I write to you today with immense trepidation. For a long time in my life, I had resolved to stop preaching to women. This is because everyone does it every single day. We are told who to be. We are told what is acceptable for us to do, say, wear and even think.
I can remember being scolded when I was as little as eight years old on decorum and my aversion to domestic chores. It was never about learning anything for myself. It was all about learning to be the kind of woman that a man would want to marry.
So the average woman has heard it all. Why on earth would I think that I could think of something new to tell women? Why on earth would I think that a woman needs to hear anything more? Why should any woman listen to what I have to say?
Well, no woman actually has to. I am at an age whereby I have seen a little more than younger women. From woman to woman, I want to say a few things for the record. I sincerely hope that some woman will find this useful.
I apologise for the long preamble. But I get that women are exasperated from all the preaching they get.
Let me get on with it.
- THERE IS NO PRINCE CHARMING. Sorry for using caps lock but I just had to ‘loud it’. The books I read growing up, coupled up with all those romantic chick flicks…even Nollywood…kept telling me that one day, some man was going to come into my life and whisk me away from life’s problems.
There was always an expectation to meet that someone in life. The one person that would carry my burdens and take care of me. Of course, I had to be educated and find a job…
These were things I would do to buy time for the day a man would take over from where my father stopped. I did meet a wonderful man…I am one of the lucky ones but I have since realised that meeting someone to share life with is part luck and part where you are in life and where he also is at.
And even when you meet, the burden of happiness is one that no one can share. Being happy is a responsibility that belongs to the individual. Yes, we can help each other out. But no man or woman can come into your life and take the ‘pain’ away.
No one is that missing half coming to complete you. Sadly, against every myth, we are whole individuals and will remain so with or without a partner. We also take turns to carry each other. Stop waiting for Prince Charming. He is a fictional character.
- You should bring more to the table than how you look. Dear woman, it is fantastic to be beautiful and put together. You should absolutely care for your skin, your hair, your clothes and make up. It is good to look great.
But dear woman, that should never be all you have to offer. You may have a good run when you are young and doors will open because of your glimmering cleavage. But the day always comes when no cream can recreate the suppleness of youth. When people will look at you and say “She must have been beautiful in her time.”
The day will come when the swing of your waist will no longer snap heads up. To prepare for this day, you must develop your mind with the same dedication you give to your physical appearance. Your ‘nyash’ cannot be all you bring to the table. The earlier you start this, the better things will work for you.
- Men are not your enemies. Neither is their attraction to you. Your femininity is not your enemy. Never ever give men a general label. This is because it will be easier for you to navigate life without the big label of who men are supposed to be.
Let content of character direct you when you relate with all people. You will meet good people and bad people. NO GENDER holds the monopoly on goodness. Other women are not your enemy.
There is no need for unnecessary competition. Deal with people with no preconceived notions as much as possible.
- I have to emphasize that men are not our natural enemies. I understand patriarchy. I understand inequality. The vehicle that has the words patriarchy blazoned on it carries men and women. A culture that made men superior was promoted by everyone.
So while women fight for equality, a militant stance that personalizes every single encounter with men will not lead to a happy life. I personally believe that women/men who raise children have the biggest job of enacting change in our society. Fighting people set in stone may chip out a little from the stone but breaking the mould will require indoctrination from an early stage.
So, fighting men is exhausting with little reward. Seek to make history daily by daring to go out there and do the things that women have been told they can’t do. That is a better way to channel your energy.
- It is okay to not want marriage. It is okay to decide you do not want children. Some decisions are irreversible. You should be sure getting married or having children is something that you want. Leaving a marriage is not as easy as it seems and people leave with lifetime scarring.
Having children is not something that you can walk out of. If you are not sure it is something you want to do, then don’t till you are sure you want to. It is unfair to bring a child to this world and regret it. It is unfair to try it out to see if you can do it or because other people expect it of you. It is unfair to willfully have a child and then to go ahead to regret this.
No human being deserves to be unwanted at birth. So women, do everything on this earth not to get pregnant if you do not want a child…even try celibacy. But if you do want kids, have them. A woman does not have a lifetime of fertility. It does get harder as one gets older.
If you are unable to have kids, explore all options but know that you are not a failure. Do not halt life because the kids are not yet here…The thing is, life actually does not halt. Your value as a woman has nothing to do with whether you have kids or even get married.
Dear woman, the best you can do to yourself is to be financially independent and mentally engaged at all times. This automatically sifts out the bullshit that will have the guts to come your way. Never ever let go of financial freedom irrespective of who is asking it of you. It is rarely ever worth it.
Sorry I am ending this letter abruptly. I said more than I intended to and yet I did not cover half of the things I wanted to say. I will write you again. There is much to be said.
Yours in sisterhood.