Growing up, I always hated the idea of being a Pastor’s wife. I critically looked at many of them and probably ignorantly thought they were all the same. They were calm, they smiled, usually led the women’s ministry, sat in front of the church and a very few of them seemed controversial. I always felt like that wasn’t the life for me. I loved being in the limelight. I didn’t like the “backstage”.
Being in a society that upholds certain values and beliefs different from mine makes me feel like a misfit sometimes. For instance, in order for me to be called a woman of valor, I need to be calm, “churchy”, sometimes quiet and very ladylike.
As much as these are not wrong, I like to talk back, be angry about the many injustices in our society, every now and then, speak against the awful social system—patriarchy and teach some people on the internet a lesson or two. (Hahaha)
That’s the exact opposite description of a woman of valor. Jezebel! That’s what women who are like me are called. I must say it’s frustrating.
What actually scares the hell out of me is how we guilt trip women into believing that they need to be a certain way, do certain things and act a certain way in order to be respected by men. It feels like a relationship needs to be built on the shoulders of a woman and when she doesn’t build it in the way prescribed by society she’s labeled wrongly.
Before university, I had heard stories of how freshers were taken advantage of and so I wasn’t so surprised when everyone was quick to give the same advice; learn hard and close your legs. Months later, several conversations with male first year students revealed that they practically had no advice on the need to close their zips. Young men are not concientized on their sexual escapades but women are. This is troubling because these young men, unless their gay, end up sleeping with these same women and sadly, sometimes rape them.
These same men lie to them, manipulate them and push them to give in to sex in order to keep their love life ongoing. Although the status quo is changing, men still have more power. Patriarchy made this possible and unfortunately, mostly places women at a disadvantaged end. For instance; the man is the only one responsible for asking the question, “Will You Mary Me?. This means until he’s ready, she waits. If she asks, she’s desperate. If she leaves, that same cycle continues and so we see young women stay in abusive relationships. As if that’s not enough, we see our girls throw their dreams away too for the sake of being in a stable relationship. They’ve been fed with the lie that they need to do something in order to gain the approval of a man. They’ve been told that in order for them to be whole they need a man. Having a man is the next thing after university or for some, the first thing they are coaxed into right before or after puberty.
It’s crucial that both men and women are taught about sex and honestly, safe sex. It’s naive to think many youngsters are not sexually active. Many are. Young girls need to understand sex because it looks like the church in particular makes women feel like sex and self-worth or value is a single entity.
To train a society, is to train both men and women to value their individuality and respect that of eachothers’. Respect should never be based on how much you can give but who you are.
If men are trained differently from women, it devalues the essence of building a true genuine relationship with each-other that embraces our lack and abilities. Obviously, not everyone will think like you but everyone needs to understand that we can’t co-exist peacefully if we hurt each-other.
Another troubling revelation is how much boys are trained on how to either do nothing or are given less chores at home. We need to understand that life skills is a prerequisite for both men and women (boys and girls). Men or boys should cook, clean and serve. It is not feminine.
There stands the grievous standard that places some women in very uncomfortable positions. We cannot continue to measure the value and worth of a woman based on how well she cooks or even how much she likes to, how she’s able to wash, clean and pamper her man. Isn’t it ridiculous that food that satisfies an individual’s own stomach is made another’s prescription for being a good woman?
When people start lauding women as women of substance, I’m eager to know which “substance”. The substance is just how she’s able to put in the right amount of pepper, use the right detergent to make the sink sparkle and how much she’s able to endure. If that’s what a woman of substance is then I’ll be the first to lead the pack of lionesses denouncing ever being called such.
Society is training women to be subservient. They can’t do without a man. Girls are told that in order to have a man, they need to lower their pride because of the man’s ego. Unmarried women are not as respected as married women are. This has given some older women the audacity to whisper treacherous traditions into the ears of their daughters to make sure they live like they did. Today, women are saying no to those traditions but the men say otherwise. No wonder the divorce rate is high. These traditions that puts women into a box. If yesterday, women stayed in bad marriages for the sake of their children and financial stability, the 21st century woman is saying no.
Men are doing what our great grandfathers, grandfathers and fathers did. They are adamant. Many of them don’t want the change that is coming because it takes away their power. This power belongs to no one but everyone.
If they were abused verbally and emotionally, we are saying we want that no more. We need to train our young girls to understand that it’s okay to love someone. It’s okay to give to them and it’s also okay to take too. Love isn’t giving only. It is taking as well. Let’s not open this same box and place our children in them.
We need to train our daughters to understand that being bold and confident doesn’t equate arrogance. You’re not bossy but bold! You’re not ignorant but confident!
Our great-grandmothers, grandmothers and mothers were silenced and told that that’s what’s befitting of a true African woman but I tell you, if you don’t speak up, no one will know your truth. Your words can change the world.
We need to let the girls know the truth of the past and what lies ahead. We need to let them find themselves and choose to be better on their own before a man. When the man comes, he needs to be worthy of your love and not the one you make excuses for.
We need to let our girls understand that they don’t need to build a wall around them but they need to build security for themselves. The kind of security that puts any man that walks into their life in check. Financial security, however, is important.
Although independent women, scare some men, it’s exactly one of the antidotes of abuse. The more you depend on a man, the more power he has over you. Financial independence is a must!
Love is beautiful but don’t allow love and marriage be all that there is to know about you. Having a title is not enough.
Our world needs bold, courageous and outstanding women who will step up and destroy the patriarchy.