How do you define yourself as a woman in the twentyfirst century? As women we have broken many boundaries and are recognized as individuals who are not just able to independently survive on our own, but are celebrated for working and joining our male counterparts on space expeditions and discovering new frontiers in science and technology. We are able to get married, have children and still if we want to, go back into the work force and conquer it again. All these are of course more reminiscent of first world countries where successful women, despite the challenges, are still celebrated for their accomplishments. They have fewer instances of men who get intimidated by their success but are rather challenged by it.
In my part of the world however, the story is different. I went to visit a dear friend of mine who is a successful lawyer. She drives the latest Toyota and is in the prime of her career. She does not live with her parents, because they live in a different city. She has an apartment that is sparsely furnished, and looks like in the event of a great hurricane she will be able to pack a bag of her most valuable possessions (which in all honesty might only include her Apple laptop and her car of course). I’m burning up from the hot African sun as I get to her house, but then I realize that she doesn’t have a generator to power up her house in the event of power outage.
Why doesn’t she have a generator? And why does her house look like she’s expecting the next natural disaster to occur in the neighborhood? Because unlike our counterparts in first world countries, we my friends, live in a “Savior Society”. We feel that the men are not just intimidated by our success, but they are threatened by it. We feel like if we are viewed as accomplished in our private and professional lives, then the man will feel like he is not needed. So we create a period in our lives which I call the “lost years”, where we recreate a life that we want the men in our society to see. We want them to know that we are educated, but not to feel like that education brought on any success. We pretend the cars we drive are a gift from “parents”, and that the salary we are making is only able to rent us a place to rest our heads at night. So, we are waiting for a “Savior” to marry us and get us out of this created unimaginable life. Someone whose self-esteem we can boost, who we can make feel like he has come to complete our life. Someone we can make feel like a “man”.
So why don’t we start over? Why don’t we strive to be the best that we can be? Why don’t we thrive in the luxuries that our jobs and our education can afford us? Rent apartments and furnish them adequately so after a hard day’s work we can come home and enjoy the fruits of our labor. Why don’t we create a culture where a man can buy things for us knowing that we can afford to make the purchase ourselves?
We are educated. So, we should be able to compete with everyone both men and women and not feel like we will become less marketable as potential brides. Why don’t we create a culture where men see us as intellectual equals? As a woman who he can create a dynamic relationship with.
Because you know my dear sisters, when we start to do that, we will change the mind set of our society. We don’t need a savior, we have one. Christ already saved us, he is our ultimate Savior. So as I am continually perplexed by the disparity in the expectations of the men’s need to exaggerate their accomplishments and women’s need to down play their success, perhaps we can meet somewhere in the middle and change the way relationships exist today.
Editor’s Note: we would love to hear from you, especially the men. Do you agree with Halima’s premise? Do you feel intimidated by a successful woman? Do drop your comments below or email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject matter: CRITICAL CORNER