Single And Stigmatized : The Struggles Of Being A Single Independent Lady

By Regina Agada

black-women-more-confident

Being married across various cultures in Nigeria is regarded with a high level of importance; accompanied by lavish celebrations drawing friends and families from various parts. The Nigerian culture thrives heavily on the importance of building a strong family unit which can be attributed to our collective nature. There is an increasing number of single female professionals in the corporate world, working to earn a living and build a career for themselves while striving towards dispelling societal stereotypes. Being a successful lady with a budding career comes with its own struggles in a society that frowns on a single and independent lady being extremely successful.

Single ladies within a particular age group can attest to the incessant stereotypes and suggestions they are constantly subjected to, being from family members, friends or even from total strangers who constantly feel the urge to have an input on how they should run their life. The “African aunties” as they are popularly referred to are the most persistent when it comes to advising single ladies about their love life, from the constant sharing of one’s mobile number to prospective suitors to endless tutorials on how to land a perfect match at parties; especially weddings, these aunties mean well but their comments sometimes can be discouraging, demeaning and quite laughable, which sometimes are voiced out of sincere concern. One cannot help but imagine why they are yet to land a deal with a book publishing company; on the art of seduction and finding the right partner with the wealth of knowledge they have on relationship struggles.

These stereotypes are attached to almost everything, from the way a lady dresses and places where she should be seen. It is quite alarming that Lagos being the centre of entertainment in Nigeria houses some restaurants and pubs that do not accommodate ladies dining on their own without being accompanied by a man, regardless; a lady walking into a bar alone to have a drink in some places is oftentimes viewed by some as a green light for men to prey on her, you cannot help but notice the negative stereotypes in the looks and non-verbal cues of others, which is quite disturbing and alarming. Such limitations depict the struggles that ladies are often faced with both in their social and private lives; a clear depiction that the supposed “societal moral standards” approves of her happiness being determined by a male companion. One would normally assume that with the level of advancement in the world such stereotypes should no longer have a place in the Nigerian society.

Myths vary across cultures in Nigeria, it is no news that being a single lady of a particular age depending on one’s culture has myths on activities that a lady should partake in. From the scary, humorous to the ridiculous ones, the myth on a lady not owning furniture in her house is quite common because if she owns one she might scare away prospective suitors is quite popular; which quite humorous and one cannot help but ponder on what the correlation is between owning a piece of furniture and being single. A lady owning properties, providing and being “too” successful is most times regarded as an act of defiance against a culture that frowns at such. Stereotypes are nothing but limitations put in place to limit the potentials of women by putting them in a box fueled by the fear of being alone. Stories of single mums and single ladies not being able to rent a house on their own are quite prevalent, which most times is determined by the preference of the landlord. Some who grudgingly agree to rent out the house sometimes insist on the lady coming with a male figure to stand in for her under the guise of being concerned that having a single mum or lady as a tenant will encourage her to bring in different male partners.

Unknowingly to those who frown at being a financially independent lady, the strong persona being put forward by some of these ladies have responsibilities to immediate and extended family members written all over them, the quest for financial stability, being self – sufficient and creating a lifestyle they have always craved for through hard work, which critics and naysayers may not easily recognize; which perhaps is the reason for being easily triggered on hearing the word “independent”.

Companionship brings joy and happiness when the right people are involved, hence it should not be forced, it is quite noticeable sometimes that career and businesswomen are oftentimes engrossed with moving up the ladder while their emotional needs take the back seat, thus, the conversation should be geared towards striking a balance between building a career or a successful business and having a love life rather than discriminate against them.

Source: Above Whispers

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