Dear Faridah, I read from your Facebook page dubbed Faridah Nakazibwe Fans page on June 19, 2019.
Your views on “Four classes of women that may never get married” tickled my feminist sensibilities and I felt I should respond to some of the concerns you raised.
I will begin by restating the advice given before embarking on a simultaneous debunking of some of the arbitrary premises and conclusions which are grossly embedded in the advice.
The first category of ladies whom you are afraid will not get married are those who are “too selective” with high expectations regarding the qualities of their dream man. You advise such women to settle for any man who possesses at least 50 per cent of the desired qualities.
The second category is that of ladies who are noticeably beautiful and very attractive. The third category you identified is that of a rich man’s daughter. You advise that for such women, humility and humbleness is the solution if they want to stand any chance of getting married to the right person at the right time. The last category, one on which I will hinge my analysis, is that of the “career women.”
You define these as women who are very hardworking, ambitious, and successful in life. They tend to be feminist and believe that what a man can do, a woman too can do. You mention that their problem is that they want to run their homes the same way they run their businesses by being bossy and this scares away men.
That the more masculine a lady behaves, the less attractive she becomes to a man. You advise such women to learn how to be submissive to a man and avoid arguing with them (men). You also advise career women to be “more feminine” in their outlook.
I must start by refuting your simplistic view of masculinity. The narrow kind of view which depicts men as people with very fragile egos which must be protected in a very special and hard cage in order to make them feel better about themselves.
Without any further valid justifications, I want to suggest that any man who feels fundamentally threatened by a woman’s job/career/wealth should be exactly the kind of man that any woman should avoid.
Secondly, by stating that “career women” tend to be feminists, and believe that women can do the same things that men do, you arbitrarily shine a bad light on the entire movement and discourse of feminism. You seem to equate feminism to a vice or some kinds of criminality such as terrorism, violence or theft.
Yet, while there are a wide range of definitions and forms of feminism, there is an almost inevitable tendency to hover around the tenets which acknowledge that there have been historical injustices against women, and that there is something that can be done to reduce those injustices. Therefore, to many people, feminism simply implies advocating equitable and fair access to education, employment and other opportunities for both women and men.
The need to protect the perceived fragile egos of men is a trap that is inescapable by many well-meaning people. For instance, when the recording artiste, dancer and actress - Sheebah Karungi - recently unveiled her glamorous mansion, the major concern for the revelers who were interviewed was what she will do with the house in case she is to get married.
So, basically, there we are, with a woman with the career success that several entertainers (including prominent men and women) can only envy, but is expected to regrettably feel sorry about her achievements and must “tone down” on her achievements so as not to threaten prospective husbands.
Additionally, when you advise career women to be submissive to men, not to argue with men and strive to look “feminine”, you are only depicting the kind of language that most people have arbitrarily internalized from socialization.
The kind of language which portrays marriage in terms of ownership, rather than partnership. The kind of language which has led many to believe that for a woman to fail to get married, beyond a certain age, she must see it as a deep personal failure. Yet, another man of the same age or older is seen as one who hasn’t found the right person or hasn’t simply decided yet. For all its worth (joy, love, mutual support), do we ever wonder why we teach women to aspire to marriage, and not the men?
Consequently, it is because of advice like yours that women learn to: give in to fragile egos of men, learn to shrink to make themselves smaller, have ambition but not too much, aim to be successful but not very successful so as to avoid “threatening” the men. If a woman is a breadwinner, she must have to pretend that she is not, especially in public, “emasculating” the man.
Yet, just like we have devised solutions to most of our challenges as humans, we are more than capable of re-imagining gender relations, work and marriage. We can still create a world of happier men and women who are truer to themselves and freer from the mostly exaggerated and stereotypical shackles that shape our gender perceptions.
In the longer term, this task can be achieved by raising the young generation differently. Ultimately, we can end up with a world in which masculinity is not a thing that men must prove to women and a thing that women must acknowledge in men.
The writer is a social worker in Alberta, Canada.