Taxi Driver: Ha Auntie! So you be woman? Single Female Adult: What do you mean? (Obviously confused because I don't believe I look like a man). Taxi Driver: I be think say you be girl Single Female Adult: Huh! (Obviously still confused) Taxi Driver: I see the pampers wen you buy for your pikin (child), so you be woman na! You no get woman body at all (I guess this means I am not big or fat or whatever a woman should look like). How old your pikin (child) be? Single Female Adult: One (I have no idea why I said that, maybe to just end the awkward conversation or to keep the respect he had decided I deserved just because he thought I was a 'woman').
This strange conversation (maybe, not so strange if you really think about it) occurred between a taxi driver and I, a while back.
It begs the question: what actually categorises a female as a girl or a woman? Is it
age, experience, body development, marriage, childbirth… (Feel free to respond in the comments section)
We all know that kids/teenagers are generally referred to as girls. But when a female is over 21, regardless of her status, doesn’t she really become a woman? Now, I know I look a lot younger than my age (What can I say, my grandma left me with something after all), but I am sure I look older than 21 (At least, I think so).
If I am honest, this topic confuses me because I have no pre-conceived answer for it. However, this much I know; as much as I love being a ‘girl’ (They say it becomes a compliment as you grow older), when womanhood is defined on the basis of being married and/or having a child, it sets off sparks in my head because I believe it is prejudiced. From where I am sitting, it carries a larger societal implication that marginalizes the single adult female on the basis that she isn’t a parent and/or still single and says okay, ‘if you want to be respected by society as a female adult, you should go out and get yourself a man and a bunch of babies. Display your left fourth finger in every room you enter or your kids and automatically you become a woman’.
Now, I get that being a wife and mother naturally gives you a different worldview. The role of being responsible for others should automatically make you grown up and earn you the title of a woman. However, this isn’t a case of “yes” or “no”; so that doesn’t have to automatically mean that a single female adult is less of an adult just because she isn’t married and/or has no kids. I see this marginalization everywhere in little things; in the churches, offices, on the streets… In statements like “don’t talk to me anyhow, I am a married woman” as if you should only be respected because you are someone’s wife. Why in heaven’s name then, wouldn’t women be pressured into marriage and feel embarrassed when it takes longer to come along? Society all but forces it down our throats.
For clarity sake, I have to reiterate that I have nothing against marriage o! Biko! I very much like the idea and even look forward to it. But, in the same breath, I do not accept that being single makes a WOMAN less of an adult or deserving of less respect.
But on the other side of the coin, maybe it’s just me; with looking half my age and all ( Just repeating what I have been told *hehehehe*). Again, please feel free to share your experiences and opinions.