I remember lying down flat on the red dusty gravel filled soil in front of my secondary school dormitory, I remember wondering what did I ever do to deserve this?
I remember the demands of a ‘senior girl’ that I fill her cup with beverages from my provision; I remember being sent to kneel down for an hour under the scorching sun for not obliging the request.
I remember feeling out of place for being a girl, sometimes enjoying its benefits, other times absolutely abhorring its natural calls.
I remember crying my eyes out as they teased me for having a boyfriend in junior secondary school. I remember smiling as an undergraduate after a date.
I remember smiling at my aunt’s kids, thinking how much fun it would be to have a baby. I remember looking at my four month old daughter, wishing I could ship her away to my mum for a while.
I remember sitting at home pregnant with my daughter, wishing the four walls of the room played out scenes from my favourite movies or served as portals to my favourite places. I remember catching a forty-five-minute bus each way to school and back, going to work when I could, while logging around my ever growing second pregnancy.
I remember feeling content with speaking to dear ones through social media thankful the drama of sharing personal space was cut out, I remember wishing I had my mom with me in the labour room.
I remember that through all these times I have always felt that I had no choice but to be strong. I remember feeling the need to make sure my burden hung squarely on my shoulder and on no other.
I remember wishing I could become a child again.
This is my personal journey and most of it has been my choice, while others have been thrust on me my circumstances. It’s interesting to see a come thread running through my journey, a myth that I had come to believe at an early age; the myth that every real woman is strong, able to shoulder every challenge. I absolutely scoffed at women/girls who cried so easily, women/girls who worked their wiles on others to get their way. I especially find it hard to cajole people, a trait that makes me a poor salesperson except when on a mission. And after many years of being me ‘the way I wanted’, motherhood has shaped me into someone who has had to embrace every facet of herself.
I have learned to cry simply to relieve my tension, to not feeling worried that others might see me as weak or manipulative, because if they feel that way perhaps they feel guilty for not doing enough.
I am learning how to make both impromptu and well thought out decision through checklists.
I am learning to refine my communication skills, realising that patience is very important to the process.
I am adapting to the possibility that living day by day does not make my life less impactful than having high powered dreams/goals. I am accepting that it might be slow but it is not meaningless.
As I read the three waves of the feminist movement, I can’t help wondering what was the overriding goal of each phase? I find myself coming back to the word choice. Without choices, life would probably be crippling, both mentally and physically. Everyone wants the right of way on the narrow streets of life. Sadly this is not possible, thus the need for rules and laws, but if the law gives right of way to Mercedes or Nissan brands only hasn’t it failed in being equitable? This is perhaps why road signs/instructions address car dimensions and potential and not brands.
Humans much like cars come in different dimensions, and varying horse powers regardless of similar dimensions. I don’t know much about cars but I assume it would be unrealistic to expect all cars with a 2.0 engine to perform exactly the same way. There are several factors which would impact on its performance including brand, model, driver, country of use, other components etc. All these factors determine the pricing of these cars. Women(men) are in the same way similar and it’s my belief that what most women want is to be treated in ways that respect their individuality, giving them room to accomplish their dreams.
Whether in their personal or professional lives, women want to have the right to progress in any direction. They don’t expect rules to favour Mercedes above Nissan, rather they want rules that keep everyone safe on the road. Choice …. choice. Sadly this idea offends many, for a choice in the corporate world might ultimately cement the place of choices in the community. It is as though the world prefers to confer rights on a maladjusted man rather than any woman. Sometimes a Childs’ choice seems more valued than a woman. We prefer that which might be seen as frivolous than one which requires thoughtful and considerate engagement.
Bringing the point closer to the home front, often in the family we find the womans choice clinching loosely at the bottom of the scale of preference. We have taught our sons the act of having the final say, of laying down the rules, of taking charge without knowing what they are actually in charge of. We have taught our daughters the perfect timing for the first word, the perfect sequence for following instructions, the act of supporting missions without teaching them how to spot impossible missions.
We failed to teach both how to construct the middle bit of the conversation, how to get to build up to an amicable conclusion. We have taught them to imagine a beautiful end but equipped them for a bloody battle of wits, choices, manipulative skills and little about integrity in the confines of a small room with an audience of one. But that’s a discussion for another day.
Where are your choices taking you? What sort of woman are you becoming?
Your tears are not your shame
Your scars are no regrets
Your strength is not in words
Your weakness is not in silence
defined by a moment you are not
shaped by moments you will be
live those moments truly and wholly.
Choices come at a price but certainly not the price of being superhuman. Society has equated a woman who wants the same privilege for the same role/responsibility as a woman who wants to be a man. Should choices take away from our masculinity or femininity? If my husband asks for help lifting heavy items does that make him less masculine or me less feminine? Earning more or less, exploring my potential doesn’t change my gender or does it? Should it.? How I chose to display my feminine side is subjective to me. Some people will earn more income and undergo personality changes, others won’t, should this be the bases for rules?
In my opinion, the only feminine movement that counts is that which protects the individual woman, giving her room to grow and blossom. To explore her choices, curbing them only when they mitigate harmfully against another. They say we are our own worst enemies and it is true. When last did you complement, support or encourage another woman?
There is a universal truth: we can’t have it all. However, there is another truth: we always have something to add, to own.
What’s your choice worth?