This past Sunday at church, a lady came out for thanksgiving. She was celebrating her 40th birthday. I watched her in awe because she looked so young. Her friends and family members came out to dance with her and when they got to the pulpit, the pastor began to pray for her and then he went there.
She is not married and she does not have children, so he began to pray for these things to happen. And that is not a bad prayer, not at all. It’s just I could not help but wonder what if she did not want any of those things? There is this instant assumption that all women want to be married, and all women want to have children. People tend to believe that those that don’t have any of these things are unhappy even though a survey conducted in the United Sates earlier this year showed that unmarried and childless women were happier when compared to married women with children. I remember in 2017, media personality Funmi Iyanda got a lot of backlash on twitter especially from men, for saying marriage was not for her.
They just could not come to terms with why she would have such a stance.
However, women left comments expressing similar views, showing that the media personality was not alone.
I used to be one of those who thought every woman wanted the same thing, but the more I interacted with people I realized it is not so, but society perpetuates conformity. So, a society like Nigeria is hesitant to admit that such people exist and instead would shout them down until either they disappear from public discourse or they conform. I recently passed a sign board for a church program inviting women to attend with a promise ‘YOU SHALL MARRY THIS YEAR’, and there are so many of these type of messages targeting women at every turn. Society has made marriage a must for all women and so some women progress into marriage not because it is what they want but it is what society says they are to want at a particular time of their life, wanting anything else will make them abnormal.
Society wields its influence in so many ways, it informs what we call beauty, it dictates what we call success, it determines gender roles and it will continue to do this as long as we are willing to conform. Society has long taught us that marriage and children lead to happiness and fulfillment but what society refuses to acknowledge is that the definition or source of happiness and fulfillment differs from one person to the next.