I thought about strong, motivated, ambitious, and successful women, who get sidestepped for possessing these qualities. God help you if you are single or divorced, it is blamed on these same attributes they possess. Which brings me to question if there will ever be tolerance for a woman’s success in the society. You hear things like you can be ambitious but not too ambitious oh, men are more insecure than women so you have to play small. My friend told me about her neurosurgeon friends at the hospital who would not disclose their occupation on first dates. If they do, they will simply say they work at the hospital and hide the details. But life is funny as you can’t always predict who will or won’t acquire success. The drive and motivation that precede success on the other hand, are qualities that are acquired through upbringing or life experiences. For someone like me, I adore my mother and I see her as a strong, brilliant and confident woman. This motivates me to try to be like her and even better. Likewise, on this blog, a reader once commented on how her ‘boyfriend’ left her because she has no Master’s degree. This is a very traumatic experience for anyone to encounter and this can birth a desire to succeed.
In the way we have been socialised, men are providers and tend to consider women who can cater to their emotional needs full-time. They want a woman who will make them a priority and, unfortunately, for all sane, rational and intelligent women, there are a huge number of these women out there. There are so many women who will give up their lives for men, who will refuse to challenge them, fight them and refuse to see them as their equals, but their saviours. But where does that leave those whose parents have toiled endlessly for the education of the girl child? Surely, thinking about the financial sacrifices and academic hard work on your own part is enough to make you reject the role of a full-time housewife or a less fulfilling career. I did not know how much trouble it was choosing the kind of woman I want to be until now. Deciding the kind of woman you want to be is like choosing between a rock and hard place.
Every now and then, there is the temptation to settle and fit in, because in all honesty it looks like the ‘good ones’ are ‘losing’ by societal standards. This is a growing epidemic where the good ones may be tempted to settle for “he’s good to me” because the other available options may not support you either short term or long term. Even if you both started out humble, what happens if you win a lottery? Success does change the dynamics of most relationships and male egos are not exactly deflating at the same rate women’s education is increasing. Rather, societal conditioning makes a man feel superior and when a woman tries to offer help, he feels threatened.
Can a woman have it all? This is a million Dollar question a thousand and one young women like me are dying to find answers to. Intelligence breeds ambition which in turn breeds neglect. Neglect for love, emotional unavailability for boyfriends and spending a lot of alone time acquiring that MSc, MBA or PhD degree.
I have just concluded my MPH degree and I can tell you that it was not an easy ride. There were days I woke up and could not recognise my reflection in the mirror as a result of too many sleepless nights from writing courseworks, and writing up my dissertation had me sleeping one too many nights at the medical school library. Somehow, other women have discovered how to capitalise on their youth by being outgoing while others were busy building their careers. What about those women who juggle their careers and marriages?
You must be able to blend these traditional and modern roles without one suffering for the other. You must also be extremely nice and humble… God forbid, you challenge your husband over any irrational decision. You will be labelled as rude and pompous because of your ‘money’. Then again, is this always achievable?
My verdict is you can be sweet, sensitive, nice and even insecure but success makes you threatening. While most sensible women are not pompous or arrogant about their success, most men assume they are. They assume that this woman will surpass them, correct them and God-forbid make them feel worthless. Society has come to teach women that being smart and witty will not get you plenty of men but rather being empty and shallow. I pause, and think again about the kind of woman I want to be… God-forbid I teach my daughters to be the latter.
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Stockyimages