The Internet can be a puzzling place: inspiring and infuriating, often at the same time.
Strangers raised Sh6.1 million for a young man with a brain tumour, whom they had never met.
The inimitable Jackson Biko wrote a blog about Emmanuel Ochieng’, or Jadudi, and Zawadi Nyong’o worked the Twitter machine and it was done in two days.
They needed just Sh1 million to send him to India for surgery but ended up raising six times that amount and in the process, restored our faith in humanity.
Having thus dispensed with their quota for doing good, however, the Internet people went back to their shallow pit.
A shameful audio clip surfaced of a carnal encounter between a man and a woman.
The man in is referred to as Mollis throughout the recording, while the woman remains unnamed.
Pretty early in the clip, it is painfully obvious that the woman has lost interest and says as much.
She is tired and has surrendered, she says repeatedly.
Unperturbed by her discomfort, Mollis goes on, anyway, until he is spent. Rape.
The three-minute audio was already doing the rounds on WhatsApp before someone uploaded it to an audio-sharing website.
The word “Mollis” quickly jumped to the top of the trending topics in Kenya on Twitter and remained there for several days. Memes glorified his prowess and tales of his conquests were generously embellished.
He was the ultimate macho, a performance workhorse almost every man envied.
IDIOCY ON INTERNET
“I have been in a Mollis situation,” one pseudo influencer wrote, with a winking emoji icon to add to the mystique. “This was a simple case of begging for something and getting more than you could handle,” wrote a popular blog, adding that Mollis had “earned the respect of all men.” The idiocy on the Internet hit fever pitch this past week.
“The schizophrenic society that is Kenya manifests in the fact that #!MiliForJadudi and #Mollis are creatures of the same environment” tweeted entrepreneur Leonard Mudachi. “I am really angry that nobody is actually seeing this as sexual abuse,” blogger Daniel Ominde wrote.
He correctly points out that it might have started as consensual but she did withdraw her consent, period.
That the Internet had a field day mocking the poor woman and praising Mollis says a lot about our society.
Some startlingly sexist and misogynistic comments were made casually, and not always by men.
Though in the minority, there were women who saw no wrong in the public humiliation of the woman.
The original source of the clip is unknown so it might have been staged.
But that is no longer part of the narrative, the actions therein are.
Does a man have a carte blanche with a woman’s body irrespective of her thoughts on the subject provided she gave initial permission? Kenyans online have made a mockery of sexual abuse forever, conflating it with prowess.
One Facebook comment captured the false premise best: “If you’re playing and someone strangles you, you tell that person to stop, do you want him to continue strangling you until he is tired of playing?”
The Internet is where every good argument goes to die, like I have said before. “I am really worried about today’s Kenyan man,” wrote Jay Okeyo-Neal Archibella. “If you don’t perform you’ll be chopped off, if you over-perform and won’t stop midway you are a rapist, if you are not aggressive, you are a coward. There’s nothing you will do that will be right. Men, you are in trouble.”
I’m not sure what to make of that perspective, considering it came from a woman.
Even worse, a supposedly respectable company like Zuku jumped onto the bandwagon with a tasteless advertisement using corrupted words from the audio clip.
That unfortunate moment of brandjacking might make some wonder whether Zuku supports rape, as long as it gets the company more customers.
In the midst of such beauty and promise, a foul act reminds us of the darkness resident in some human hearts.
How can you reconcile the fact that the same people whose hearts bleed for a brave young man with a will to live also fail to recognise the oppressed young woman’s right to experience pleasure on her own terms?
I asked a male colleague who insisted the recording didn’t document rape whether he would feel the same if it were his sister in the tape. He fell silent.
Few people bothered to ask why the episode was recorded and shared to start with, yet it should have been a private affair. Just when I thought my expectations of the quality of discourse on the Kenyan Internet couldn’t fall any lower, they did.
Maybe they can never be low enough.
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