“A woman without a man is. . .”

The interesting thing about the above statement is not how you choose to end it, but that this line of thought is never directed towards a man. As far as society is concerned, a man without a woman is still a man, nothing taken, nothing added. So why is the reverse the case for women?

Women are groomed from a young age for male validation; as women we are taught to cook because of man, we are told to lose weight, add weight, wear make-up, do our hair etc., all in effort to attain the male gaze. You even have those who tell a girl child not to get ‘too much education’ because of a man! Because a woman’s power should never topple that of her male counterparts. On the flip side, a boy is told ‘to be a man’ just because of his gender and not because of a woman somewhere out there.

By teaching girls to do things or not do things because of men, we are telling them that the trophy is the man and not them, that they are without value until a man is attached to them. No wonder women end up subjecting themselves to all forms of abuse and mistreatment in order not to lose the prize they spent their childhood auditioning for.

Some days ago on twitter, a lady was criticized for being ‘29 and unmarried’:

This did not go unnoticed in the Twittersphere as women decried the whole act of shaming a woman due to her relationship status.

Reading these tweets and countless others was truly refreshing for me, because for a long time and even now, a woman’s worth continues to be built on the presence or absence of a man in her life. In Nigeria, it no secret that once you have a ring on your finger, you instantly become this VIP deserving all reverence. My friend (let’s call her Chika) was in an argument with a male colleague and another colleague who sought to mediate told the man, ‘Don’t talk to her like that, she is someone’s wife o!’ So, if she was not someone’s wife, would talking to her ‘anyhow’ suddenly be okay?

The narrative needs to change, and it changes when women balk at the narrative that we have been handed down. As women we must begin to put ourselves first, cherish our identities, discover our intricate values. We must treasure our individuality, knowing that we are enough.

Women are the trophy; women are the prize, that is the narrative this generation must hand down to the next.

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