Tue | Aug 22, 2017

The new independence isn’t for me

Published:Tuesday | August 4, 2015 | 8:00 AMPatria-Kaye Aarons, Contributor

As is the case every year, the looming date of August 6 gets the whole nation thinking about Independence and what it means to them. For those generations before me, the notion of Independence evokes sentiments of freedom from slavery, the liberty to chart your own course, and political autonomy.

However, for Generation Y and beyond, Independence has taken on a totally different meaning. After being fed a steady diet of fist-pumping BeyoncÈ preaching female world domination and self-reliance, the phrase 'independent woman' has become the battle cry for feminists everywhere. The new millennium has given birth to a movement of women who don't need men and who sing loud and proud, 'anything you can do I can do better'.

At the risk of setting my gender back a decade or two, I publicly declare that I have no desire to be an independent woman - as defined by today's standards. No desire. Nope. Not for me.

On the contrary, my greatest ambition is family-related. Forget CEO and all the letters behind my name, my greatest ambition is to send my husband and children through the door with full bellies in crisp white shirts. I very much still like the traditional constructs of a family, where woman washes and cooks and ensures she keeps a clean house and man fixes things and kills lizards and provides.

I'm not suggesting I want a life of servitude; nor do I want to be a kept woman and have my voting rights revoked. But I like the idea of a family and clearly defined roles. And I still think people need other people.

 

THE ABSENT MAN

Perhaps, today's definition of independence has been borne out of necessity. Perhaps woman was so disappointed and tired of being let down by man that she rose to support herself and her family. Perhaps past ideas that women were lesser beings fuelled a fire in today's woman to overcome and prove her male naysayers wrong.

Perhaps the fierce, independent woman has been made necessary because of the absent man. And since we are nothing short of resilient, we rise to the occasion and the show must go on, with or without men around.

But, for me, family and balance are important. The single-parent household is not the ideal. I grew up in one. Even though I turned out just fine, that happened in spite of not having my father present, not because of it.

My desire to be dependent isn't an indication of low self-esteem. I don't need validation from a man to know my worth. However, I get real gratification from cooking a meal and hearing my family say how delicious it was.

I want a man around who is good at math and science to help my children with the homework I can't. I want the family road trip where Daddy drives and Mummy packs the snacks. I want to face the next phase of life with a partner on whom I can rely for support, of all kinds.

For me, a man is not just nice to have. He is necessary. Mothers cannot father their children; nor can it work the other way around.

 

CHANGING THE DEFINITION OF FAMILY

I have a fear that the changing perception of 'independence' will, over time, change the definition of family - and how men and women relate. I already see it changing. I hear young boys talk about marriage like it is poison. I see young girls groomed to believe that "you one born into the world, so there's nothing wrong if you stay that way".

I want what my grandparents had. They both worked, both raised their children, shared their struggles, laughed, and made memories together and grew old together. My grandfather always treated my grandmother like a lady, and they depended on each other. I want that.

For many who think about being today's 'independent woman', the first word they associate with it is freedom. When I think 'independent woman', I first think solitude, and that kind of independence just isn't my cup of tea.

- Patria-Kaye Aarons is a television presenter and confectioner. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and findpatria@yahoo.com, or tweet @findpatria.