I have been asked, as a woman from a strongly traditional background, how I balanced studying as well as being the main income earner and a mother.
This question is a tough one to answer because, what does my gender have to do with following my dreams?
Well, the answer is simple. I didn’t.
There was no balance. I could not cope with the demands of being a full-time wife and mother, so I gave up my dreams of studying and having a career. I dropped out of university twice.
I find that men are rarely asked the same question; “how do you balance your life of being a husband, a full-time employee, part-time student and a recreational golf player?”
Is this because people automatically know or assume that there is most likely a woman in the background taking care of everything else while the man sets off to reach for his dreams?
Another indication of how deeply rooted traditional gender roles are in our cultures and societies.
Traditional Gender Roles
My traditional role as a woman required me to place my husband’s needs before mine. I did not matter.
What did matter was the variety of curries I cooked for a meal, and the homemade atchaar that had to be on the table. The roti I spent hours making had to be perfectly round, soft, hot off the tava and took precedence over a new baby I wanted to breastfeed and a toddler to cuddle.
I would be in trouble if my food wasn’t on the table as he walked through the door. Making my husband three hot and fresh meals a day was more important than what I wanted to do and achieve.
The loneliness of being without my children at home, pushed me to re-ignite my high-school dream of writing that I had thrust aside for so long.
South African Novels
Gender roles and cultural norms have impacted the lives of women across the globe for centuries and, when it comes to gender equality, there is still a lot of work to be done.
From a young age, I was subjected to all kinds of oppression. Nothing I wanted or cared about mattered to anyone in my family.
Growing up in a strict environment, the only thing I could be was the helpful daughter and servant to my parents, living in silence against abuse.
Even as an adult woman, I was expected to be nothing more than the perfect wife and the perfect mother. Those were my only “duties”.
I had to continue putting my hopes and aspirations for a better life on hold for the sake of keeping my family together, even though the sense of happiness I tried to create was merely an illusion. There is nothing happy in a family where a woman is oppressed.
It’s for this reason that gender-based violence and violence against women and children have a special place in my heart; it is something I experienced throughout my life, both in childhood and as an adult.
This only changed once I decided to take my destiny into my own hands. I am now married to the man of my dreams, who is culturally neutral and adores me enough to make it possible for me to be an author.
My husband has taken over the responsibility of all the gender hurdles that took away the time I needed to achieve my goals so I can finally shine the way I was meant to.
He cooks our meals and packs me a work lunch. He washes the laundry and packs it in my cupboard, so that I can start my day with a clean uniform for work every day. He sweeps and mops our home, giving me more time to write after a long day at work.
He encourages me to exercise to clear my head so I can use the adrenaline rush to get my creativity flowing when I am in a slump.
As women, we are presented with tiny little boxes that we are expected to fit into comfortably and without question; be a mom, be career oriented, don’t be tired, make sure all the chores are taken care of, look after your husband but also make sure you look after yourself – and the list goes on.
These issues are the driving force behind my proverbial pen and ink – therefore I have given my life over to writing. Words are powerful tools, swords that we can wield to win the age-old battle against unjust patriarchal standards.
It may be uncomfortable to read about the unfortunate realities surrounding gender inequality, femicide and other forms of gender-based violence, but keeping quiet about these issues is complicity – something I have no space for in my life. I have been silent for too long. It is time for my voice to be heard.
South African Female Writers
Writing and working a full-time job can be tough sometimes.
How do I do it? I leave all societies expectations behind me and I walk this path with absolute integrity, uninfluenced by what I “should” be and motivated by what I want to be.
Ultimately, this is how we can dismantle all these outdated belief systems that govern the way we perceive ourselves and our positions in society. We can take back our sovereignty by speaking out and overcoming these man-made (pun intended) hurdles with absolute grace, in our stride.
In addition to this, we can find a partner who also does not subscribe to institutions that catalyse the idea of gender roles in society. A partner who is ready to fight the fight with you.
I can truly say that I am blessed enough to have a warrior by my side, a man who carries the weight of the household on his shoulders so that I can write.
I know that together, we are an unstoppable force.
Nazerit Wilson – South African Author
As a female author, I am ready to step into my power as a fierce, feminine force. A soul on fire, a burning desire to summit the highest tip of my wildest dream – to show the world that previous marriage that restricted me, and the expectations of society no longer hold me back.
Why? I cast them aside because they didn’t contribute to my growth, happiness and independence.
It’s on this note that I would like to mention that there is something extremely exciting in the pipelines that I will be revealing soon, so watch this space!
Lastly, if you would like to chat about what motivates you, what challenges you have faced as you work towards your dreams, or anything in between, please reach out to me. I would love to hear from you.
TAGS: South African authors, South African female writers, South African novels, books online South Africa, writing a novel, South African Author, gender based violence, traditional gender roles