Real~actually existing as a thing or occurring in fact; not imagined or supposed.
•Breathe~take air into the lungs and then expel it, especially as a regular physiological
There comes a time in every upwardly mobile woman’s life when one encounters someone who asks-Can you cook? How will you get anyone if you look like that? Men do not like that kind of thinking. How will you keep one?. First of all, a person is “kept” only if they want to stay. Culinary skills or looking like a snack 24/7 will not keep anyone who does not want to be “kept”. Society (especially African culture) has put so much pressure on women having us think we need to tick certain boxes to be considered real ( mukadzi chaiye in Shona). We are trained to be wives more than we are trained to be a decent human being. We spend our whole girlhood intaking messages about how we are supposed to sacrifice and always be at service to others before we are taught self-love.
While there is nothing wrong preparing for your husband and having “home training” (I am for it), what I find hard to fathom is when simple human skills are now categorised as weapons or snares on how to be desirable or acceptable for marriage. Character and basic building tools are being misused and redefined to “create” a real woman.
I will elaborate on why I believe and know why so much pressure has been put on women to think marriage is the major goal in life. And how basic skills are meant for us to be decent, functioning human beings and not guidelines on how to be a “real woman” because come on, if you are breathing, you are real. READER’S DISCRETION IS ADVISED, YOU MIGHT FIND THIS UNCOMFORTABLE OR NONSENSICAL BUT SINCE YOU HAVE ALREADY STARTED READING, YOU MIGHT AS WELL CONTINUE.
The number one skill a woman should have before leaving her father’s house. Legend has it, it is the true path to a man’s heart. Which is true but honestly, isn’t food the path to any human beings heart. Food is the backbone of our existence, after God, breath and bathing (this one is debatable) obviously and this should be a skill every human being is well versed in. I know I am probably getting the side-eye or you are thinking- but guys cannot cook or as a guy you are thinking but I have never been taught?
If you can read, you can cook. Read instruction and before you know it you are Gordon Ramsay flipping skillets and inventing recipes. Every human being can cook-it might not taste good but if it is fit to keep you alive, my friend you are doing well. Culinary skills should not be skills we are taught to “steal” men or keep them. I know a couple of Auntie’s who make dishes that make you want to slap your mama but they were left by the husband’s they lured or stole with food.
Personally, I can cook but I do not enjoy it. I know, in most of your eyes I have not made the cut of a real woman (it is ok, I have accepted that I am a lost cause in the real women club). My African aunties are probably praying for me now, asking God to fix this uncooking demon which has possessed me. What I am reinstating is, cooking is not only for women but for both sexes, this whole theory of saying men cannot cook is as real as Santa Clause/Father Christmas. The most famous chefs in the world are men, Gordon Ramsay, Antonio Bourdain, Gringo the Best Cooker and so on. I think we should be taught to cook to survive not to be deemed acceptable for marriage. And there is nothing wrong with wanting to cook for your family, go be great but do not believe the lie that it keeps a man. I personally do not enjoy cooking but because I do not want to die, I have to. So, fellow human being due to the fact that we do not want to die, let us equip ourselves before people have to write eulogies of how we died of hunger by choice- goodness, my corpse will sure be embarrassed.
2.RIDE OR DIE/LOYALTY
Apparently being a ride or die chick/girl/woman is one of the boxes women have to tick to be surveyed as a real one. Whilst being a ride or die is deemed as loyalty, I believe it has been redefined to fit ridiculous “standards”.Fair enough if it means standing by someone through the hard times (by hard times I do not man him cheating on you a jabillion times) and being a supportive partner. However, when it means standing by someone and being “loyal” when they cheat, lie and do some heinous things-that is when common sense fails us. Women we have a tendency of wanting to be “fixers” (I have had a couple of guys I tried to fix, to my dismay of course)-we are all Olivia Pope’s in our minds. Any kind of person (especially men) we believe we can “fix”, we are born that way or we are taught to be that way in our “how to keep a man” classes, I do not know. I subscribe to loyalty going both ways and it should not be part of you Fit To Be A Spouse Resumé. It should be a human basic quality, not something that qualifies one to be real or be rewarded.
Women are classified to be real when they stand by their men even if they are to do things that degrade them- because we just have to, which I personally do not understand. We are told real women do not expose their husbands infidelity because it will embarrass them (I hope this sounds stupid to you as it does to me, what I am getting here is- it is alright for a man to embarrass his wife by beating/cheating on her but shameful for the wife to call him out for betraying and hurting her.) We are to stand by them and of course, attack the young/ older women who we believe are a threat to our relationships and marriages but shy away from confronting the man. In modern society this could be in the form of an I am coming to you as a woman text.
I had a discussion with a colleague and we were talking about things that would have us divorce someone (God forbid but it is one of those discussions we have) and for me, it would be: cheating, molester, murder, abuse (all the abuses) and being gay. We stressed on cheating and she was saying how I would have to stay if he cheats because of the kids and because that is what men are like. I explained to her, that knowing myself I would constantly remind him of what he did. He could bump his toe on a stool and I would console him by telling I felt like that when he hurt me, only it was worse and in my heart. I do not think I am mature enough to stay if that happens, I will moonwalk out of that relationship faster than Michael Jackson on his 1992 tour. How about the kids you may ask- I leave because I love my children. I believe they deserve to be in an environment that is not toxic and where they are also respected and appreciated. They deserve to grow up knowing love does not hurt but it is patient, kind, truthful, is not rude, arrogant or envious.
3.“BE NICE”/SACRIFICIAL LAMB
For aeons, girls from a young age we have been taught to sacrifice for our children, husbands and practically everyone. We are taught to be nice so that we are liked and again-wait for it-deemed to be “real”. I personally prefer kindness to niceness due to the fact that with being nice- you are letting people walk all over you so you will be liked. However, with kindness, it is being friendly, considerate and generous. Kindness is more of a characteristic as niceness is a mere act. I believe niceness confides you into a box and it is more based on what people think/say about you rather than who you truly are.
We are told women should be nice, poised, soft, gentle and “weak”.I am pretty sure if you are old enough to be reading and understanding this-you have met women who have neither one nor any of the “characteristics” mentioned above. As a Christian, it is a daily process and the Holy Spirit has been working overtime on me to be gentle, kind and patient-not to be walked over but for me to be strong in my faith. However, in our (African) society, these characteristics are enforced on us so that we lower ourselves, shrink ourselves so we do not intimidate the man. Urged to not speak up (be nice), to not argue (be soft), to not oppose or ask questions (because no man wants that) and not to do “manly” think because it emasculates the man. Allow me to call CRAP on this because these are things we are taught to get a man not to be a decent human being. Of course, these traits are good, acceptable, plausible even- what I disagree with is WHY we are taught to be like that. So that we are deemed “real women” – you are not a real one if you are outspoken (controlling), assertive (aggressive) or have more than your husband (emasculating).
I for one pray to be on the same team with my husband-not his competition or only his cheerleader. We sacrifice together (time and money), we stay/ take care of the children together (fathers do not babysit or are to be thanked for changing their own kids- they are supposed to take care of them). I do not want to be nice so that I am liked but I want to be kind because every human being deserves kindness.
We all want to be called beautiful-which we ALL are but we fail to see our individual beauty because beauty has been redefined. In this day and age, beauty is being light skinned, petite, long straight hair, curvy body, flawless skin, neon white teeth and a face beat for the gawds. I understand whilst these may be natural traits for certain people, it puts a lot of pressure on those who are not “blessed” with those features. Most women and girls have gone through an identity crisis trying to fit into the new “standards” of beauty. I too have gone through stages where I would cry, blaming God for making me ugly whilst others wake up looking like they just came from a Vogue photoshoot. I would scroll through Instagram or Facebook seeing all these women looking flawless with bodies to die for. I would also make the mistake of going through the comment section because there, people would be commenting on how these are real women. I would self-hate and think of how I am never going to be good/beautiful enough for anyone. It bruised my growing confidence and I had to go back to my never-going-to-be-beautiful-for-anyone cocoon. I still have those days but they are lesser than a year ago. I personally do not like make up (nothing wrong with it) mainly because most of my teenage years my face was swamped with pimples and acne and now that it is clearing up, I want to allow myself to love and embrace my skin and also because I can not put on makeup to save my life.
I believe every human being should be clean, well-kempt and smell good. Good hygiene is a form of good manners and it is healthy too. Whilst from a young age, we are told to be clean and look good for husbands – I am unlearning all this and learning to look good for myself. I wear things that make me feel confident, good and sometimes sexy (FOR ME!). I understand in our society, there are certain clothing items that are viewed as “thirst traps” for example, jeans, leggings and mini skirts. Apparently they are clothes that trace every inch of our different body types and they might tempt men and we should avoid this – I have a problem with this, for the sole reason that we have to be responsible for men’s actions (instead of telling girls to stop wearing certain clothing items, does it not make more sense to teach boys/men to guide their minds and hearts especially Christian men). From petite to plump, there are certain clothes forever body type that we are not permitted to wear (too revealing or tempting) or encouraged to wear (thirst traps) so we are deemed, real women. If you are a person who lives to please people or who wears certain clothes or puts on make up for men, please do not stress yourself. What I need you to do now is look at yourself on the mirror/ front camera/ reflection on your computer screen and tell yourself you are beautiful just the way you are.
The pressure of looking a certain way to match the criteria of being “wifey” material is so much, most women have resorted to taking matters into their own hands. Bleaching, taming natural hair, endless diets and procedures that do not even make sense, such as anus bleaching (yep, this is how the human race is slowly becoming stupid and extinct). Whatever shape, shade or height you are, God made you and said it was good – who then is going to oppose the Creator Himself? You?
Once in a while, I ask myself why I am a Christian-I make sure I am honest with my answer because one of my mantras is to never lie to myself because I will only be fooling myself. Whilst the answer has varied from wanting to go to heaven, wanting something to being one because everyone in my family is. I have grown to understand God is my Father who loves me, cares and hears me – not a vending machine. and Jesus is actually brown with hair like wool. ( see Revelations 1 v 13-15 and if you find it hard to believe, let us resort to geography and ponder on where He was born and the ethnic group He was born into). The environment I grew up in presented Jesus as a white man with blonde hair and blue eyes and God as a white bald old guy, with a long silver beard who was waiting to just punish me. I grew up scared of God because hell was preached more than Jesus’ love and grace. I was fearful of God and on top of that, I was told for me to get married and be a strong African woman-I had to be prayerful and godly. How was I suppose to pray to someone I feared but not know, I did not know. My prayers were fuelled with fear rather than faith. I was constantly told a woman’s prayers to hold a household-her husband and children. Being taught that a woman had to pray more than a man (my mother’s prayers are not going to save my soul.The grace of God and my relationship with Jesus are what strengthen me, the same way they strengthen every human being male or female).
Women are taught to pray for husbands and marriage before they are taught to have a relationship with Jesus. We go to church 6 days a week, serve in the church, pay tithes and plausible members of society but we do not have a relationship with God. We only know of God on Sundays but during the week we are alien to Him. We put our Sunday best outfits and “show” how Christian we are but our hearts are calloused and vile. Our prayers are misdirected because we are not sure we are praying to. Like I always say, it is a process and you never really arrive. I would have appreciated if I was taught of the love of God and His grace more than going to hell if I talk back or disrespect a grown up by telling them no when I am uncomfortable.
I thrive to be a Godly woman because I love God and I want a relationship with Him. I want to seek His face and be more like Him. His word encourages us to seek His Kingdom first and all shall be given according to His will. Husbands come from God, they are not trapped by culinary skills, being light skinned or by being nice. I am confident in God not what I have been told will lure a man, especially basic skills which men and women should be well versed in. I am for submitting to my husband, even though now submission has been redefined to mean control. I understand submission in the example of God the Father and Jesus the Son. They are equal but have different functions- both their posts are essentially important but they just have different roles. Just like how a husband and wife become one and are equal but have different roles.
For me, submission is I am going to trust you to lead (us) because you have a plan, drive and God being the centre. And I believe submission is not controlled and when you are with the right person you will not mind them leading. So, no Auntie Noprah (an Oprah who gives bad advice), I will not be submitting to a man who does not have a personal relationship with God, does not have leadership qualities or cannot cook. There is a fair chance we will send him back to his father’s house to be taught good home training.
So to all the women, we are all real as long as we are breathing. Find things that you like and love to do for you. Do not plan your life around marriage, for all you know you have been called to singleness. It is His will after all