As promised, I share the final parts of the lessons I gathered this past year preceding my 26th birthday. While Part One seemed to focus more on career-centered hacks, in this concluding part I delve a bit more into our social lives. This second part is of very grave concern to me and I hope we get to interact more on the issues I raise here. Good luck ladies!
8. Find Real Sisters to Depend On
The rules/condition of oppression are the same and function in the same way in every category. Let’s take one such rule/condition for instance—the divide and conquer rule.
This condition/rule of oppression is the fostering and encouragement of disputes and hate among oppressed groups. Hence, with racism for instance, there is immediate discomfort when unity-talks spring among the oppressed group. Once we become united, it is easier to realize our common injustices and fight for our rights.
The world over, this same rule of divide and conquer features in patriarchal systems. Thus, women have been engineered to constantly see themselves as “the enemy.” We are sometimes pitched together in polygamous marriages, and the enormous pressure and position of marriage in women’s lives has permanently put us in an unhealthy competition for the attention of men.
Unconsciously, because a united women’s front is danger to persisting paternalistic ties, women who are deliberately making efforts to unite and stand up for each other are now being easily conferred the “lesbian” or “man-hater” tag. And if you are someone who is gravely affected by people’s opinions, you would immediately break-free and assume immediate distance and hostility.
In the history of African women’s movements, change only came when our mothers and aunties came and stood together in solidarity. Unlearning sexism is a difficult task but that is exactly where our true freedom begins.
Sisters, we need to stand together through support, mentorship and goodwill. I have taken a solidarity vow and I am currently fighting the temptation to compete and condemn my fellow sister (s).
Let’s correct/council each other in love and in PRIVATE! There is no virtuous woman, there is no whore. Every woman you meet is at some stage in her life and thus, when it comes down to it, all there is, is a WOMAN! Share your knowledge, opportunities and truly care for each other.
9. Have a balance in your life!
I manage to maintain a relatively relaxed graduate school life. No, I do not have extra hours aside that of my peers, I just make time. I live in a small city with nothing much ever happening. Nonetheless, I still end up with fun-filled weekends, thrilled evenings and memorable school breaks. I work hard, and play even harder. I listen to music, dance alone in my room, host friends, eat out, work out and always explore new things. For me, entertainment and leisure is one of my must haves and it always works for me. Do something out of the ordinary and try something new today!
10. Make a Conscious Effort to be Different
When you are born and bred in a society as conservative as ours, your utmost goal is to conform. Hence, we live our lives following the status quo and living exactly in the lines of our predecessors. There isn’t any room for variations, risk and ingenuity. As such, we see very little change and progress.
However, I have tasted the benefits of an environment that thrives on “difference”. As a society, this deficiency makes us adamant to change and to a large extent, progress. As a colonized people, we have been engineered to turn out exactly so, in order to forever remain followers and not achievers. We have therefore developed a conformist attitude and everywhere we go we either hide, dissociate ourselves, or simply blend-in. But how would people learn and get to know our story, how do we standout?
Whatever idea, talent or skill you are developing now, make sure it has a touch of “abnormality” otherwise you would not receive the needed attention to first of all stand out and then sell out!
11. Put your Happiness first!
We are tasked to love our neighbor as ourselves, not more than ourselves. Sometimes I tend to come off as a quitter in my work life and relationships. But that’s not the case, I make it a point to opt out any situation/circumstance that makes me the slightest uncomfortable, intimidated and feel less of myself.
We all thrive in places of encouragement and positivity. Whenever anyone, or anything makes you feel otherwise, cut them off and cut them out!
Pleasing others is one of the silliest mistakes you can ever make in life, and if you live by that rule, you would never know the true meaning of happiness.
12. Be deliberate about Failure
If you study some of the world’s greatest inventors and entrepreneurs, their best came from their worst. Don’t be ashamed of the few times you failed, rather, I would ask, what was the learning experience like?
In composition pedagogy, we are encouraged to make students construct deliberate failures. For example, when I want to teach my students effective PowerPoint compositions, I don’t give a long list of dos and don’ts.
Rather, I ask students to make/construct the worst PowerPoint presentations ever! In learning to construct the worst, they learn these on their own. What’s more, the learning experience is more fun and memorable for everyone.
13. Have a room of your own!
I mean this literally and hypothetically. In “A Room of One’s Own,” Virginia Woolf asks a very simple question: Why are our mothers, grandmothers and aunties poor? Why do they look on when their men are getting educated, trained and building empires? Let’s have a “room” of one’s own symbolically refer to ‘economic independence.’
To make this western reading more realistic to me, I ask myself, if my mum had a substantial education, a career, a business, what difference would that have made in my life? And for those whose mothers had rooms of their own, I compare the difference it made/makes in their life. That is how I choose to begin the conversation.
I tend to touch on marriage all the time not because I am entirely against it, but rather that we are not preparing ourselves enough for the realities that come with it. Many of us young women are making the same mistakes our mothers and grandmothers made—we are making such crucial decisions without any back-up plans.
I don’t know about you, but I also want to be able to give my husband surprise treats, and send the family off to vacations. Better still, to enable me execute my Godly wifely duties with smiles, I want to literally have a room of my room (business/career/skill) so I can for instance work from home sometimes, take time off when needed, and go to work at my own choosing.
African women caught between religion and social constraints must definitely consider this call. Significantly, as women it is one of the foundations of our respect and freedom.
14. Educate Yourself on Feminism.
I encourage everyone to have opinions, just make sure your opinions are informed. It is bad enough for men to quickly dispel feminism but it is even worrying when our fellow women, for lack of knowledge, join in. Most of the people who are quick to denounce feminism do not know a thing about the ideals, mission, vision and achievements of the movement so far.
Yes there are controversies, just like religion and several of similarly existing ideologies. Many of these ideologies have evolved and keep evolving. Things can only get better with constant dialogue and reflections.
Anyone who believes that women are also entitled to the enormous opportunities available for personal and professional advancements is technically a feminist. Anyone who believes that women are a viable human resource and legitimate members of a society and its economic, political and social developments is a feminist. Anyone who agrees that policies should be put in place to lessen the burdens of women like myself who want it all (motherhood and career) is a feminist. In any case, anyone who believes women have a right to evolve with society is a feminist!
Let’s cut the lecture, just read and let’s interact after—Instagram and Twitter: @efplange_gh
Efe Plange is founder and editor of Sankofa Reviews. She is a Graduate Teaching Instructor, and recently concluded a Master’s degree in Rhetoric and Technical Communication at Michigan Technological University. She is passionate about the Arts and Cultural industry and her background in the field is fueled by a longstanding dream of seeing theory work together with practice. Connect with Efe on social media: efplange_gh on both Instagram and Twitter, and Efe Plange on Facebook.
This post has already been read 10727 times!