I was perusing my favorite African website when I came across an article about a group of powerful women coming together to inspire fellow women. One of the women was described as the ‘wife of a comedian’ while the rest were described by their professional achievements. I noticed that the prefix attached to the other women were Ms while the comedian’s wife’s was Mrs.A little digging revealed that she was an accomplished professional in her field, but all that was ignored for the title of a comedian’s wife.
It got me thinking about the many times that Amal Clooney has been referred to as just the wife of George Clooney. Before she became George’s wife, she was first Amal Alamuddin, the lawyer, activist and author. Before George, she litigated high profile cases and clients like Julian Asange, the state of Cambodia, Enron and Koffi Anan to name a few.
I thought this issue would be more systemic to the African society where men have always been considered superior to women but I was unpleasantly surprised to see women labelled like that here too, in the West. As an African, I grew up in a society where although I was fortunate to have parents who valued education and encouraged me to be my best, the society constantly reminded me that I was secondary to a man. As such, it was a norm to see women be introduced by the men they were married to and not their professional achievements.
The same society instigates that single women have nothing else to offer other than being attached to someone. African women often times are not encouraged to live their full potential or to aim high because what’s the point, she is going to end up somebody’s wife anyways. To the African woman’s credit, we are not sitting around and waiting for the men to come wife us up anymore; we are getting out there and getting things done for ourselves, our communities and our families.
Then you do all that, break all those barriers and overcome all the hurdles only for all your accomplishments to be reduced to the title of someone’s wife? Don’t get me wrong, marriage in itself is an accomplishment to be lauded but my opinion is, professional achievements should supersede that especially when in a function made possible by those achievements. The comedian’s wife wasn’t invited to that gathering simply because of who she was married to, it was because of what she had done in her industry which was banking.
I have never heard George Clooney be described otherwise, always only just as an actor. My point is, you never hear a man being introduced by who he is married to no matter how high-profile the woman is( well, except of course Casper Smart who we only know by his affiliation to J.Lo) but women are more than half of the time introduced by their significant others. Why? I feel this is sending a negative message to young women, African women more so which has created this ‘supposed rift’ between married women and single women.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with aspiring to be a ‘Mrs’ even if that is all one aspires to but other women shouldn’t be made to feel incomplete because they aspire to so much more than that title. Some married women feel they are better than their single counterparts just because of that title and society insinuates that the single one has a miserable life because she doesn’t have ‘Mrs’ preceding her name. And if she has worked really hard to attain certain heights professionally and desires marriage as well, then it is just as good. It ticks me then when all she becomes recognized by, is by who she married to when there is so much more to her.
Being African, my view is very unpopular especially among Africans because again, we are taught to yearn for marriage very early on and most of all. I am thankful for my parents particularly because they broke the norm and taught my siblings and I that we could be so much more than some man’s wife. And I want nothing more than to explore my every potential and achieve my dreams. In addition to that, I would want to be with a great man who loves me in my entirety but not be defined by my connection with him. Because if after all I have worked hard for and especially when it matters and I don’t get broached by those accomplishments, then please don’t call me Mrs. It is just another title.