Chimamanda in her famous ted talk ” The danger of a single story” argued that inherent in the power of stories, is a danger—the danger of only knowing one seemingly accepted general story about a group. This single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete.
That incomplete story has stigmatized many people – old, young, male, female, tribe, religion and country. I have seen several people live that single story, all of us know someone stuck as well. I am living in one – the single female breadwinner #singlemum group.
Recently, a cartoon was featured in Vanguard, a newspaper with decades of excellent journalism and thought leadership. In the cartoon, there is a conversation about a man visiting the home of a single lady/mother – verdict, he probably went for sex!
Such a stereotype is what Chimanmada calls start with secondly! The bias against single mothers and ladies strip off dignity. One of the major stereotyping faced by single females, particularly those that are breadwinners is that they must be loose, horny and available to trade sex for money. Whether it comes as a curt tongue-in-cheek sarcastic remark or a direct attack on personalities, the undertone message is always the same. Contrary to popular belief, not all single females are desperate to find another significant other – it would be nice if it happens, but it doesn’t make anyone less human. Being a single female breadwinner makes you extra particular about whom you allow around you and your kids. The major concern is finding legit ways to pay bills! It’s already tasking being a woman in our society, can we drown the extra stigma already?!
It’s disheartening that we do not live in a society that encourages and supports single female breadwinners to build them up so they can have the best chance of succeeding. The bias that these women are loose and run households that are incomplete or less than “normal” needs to be done away with. So many homes with both parents seeming physically present are less functional than we realize, I know this because I lived as part of one for 2 years.
To the single female breadwinners out there, being a single mum doesn’t mean that you are failing at life, it doesn’t mean that you cannot live your best life and succeed at everything else you want to do, it doesn’t mean that your children will be less or achieve less than kids from homes who have both parents complete. You are the one who stayed, the one who decided to keep the child despite having other options, you are the woman who is trying her best to rebalance her newly structured family and continues to show up for your kids when no one else will, you are the real hero and you should be proud. I know I am!
It is high time society puts these distorted perceptions to rest and begins to encourage new conversations on how to support single mothers up.