Stigma: ˈstɪɡmə/ noun a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.
Before I get further in to the post, I want to put a disclaimer out there to anyone that may get indirectly offended by what I am about to discuss. This topic is very controversial and has been on my mind for quite some time, and after discussing with a few fellow bloggers and friends I felt it was definitely time to talk about it. I do not apologise for what I am about to say as I have always believed in honesty but I will apologise if I offend you indirectly, because that is not the intention here. Try read this with an open mind and remember that I am expressing myself in one of my favourite ways; writing.
Today’s post is dedicated to the unfortunate stigma attached to women in society in relation to the pressures of marriage: whether you’re unmarried, divorced or even seeking a career while married. I am an enthusiastic feminist and what this means to me is that I personally feel women around the world deserve equal rights to men and to be viewed in this way. This does not mean I am about the whole “men are trash” saga; I firmly believe that there are good-hearted men out there that feel the same way about women’s rights and in no way are they discrediting males. Traditionally societies have this perspective that women have a certain place in society, they should adhere to this “position,” and to do or think otherwise would be taboo. To address this issue I felt it necessary to target the main stigmas with which society burdens certain groups of women.
As an unmarried young Muslim woman, I have dealt with an influx of questions (from random people who aren’t even my parents) surrounding why I am not seeking men or wish to be married. I could easily just shut down those questions and tell them to mind their own business (which I did a few times) but then I started to wonder why people feel that unmarried women are jaded and expired goods. Personally, I have always prioritised my education over marriage. My parents have always encouraged my siblings and I to remain steadfast in our education and, more importantly, our faith. Now, my faith instills in us that marriage is “half our faith,” which I am not against as I do want to be happily married one day, God willing. However, I don’t want to feel pressured into being forced into marriage, or feel like I am unworthy because others are married and I am not. No, my belief is that with everything in life everyone has their own experience at their own time. For those engaged or are already married at a younger age that’s amazing! If you have found the right person and if you’re happy, then that is what counts. If you’re unmarried, then don’t feel disheartened because whatever life choice you make must come from you. I am happy and I am living my life in a way that teaches me new things about myself. I don’t wish to invest in a hypothetical reality that doesn’t correlate with me. Am I ready to take on another being? No, but no one truly ever is, and with time, I am sure I’ll come close. For now – I and to all those that feel this way, we’re good and we will be good.
The worst stigma attached to women who are divorced is that they are “tainted,” “broken” or “used.” It is almost pathetic what society can come up with but sadly this is the reality of the matter. Women that have been divorced (some times not by choice) have been through such strenuous circumstances in their life, which makes a divorce more liberating. Does it mean they are dead inside? No, it simply means that they are going to be focusing on their own needs. Every one has their own trials and no one person can speak for every divorced woman out there. These women have to be commended for their strength as from what I have witnessed through strong women in my life, divorce isn’t easy at all. It is mentally, physically and emotionally draining, but does this mean it is the end? No, it just means you have a different purpose and you’re welcoming the next stage of your life. The path of marriage may not have been the best with one person but it doesn’t rule out the possibility of being happy with another. Regardless of whether you seek to be married or not after a divorce, you are dear to the people in your life that care for you, even when it may not seem so. So don’t ever feel worthless, because one person’s “trash” is always another’s “treasure.”
Seeking a career while married
It is often held that women are the “primary care-givers,” and this is 100% accurate, but does this mean women can’t be breadwinners as well? During a legal internship, my supervisor (a female senior associate) told me that, “no matter what people tell you don’t ever let them say you can’t have both a career and a marriage.” To me, that was truly uplifting because of all the misgivings I had heard surrounding working married women. It is possible to do both and it is something we, as women should feel empowered to do. Working hard, being married and yourself is something that a woman should always uphold. I know most women say, “oh when you’re married it is different!” But does it have to be? You’ve chosen your partner, so surely he can understand and respect your worth just as you would his. Remember to compromise, but never compromise yourself! There are often women whose jobs have helped their marriage, so never feel fearful that it is impossible. Nothing is ever impossible. It is not a crime to be financially independent or the breadwinner in the family as a woman. Based on the current economic times, as in some countries, it is now a necessity for a household to have two supporting incomes as opposed to one.
Islam and women
As if this post wasn’t long enough already (clearly I have a lot to say on this), I feel I have to briefly address the misconceptions surrounding women in Islam. Women are kept in the highest regard in Islam, in fact, the first woman to ever accept Islam was divorced at one point, a successful business woman and she had a family. Some women have participated in battles while others upholding political positions in Islam as scholars and philosophers. It is clear that cultures tend to blur the lines between itself and religion, it is a fallacy that must be removed.
While I could rave on about women for another few pages, I want to save your eyes the strain and remind all my fellow women out there – married or unmarried that there is nothing wrong in staying true to yourself. A woman’s potential in the community should not be measured by their marriage status. Marriage, can be a truly remarkable journey (from what I have seen for some) but remember that a woman’s life began way before marriage and it is not defined by a marriage.
“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind” – Dr Suess.
There you have it! Feel free to leave your thoughts or comments I would love to know what you have to say.