I have known too many women over my professional career and have more than a fair share of female friends. In fact out of the 100 friends I have, 120 of them are womenfolk.
This unfortunately makes me a bit of a backyard authority on issues they face especially career related annoyances. I have heard so much gripe, my otorhinolaryngologist warned that the next time I come over for tinnitus treatment she’s going to seal the damn ears with wax. Ok, that was an exaggeration.
Back to more serious issues.
Gender inequality is over flogged everywhere; it’s more of a theory to the average Omobinrin on the street. But when that reality confronts them it’s clothed as something personal – career decisions, societal pressure, I need to have kids, I’m getting old, I’m a chic, what will my family say, bla bla bla.
Nature already stacked the table against every girl from birth (who said nature is nice?) – period, pregnancy, mishmash of hormones and Telemundo. But here’s the strange thing, despite these natural challenges, why do women still allow men and society to add to their pains?
This isn’t a blame-the-victim tripe. Far from it. This is a call to action to my beautiful friends although I don’t have the guts to give them this holier-than-thou lecture in person as I could end up with scratches from poorly fixed nails. Call me a chicken in pinstripe if you like, na you sabi.
The girl is good, maybe not all the time!
Some of the most amazing and talented people I ever worked with are women. They work hard, they are super smart and extremely ambitious. Not only that, they have empathy and solid emotional intelligence which the most sensitive of men can only dream off. I also know a few “Up NEPA” ones that make a dull office look pretty awesome on a rainy Monday morning.
Then they get married and most often than not their ambition, performance and sometimes some body parts go south. They become a shadow of their former selves. Ten years go by and countless missed promotions, they become bitter and angry.
It’s extremely confusing for me. Their brains are still there; their knowledge, and competence gained over the years, are not lost, what happened?
My male friends come back from honeymoon smoking hot and still productive for years. In fact studies have shown that quite a lot of men have career boosts post marriage. Why not the average working class woman?
I did a back-of-the-napkin study and found out that they never really lost the dreams or ambition. They just got their backs against the wall….and not in the sense that you think of.
Usually a woman goes into a marriage, especially in my part of the world, and she’s expected to be the one to compromise. In fact if she’s a high flyer and unmarried her parents, the same ones who paid for the expensive education, are the first to fire the first salvo “Rolake, you are too career minded, no man will marry you!”
She will be advised to chill out, scale down, and underplay her progress so she can be attractive to some dude with very low esteem. Post wedding she’s the one to get home on time to cook, the one to take care of the kids, and worst of it if they both work in same organization without family friendly policies, she’s the one to resign to stay at home or look for another job.
If kids are ill she takes time off work. She can’t work away from home or abroad because it won’t speak well of her but nothing is wrong if her spouse is posted out of station to Kathmandu. If the idiotic husband loves to pound her instead of fufu, her parents will be the one to tell her to chill, pray, endure or whatever random rubbish anyone could think of.
There is nothing wrong with marriage (for those hung up on it) or having kids (they are fun when not annoying) but like everything you do, you have to know what you want and go for it. In fact good relationships are beneficial, they provide synergy and support not available to lone rangers.
However if you enter into any contract or relationship without knowing what you really want or deserve then you are a loser from day one.
So what’s a girl to do?
Men and women are EQUAL but not necessarily the same (I don’t want to be a girl, duh). As simple as that sounds, it’s fundamental to everything! If you sincerely believe that your life as woman, hope, aspirations, etc. is as worthy as that of any man’s then you have taken the right steps in the right direction. Please repeat that ten times!
Find your dreams again. What did you want to become? How do you want to reap the years and countless millions you have invested on/for your life so far? Think about this; the degrees, certifications or even professional experiences you have aren’t required to be a good mum but to be a build a good career, then make good use of them. However if you are already married you are going to need a ton of diplomacy and compromise to get a decent traction. Learn it!
Marriage is fun and relationships are beneficial but there is absolutely nothing wrong if you aren’t married. It isn’t a failure as much as every man not being a millionaire a failure. Next time someone tells you that you are not complete without a man, let the person know he’s a failure for not being a Bill Gate. Case closed.
Look before you leap – things have to be clarified before you let him put a ring on it. Like a contract, if isn’t well defined before you go into it, you can’t change it to favor you once you are in it. Remember, it’s difficult to fix an airplane’s engine while in flight!
Don’t have more kids than you can manage and that means also projecting into the future; school fees go everywhere except downwards. Space them if you can so it doesn’t put stress on your career progression and you can even have one for the road later, I heard it’s fun! By the way, there is something called family planning, don’t depend on men to do the right thing at the right time; they won’t and the burden of their mistakes will be yours forever. #BorrowWisdom
Choose your friends carefully as you won’t be better than them. If you hang out with the type who have lost their sense of self-worth to their other partners or those who feel women were born to serve men, how will you do better? Their negative claptrap will corrode you and make your life miserable forever.
Learn to keep your cool as many will surely try to get a rise out of you because of your decisions. Just keep calm and keep your mouth shut – you can’t win an argument with any of them. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty or unhappy about your final decisions, don’t live your life for them.
What’s a girl not to do?
Don’t take this as an excuse to be a bitch at home if you are married, hey, if you got tossed out because of it, I ain’t got no spare room!
Don’t take a hardline on everything – your way or your way – life isn’t that way. A compromise is probably one nonviolent means to end any domestic warfare but make sure you never get the short end of the stick.
Don’t blame men, boys, grandpas, etc. for everything that goes wrong with you. Remember you take the ultimate responsibility for your life, careers and aspirations. The faster you know the buck stops on the stool next to you, the better for you and your sanity
Be careful of things you read on the internet, including this! Take what resonates with you and junk the rest as quickly as a bad habit (wait, ain’t bad habits difficult to stop?)
Before you form that conclusion
I’m just a simple guy with an honest belief that everyone is equal but same but I’m not a feminist. While I believe that those in positions of responsibility should ensure level playing ground for everyone irrespective of gender, women everywhere also have to standup for themselves.