Sometime last week, the video of a lady went viral on Twitter. Apparently, this lady was stranded in an Uber with no money to pay and no way to reach her host. Like all trends that start on social media where someone’s reality becomes a dumping ground for us to give advice against our better judgment, center ourselves, and probably proffer solutions from a place of privilege, the video of the lady is an ugly reminder of circumstances we might have been in or try our possible best to avoid.
A lot of people have written think pieces, created threads about the now-viral video. Women have once again spoken on the relevance of having what is termed as “vex money” and men are reminding themselves, and I quote from a Twitter user, “all these feminists keep shoutingI can pay my bills!But can’t even afford Uber fees.”
Granted, the concept of vex money is important. And not just in your interaction with the opposite sex but for the simple reason that human beings are never reliable and you should be able to hold your ground and take care of yourself in case something goes wrong. But for a moment, can we think about and acknowledge how having vex money is a privilege? Especially in Nigeria’s heteronormative economy where we, especially women dance to the pipe of patriarchy. The freedom to get angry, to allow yourself to be vexed can be a luxury in itself. And for some women, it is a luxury that they cannot afford because poverty shames you, and because of the socio-economic disparity, you find that you have to rely on a man, so much that when he calls you, tells you to book an Uber, and that he will pay, you ignore your intuition and take such a chance because you are hoping that at the end of the day, the Uber will be paid and you will be financially sorted. Case in point being familiar cases where women are forced to put up with their abusers and much more.
But there are still some people who lack urgent 2k and frankly who do not have people to ask from. A couple of years ago, my friend was in this type of dilemma and gratefully, she had me to call and I had cash to send.
I don’t think it helps to drag and insult people who are unable to afford such and it is really not about trying to form or live beyond ones means sometimes. By all means, carry your vex money if you have, but what about those women who do not? The concept of vex money is even rooted in the fact that women are the ones who are most likely to be left stranded.
So let us step back a bit from our money shaming because I believe that everybody can find themselves in a difficult situation, in fact, I think that a few of us have found ourselves in situations like this and the only difference might be that we didn’t have a phone capturing or helplessness or we have friends who could give us a financial hand. But in situations where we see that that is never the case, where we see vulnerable people, it is important that we treat them with a bit more empathy because it can be any one of us on a broke day.