She is a good woman.

She is not a good woman.

These are words I have heard used to sum up the worth of many women. Every woman is confronted with the pressure to fit into prescribed standards of being “a good woman”. You see, there is a prize attached to the eventual conformity to this goodness; a good woman makes a good wife and a good mother. I do not know how well you fit into this simple yet intricate social construct.  From whose lenses do you gauge your goodness or lack of it? Yours? Society’s? Both?

So, what does society say a good woman is?

She has a mute dress code

Dress code and morality are variables that we have been conditioned to view as two sides of a coin; you either have one or the other, not both. Clothes have constantly been used to symbolise values. A woman in a mini skirt is viewed as seductive; those with crop tops as attention seekers. Having piercings and tattoos decrease your chances of winning the elusive tag. A “good woman” does not distract or provoke with her dress code.  I have come across a litter of comments blaming women who have suffered rape or sexual assault. They are told that they were “begging for it” because of how they dressed.

She should be hooked

Society does not consider a single woman good enough. It has the misguided thought that being single is equivalent to emptinessThe rule book states that by a certain age, a good woman must have met her prince charming and left in a shining armour. She must aspire for marriage, as that is the crown for her femininity.

I was part of a discussion about Lupita Nyong’o, a renowned Hollywood actress . Our conversation was marked by a constant bemusement at her high-flying career, natural beauty, modesty and influential stature world over.  I was perturbed by an anti-climaxing comment made as we ended our discussion: “kuolewa tu ndio imebaki” loosely translated as: marriage is the only step remaining to complete her. All the accolades from her stellar career were watered down by her inability to be good enough to get a suitor. As if marriage is mandatory. As if it has a deadline.

She should guard a man’s ego

A good woman takes care of her man’s ego. We are brought up knowing how fragile and delicate this thing – a man’s greatest possession – is. That is why some of you find it abominable to pay your partner’s bus fare. What do you do instead? Give him the cash to pay. A good woman is broke and shows it.  Why is this? You see, women have been taught to shrink and let the man shine. But why should this ego be broken by a woman’s abilities?

She loves house chores.

A good woman loves house chores. She does all the cleaning, cooking, tending to children and hosting guests, among others.   She does not love sleep; sleep is laziness. She is the first to wake up and the last to retire. She neither asks for help nor needs it.

All the above are unfounded beliefs that only serve to confine the woman to backwardness and disempowerment. Such must be countered and whittled down.

Diluting the stereotypes

Be proud of your accomplishments. 

Shrinking yourself to guard someone’s ego is unfair. Celebrate the men in your life. They should reciprocate this act. Do not hide while footing the bills. It is not an oddity.

Rest is not laziness.

There is a gaping difference between hard work and suffering, laziness and rest. Do not mistake one for the other. Allow your body enough rest. In the end, your worth will not be measured by the number of laundry baskets cleared or being the person who slept the shortest. Normalise asking for help. If you can afford, get appliances to ease your load. This makes you a smart woman.

Decency is personal. 

Be expressive in your dressing. However, recognise your physiological uniqueness and dress in a way that is comfortable and respectful to yourself and to those around you.

To be married is a choice. 

Marriage does not make anyone good or bad. People make marriage good or bad. It is not a place where every woman must aspire to be. You can be married and happy, single and happy. In the same breath, you can be married and miserable; single and desolate.

As always, It’s thrilling to share my thoughts with you on this side. Be sure to share your feedback.