I would like to start today’s post with the following quote:
“We teach girls to shrink themselves,
to make themselves smaller.
We say to girls,
‘You can have ambition,
but not too much.
You should aim to be successful,
but not too successful.
Otherwise you will threaten the man.’
Because I am female,
I am expected to aspire to marriage.
I am expected to make my life choices
always keeping in mind that
marriage is the most important.
Now marriage can be a source of
joy and love and mutual support.
But why do we teach to aspire to marriage
and we don’t teach boys the same?
We raise girls to see each other as competitors –
not for jobs or for accomplishments,
which I think can be a good thing,
but for the attention of men.
We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings
in the way that boys are.
Feminist: the person who believes in the social,
political and economic equality of the sexes.”
– Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I think this quote symbolizes what many women, especially Ethiopian women may face and go through in their lives. In Ethiopia, a woman has attained the ultimate success once she has married, had children and starts her own family. Unfortunately this translates into a circumstance where Ethiopian women come to America and teach their daughters that this is the ultimate success. I am not saying that this is what happens in all families. Many families like my own teach their daughters to have ambition, pursue an education and to become powerful women. However, upon graduation day the family begins to ask: “When are you getting married” “When will you make me a grandparent”. Now many of us do in fact want to get married and live that fairy tale dream. However that fairy tale should not come at the expense of reaching a young woman’s goals and aspirations. The man you marry and live out your life with should be someone that you can live out your life goals, without sacrificing your dreams. That person should be your support system and you should be his. It should not be at a cost of losing who you are as an individual. We should always teach our daughters to feel empowered. A man may look good on paper, however he may be pure evil on the inside. Simply put, families should focus on teaching their daughters to feel empowered, to be enough with or without a man. See, when you seek the attention of a man, you will NOT get him. When you focus on YOU, the right HIM will find you. Seek out your goals, live out your life, and when the time is right the right man will come along. Settling should never be an option.
All too often, women settle for a man that gives them attention. A man that buys her things, takes her places and impresses her family. That should not be the case. The value of individual should be what draws you to a man. Material things and a flashy lifestyle are things that could go away tomorrow. You should consider who the person is on the inside. That is what really counts.
I hope that we as a community can change our tone and conversation and recognize that our women are our biggest asset and should be treated with the ultimate respect.