The Women We Used To Be

Women’s mentality has revolutionized over the years. In the 1800s women belonged in the kitchen. Women were expected to be submissive and respectful to their husbands. Women were also expected to stay after infidelity. In those days infidelity did not lead to divorce. The 20th-century woman is an independent woman. A woman with dreams and ambitions. Women are now competing with men in the workplace and pushing for equal pay. The 20th-century woman is not a woman who stays at home all day and takes care of the house. She is a working woman with goals and plans for her future.

      Daily lives for women in the 1800s came with very few choices. Women were influenced by men in their lives. First their fathers, their brothers, male relatives and then their husbands. Their purpose in life was to get married, reproduce and serve their husband for the rest of their lives. Women who decided not to get married were pitied by the communities. In some places like Congo, single women were considered weak and therefore not included in important matters. When a woman was married all of her possessions now belonged to her husband including herself. Her husband is given right to do what he pleased with her and she is to obey him under the vow, “ obey her husband”.

      As I recall my younger years in Nyarugusu a small refugee camp where I grew up. Women were treated as nothing more than property. Women were also used and are still used today as a way for the family to have a better life. For example, a father would marry his daughter off to a rich man in town not considering the age difference or religion and certainly not considering his daughter’s feelings towards the man. The reason for this would be the hope that his daughter will always do whatever her husband demands and so in return, her husband will provide for her family here and there. Sometimes women were married for a good reputation. Once married she would take on the responsibility of the entire household. If her husband lived his parents she would take the responsibility of cleaning, washing, cooking and caring for them as well. She is not allowed to complain. Even if her husband committed adultery she is not allowed to leave him because she was taught at a very young age that it was normal for a man to do so.

    In those days I remember unhappy marriages, abused and mistreated women. Who were blind to see the opportunities in front of their eyes. In most homes, women were the sole providers. Women did a lot of farming while men tried to do small business which was not always successful. Today more women are walking out of broken marriages. They are freeing themselves from physical and mental abuse. Today women are happier when alone and more successful. Women are no longer depending on men to do everything for them. Now women chase their dreams and reach for the stars because the sky is not the limit.

Photo credit: Internet.

Miss Tilisa Mlondani:

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