“Don’t you just hate those women who put ‘wife of’ or ‘mother’ in their social media profiles?” This was a comment that sparked a lot of nods
during a discussion that I was part of a few days ago. This conversation was inspired by a recent interview with former US Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton by African author Chimamanda Adichie, where she faulted Clinton for having ‘wife’ as the first word describing her on her Twitter profile. At this interview, Adichie also wanted to know whether taking on her husband’s name had been a ‘choice.’
The general feeling of most present at our discussion was that if Hillary were liberated enough, then she would not take pride in the fact that she is someone’s wife. Some even saw it as a betrayal of feminism – as if by describing herself as a wife first, Hillary has been feeding patriarchy.
This reasoning, I believe, explains an attitude I have observed while interviewing successful women over the years.
We all know that the man a woman marries is one of her greatest career choices. Still, more often than not, when you get up close and candid with a successful woman, she will not admit to having had her husband’s support as she struggled through her career or her business.
It is as if admitting to having had a man support her will take away from her success. It is as if a woman’s success and liberation and support or presence of a man in a woman’s life are mutually exclusive.
I do not get it.
The truth is, having had support from a man – or woman – through your struggles does not take away from your efforts or your success.
Also, there is not just one way for a woman to be liberated or to be empowered. Just as it is in general life, different life situations make different women feel fulfilled and liberated.
While some homes run perfectly on one income and the women who live in them get fulfilment from homemaking, some women, like me, do not feel like they are living unless they are out there kicking ass.
While some effortlessly take on child rearing and gain utter satisfaction from it, others struggle with it and are more comfortable with the role of being the provider.
While surnames mean little to some, others are keen on taking on their husband’s names after the nuptials.
Others still, can’t imagine taking on another name other than their father’s under any circumstances. Clearly, there are different strokes for different folks.
A woman’s liberation and sense of fulfilment is not a girls club where all members must all make the same choices.
The important thing is that there are many life choices available to a woman. Even more important is that this woman is aware of all the choices available to her. If after all this all she wants to do is be someone’s wife or mother, what is your problem?