Life is tough but when you are an unmarried, African woman, it is tougher. You keep getting constant reminders from society about the supposedly “biological clock” of a woman – you know, that silly analogy of a woman being a flower – and how she has to welcome any man that comes her way if she doesn’t want to get old and lonely in future. No one bothers to ask what she really wants; all they are concerned about is her aspirations for marriage because that should, in fact, be the highest achievement for any young lady.
You get shamed and ostracised if you mistakenly tell anyone that you left a guy because your ideology doesn’t align with his own. They look at you like you seriously need a shrink to get your mental state evaluated. And then, the questions will start pouring in.
Society: *with a smug look* “Did he cheat on you?”
You: “Oh no, he never cheated on me. He was obsessed with the idea of having me in his life, because he thinks I’m so special.” You will reply with mild irritation.
Society: “Did he abuse you physically?” They will continue to barrage you with questions because they need to know why you have the audacity to leave a man. A whole man!
You: “Of course not! No man will ever touch me and go scot-free. He would always live to tell his great-grandchildren about how he was messed up after hitting a woman.”
Society: “So why did you leave him if he never cheated or beat you? Even if he cheats on you or beats you, it doesn’t really matter, he can still change if you pray for him well. But this guy never did such. He’s a good man, why would you leave him? Don’t you know men are scarce? Any woman would be willing to grab him with both hands, and here you are, doing shakara because you think you are too good for a man who just wants his woman to know her place in the society.
You better swallow your pride and know how to warm yourself back into his heart. Do you know what is giving you all this boldness? It’s all those useless books you have been reading because they keep telling you a man is equal to a woman. Wake up and smell the coffee. You’re African. Here, a man will always be superior to a woman.” They will peer at you intently, hoping that the well-meaning speech they just rendered will ultimately change your mind.
You will think of a well-thought-out response to give them, but you are too tired to care any longer and you just want to breathe. So, you roll your eyes and thank them for their unsolicited opinions about your life as an adult.
‘Society’, here, is your mother, who keeps reminding you that your two cousins are already married and they are your age mates. ‘Society’ is your aunt who thinks you are too beautiful to be without a man and it’s actually your spiritual husband in the spiritual realm that is obstructing you from getting your own man. ‘Society’ is your uncle telling you to lower your standards and swallow your pride because a man is really hard to find in this present dispensation, and you should be grateful a man even considers you worthy of his love, time, and affection. ‘Society’ is your sweet, passionate, albeit eccentric afrocentric male friend who is so convinced of the fact that you’re a lesbian after reading a half-baked article online about how all feminists are lesbians. Society is your female friends asking you when you will finally introduce your man to them.
You listen to all their worries, praying silently for them to stop their unproductive banters. You hate how they keep projecting their fears and failures on you because they all think you can never be complete without a man in your life. You want to scream out loud and tell them to listen to you, to tell them that you’re in fact capable of steering the ship of your own life without their interventions. But your voice keeps drowning in the sea of their protests and, once again, you feel powerless.
You begin to question your judgments about the choices you have made so far. Maybe, you should have compromised your stance as a feminist, but wouldn’t that invalidate all that you stand for? How do you begin to unread all those amazing books that have given you the taste of freedom? How do you tell society that you always feel drained and spent after having a conversation with your partner whose ideology is far different from yours? How do you voice out the fact that you got angry after he tagged homosexuality as an abnormality because he considers himself a moralist?
How do you even begin to correct his notion of a supposed woman’s place in society because of her gender? You begin to see him clearly as a masked misogynist who thinks most feminists are unreasonable and bitter. You will cringe at his crass joke about rape and begin to ask yourself how you ever got involved with a rape apologist in the first place.
You actually thought you had it going good, then patriarchy reared its dirty head. Yeah, that same ugly, domineering monster that made women cower in fear years ago (and still do by the way) and tagged opinionated women as loud and cantankerous. But, as you are a woman and ten more who would never yield to that dominating, patronising, and manipulative lies of patriarchy, you decided to piss on its head and send it right back to that damnation it belongs to.
Dear African sisters, never forget that you are enough, and you absolutely deserve better. Embrace your individuality, total freedom, and sanity. We will see the light at the end of the tunnel soon.
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