Hello friends. Welcome to Day 13 of #WinterABC2022 and today’s prompt is from Teakisi titled African women. My thoughts on womanhood have always been jumbled and I have notes all over the place. Today, I decided to assemble a few of these and try to put forth a simple point. There is no right or wrong way to be a woman. As an African woman, I know how society and culture basically tries to dictate what I do. You can find my previous #WinterABC2022 posts here.
“You are a woman,” is one of the statements I despise so much. Whenever that statement is uttered, I feel as if it is meant to lock you in a cage, put you in your place, and shrink you. I believe it is never uttered in good faith. Many a times is a woman expected to stay in her place and what exactly is a woman’s place? In the Kitchen? In the home? In the Office? In the field? I believe there is no place that is a woman’s place and every place is a woman’s place. In African societies, women are usually if not always expected or required to sacrifice their wellbeing for the comfort of others and society. No such sacrifice is expected from a man. Society has brought up women to think their existence is invaluable without a man in it, to value themselves from the viewpoint of the patriarchy. The patriarchy demands perfection, no off days and a capacity to do it all and be all. But what do African women want?
To be an African woman who cannot cook, does not want to get married or have children or basically one who does as she pleases goes against everything we are taught. The expectation is you do what you are taught and what is expected of you. You get an education, get a job or run a business, get married, have children and run your home like the domestic goddess that you are. You cannot divert from this path. From childhood, these are the things that people, family, parents, say to us and expect from us. It is basically a battle between what we ultimately want for ourselves versus what society tells us we should want. A few years ago, I read a Guardian Long Read article that talked about women who thought they could remake themselves and how the perfection culture of the 90s shaped the Me Too movement that swept the western hemisphere not too long ago. A few things stood out, what exactly is a perfect life? Does doing what you want, dressing how you want, going where you want, sleeping with who you want represent freedom or perhaps the ultimate freedom for women? Who is to say that that is the way? I am a firm believer in equality, I believe that all people regardless of gender should be treated fairly and equally. Feminist for example, is a word that seems to attract negative connotations and press in African societies and this not just from men but from women as well. But I think it all ties back into the perception of the woman as someone who is not an entity but more of an extension of something else or someone else. This is where the sense of individuality comes in. Are women making choices based on their individuality or on what is expected of them? For African women, what is the perfect life experience or is there a perfect life experience? Who is to say that a liberal woman has a better life experience than a conservative woman? Who is to say that the burka clad woman is not free like the short shorts, hair flying in all directions woman? We live in a society where everyone tries to tell everyone else that the life they are living is wrong. I have one simple wish. For African women to define their life for themselves and to live life on their own terms.