I remember the day my parents told me the story of my birth. They were disappointed that I was not born a boy. They didn’t have a name for me and asked the nurse to name me after the saint of the day from the Saint Calendar (Reine). When I first heard that story, I was too young to fully understand why having a boy was so important to them and I remember trying so hard to make up for not being born a boy. I went from being a mediocre student to being the best in my class. I was determined to prove to them that I didn’t have to be a boy to be successful. I tried so hard to make them proud and happy until I realized no matter how hard I tried, I was never going to meet their expectations. The truth is, the preconceived notions about males and females in many African countries, exacerbate disappointment over having a child of a particular sex. Despite women’s emancipation and an increase in female literacy in Africa, having sons is still widely perceived as better than having daughters. As an African woman, I often see women being sidelined, mostly portrayed in stereotypical roles that do not reflect their voice, views, achievements, and contributions to society. Here are five stereotypes about African women.
The speculation that African women are uneducated is absurd. African women are increasingly beating the odds and defying obstacles in various fields. Female literacy is rising, and women are increasingly outpacing men’s higher education participation.
In my experience, a lot of African women enjoy being independent and reject traditional ideas of women just staying home and not having a voice. However, the fact that domestic abuse is still widely accepted in many African countries has made many women feel trapped and helpless. As a result, they give the illusion of being silent and submissive in a society where domestic abuse is normalized.
The way African women dress and dance are of cultural significance, yet, because of their curves and unique features, they are often stereotyped as overly sexual, promiscuous and sexually available. In some cases, poverty, violence, and lack of opportunity have led to promiscuity. However, the assumption that all African women are promiscuous is inaccurate.
4. Desperate to be brides
In the traditional African experience, women are expected to get married young. While some African women want to be married and have children, others prefer to enjoy their freedom and independence.
All women like beautiful things and crave security. If a woman prefers her man to have money, it doesn’t necessarily mean that she’s materialistic. A lot of African women are emancipated, educated, independent and do not need to be with a man for money. The speculation that all African women are materialistic is incorrect.
Despite a great deal of inequalities and ignorance in the world, there’s no denying that African women are breaking stereotypes now more than ever.