This is pretty long, just thought I’d warn you. It’s almost like an essay. Just my inner humanities student popping out, as you’ll be able to tell soon enough. Get comfy, get a cup of tea and try to understand what I’m trying to talking about.
Being on the internet at around 1 AM has never been a good idea, especially if you’re half asleep but too lazy to transfer yourself to bed but nonetheless, everything happens for a reason. I was half-heartedly scrolling through my tumblr dashboard when I came across this gif photoset. It was then that I realised the Universe was trying to get me to talk about something in particular instead of what I had originally planned to write about this week. I want to talk (or more appropriately, ask) about why life is so seemingly hard for a woman, anywhere and it seems, at any given time.
Friday: I was on the train home, reading the Evening Standard (it’s a newspaper) and there were these horrific pictures of these women who had been facially deformed by acid attacks, tucked away in the middle section of the paper next to an advert for something meaningless. There was a less than 200-word article attached to the pictures, explaining how a former-NHS doctor had gathered £50,000 to travel to Pakistan and perform facial reconstruction on these women out of the goodness of his heart. The article went on to explain how sulphuric acid is as cheap as 15p in Pakistan and why the women were attacked: out of jealousy; out of spite for rejecting a marriage proposal. I was mortified to say the least.
Saturday: I found out that one of the girls I went to primary school with got married. There’s something about marrying young that unnerves me nowadays. At one point, it was all I could think about: I would daydream and wish I could get married that very second because marriage seemed to be the solution to everything. But now, I think, I’m only now just truly beginning to understand who I am and creating, or better yet, discovering my identity. If I were to get married, how would I know who I really am? How could anybody really know who they are if they get married at such a young age? Do you understand my logic or am I just being difficult?
Anyway, I was showing my mum the pictures of the wedding and from there, we started talking about marriage itself. You always hear a lot of wives saying “marriage isn’t easy, it takes a lot of work, it’s all about compromise, you have to keep your husband happy and interested” and I’m sure most of you have seen how your mothers are with your fathers. Well, I started to ask my mum what it was really all about. I asked her if I would have to change or conform my personality, my being, in order to live a happily married life and she told me “No way. You have to hold on to your identity, you cannot become someone else, how could you expect to last long if you had to play a different person every single day?”
And naturally, I started thinking. It wasn’t until I saw that photoset that my thoughts really began to accumulate. Maybe this is just an African thing, no, a Nigerian thing, but wives are expected to:
- Know how to cook.
- Know how to clean.
- Pop them babies on demand but finding out you’re pregnant when it wasn’t planned is entirely your fault.
- A career? What the hell is a career?
- Cater to her husband in every way possible. Keep him happy. Keep him satisfied. Keep him interested. If he wanders, it has to be your fault.
- Keep yourself together, you are someone’s permanent arm candy now.
It’s just how we’re raised, it’s what we see and what we hear, it’s what is expected.
But, I must ask, why is this expected of me? Why should I have to be the chef, the maid, the baby boomer, the housewife, the walking beauty salon just to keep a marriage functioning? Why should I have to alter my body’s hormonal chemistry to ensure the sex feels “good” as opposed to a man simply putting on a damn piece of rubber? Why should I have to be physically destroyed all because I won’t marry you? Why does my life have to be so hard just to keep a man happy? Who comes up with these things? It’s all down to something we know as gender roles.
It baffles me how unjust the little things of this world are, even on a social, day-to-day level. A boy can bang all the girls from here to China because “boys will be boys” but a girl can lose her virginity and be diminished in an instant. A girl could choose to not have sex until she’s married or until she’s 100% sure she knows what she’s doing but she can be called a prude and uptight for something that has absolutely nothing to do with anyone else but herself. Girls are expected to be homely and want to stay at home so it’s almost a natural response to see a woman who has never been married, never had any kids but has an amazing career and a beautiful legacy and call her selfish or to say she doesn’t have her priorities straight but if a man does it, it’s totally fine. Do you see what I mean though? Even on a musical level, Beyoncé addresses her sexuality on her self-titled album and all hell broke loose but these useless men can scream about bad bitches and f*cking women on a daily and be praised for it and have the balls to call that trash music? Why does having a penis ensure such an easy ride in life when a vagina is what brought you here in the first place?
You might argue and say it is fundamentally so, women just have to be that way, women have to serve, they have to be submissive, that is what they’re there for. You could say our bodies are biologically designed to be nurturing and delicate so we must depend on another man to exist. It’s fine if you want to live your life that way but all I’m asking is, why is this so in the first place and why is it such a bad thing if a woman doesn’t want to be all these things?
I guess this is why I’d make a good scientist, I like to ask questions, as you can see. And maybe in 10 years’ time, when I’m blissfully married and my husband irons our clothes whilst I cook our dinner; runs errands whilst I look through this blog, I can answer all these questions because somehow and some miraculous way, all will be right with the world and women will finally be given the absolute respect and reverence and undiminished equality that we so absolutely deserve.
Even I don’t know why I feel so strongly when it comes to things like marriage because, hey, I’m still young and I do want to get married, it is an ambition of mine, it’s not what I live for but it is something I want. As long as it’s a partnership not a domination. I’m pretty sure I’ve scared off a reasonable chunk of potential suitors because what boy doesn’t get scared shitless when marriage is mentioned let alone by someone who is as strongly-voiced as I seem to be?
Regardless, I will get married in the fairly distant future to someone who will see the world through the same kaleidoscope glasses as I. I’m only being enthusiastically observant and sharing my question-fuelled, highly confused perspective.
A note to my future husband: you’ll never be bored, let me just leave it as that.
If I could come back to this world, knowing and not knowing what I do now, and have a choice of being a man or a woman, I would be a woman every single time. Without women, the world wouldn’t turn, simple as that.
Did anyone notice that I managed to talk about all of this without mentioning the single word that makes everyone run for the hills? I’m talking about the ultimate f bomb – feminism.
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Until we meet again…