I am sure we have all come across these screaming newspaper headlines – ‘Woman truck driver breaks into male-dominated industry’, ‘Female motor mechanic demolishes gender barriers’, ‘Girls make inroads into boys-dominated rugby’ – all of which proudly heralding phenomenal ‘achievements’ by women.
Nothing wrong with such commendable ‘accomplishments’, right?
Well, for one, I have always found such perceptions of life, and what constitutes ‘success’ for women, particularly problematic.
Surely, are we to seriously say that a woman’s ‘achievement’ is measured by a gold standard linked to men?
Are we to conclude that, anything that men have done over the course of history is to be emulated as the mark of ‘accomplishment’?
In fact, such thinking – which I find truly disturbing – is not merely limited to gender dynamics, but is also glaringly prevalent in race relations.
Honestly, why would I – as a black person – believe that, our ‘success’ as a race, is premised upon achieving what white people have already accomplished?
Do we necessarily have to copy what white people have already done, in order for us to be considered ‘successful’?
In other words, for us, as a black people, to feel that we are worthy and need to be taken seriously – we also have to go to the moon, climb Mount Everest, and generally be carbon copies of white people?
There is nothing more nauseating than listening to people talk about, ‘The first black person to circumvent the globe’, or ‘the first black astronaut’, or ‘the first black superhero in a movie’.
Are we to assume that all achievements that the world has to offer have already been accomplished by white people – such that, the only thing left for us, as blacks, is to merely follow the path already set by others?
Are we seriously saying, there is nothing truly new that we can achieve? There is nothing unique for us to accomplish?
There is no genuinely new path we can chart – that no one else has walked before – which, even white people would also want to emulate?
The same logic applies to our female-folk – who appear to have been indoctrinated into believing that men are superior to them – such that, whatever we have done in life, is worthy of copying, as the gold standard of ‘achievement’.
Surely, does it make sense when women see men playing soccer, then they also want to do the same? When we drive haulage trucks, they also want to drive them?
Is there any wonder that we have women who see men indulging in some of the most despicable and shameful deeds – such as, promiscuity, or drinking themselves to a pulp – then, they (women) readily copy that, as some sign of independence and power?
Why? Because, they saw men doing it!
Let me make one thing abundantly clear.
I absolutely have nothing against women doing whatever they want, or engaging in whatever they will – as they have every right, as everyone else.
However, my problem here is that – women appear to have put it in their heads that ‘success’ in life is determined by whenever men have done, and as such, needs to be replicated as a sign of ‘achievement’.
I am quite sure, if women were to inculcate in themselves a genuine sense of self-belief and confidence – they would chart their own course in life, and trailblaze their own unique set of accomplishments.
Honestly, I have always desired for God to bless me with a baby girl – so that I would train her to be truly independent and powerful, without using men as a measure of success.
I would have wanted to see my daughter transcend uncharted territory, and achieving things that men have never thought of before.
Would it not be something to strive for – when women have their own achievements, which men would desire to emulate…not the other way round?
Just food for thought!
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and political commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936 / +263733399640, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org