The media is still awash with the news of the appointment of Sanna Marin as the Prime Minister of Finland. She adds to a growing list of women who are the number one citizen of their various countries like New Zealand, Serbia, Germany and others.
The past few years have witnessed a steady rise in the number of women taking up more public offices, owing in part to the rise in advocacy for gender equality which occupies number five in the list of the sustainable development goals and the need for a change in approach. Women are becoming more recognized and prominent in social discourse.
In Nigeria, like most African countries, this movement has been quite slow compared to the western nations. The few ones who end up at the highest levels like Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Oby Ezekwesili, Arunma Oteh et cetera are being seen in many quarters as enjoying the benefits of bottom power. The experiences of other women in other positions of leadership share similar characteristics.
So what is this bottom power?
Though its origin seems unclear, but for years, it’s been ascribed to the power of women to make things happen owing to their natural endowments or it can be described as Chimamanda Adichie puts it, “a woman who uses her sexuality to get things from men.”
I will also say, it’s a term or phrase coined by those who deflect the responsibility of their weaknesses for fear of competition and complementation so as to maintain a certain hold onto something, whether they are in charge or not. Thus, there’s a patriarchal connection to it.
Come to think of it, when the rat can’t compete with a mouse, he calls the mouse ugly so that the focus will be on the mouse while it continues to wreak havoc. It’s quite similar to our own “call a dog a bad name in order to hang it.”
You see people have their noses in the air by implying that a particular lady didn’t accomplish something by merit. On that I just want to say that individuals without class ascribe every success to the proverbial ‘bottom power.’ I would have referred to only men but these days it has become common to see fellow women join in the chorus to question the authenticity of another woman’s success. Anyway, what do I know?
Sometimes, it seems like bottom power is a myth. Like most myths, you keep hearing about it, seeing people who seemingly are beneficiaries but zilch evidence to buttress the claims. Also, we don’t usually see people come out to openly acknowledge they are of were part of it. You only get to hear the stories in whispers, in hush tones and without any commitments to validate their claims.
Nevertheless, I am aware it’s in existence and waxes strong especially in our higher institutions and corporate organizations. It’s so rife in our institutions of learning to the extent that in some places, grades are given according to the (sexual) gratification meted out. Males provide financial gratifications, while the females provide ‘a visit to the hotel’ in lieu of cash. Due to the increase in the public outcry against this practice, these corrupt lecturers or leaders make use of your minions, mentees and proxies to facilitate the process, while they front whatever face of probity, responsibility and innocence to their families, religious organizations and other social affiliations.
On this platform, I only mean to address many who conveniently paint EVERY major or even minor accomplishment by any woman as the byproduct of ‘bottom power’ unless connotations of ‘bottom power’ have been expanded to include having a vagina!
Bottom power persists today because some people reap from it across every field of endeavor and just as someone pointed out, it’s the “reason there’s so much mediocrity in those places.”
Without mincing words, if you starve the goats, there will be scarcity of meat for Christmas!
Who is to be blamed?
The woman that earns or gains from bottom power is powerless. She’s just fortunate to key into the power of another using the organ in between her legs as leverage.
The man that has what she wants but requests sexual gratifications to grant such requests. He reserves the choice to grant it by merit as the case may be. Since a transaction is on the table, it’s trade by batter and ‘everyone’ gets satisfied.
Who suffers from it?
The woman is usually stigmatized while the man is essentially slapped on the wrist on few occasions. How can a prostitute be called bad names while her business thrives because she has customers? Are those customers ghosts?
The girl child is already objectified or waiting to be objectified. Due to society constantly telling her that ‘she cannot be this or that unless…’ she then begins to limits herself – a great disservice to her potential.
Thankfully, there are many girl-child advocates dealing with this aspect. However, I still want to emphasize that the advocacy should incorporate the male-child. After all, when you don’t equip or properly educate the male-child, the work done on the girl-child will be in vain.
Many women realize their full potential purely through merit and hard work. So while we continue with our advocacy for meritocracy, self-control, or at least consensual gratifications, must not continue to point fingers at any successful woman as having succeeded using her bottom power.
Let’s continue to emphasize on standards rather than sex tours when it comes to appointments and promotions. The society suffers or gains due to what the building blocks of its humanity does, be it right or wrong. Please, let us help ourselves.