In recent years, a lot of black women are choosing to be single. This may seem odd because women viewed marriage as a necessity rather than a choice a couple of years ago. Not long ago, it was not uncommon for African girls to be married off even before they hit puberty; mostly as a way for their families to gain wealth from dowry.
For years, women have been raised and trained to believe their sole purpose in life is to get married. To attract potential husbands, women are to dress, talk and behave in a particular manner. Even their career choices are to a tee! For the longest time, careers such as engineering, computer science and even teaching STEM subjects were reserved for men.
Our patriarchal societies have taught us to believe that a man will not love us if we achieve more than him. He will feel emasculated if you earn more or are even more educated. The question is if he is constantly feeling worthless, is he worthy of your hand in marriage?
There have been conflicting opinions on the whole marriage issue. When researching, I came across three groups of women. A good number hope for marriage. There is a second group who have been there and never want to go back and the last group is holding back because of various reasons.
There could be other reasons why black women choose to be single but below are ten common reasons.
Waiting on “the perfect man”
Women tend to put a lot of work into building their careers, brands, character, and physical and mental health. After doing all that work, they expect to meet someone who has done just as much work on themselves. However, more often than not, these women have discovered that on the ground it is different. They end up meeting men that do not meet their expectations. Thus, many of them and opt to stay single until they meet ‘the perfect man,’ however long that takes.
Fear of losing freedom
Women who grow up in homes where the women did not have a voice or came from violent backgrounds tend to be fiercely protective of their freedom. They may have attained freedom from pursuing their careers and ultimately gaining financial freedom. They feel they have no reason for a man to curtail their freedom and control how they have behaved, how much they can say or even how they can spend their hard-earned money. They fear the possibility of going through the same horrible experiences of abuse. The presence of equal opportunities has allowed women to choose to defend their freedom and opt to stay single.
The weight of black tax
Women tend to choose their families over everything else. Women who are breadwinners in their families tend to stay single and help pull their siblings out of poverty. They kick marriage plans to the curb. They choose to stay single as long as it takes which ultimately delays their marriages.
Choosing the unconventional
Society expects all women to settle down and have families by a certain age. However, some girls abhor conventional thinking. They hate the idea of submission, of going for soft and more feminine activities. Additionally, womanly chores and careers are certainly not for them. This resistance to convention makes them unable to consider the thought of marriage since they feel they don’t fit the role of the wife conventionally. Perhaps, these groups of women may give marriages a chance when they meet unconventional partners.
Some women fall in love hard. They give their all in their relationships and when it finally ends, it breaks their hearts to smithereens. Ugly breakups can steer a lady away from the idea of love or marriage. This is due to the fear of getting heartbroken again.
The guilt of leaving ageing parents
Sometimes a daughter may feel the need to stay home to take care of her ageing parents as leaving them all alone in the village sounds inappropriate. This may certainly delay her marriage by a few years. In most African societies, usually, the youngest son stays within the homestead to take care of the parents but as the world evolves, some daughters choose to stay home instead.
Survivors of sexual violence
Having spoken to women who have been survivors of sexual abuse, some of them are still suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder from the ordeals. Going through any kind of trauma be it an accident, a terror attack or even a fire accident can lead to behavioural change. Surviving rape is no different. When these women admitted to preferring to stay clear of men, sex and ultimately marriage it came as no surprise.
Cynicism towards marriage
There is a wise saying in Swahili that goes ‘ukiona cha mwenzako cha nyolewa, chako kitie maji.’ This saying can be translated as, when you see someone close to you going through something, be prepared as you could be next. There are a lot of young women who are cynical towards marriage because they have witnessed their mother, sisters and close friends suffering through dysfunctional marriages that seem to get worse each day. Seeing so many bad marriages around you can make a lady loathe the institution of marriage. This will then culminate in women choosing to stay single for longer or even forever.
For spiritual reasons
Some women choose singlehood because of spiritual or religious reasons. They use their singlehood as a sacrifice to God. Since it is their belief, they forgo a lot of worldly pleasures including marriage. They can only pursue marriage if they break the oath of singlehood which rarely happens.
Several African Countries frown upon same-sex relationships. Since same-sex marriages are criminalised, queer people can’t come out publicly let alone marry. This leads many of them to hide their sexual orientation and ultimately choose to stay unmarried as they can not opt for heterosexual marriages.
It is surprising that in the twenty-first century being single is still a source of stigma to women. This mindset forces so many women into unhappy marriages they do not want. The bottom line is, marriage is a choice. Nobody has a right to dictate why and when you should marry.
If you feel another woman’s reasons for staying single is invalid, keep that opinion to yourself. The only thing that should matter is that they are happy and content with their choice to remain single! If they change their mind, well and good. Do not use it as your ‘i told you so’ moment.
Are there any other reasons that women choose to remain single? Share with us your stories in the comment section below.