I was raised around the narrative that no man will marry me because I’m lazy or I can’t cook/iron or any other ‘gender roles’ found in the 20th century, a narrative we’re still fighting to dismantle (for lack of a better word) in 2020.
I typed “what are the characteristics of a woman” into google’s search tab and the first article to pop up basically listed traits in a woman a man shouldn’t leave should they be in a romantic relationship. You can read the article here.
Only when I scrolled a little lower on my laptop did I find “Top 10 Characteristics of Successful and Creative Women” the title outlines the article to follow but why can’t it just be ‘Top 10 Characteristics of Women’ (not specifically for this article) because for the most part I believe all women are empathetic, passionate, powerful, flexible, courageous and grateful. These are 6/10 characteristics mentioned in the article and I’ll elaborate on why I didn’t pick assertiveness, imperfection, faith and self care which are the other 4 characteristics mentioned.
I’ll speak from a personal point of view before some of you @ me. I have witnessed and gone through shying away from asking questions that would be deemed disrespectful by my insecure counterpart. I’ve kept quiet in situations that required I be heard. I feared being assertive because I felt it would tarnish how I’d be viewed in society when I shouldn’t have cared and be known as one not to be messed with.
I get that I can’t go my local grocery store in slippers (of which I still do) and my night gown (I leave that at home) but why do I dress down because I fear being sexually assaulted/harassed, being called cheap or not viewed as ‘wifey’ material. I struggle with imperfection, because the skirt always has to be just the ‘right’ length, the shirt should cover my collar bones and wearing a head wrap supposedly makes me look respectful and men would think twice before approaching me in a distasteful manner. It’s understandable that there’s a time and place for everything, but where’s the time and place for me to dress as I please and walk the streets of home without having to question my outfit choice. The struggles of balancing being myself, the ‘imperfect’ victim and ‘perfect’ makoti (daughter in-law).
Where did my faith in being superwoman disappear to? My dreams and aspirations in life began to fade at my 20th century thought of becoming a mother and wife accompanied by an innate sense of spiritual, emotional, and financial security that came with picturing myself as a married woman. A very wrong innate feeling but an innate feeling nonetheless.
Now onto self care, I don’t know about you but my circle has been pouring out from an empty cup because I’d forget about myself sometimes, the same way I’ve seen my mother fix the whole house before going to church on a Saturday morning and be the last one to get ready. It used to bother her but somewhere between fighting with my little sister to get out the bath tub and asking me to help her out (I’ve never been teen daughter of the year) she became complacent with the ‘mommy look’, which is getting a new narrative lately but still needs more work. Knowing the in-depth meaning behind self care is what will help propel in doing better.
I’m paraphrasing his response but in essence he asked what happens when reality clocks and you crave traveling the world with your little family ? What happens then? In which I responded and said: I’m not shunning the idea of marriage, I’m shunning the idea of idolizing it. Marriage doesn’t make me a woman, neither does the ability to have kids. Often us women shape ourselves into a box of what wife material looks like and that’s the beginning of what unhappiness looks like. The message we’re trying to convey is that a man’s ability to find me as ‘wifey’ material doesn’t define me as a woman worthy of marriage and that we are capable of being more than just wives and mothers
In conclusion, we as ladies should stop caring about attributes we think are attractive to our life partners and just be ourselves and let love find us as is, not pretending to be something else.
I’d love for us to become better at advocating for women and redefining what a woman is beyond patriarchy and physiological attributes. How would you define a woman?
-Let’s chat. Love Lelo.Autumn Goodman