In my grandparents generation, people got married pretty early, most women didn’t go to school, didn’t have real jobs or even career goals; many were mainly housewives. Success for a woman at that time was defined by finding a decent husband and making as many children as possible.
With my parents’ generation, I saw a dramatic change with much more women in the workforce, taking leadership positions in private and government jobs. Schooling for women was a much higher priority than for the previous generation. Educated women had more options and were more equipped to make educated choices for themselves. I noticed many women in that generation getting married in their early – mid thirties, most of them with solid and successful careers. And I thought I figured it out: that from there on, society and women in particular women would value more their education, their career, their independence. I looked up to that modern woman growing up in the streets of Abidjan. I wanted to be her, femme or feminist fatale if we shall.
Now my generation is quite a complex story. And I realized that the story of women from generation to generation didn’t necessarily follow the linear pattern I had always assumed. This is the age where we breathe feminism, chant higher education and equal opportunity for women. Us, women are officially no more second class citizens but fully empowered to take ownership of our lives, careers and given opportunities to be independent.
Astonishingly, it seems that so many women in my generation define their womanhood and success in life not by their accomplishments or personal happiness but by whether or not they have a husband or a marriage material significant other. This is a sad reality but it is just the plain truth. It almost feels like we are back in my grandparent’s generation. I could have sworn we received better instructions and inspirations.
For those women far from my vision of the modern day feminist fatale, no matter what a woman accomplished, her successful career, her six figures salary, her big mansion and even her Ferrari; she is incomplete until she finds a husband. Why is it that we made marriage a norm without which women are deemed to not be completely happy? Furthermore, this panic of being incomplete is even affecting women as early as early twenties. I can’t’ tell you how many ladies came to me panicked that they hadn’t found the one yet and wondered whether they ever will. Sometimes, I allow myself to understand and let myself freak out for just a minute, before I come back to a reality that I am very proud of.
When did this happen? When did the paradigm shift? When did that equation stop being linear? What made men the deciding factor in whether or not women’s lives are complete? I plead that, in a generation that received such high education, in the age we live in, for those valiant heroes who fought so hard for women’s empowerment, us ladies take our happiness and completeness in our own hands. I too believe in fairy tales, at least in some realistic version. I also know that you can’t wait on anyone else to make you happy, to complete you. Life is too short for that!
We owe it to our grandmothers, our mothers, our daughters and all the women across the globe to pursue our dreams because:
1. We can’t let ridiculous norms put us in a box and shape who we should be
2. We deserve to achieve
3. The sky is the limit.
For the rest, God is in charge.