Wearing a scarlet letter
Growing up my face would always light up when people, especially my relatives, asked me what I wanted to become in future. I would smile and say I want to be a lawyer or a gynaecologist with such gusto everyone around me would smile.
Fast forward to me getting asked the very same question when I was in Grade 12. My response was met with half-smiles and worried eyes. I remember being at a cousin’s wedding where I was once again asked what future plans I had after completing high school by one of my mother’s aunts. Like always my response had a lot to do with being an academic and a successful career woman. She looked at me with such surprise like she was expecting me to give a different response. I wondered why, until she pulled me to the side and said what about a husband? What about children, do you not want children? She went on and on about how I should not focus too much on being a career woman and how she wanted to be able to see me married. There was no cue for any further response.
Well that was quite a number of years ago, and they say as the years pass so do our ways of doing things change. I unfortunately beg to differ. We are in 2015 and the same things that were frowned upon by society ten to fifteen years ago are still frowned upon even today. One would think that given the many females that have emerged as leaders and tycoons taking the world by storm, society would stop thinking that being married with children is a woman’s greatest achievement.
The topic of marriage is something that I have been hearing about since my early twenties, if not from my relatives from random old ladies who feel that that they have the right to change the direction that your compass is pointing to. If it’s not random old ladies it’s my mother’s friends (sorry mum) constantly asking if I am hiding a man here and when he would be bringing the cows. I choose to ignore them and let God be my compass. I refuse to believe that my academic achievements are useless until I am someone’s wife or mother.
The marriage story has been shoved down so many African women’s throats that it has become hard to call home and tell parents about a promotion without them bringing up the topic of marriage. How do the two even go together? Hollywood actress Gabrielle Union said in an interview with Redbook Magazine that the penance for being a career woman is barrenness, and that one always feels like one is wearing a scarlet letter. I couldn’t agree more, women get the hit every time. Nobody should ever shove marriage down someone’s throat if they are not ready. The divorce rate is already alarmingly high. Le’ts not add to that number, hey!
As women we define success in many different ways. Being married with a truckload of children is success to some while getting as many degrees and business ventures are success to another. To each her own. If it’s a being a wife and mother, go ahead and get it. If it’s a career go for it, if it’s both you want then well and good, just don’t allow what others deem as success define the path you take regarding your won life. Remember, no one type of woman is better that the other.
Women should be encouraging one another to say you can have it all, and that you are complete even without a husband and children, after all we do not all get those at the same time. If anyone knows where men and children are being given, send me there, give me directions, in fact sign me up, but if all you want to do is tell me that all my hard work at school since kindergarten was all in vain and that I have not ‘made it’ until I have changed my last name or been on a maternity bed, then you are talking to the wrong sister. Yes I do want to get married and have my three babies, just not on your watch or according to your timing so put away that stop watch and hourglass. Your muscles will become fatigued from all the resetting and flipping by the time I go down that route.
Society must stop the pressure to get married. Rather pressure young women to work hard so that they can be pioneers in their own lives.