African manifestation of intellectual achievement, in terms of social wealth and political power, has always been marginalized against women. As much as we would like to declare that women are being empowered, especially in the 21st century, we can’t also argue that it is far from being balanced. As an African woman, it is hard to equate the need for social accomplishment and needs of the home. Sparingly, the society stigmatizes you on the blanket of respect.
There is an aloof recognition of your efforts but a glaring disapproval that you are incomplete. Women who pursue their careers in their early years always discover that when they get to the apex, there is no man to build a home with. Few African men would want to marry a woman who earns more than he does. Sentimental arguments like ‘she won’t respect me’,’ who will take care of the home’ et cetera begin to rise up. It is always assumed that a highly placed career or political woman automatically loses her humility making her unable to submit to the ‘Alpha’ male.
For women, it’s a choice; power, fame and success or a family. They almost can’t have both. Women, who do, struggle to stay afloat. A recent study by BBC Africa showed that just 5% of CEOs in Africa are women; the huge leftover of 95% is dominated by men.
Asides that, if the ‘woman’ were to be in that position and unmarried, she is either surrounded by feeble minded men who just want to play on her emotions and feed off her money or she is surrounded by gossips, who say the real source of her money is a ‘man’ in the background, or still, she is surrounded by family who tells her to reduce her standards so she can find a man. Social media hasn’t helped a bit. A woman is termed popular or social if she has quite a number of followers and likes. Since the beginning of time, women have always been competitive beings, being the way they are raised, to outshine one another to get the best deal off the husband market.
Social media provided the best ring for this fight. Competitors arise to hinder, with spectators to cheer on. If one gets a lot of likes, she is very beautiful, regardless of her character, composure, attitude, mental IQ, skills as a woman and innate talent. It all doesn’t matter. She could dress carelessly, using crude words, abuse makeup and filters and get a lot of likes. She feels she has friends, she is liked and people just love her. She gradually slips into an illusion, of a non-existent life. At a certain age, where her beauty and social media life cant rescue her anymore she’s willing to do anything to keep relevant. On the other hand, a well-trained young woman, with a nice character, excellent IQ, and independent but not fun on social media, feels she doesn’t have friends; she gradually starts to change herself, wear less, starts talking crude and focuses on maintaining a fake life just to be liked by non-existent people.
Being a woman is hard. Women are constantly shamed for everything.
“No bo0bs? Damn. Grow some. Big bo0bs? Cover yourself, don’t be so vulgar. No ass? Everyone will laugh at you. As-s? Well, better cover yourself, you don’t want to draw attention to that as-s. Short? You need to wear heels. Tall? Worse. You can’t be taller than men. Skinny? You have to gain weight because nobody likes ‘a bag of bones’. Chubby? Lose weight! Do you know how fat you’ll be when you have children? No makeup? Please take care of yourself. Don’t be so lazy. Makeup? It looks like its only painting herself that this one knows. Career? Good for you! But I hope there’s a man in your life and he doesn’t mind. No career? Haba no man wants a liability now o”
Everybody is trying to paint the picture of a perfect life and trying to ‘belong’. Kenyan Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai opined; ‘African women need to know that it’s OK for them to be the way they are as strength, and to be liberated from fear and silence.’