“You’re a Woman, so What?”: Navigating Society’s Control Over Women

As a young girl who has spent only a decade on Mother Earth, your perception of life is quite limited and much more limited is your understanding of how society works. 

Deep down in your heart, there’s this thing you know and feel so profoundly. This thing is held firmly to be the gospel truth. It is intrinsically embedded in you and although it wasn’t taught in schools, it pervaded the environment you live in. This thing gives you immense joy and trepidation. This thing is something larger than you,  your mum, your grandma or every other person you know. It is the larger-than-life frame that no one ever tries to alter. 

This thing is the fact that you are female and everything isn’t for you. You are indeed a princess but your Kingdom doesn’t rate you that much. You have access but to certain limits, you definitely can fly but your wings have their limitations. They assure you the world is at your feet but not for long! 

I remember a time when a good-natured woman pointed out to my mother the need to “cup out” my growing breasts. It sounded absurd and very offensive but “what does a small girl know?” and what temerity do I have to challenge a full-grown woman, a mummy? 

To her, the growing breasts were marketing agents for promiscuity and it doesn’t matter if I never stepped out of our house or made any friends or followed anyone, or even if our house was situated in the middle of nowhere, what matters is that I’ve now shown signs of being seen and that according to the societal handbook is a genuine cause for alarm.  

I had a more shocking encounter when one of our teachers advised a close friend of mine who was a boy to “beware of me and not let a mere girl occupy his position” as per leading the class was a man’s birthright. This is just one of the many times society has created a nuclear war for itself. We pitch people against people due to what we tag as “gender differences and gender superiority.”

Day in and day out, I see people express varying degrees of shock,  astonishment and even distaste when I do something perceived to be a man’s turf and this doesn’t just happen to me. I see it happen to ladies all around me and this makes me ask myself various questions such as : 

Is the fact that you’re a woman meant to limit you? 

As with many more people in our environment, the female child should not do so much or be so much. In fact, she should avoid being seen, publicized or known for certain attributes. There were so many rules to live by – Don’t play too much, don’t eat too much, don’t walk so fast,  don’t do this or do that. Rules that keep going on and on. Rules that keep you caged and subdued. 

The rules sounded so grave that they ordinarily limit you and aim to keep you in their confines indefinitely. Oftentimes, audacious ones wonder what happens if one tries to step out of line. Death, Jail, Abandonment? Or what exactly??

Interestingly, no one ever gets roasted for getting out of line and pursuing a just cause. Of course, society won’t come all out with flowers for you but with time, their delusions diminish and the flowers come rolling in stem by stem. 

Now to the good part, being a woman is no ticket to mediocrity and substandard living and no matter what society might have fed you with, once you get on track with the right knowledge, you’re one step ahead. With time, you will realize you could break those bonds without dropping dead or being ostracized. 

Way back, I made a resolve society wasn’t going to dictate to me how my path would go nor would it determine how far I could fly.  I grew up in a society that crowns men with academic excellence and I crossed that line gallantly. I excelled in my academics without sprouting a male member and heaven didn’t fall. 

Was the journey smooth?  

No,  not at all. 

Was there any inconvenience?  

Yes. Multiple

Were they enough reasons to let go? No,  they were not. 

Was it all worth it? 

Yes. Absolutely. 

So while it won’t all be a walk in the park, you don’t have to get burdened or turn tail at the sight of every roadblock. There’s so much you can offer to the world that restricting yourself will be tantamount to sabotaging your story and that of many others. 

You’re enough and there’s so much more to you! 

No matter the prevailing situation,  I would love you to look at yourself in the mirror and repeat to yourself that you are enough and there’s so much more to you!  Say it as loud as you can and as many times as you can. This would not only benefit you but also many others whose stories are tied to yours. 

Years away from that little girl trying to understand how her society works, I’ve metamorphosed into a growing young lady and I’m still on a journey to better understand my society and how well I can relate with it. I’ve learned that in each of my relations with society,  I need to master rock-solid belief in myself. I need to believe greatly in myself and push that narrative with every ounce of my strength. No one will give a hoot about anyone who has nothing to hold on to about themselves. Thus, you instruct society on how better to place you by how well you place yourself. Your belief in yourself will affect how you act and coordinate your affairs and this will be the ultimate guide on how society brings you your flowers. 

No matter the narratives the society might have fed you with, the truth is simply captured in the fact that:  You are capable, so do not be limited! Despite the odds stacked against you and how unreal breaking forth sounds, you can actually do it. Matter of fact,  you will do it and heaven will not fall. 

You are a woman so you’re more than enough. You are above all those deep-seated ideologies and idiosyncrasies you’ve been fed with and you only have to realize how much power you wield. There’s no better time to spread your wings than now and trust me,  you will be strong, someway, somehow. 

I’ll wrap this up with the words of Madeline Albright who says “It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.” You may have been silent and subdued for years but the moment your voice is unleashed, please dear woman, refuse to let it get drowned again! 

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