Wednesday, May 10, 2006


"so, how do you feel? being a womanand a human rights lawyer who [presumably] wants to marry a man?" this was the rather awkwardly phrased and random question I got a few days ago from my neighbor as we walked to campus. we had just been embroiled in a discussion about the implementation of human rights on our great continent, which, I suppose prompted him to ask the above question. I didnt quite know how to answer, primarily because I wasnt sure what the questions wasexactly. was he asking how I felt being a woman? being a woman lawyer? being a lawyer that wants to get married? being a woman who happens to be a lawyer who wants to get married? being a lawyer who happens to be a woman who wants to get married? being a woman lawyer who happens to want to get married?

naturally, I reacted exactly in this manner querying his line of questioning; seeking clarification; requiring specifics before I answered any or all of the above. he attempted to clarify by mentioning that, well, what with the great obstacle that is the black male ego, how do I well expect to successfully marry and pursue this profession at the same time. so rather than taking the questioning personally and becoming defensive about this issue, which I am SO TIRED OF DISCUSSING, I decided to take the pragmatic and diplomatic approach, and replied that I would imagine that like anyone elseI would try to separate my professional self from my blah blah personal self, and thereby deal with issues at home blah blah differently than I would with issues at work blah blah. truth be told, I did not want to have this conversation again. I just wanted to ask him to please shut the hell up and discuss something else far more relevant. I could see where it was leading, and I wasnt interested in defending my career/life choice(s) to another male (or female) who was just going to conclude that I'ma just end up alone and miserable, anyway. this is not an issue I enjoy arguing about, but I have found that people enjoy bringing it up just to see how far they can push me. just so they can get me heated and defensive and on the attack, so that they can look at me pointedly (shaking their heads ever so slightly with pity) and say to themselves "see! point made". but theres nothing to get defensive about. In fact, I don't see why either has to be mutually exclusive. I smiled at the brother as I said this, pointing out that whatever he was asking seemed to be based on misconceptions he harbored either about me personally, or my profession, or women in general. and as i concluded an argument I thought was very eloquent, and not defensive in the least, he said, "see, thats what I'm talking about. that kind of argumentative nature".

I think what affected me most about this exchange was the forum in which it was being held. when I decided to leave work and pursue this degree, it was with the rather naïve hope that it would bring me in contact with people from all over the world whose minds were open, who were seeking knowledge, and who would be open to debate and discussion about every/any damn thing. I thought I had left behind preconceived, archaic notions of what a woman should be and how she should act in order to get a husband (the alternative, I suppose, being a fate worse than death), but I wind up living right next door to them and being confronted by them at practically every turn. and while I'm ready to stand by whatever choices Ive made, I'm getting rather tired of constantly defending them.

the thing is, like many of the women in my age group and with a similar background, my parents raised my sisters and i to be totally self-sufficient. they decided that the biggest gift they could give us was that of education, and through both their words and actions, set a standard for us that we're constantly striving to maintain. i think that in the process, however, i never gave any thought to the fact that people would consider my knowledge and my skills a liability. and sometimes it's pretty hard to face.

on the other hand, i know without question how blessed i am to have had these opportunities in the first place. and what i need to do is give thanks every day that unlike so many women my age all over the world, I have this opportunity to make the most of myself and to pursue my dreams with the full support of my family and those who love me. nevertheless, it gets rather tiresome having to explain oneself every damn time.

anyway, i suppose this is the real world and as such i will be met my a myriad of reactions regarding whatever choices i make in my life. sigh. I dont know. this is just a rambling, inconclusive entry because it's what's on my mind at this point in time. just needed to get this off my chest and out of my head.

Currently listening : The Breakthrough By Mary J. Blige

Release date: 20 December, 2005