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Can you be a feminist and a good Sotho wife?

28 November 2016, 12:43

Paballo Molahleni realises that love, commitment and communication can triumph over stereotypes and societal expectations.

After having been in a relationship for just over a year, my boyfriend decided he was ready to become my husband. I’d often pondered what being someone’s wife would be like, but never did I expect it to be so soon.

In the midst of all the discussions and preparations for this life-changing event, the one question I’d constantly find myself asking was, “Am I ready?” I wasn’t uncertain that I wanted him to be the one to make an “honest woman out of me”, but whether I was prepared to compromise myself for my new role.

We’ve known each other for eight years and that was enough time for him to decide he wanted the happily ever after with me.

He’s well aware of how opinionated I am and he’s observed the many failed relationships I’ve broadcasted – on, and off the internet. That, and my tenacity to never submit to any man. He’d pointed out my feminism long before I’d identified it within myself, and we’ve had many arguments over some of his sexist remarks – so we both knew what we were getting ourselves into.

A week prior to the lobola negotiations taking place, I completely withdrew from our relationship and got lost in introspection.

There was a lot I needed to process. Would my raw, black feminism and the obligatory duties that would be imposed on me as a wife according to our Sotho culture be able to coexist? Would I be happy with taking his surname? Would me choosing to be this amazing man’s wife be considered as a betrayal of my feminist beliefs?

Also read: Ebonyi Legislator advises  Linda Ikeji about getting married

On the verge of packing my bags and leaving a tear-drenched note written, ‘I’m sorry, but I can’t go on with this’, I ran to him and expressed my fears. He reminded me why we chose to take this bold step to begin with. Not only did we find love, but we had both met our match in each other. That wouldn’t change.

If you’re having the same worries, I’d like you point you to this quote from Lisa Miya-Jervis’s essay in Ms Magazine:

“I didn't need the wedding to get that love and support, but neither does the fact of marriage automatically consign me and my man to traditional man-and-wife roles. Like so many relationships, married and un-, ours is a complex weave of support, independence, and sex. We achieve this privately - from the mundanities of ‘you-have-to-cook-tonight-because-I-have-this-deadline-tomorrow’ to sleepy late-night discussions on more profound matters, like the meaning of life or how many steps it takes to link Kevin Bacon to John Gielgud by way of at least one vampire movie.”

It’s a beautiful, insightful piece of writing and I urge you to read the whole thing.

But the bottom line is this: the beginning of any marriage is a blank canvas, with the potential to become whatever you make of it.

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- News24


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