My mother told me this sometime ago. She said, “Maame, you are an intelligent girl, there are things you will see, hear and learn that will be hard to ignore. You will want to speak up because you mind will tell you this isn’t right. But speaking up won’t always give you happiness. You will have to make a decision everyday. You have to find your power, but with wisdom”
Disclaimer : I be in ma feelings today
I know what the Bible says. I’ll be the first to tell you I am a Bible-believing Christian. It says woman should submit and respect her man and a woman is to love her a man, right? I am paraphrasing, i know, but that’s the import.
As a woman born and bred in my home-country, Ghana, I know what respect means to a man and what my part is in ‘maintaining’ that little bulging pimple called ‘ego’’. All my life I have been taught about the vulnerability of a man’s ego versus the vulnerabilities of a woman’s… well, whole being; That a woman is still vulnerable no matter how successful, brilliant or smart she is, she will always have a gaping hole that can only be replaced by another, her man. Without that, she is incomplete…To ‘maintain’, she’s got look right, keep her hair and body right, know when to speak and know when to shut up. She’s got to know how to clean, to raise children and still look like the first time her man met her. She prepares for this her whole life. So that she can fit appropriately into that missing piece within the man perfectly. She’s got to get it right.
But like Katherine Hepburn said, *“If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.”* I’d like to replace the word in the quote with the word *“Suffer”* This is my reasoning: I find that obeying the rules has many times forced me to deny myself truth and reason.
Here’s is why:
The first time I read about “love & respect/submission” between couples in the Bible, my understanding was that it was one and the same thing. I believed that the ability for me to show Respect and receive Love, were just variations of one thing: LOVE.
Here was my understanding: My respect for you means, I am entrusting you with my wellbeing. It means you get to have a say with decisions that i make about my life. I share with you, the core of me that no one else has privilege to. I have given you the rights to potentially alter my path and I have enough faith in you to trust your judgement, to let you lead the way. That is me RESPECTING or SUBMITTING myself for you. Your LOVE for me means my thoughts, my concerns and needs are a priority to you. You are tender and attentive to me not because I am weak, but because whether i thrive or deteriorate, is a reflection of you. I MATTER to you. Like I said, variations of the same idea : LOVE.
As I grow older, I see my mother was right, however. That Love and Respect in the real world is far from what i believe. Unfair but true.
I realize that love AND respect are not the same thing in our books. Because respecting a man means i must swallow my opinions, feelings, and bite back my words to project his. I must back up and say ‘Alright’ when that’s not what i want to say. That I need three days to properly analyze my thoughts so i say them the ‘right’ way while he needs just three seconds to break you down.
Do i sound angry? Do i sound like the angry loud-mouth black woman stereotype we have come to love? Yes, i probably am. That’s because I am tired, for myself and any other woman who had to accept this to “maintain” the respectability of being called ‘RESPECTABLE’ or ‘LADYLIKE’. I am even tired for those women who think this is normal. Somehow while we were being trained to submit, give off our best self, to cater to whatever idiosyncrasies men may have, well.. they completely missed that class.
Women need to stop fighting themselves to keep the peace. It’s not wrong to want to be heard. We do not have baseless emotion. We can think and reason. We have more wisdom than we get credit for and our dear counterparts must learn to catch up with this truth. To deny myself this freedom is not love. It is subjugation of my whole essence. It is like asking me not to feel or breathe.
The new woman is here to stay. Deal with it.