Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Why are SA Women told to Compromise for Marriage?

Lindiwe Maphumulo

Women are shrinked everyday of their lives. As women, we’re made to think that marriage is the most important goal we should aspire to. Men, on the other hand, are told to have other dreams and ambitions like heading up organisations, becoming presidents and making millions. When will we, as women, live a good life without settling for less and limiting ourselves?

My friend and I were having a discussion about this the other day. She was saying that it would be fascinating if a woman was hit on by a guy and then declined, but not just with a simple no but gave a thorough list of reasons of her decision. One of the reasons she could give is that she would like to get a career going and make her own money. My friend and I were thinking that in the society we live in, this woman would be called a gold digger and other names just because of her goals.
We discussed this to a point where a man who had been eaves-dropping decided to join in and turned it to a huge debate. He mentioned that he would have a problem with a woman who can do things for herself, he would feel that he isn’t needed.

We spoke about how he would feel if women accepted men because they can match them on status and salary as that should be a woman’s prerogative. The man’s response was that the woman should be happy with any man asking her out and not judge them on material things as she might not be happy in that relationship, but we do hear that a lot of divorces happen because of financial squabbles in the marriage. Would it then not be better to sort this out as people meet, before the first date even happens.

This showed me exactly just how a lot of men want women to be. They want us to just accept any man who comes around and promises the world because we might not be sure if we will get other offers if we decline that one.  He ended up saying that women don’t know what they want. I had to tell him that every woman knows exactly what she wants and it’s just that every man must be patient enough to actually listen to what we say we want. Everything does not have to revolve around how they want women to behave or do things.

Our standards, as women, are lowered to a point where we lose our self-respect because we’ve compromised for love and marriage and as a result need to rely on men for money and wellbeing. The situations we end up in are a result of how society expects us to be, we have to compromise a lot for what is seen as stability and security. Marriage ends up taking place because of how a woman must be perceived by society and to be seen to have a holistic life. 

I sometimes feel ashamed of being a woman in South Africa. South African women don’t respect themselves anymore, we have mix-matched our list of priorities. We end up working hard for men and how we are going to be accepted by them. Is this really the kind of women we are want to be? What kind of mothers will we be to our daughters if that is who we have become? 

Let’s go back to the garden when man and woman were a pair and a support system for each other. When did we turn against each other? Why is it a problem to men when women become successful? I wish that women who give advice to young girls and couples that are getting married would also tell them that men must understand that women no longer have to stay at home and take care of children; they have ambitions and careers too. 

Women need a serious push in the right direction and that can come with the right information from older women because if that information doesn’t come then our generation will continue losing direction as it has been the case for a while – after all South African history of powerful women who fought for our rights too. 

My parting shot is that there is nothing wrong with marriage but it shouldn’t mean that I should limit myself and give up certain dreams in order to have it. If that’s what it means – then maybe the meaning of that institution should be revisited.

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