By now you have probably heard the controversial statement by Roc Nation artist Tiwa Savage that has since gone viral. If you haven’t, let me fill you in. Savage was a recent guest on The Beat 99.9 FM Lagos where she was promoting her latest EP. During her time there, the host, Toolz, read questions from Tiwa’s fans. One specific question dealt with how she suggested women deal with gender discrimination in society.
Tiwa gave a two-part answer that focused on women in society and women at home.
“It’s real. It’s a reality. I’m not going to say I’m completely comfortable with it but it is what it is. You have to deal with it. If it means you have to work 10 times harder than your male counterparts, don’t complain about it, do what you have to do.
We all celebrate people like Oprah and Mo’Abudu and we don’t actually realize what they have to do to get to that point. They probably had to do 20 times (more) than their male counterparts. Once you get there, you don’t complain about how you get there. So, whatever it is you have to do as a female, you just have to get it done.
I know I’ll (ruffle) a few feathers but I also don’t think men and women are equal, I don’t think that’s how God created us … especially in the household anyway. So I think as females when we realize that yeah we can be strong in our career, but when we are home we have to realize that the man is the head of the house...”
Why Tiwa’s Statement is a Great Disservice to Women, Especially Women in Music
Since Tiwa gave a two-part answer, I’ll address it that way.
Tiwa is welcome to hold the view that in her house, her husband is the head of her home. I see and take no issue with her sharing that view. I do not know what “man is the head of the house” means for her but I will point out that what I have been saying from the onset of Tiwa’s career applies even in her home. In my view, Tiwa is a woman who simply doesn’t know who she is. She can’t decide, even in her home, whether she wants to be a woman who allows her husband to be the “head of the house” or not. This is because there is no way any woman can claim a man is the “head of the house” and do what Tiwa did to Teebillz just last year. What woman who says a “man is the head of the house” grants an explosive tell-all interview to the media about her husband and just cremates him in the public eye?
Tiwa accused her husband of stealing from their business and co-mingling funds. Excuse me. He is the head of the house. He can decide how the funds of the house will be used and commingle it, and you have no business questioning his authority, much less exposing his decision making and actions to the public. Tiwa accused her husband of cheating with a person named “edible catering.” So what? He is the head of the house. Is he the first Nigerian man to cheat? Are you the first Nigerian woman to stay with a cheating Nigerian man who has edible caterers for lunch or dinner? Why expose him to the world? There were so many other very damaging things including her telling us that she basically paid for everything in the house. As if she didn’t already crush his ego, she just doused more kerosene on it and lighted the matches, and blew it up. In my view, a woman who knows that her man is the “head of the house” would not behave the way she did.
Tiwa gave the world the license to disrespect her husband, make him a laughing stock and the butt of jokes, knowing fully well he had a history of mental health issues, according to her, and substance abuse. A woman who understands that her man is, in fact, the “head of the house” in the traditional sense covers for him, publicly. There are no “ifs” “ands” or “buts” about that situation. She has stated her house rule, she ought to follow it. Therefore, her statement to me is meaningless, contradictory and indicates she doesn’t know who she is, much less what she wants.
Now, let me just say this final thing about men being “heads of the house”. Western and African societies have, in my view, destroyed and will continue to destroy the family unit by bringing competition into the home. There should never be a situation where two people who love each other and come together as one fight for power in the home. Who should be the CEO, CFO, COO is a discussion for work, not a peaceful and loving home. Your home should be your sanctuary and where you have peace. I believe that when love is present in the home, a man never has to demand, order or beg his wife to respect him as the “head of the house.” A woman, 100% of the time, respects a man who respects himself and takes care of his wife, his children and his responsibilities i.e. hold the home down. 100% of the time the woman will go beyond the call of duty to protect, care and hold him down just as much as he holds her down, if not more. So I do find these “head of the house” statements et al. divisive, at best. When you see Michelle and Barack Obama, you don’t need to be told Michelle is a very powerful strong woman in her home who doesn’t feel threatened by her man. But you also don’t need to be told that Barack is not busy reminding her, “hey, I’m the head of the house, I’m the man” etc. They are partners, have mutual respect and love, and they make their own unique type of love work for them. I believe, strongly, that a confident man who respects himself, and a confident woman who respects herself and mutually love each other never allow room for power struggles in the home. I believe that as a result, roles flow organically with each playing to his/her strength and helping each other where the other is weak.
Music Industry, Career, Workplace
As I indicated above, I do not have an issue with Savage sharing her personal view on what she believes ought to happen in her home. I do have a big issue, however, with her statement that men and women are NOT equal specific to society, and even more specifically the music industry.
I do not believe there is data showing the disparate treatment of women in Nigeria and Africa’s music industry. But using my own data collected over the span of ten years, 99% of the artists I receive music from and requests for music promotions on my websites are men. Within the industry, I have received and continually receive complaints of sexual harassment, verbal and physical assault against women from women. I have never received even one complaint from any male artist in ten years. Within the industry, there are simply very few women that are able to break into the music industry. While the likes of the film and media industries have a better representation, the music industry struggles to simply allow women showcase their talents and have sustainable careers. In fact, Savage is one of the few success stories.
Within the industry, 99% of Nigeria’s top record companies barely have any female artists on their rosters and for those who do, most have failed to show anything concrete in terms of helping these artists launch, much less have sustainable careers. How many years, for example, have I been asking about Niyola, the only woman on Banky W’s EME Records? Banky groomed and introduced Wizkid to the world. He worked with Skales, Shaydee, Banky enrolled and graduated from film school, got married to a famous actress (traditional wedding), and his one and only female artist Niyola still sits on the EME label with barely any real movement for a truly talented woman.
Further, you have label owners like superstar Davido saying the basis for not signing female acts is because he does not trust himself not to have sex with them. You hear and see these issues in the industry and men justifying their discriminatory behavior with the exact statements and mentality a so-called enlightened artist Tiwa Savage has i.e. “men and women are not equal.” This view is deeply damaging to the Nigerian/African woman, women in music, and women in entertainment, period.
Tiwa Savage, who again I believe is very confused with her brand identity and remains so, cannot tout women empowerment when it is convenient for her, and then take a piss on the heads of women, especially women in entertainment. For a woman in the music business, this is unacceptable. For a Roc Nation artist, this is embarrassing considering her boss’ wife Beyonce, has shown that women are not only equal with men in the music business but can shatter and far exceed their performance records.
Again, if Tiwa wants to discuss husband-wife scenarios she is welcome to her opinion and frankly, I think many women will not argue with her about what she does in her home, or that her husband should play the role of the “head of the house.” But if she purports to speak for all women, especially in the business context, and then tell us that we are not equal in society, then I for one have a problem with her stance, and I am sure many do too.
Finally, I think Tiwa, like many of our celebs, needs media training. At this stage, she needs to know how to articulate herself better. I also think she needs to, for once, figure out who she really wants to be. Her trademark wishy-washiness is really tiring from where I sit.
The Tiwa Savage Interview with Toolz at Issue
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