morning- after- pill popularly known as Postinor 2. One says ‘Yup, I’m active and protective’ while the other says ‘oops, I did it but I’m not trying to get pregnant’. Whichever the case, the look you get from the attendant is something that no young woman would want to experience.
In a country that is sexually active and you can tell from the number of children being born daily, I find it amazing how we are still very shy when it comes to talking about sex or acknowledging the fact that people do have sex in Nigeria. Sex education is something that is frowned upon and even adults pretend to live in ignorance on the matter. Like most things in Nigeria though, there is a double standard when it comes to sex.
Single guys do not understand what I mean by the pharmacy experience, because they proudly walk into the store or pharmacy, ask for a pack of condoms, pay with a smile on their faces and walk away, like nothing happened. To them it’s a normal experience and the only form of judgement they could get is the size of condoms they choose to buy (which is why most opt for the large and extra-large). For the single ladies on the other hand, it’s a whole new ballgame, you have to walk in, hover around the pharmacy, make sure there aren’t a lot of people around and then you ask in a quiet voice close to a whisper for a pack of condoms or the morning-after-pill. While doing this, you do not keep eye contact with the attendant because most likely they would be staring at you to take note of your face and as soon as you are given ‘the substance’, you quickly pay and walk away as fast as you can away from the store. God forbid, there is one married or elderly woman who watched your purchase…chei, if looks could kill?!
While guys can walk into the same pharmacy every week to buy different types and flavours of condoms, single women have to change location for the fear of being tagged as the ‘promiscuous ‘ girl or ‘ashewo’ (whatever word you fancy). In most cases, they never use the types of Health Plus or Med Plus; instead they would rather go to the local ‘chemist’ who needs the additional sale anyway. In Nigeria stores/pharmacies, you learn that you’re being judged by what’s in your shopping basket/cart.
This is quite different when you have a ring on your finger though (by ring I mean if you are married) because in this case, you are just seen as a woman is not ready to have children and you will get the respect you deserve. I know this because I have tried this experiment and both experiences are very different I tell you. While most pharmacy/store attendants give you the judgemental look without the ring, with the ring on the other hand, they are quick to say ‘Yes, Ma’, ‘OK, Ma’ and if you push your luck, you could get recommendations too. It proves one thing that in Nigeria, everything sexual is okay as long as you are a guy or a married woman.
So to all the fellow single women in Nigeria, if you have a problem with the ‘look’ when you want to get your contraceptives, simply invest in a ‘fake’ wedding band and everything would be alright.
As they say, fake it till you make it.