I am woman, so be pre­pared to take me as you find me or leave me as I am

Pres­sure to con­form has numbed many women to their own needs

Sowetan - - Opinion - Kwanele Ndlovu

Once, on a date, a guy laughed out loud when I said: “Well, I am dif­fer­ent!” He just cracked up, then said: “Oh dear, I swear, every girl I have met as an adult wants to be known to be dif­fer­ent!”

I was 25 years old and strongly be­lieved I was un­like the next girl. I felt unique, cul­tured and worlds apart from my peers, a rare breed of cul­tural fi­nesse and in­tel­lec­tual brawn.

This was the first time I had met some­one not moved by my sui generis bril­liance, but I was so proud that I did not take my date’s neg­a­tiv­ity to heart. I felt he was just be­ing bit­ter and sim­ple.

And any­way, as long as I could com­pare and mea­sure the heights of my stan­dards from that of the or­di­nary girl, I was al­lowed to brag out loud that I was that spe­cial.

I have since re­frained from the sim­plic­ity of an­nounc­ing how dif­fer­ent I am from other women. Over the years I have learnt that one’s char­ac­ter is clearer in their ac­tions than in their an­nounce­ments. The lit­tle wis­dom I have ac­cu­mu­lated has made me relook my lit­tle out­bursts and repack­age the way I ex­pli­cate my na­ture.

See, there is ab­so­lutely noth­ing wrong with defin­ing your own path and ex­cus­ing your­self from which­ever so­cial norms you deem un­wor­thy of your grace.

We all de­flect cer­tain ne­ces­si­ties and re­frain from some ex­cess, no mat­ter their al­lure. Nowa­days, I carry on be­ing my usual self, do what is in my na­ture to do and speak my mind. It is in those mo­ments of just be­ing that ev­ery­body re­alises that I am one of a kind!

It even­tu­ally oc­curred to me that per­haps peo­ple were mis­un­der­stand­ing what I meant when I said I was dif­fer­ent. It seems so­ci­ety has a carved model for fe­male be­havioural pat­terns that we are all duly ex­pected to re­sem­ble. A slight di­ver­sion is al­ways met with dis­dain. This is the very rea­son most women find them­selves in an ex­is­ten­tial cri­sis, un­able to pin­point what is wrong with them­selves and why.

Pres­sured to align with the norm and em­brace uni­for­mity, we are numbed into ac­cept­ing that any­thing out­side the def­i­ni­tions en­forced by our par­ents, peers and neigh­bours and part­ners is a raw de­fi­ance of our very na­ture, and thus un­ac­cept­able.

I have ceased to apol­o­gise for sit­ting with my legs parted and speak­ing the loud­est in the room. I am not in­tim­i­dated by com­pe­ti­tion from men. I will shave my head and bite my nails and strut my stuff on stilet­tos.

I care not what pleases oth­ers if I my­self am not pleased. I de­fine my own strengths, and my char­ac­ter is not de­pen­dent on my gen­der.

I do not stut­ter when ar­tic­u­lat­ing what I want, even when it may be not what I need. I flaunt my strengths. I fart at will and fight when needs be.

I free my breasts to swing to the beat of my heart and choose my lovers ac­cord­ing to my own par­si­mo­nious cri­te­ria. If I never marry it would not be a tragedy. And when things crum­ble, I am not ashamed to cry!

Mine was not to claim that I was bet­ter or might­ier. I had only sought to warn them not to ex­pect the usual.

I meant to say: “Don’t be sur­prised when I do not give you that which is ex­pected of a woman, the ways it is ex­pected of a woman, for rea­sons a woman is ex­pected to!”

‘‘ I do not stut­ter when ar­tic­u­lat­ing what I want. I fight when needs be


So­cial space is open­ing up to women to ex­press their own true na­tures, even if it means, as the writer as­serts, shav­ing their heads, bit­ing their nails, or even fart­ing when they feel like it.

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