Letters to Editor

Undoing the 'single mother' perceptions and misconceptions

By Tariro Daphne Senderayi

That moment a woman within the confines of a toxic marriage or relationship decides to press the exit button, she is not a reject in any form or fashion. She is a valiant queen. Respect her for walking away with her head held high.

All the disrespect, name calling, labelling, stereotyping and nonchalant disregard of single mothers… unwarranted for that matter must end. Collectively as men and women we must shut it down.

Trust you me no sane woman goes into a long term commitment such as a marriage with pre meditated plans to walk away at a whim. That simply defies logic. If such a woman exists she’s not worthy to have a vagina. Yes i said it.

We all want a marriage to work but when it isn’t working …it simply isn’t and there’s no amount of submission or bending over backwards that will fix a dead marriage.

Sometimes a good woman is simply under appreciated by her man. She will do everything right. The pungent smell of effort in all she does or handles things is ignored.

There’s nothing as painful as loving a man, respecting him and trying to be his pocket of happiness when he repays you with continued disrespect and unlove( im assuming that’s my term i have coined to define the opposite of love). This woman will try and try again. She will love his family and respect despite his continued disrespect.

When she finally throws in the towel and leaves this man she is subjected to the most vile hate speech…as if her suffering in that marriage was not enough. Now she has to face an army of men and women…yes other women judging her harshly and not sparing her a thought.

Why should she be expected to continue giving her best self to such an undeserving man? Honestly, is a woman’s portion almost like that of a matyr? I believe martyrdom is an almost extinct relic.

So it can’t exist in this day and age especially when the matyr is expected to be a woman whose only crime is to love an undeserving man wholeheartedly.

The dated narrative that has been spinning cobwebs that a single mother is a prostitute or a disrespectful woman or a weak woman who did not fight hard enough for her marriage or she was too strong for a woman who is someone’s wife should end here and now. We must put a permanent lid to that archaic nonsense.

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When a man you love and trust betrays you by walking away from a marriage why should this woman shoulder the bad brunt of that eventuality? He chose to walk away and she agreed to let him. Let it be known that she chose sanity over the madness of begging him to stay with her.

A woman should not be condemned for choosing her life over a marriage with a man who does not accord her the value she’s worth.

And let it be known that her value does not diminish because he left…she remains invaluable. He just failed to cherish her worth. His loss anyway.

“Mvana”, “leftovers”, “umabaleka” are derogatory terms that are up to this day pinned on women who left or walked away. Its only fair to ask are there any terms that have been coined to refer to men who left, abandoned and walked away from pregnant women or their wives in marriage? Why should such names refer to women alone?

Besides, she did not marry or impregnate herself. A female and male came together and played their ascribed roles. She was not riding solo. There was a man every step of the way.

So likewise the labelling should not be apportioned to the fairer sex…its only fair that if we insist on the name calling the responsibility must be a shared one to include the male counterpart.

We must change our unfair and ill informed perceptions of single mothers because there are so many feel good stories where these women are WINNING despite the spanners that were thrown in the works.

We have single mothers who are soaring in their professions. They are society’s lawyers, doctors, teachers, politicians, nurses, accountants. This list isnot exhaustive. Why not focus on the beautiful narratives of these women and start reshaping society’s perceptions?

They are also single handedly raising the men that are fathers, uncles, husbands and grand fathers. Respectable men in society have been nurtured by such women. And it’s a damn shame when the same men castigate and name call single mothers.

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Yes, it’s damn shame because now that’s a woman who wears her scars proudly. Who wouldn’t want to bask in the perfection of such imperfection?

If you don’t want to marry a single mother that’s your life choice and will be respected. It becomes a problem when you crowdfund for support to continuously whip them with insults.

If she’s not your portion…move damn on. Leave her be…your life your choices…her life her choices right. Stop discussing such women over bottles of beer in bars and thinking that after such discussions you have attained a distinction in unearthing who a single mother is.

Those are your perceptions, the beauty of such perceptions is that like belly buttons everyone has one and yours is not the standard.

A single mother is marriage material. This has been proved time without number globally and by men who know how to value a real woman.

It is only real men who will respect a woman who has gone through too much but chose to be alive despite it all.

Generalisations are exactly that. General mediocre schools of thought that lack depth. Generalisations that single mothers are prostitutes and aren’t worthy of a second chance at love or whatever have no place in this world.

And yes, like with everything there are some bad apples. Like with singers there are some really pathetic singers. Such is life and is the world.

There are some single mothers who fit into the generalised narrative, there’s no denying that. That’s them but also pay attention to others who aren’t the norm. Women who are responsible and who love completely. They do exist and…no they aren’t married. They are single and happy parents to their children.

  • This article was taken off the Facebook page of Tariro Daphne Senderayi

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