Tag Archives: culture

Are You Wifey Material!?

Cristiano Ronaldo and Irina Shayk have had, in a certain famous person’s words, a conscious uncoupling after dating for five years. Why do I know this!? Well, because a certain Kenyan chap tweeted the story and added this caption…”Ladies, I keep telling you, if a man dates you for over two years, you are not wifey material.”

This actually made me laugh out loud. Sometimes it’s the only way to deal with people’s “school of thought.” First of all, what is the correlation between length of dating and being wifey material? Is it not possible for two people to decide to take it slow? When did two years become the magic number? What if the two of them have mutually agreed that they want to take their time to get to know each other deeply? But, hey, that can’t be the case because men call all the shots, right!? The woman’s role is to just sit around and hang on until the man decides if she is wifey material or not…huh?  So, if you are dating for more than two years then you are some type of failure? But only if you are the woman, right!? Because it isn’t possible for the man to not be hubby material? What if the lady is not even interested in marriage!? What if she is into the Oprah and Stedman type of relationship? Does that mean she is somehow not worthy when they decide to go their separate ways!?

Marriage is not everyone’s dream. Yes, that’s a difficult idea for some to grasp but it is true. I think that people have been socialized to believe that a relationship is a dictatorship led by the man. He cherry-picks the woman from among the many available to him. He then decides if she is worthy to be his wife, have his last name and bear his children. As women, we are expected to rejoice that a man has picked us out of the masses. Then promptly start fantasizing about the wedding and married life we have been dreaming of since we were little girls. If the dating relationship results in anything but marriage then it is solely the fault of the woman. You and your shortcomings will never be anybody’s wife, they say.

Except that that is not how things work, or at least they shouldn’t. Relationships are not dictatorships. They are mutually beneficial partnerships, and the only way to truly be happy in them is to treat them as such, in my opinion. Yes, women are decision makers in their relationships. Yes, we also walk away from relationships when we realize the man is not  who he initially claimed to be. Yes, we also agree with the man to call it quits when the relationship is going nowhere fast. We don’t sit around waiting for the man to say, “Well, you are not wifey material so BYE.” When we realize the man isn’t in it for the long haul, we also have the ability to bid him adieu and keep it moving.

So calm down with trying to impose your timelines on women. Stop passing judgment on people’s relationships, that you were not a fly on the wall for, and then confidently using said judgments to give women life “pointers.”

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Shedding Culture

How do we go about doing away with aspects of culture that have and will never be beneficial to us, individually as well as in our different communities? This is especially difficult amongst African communities since “culture” is the invisible cloth that we are reluctant to take off. We cling to culture and constantly use it as justification for carrying out violations, especially against women.

One of Uganda’s daily newspapers, New Vision, published this interview with an upcoming female musician who was also the runner’s up in a Coca Cola sponsored singing competition in 2013.  It is evident from the initial questions that the young lady is a go-getter and has accomplished a lot as a result.  However, the interview took a turn for the sad when questions about relationships were asked. The lady’s responses were disturbing and heartbreaking. It is scary to know that there are many more African women who share  her sentiments.

When asked  whether she would leave if her man hit her: “If he hit me for the right reason, I would stay, but if he hit me over something flimsy, I would leave. I admit sometimes we do things that make our better halves angry. They are human too. When people get angry, they do things they can regret. I would still forgive him. My parents hit me since I was young, but do I hate them? No.” And what would this right reason be: “Maybe if I went out all night and didn’t pick his calls and then I was rude to him (which I am never), I would take the beating.”

Eh! Is there ever a (right) reason to hit a woman? The correct answer is NO, NEVER.  The fact that someone has somehow found a “right reason” is baffling to me. Equating being disciplined by one’s parents to being hit by a man is startling and an indicator of some of the negative aspects of culture that we need to rid ourselves of.

People are still steeped in the women should be “disciplined” belief. This is something that has been accepted and even considered part of many African cultures for years. It is considered normal, you know, just like breathing. Men have historically been taught that, as the authority in the home , it is up to them to ensure that people in the house toe the line, especially their wives/girlfriends/partner. A woman is considered a minor who has no business pursuing any of her interests without her husband’s/ man’s consent.

Despite all the progress that women’s rights movements across Africa have made over the years, this particular aspect of our collective culture stays the same. The opinion of the Ugandan lady in the interview above is just one example. How many of you have, or know a young African woman who has, been told that attaining higher education will make her intimidating to men? Will result in her not finding a husband? Because African men are not interested in women who are more educated than them or earn more than they do. “You can’t be too independent, no African man will want you,” is a statement that I have heard.

African women today are still expected/taught to bend over backwards and work overtime to appease the men in their lives. If the relationship fails then it’s your fault young African woman. You should dress to impress your man, keep him interested…pull out all the stops so that he doesn’t stray. You can aspire to be anything you want as long as your ambitions leave room for the man to be the head/leader. You should always cook…it’s a woman’s job…the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach after all. You can’t go out all night with your friends and not pick up his calls…how else do you expect him to show he cares if he can’t keep tabs on you? Oh, he hit you? Well, he was just “disciplining” you…your ways need to be corrected from time to time…you know how we women can get. He hits you because he loves you and wants you to be the best version of yourself…yeah, sure, as long as that best version stays under his thumb and learns to respond to his every whim. So what if he is unfaithful?…you know how men are…they get tempted easily…forgive and move on. You can’t leave because he is cheating or hits you every now and then…good men are hard to find my dear.

It’s all very disturbing especially when you hear/read about a young lady buying into these notions. It’s sad to know that such beliefs are being, and by the looks of it will continue to be, passed on from generation to generation. How then will we enact societal change? How will we, once and for all, do away with this cultural bondage?