A few weeks ago, Naija Twitter blew up, as it’s wont to whenever a trendy topic is making the rounds. That time around though, it was about Grooming. Many ladies were so uncomfortable by the idea that 30 plus men openly confessed their pursuit and intimacy with girls who were in their teens. Sure, their argument was that 19 was not really considered teenage years, not when it’s inching so closely towards 20, and certainly not when it’s past the prescribed age of consent: 18. We felt so strongly about this that one of our colleagues, Lizzy, wrote about it here. Still, given that background, I’ve found myself thinking recently if age, as they say, is really just a number.
I met a young lady, let’s call her Amina. She is 22, and madly in-love with her boyfriend. They have the kind of relationship where he calls about five times a day, and each of those five times, they talk for at least an hour. As someone who has been single for some time now, it’s intriguing to me that we can find someone with whom we live out and share our lives at such alarming proximity. Amina and her boyfriend talk about very random things, such as a specific shirt Kanye west wore, or a trivia’s on which aisle Walmart stocks what. Even though sometimes, their conversation makes me want to pull my hair, one thing I admit is that they enjoy each other.
Okay, Amina is my roommate, hence my access to all this information. Recently, I found out that Amina’s boyfriend is 36 years old, and they’d been dating for 3 years. Not that my math is anywhere as sharp as it should be, but it means they began their relationship when Amina was 19 and Bro. was 33. To be honest, when I first did the math, I felt a slightly discombobulated. How does a 33-year-old hunk of a man meet a teenager, approach her, begin an intimate relationship with her? I immediately became judgmental, as most people do when confronted with something that does not fit into the frame of what they’d consider normal.
Of course, I know that the subject of grooming is a lot more nuanced that simply canceling every 30 plus man that courts a teenager. There are many people I admire and respect who are in relationships with a wide age-gap, one of them whom I think fondly of was 40 when she began a relationship with a 60-year-old. But 40 is a long way from 19. I also acknowledge that as a reader, you may be wondering how this is really my business, why I have to insert myself into the relationship of somebody who seems very happy. You are right, it’s not my business. Amina is just one person, and it’s not like I’m going to swoop into their bedroom with a sword and ask them to break up.
So, I raise this essentially for the purpose of discourse. If you think Amina has been groomed, do you also think that it’s her personal business and she’ll be fine? If you think it’s all subjective and should be treated on a case-by-case basis, how should we then decide the men/people we call out on social media? Like, how do we know their case is not the exception? Please let me know what you think in the comment section. You don’t need to have fixed answers, it’s okay to respond with another question.