Is Gender Parity An Urban Legend?

From the moment my biological clock first started to knock at around 27 years, to when it was banging at 35, I always wanted a daughter. The reason was simple. I wanted to recreate the relationship I had with my mother, who was taken from me at a young age. It just felt right; a means to reincarnate her spirit and pass on her love and nurturing to a baby girl through to adulthood, the thing I sorely missed. It was such a strong need that I did not really think about the kind of father I would want for that baby girl. That was somewhat irrelevant.

 

This feeling was so intense that when I eventually fell pregnant, I just assumed that it would be a girl. My hubby also wanted a girl, we just didn’t agree on her name, so it made sense. I ignored the initial dreams I had of a baby boy as any indication that I was carrying a male child. It was only when the gynae gave us a firm, “I will reimburse you for any girl’s clothes that you buy” that it finally sunk.  Then it all came together as only the Master can conjure! He had gifted me with the perfect role model for a son. And with that realisation, I let go of the need to biologically mother a daughter.

Nevertheless, I remain deeply concerned about society’s double standards for the girl-child.

Having two boys, I regularly get “Don’t you want a girl?”. No. I’m completely and wholly satisfied parenting my sons with someone who negates my inadequacies; this is the perfect balance for me. Nevertheless, I remain deeply concerned about society’s double standards for the girl-child. My heart bleeds as she struggles to come into power in a historically patriarchal world. She’s told that she can be and do anything she wants to. World leaders speak to women empowerment, international organisations and constitutions enshrine her rights and freedoms, yet she experiences entrenched misogyny on a daily basis. She’s abused, emotionally and physically, in ways that continually remind us that we do not live in an equal society. We have far to go.

 

I want to share an anecdote told by a dear friend who had the privilege of ‘pearls of wisdom’ from a female mentor; an older, educated, successful business woman. It went along these lines… ‘always make sure that you look good when your husband comes home from work. Your make-up must be done, wear a pretty dress, always have a smile on your face when he walks through the door, make sure there’s a meal ready. That’s how you keep him’.  It wasn’t the first time I’d heard such nonsense. But it made my blood boil. Still does. If older women, who we look up to, are telling us that we need to be ‘pretty and subservient to keep a man’, Lord, we’re in trouble!

Can any woman honestly say that you long to get up every morning to ‘paint your face’?

I’m all for women taking care of themselves, looking good, eating well, exercising; but your motivation cannot be a man! Or anyone else, for that matter. It has to come from within. You need to do it for yourself. Can any woman honestly say that you long to get up every morning to ‘paint your face’? That spending hours and hours preening yourself to be acceptable/admired/valued by another is what you’d rather do than spend quality time on whatever feeds your soul? I enjoy looking my best, but there are those days when I don’t feel like doing my hair or getting into a ‘pretty’ dress or high heels. I just want comfort, to be at ease. I feel pity for women whose partners never see them without “hair and make-up”. How soul-destroying is that? In essence, it means that you’re not living the truth. The truth is: we’re not perfect. Which man gets up, first thing in the morning, to run to the bathroom to ‘get himself presentable’?

Self-worth has little to do with the external and everything within.

There’s a serious disconnect with how society purports women to the world. This is why girls as young as 6 years have eating disorders, by 18, before the body is fully developed, they’ve had all sorts of plastic surgery. Boob jobs are so passé these days. All in the unattainable pursuit of beauty and perfection; to be more attractive to others. Self-worth has little to do with the external and everything within. When we show little girls that you have to be beautiful and sexy in order to be loved / successful / happy, what we say is negated. ‘Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you’. Robert Fulhgum.

 

Men have cheated on some of the most beautiful women in the galaxy; Halle Berry always comes to mind. Men leave women who are good mothers and cooks, who are smart and successful, who are faithful and committed to them. If your man is a serial philanderer, he will be unfaithful regardless of what you do or don’t do. Yes, relationships have problems and each party has to take responsibility for their role, but taking a position that your physical attributes play a starring role in this is at best laughable and at worst, tragic.

 

Little girl, love yourself first. You are worthy; without validation from another. You are a child of God; He doesn’t make mistakes. Your beauty and power within will never fade with time. My prayer is that we experience #GenderParity in this lifetime.

 

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