Today I want to talk about old-fashioned cultural attitudes that undermine your ambition to become a hugely successful African woman. We want to directly address a thorny issue of unhelpful cultural attitudes affecting all of us African women.
I am going to present to you my list of cultural attitudes that have done little to better the lot of African women.
Are you an African working mom suffering from the effects of these negative cultural attitudes or beliefs about you as a woman? I encourage you to brush them aside right now. This is key if you want to be as productive and successful as you’ve been created to be.
1. A woman must only be seen, not heard.
Had certain women in history kept to cultural attitudes of this nature, they would have watched their men bring society to ruin.
For that matter, I urge you to speak your mind as often as you may. Who knows, you could turn out to be our modern-day Yaa Asantewaa.
2. A woman’s place is in the bedroom, never the boardroom.
Skills are transferable, right? The same skills and passion you deploy in the bedroom can be of help in the boardroom. Remember, a woman has been created to be a helpmate, not a yes-man, to her male counterpart. My sister, do not allow backward cultural attitudes which add nothing to your worth as a woman to dictate the direction of your life.
3. A highly educated woman is one full bag of trouble for her husband.
That is only when you allow your qualification to get to your head. If you can use the knowledge acquired to assist your husband to make life easier for both of you, then that qualification cannot be bad after all. And do not let other people’s fears or beliefs stop you from climbing the educational ladder.
4. A woman should steer away from certain men-only subjects or careers.
The last time I checked, there was no subject or career going by that description. Women are even playing soccer today. So what are they talking about? Go out there and be all you can be.
5. Women leaders are impossible to work with.
That may be because women have always known how to take their responsibilities seriously.
For every woman leader, there is no difference between her baby and her official business. She applies the same selflessness, integrity, loyalty, hard work and care.
I encourage you to aspire to be a leader. Because society needs more of such leadership qualities found in women.
6. A woman worth her salt must take her husband’s family name.
Well … I think this one is becoming an anachronism. One more example of what I consider to be old-fashioned cultural attitudes. You do not need someone else’s name in order to be you, do you?
So why worry yourself over this or disturb other peace-seeking people with it? If you think bearing your husband’s family name is the magic wand to win you your dignity, so be it.
All I want you to know is that it does not really make any meaningful difference in the twenty-first century. Indeed, this report shows that in recent years more women are trying other alternatives than before.
7. Financially successful women hardly get suitors to marry.
It is because of the male-ego phenomenon. Rather than count themselves lucky for having found a good woman to marry, some men are afraid that a wife who is financially independent will be arrogant and uncontrollable.
Because they always want to control you!
But hey, that should not stop you from working to be financially sound before thinking of marriage. And while in it, keep working for more, if you can.
8. The woman is solely responsible for all the household chores.
That was back in the sixteenth century and before. You cannot be a productive career woman if you are unable to convince your spouse to assist you in the house.
Some men today need no convincing at all. Bless you if you have one. But, if not, work on him till he sees reason.
9. The woman must be in the home for her man to come and meet.
Not the other way round, right? Wrong.
As a career woman, you know that his cannot always work. You may even be attending more board meetings than your man will ever do. This might be due to your different career paths.
Does that mean you should sacrifice yours? I think the best approach is to find the right balance so your home does not suffer because of your job or business.
You Might Also Like:
10. A woman is first and foremost a sexual object.
Here comes one of the cultural attitudes that have ruined the lives and careers of too many women. Do not allow it to ruin yours too.
One effective way to combat all forms of sexual harassment you might be subjected to at your workplace is to take a firm stance. Then let everybody be aware.
Your acting as if nothing were wrong about the lewd behaviour of your male colleagues could end up destroying your self-confidence, your self-respect and ultimately your career and home.
11. A woman does not have the mental capacity to perform certain tasks.
Hello! Who said so?
The days when only men went hunting at midnight are over. There is enough evidence out there that there are equally great women scientists and mathematicians just as there are men.
And when it comes to problem solving, women know how to pull it off without making much fuss about it.
12. A woman must always get and stay behind the man.
This might be the case in pre-historic times. Probably, it worked at the time in human history when we just started as hunter-gatherers. But no more.
Today, the cultural attitude expressed in this metaphor is so demeaning to a woman’s real worth that the least said about it, the better.
So far as you have the same human head and an equal number of limbs as the man, you do not need to be subservient to him. The best approach is not even to try to get ahead of him.
Rather, stand shoulder to shoulder with your man. Become his most loyal cheerleader so that together you both can prosper.
13. A woman has no use for formal education or higher academic qualification
There is a popular way of demonstrating this unhelpful cultural attitude: A woman’s place will eventually be in the kitchen so why waste time and resources sending girls school?
The fact that you are able to read this wonderful post should be enough motivation for you to keep going higher and higher. There is a lot more to gain with more knowledge and skills.
Nowadays, you can gain all that online. You no longer need to spend hours inside the four walls of a classroom. And make sure you give that little girl of yours all the opportunity, so she can go higher than you.
14. A woman knows a lot; a man knows all.
Clearly, one more instance of those cultural attitudes that portray male chauvinism at its worst. No one knows all, that’s the simple truth. What this means here is that you must not allow yourself to be put down and abused physically or emotionally as punishment for “challenging” your man.
A bit of diplomacy is all you need to make him consider your view point on any issue.
15. There are men’s topics and there are women’s topics.
Does that mean even when the outcome of the discussion is going to have far-reaching effects on you or your children you should still stay clear? I don’t think so.
Don’t get me wrong. I am by no means suggesting that you should interrupt rudely in other people’s conversations. My point here is this. Let the men in your life (home, office, church, etc) recognize the simple fact that what affects all must be discussed by all.
16. The children belong to the woman, more than to the man.
This cultural attitude is a problem found mostly in matrilineal societies. What it ends up doing, in reality, is not good news for both the woman and the children.
As an educated woman, let your husband share in the responsibility of taking care of the children. Together, you both will have a better shot at bringing up your children to become responsible adults.
The burden is shared and the threat of a broken home is avoided when you change your attitude in spite of what society continues to believe.
17. An unmarried woman does not deserve respect.
As a working African woman, do not wait to be married before you command respect from whomsoever. The choice to marry and when to do so should be entirely yours to make.
So, do your best to live your life with all the positive self-image and dignity you can muster. Your marital status should not be your yardstick for determining your social standing. I hope you are aware of married women who amount to almost nothing despite their being called Mrs So and So.
18. A woman’s primary business is to maintain the home, not advance her career.
In today’s world, the two are no longer mutually exclusive. The day you ignore one is the day you will see the other grinding to a halt. Therefore, take both seriously.
Last word …
African women are known to be one of the most hardworking group of people on this planet. But we still get limited results from our efforts. The problem can be traced to the above cultural attitudes many of us still hold on to.
Do you want to get more out of your life as an African working mom? I encourage you to take another look at these attitudes that, for all you care to know, may be holding you back.
Did you find this post useful? Make sure to share it on your favourite social media platform.