Last week I went to the salon to have some spa treatments. It was the first time I was meeting the girl that did my manicure and so she began to get acquainted. The first question she asked me was “Are you married?” The questioning from this stranger continued to centre around my single status with her tone becoming more and more accusing since she was judging the success of my life on whether I was married. In the end, this nineteen to twenty-two-year old girl concluded in a derogatory tone that I am one of those “independent women.” The Independent Woman is the label that society has branded the women who have a job, an education, their own vehicle and are not married, but have we ever really thought about what has made these women become who they are?
Women become independent because of how their lives were molded from a child and because of the people involved in their lives.
- The girl whose parents instilled in her that she can be anything she wanted to be in this world. Her parents gave her an education. She becomes smart enough to go after her dreams. She sees beyond gender roles and goes neck and neck against men in her career and does it better. Chief to this kind of independent woman is a supportive father, who pushes his daughter to be brave, educated and to break down barriers; her father does not believe in gender roles. He teaches her how to fix cars, use tools and to provide for herself.
- The girl who did not get the attention from boys in high school. She knew from a young age that she had to do everything for herself, she would not have boys to help her and Prince Charming will not be interested in her. A fairy tale was not going to happen for her. This was often the chubby girl or the one who the boys did not chase after in high school. She was the one who studied and worked hard for whatever she had. She knew that she could not depend on her looks to get married just out of high school.
- The girl whose father was a disappointment. She is the one who works to get herself out of her circumstances; she works to provide for her mother in ways her father never did. She works as soon as she finishes high school sometimes only able to gain a tertiary education but she is smart and brave to go after what she wants and what she deserves. She is the one who is afraid that the one she gets married to turns into her father. She is cautious to not let her life become like her mother’s.
- The young woman who placed her life in the hands of her boy friend/husband who eventually hurts her. This hurt is so bad that she is determined to make her life on her own and to provide for her child/children if she had any. All of her hopes and dreams were shattered and she begins anew with new hopes and dreams.
Women from the first three of these categories begin from a very young age to know themselves and what they want out of life and the fourth changes her perception of her life after heartbreak. They support themselves and are not waiting to be rescued. These women know how to do plumbing, lift their own 5 gallon water bottles and can change their own tyres. They know who they are and what they want out of life. They know what they can accomplish and they know their potential. They are continuously looking to improve their lives. Society though, thinks that the independent woman is marriage averse, picky, prude and arrogant and that she likes to be unmarried and childless (1 to 3) because she does not want the responsibility of a family. It is the way we were brought up to think, women should get married and that men are doing women and extraordinary favour by marrying them.
Independent Women do want to get married, but they would not settle for men who degrade them or the opportunist who want a woman to provide for them. These women want to maintain their freedom while they have a companion in life who would complement them and support them; they want respects and they want someone who they can build a life and family with as equals.
I don’t believe that the Independent Woman is limited to unmarried women, there are married women who still have their lives with the career, social activities and friends that are separate from their husbands who support them in their endeavors.
I only wish that people would stop judging others on their status and that young girls like the one mentioned above would believe in their own worth and not that of their partners. I know that some women feel that they will escape their circumstances through their partners, but I wish that they don’t ever forget their own worth.