On Gifty Anti's marriage: Thoughts on what a feminist future could be
First and foremost, congratulations to Gifty Anti and her husband on their marriage. I wish them lots of laughter, fun and the guidance to navigate the intricacies of marriage.
Perhaps you’ve heard the news, TV personality Gifty Anti got married today. It has been in the news, and the topic for conversations since the marriage was announced. As usual, folks are not just celebrating her, but saying some sexist, mean and silly things. The focus has been about her finding a man to marry at age 45.
Case in point, this person who claims it is rare for women Anti’s age to find husbands.
Most of the headlines, comments on social media seem and conversations suggest she is lucky or she waited too long to do this. On social media, people are thanking God for finally blessing her with a husband. Others are commending her for eventually becoming submissive enough to attract a man. People are also thanking her husband, Nana Ansah Quao for marrying a woman her age. References have been made to her ‘biological clock.’
It is true that Gifty Anti’s marriage was always going to become news and a national conversation. She is a successful TV personality who is famous and loved for the work she does for women and children’s rights. But judging by the public reaction to the news, it seems many Ghanaians believe she has now arrived – you know, like now that she has found a man, she has achieved everything – she is now complete.
Interestingly, I still don’t know how old her husband is. No one is talking about his age or how lucky and blessed he is to have a successful, well-connected and hard-working woman for a wife. The fuss about Gifty Anti’s age and her marriage highlights our society’s ingrained sexism – where no matter a woman’s achievement, her worth is attached to her husband’s.
This is not a uniquely African or Ghanaian thing when 50-year-old George Clooney married a successful human rights lawyer, the headlines were about how fortunate the woman is. The world media only recently stopped hounding actress Jennifer Aniston about marriage and babies.
That Gifty Anti is a successful businesswoman with a thriving media company, a widely watched TV program and public relevance in a space very few women thrive should be enough, but it isn’t. Those who insist that people are talking because she’s a celebrity must look beyond the veneer.
Marriage has been turned into the most significant achievement for women, not having a man or husband at a certain age is seen as a deficiency for women everywhere. Even so, our case is special, our kind of sexism is crippling and limiting.
It is the kind that reinforces traditional and sexist gender norms. It is the kind that teaches women and girls that society will not appreciate their brilliance until they have a man. It is the kind that allows a powerful preacher to tell educated women that “It doesn’t matter how pretty and beautiful and intelligent you are; until a man proposes to you, you are going to stay beautiful, pretty, intelligent, nice and whatever, and rotten.”
It is the kind that requires all women to find a man whether they want it to or not and forces women to be less ambitious. Due to patriarchy’s grip on our society, women and girls are taught and trained for the male gaze, erasing their humanity and privileging male ambition over a women’s.
And so 19-year-old university students are busy praying for husbands instead of studying and finding themselves. Many women are resorting to all kinds of things to snag a man because our society belittles the achievements of women without men.
Girls are taught to have ambition, but not too much. Women like Ms. Anti are nagged about marriage as if they do not know what they want or are incomplete without a man.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting marriage and celebrating the joy and happiness that comes with it, it is just wrong to make it the ultimate achievement of women. The pressure on women to marry entrenches traditional stereotypes of what men and women should be, and this is 2015 – women should be free to do as they want with their lives and vagina. If one wants to marry at age 25, so be it.
51 percent of Ghana’s population is women. Certainly, not everyone is going to find a husband. Some may also not want marriage or babies. Others may want to take their time to live and achieve some goals and dreams before marriage.
Ms. Anti lived a full and happy life and contributed meaningfully to our society before her marriage. She’s done it all her way – she should be celebrated for living her life on her terms – her age at the time of this marriage is irrelevant, and her ‘biological clock’ is none of our business. Ghanaian women must be encouraged and empowered to go out and rock the world this way – achieve our dreams and goals with or without men.
And as an unmarried Ghanaian woman who is constantly reminded by random people about her ovaries, I am thrilled that Gifty Anti used her God-given rights to do things on her terms. Ghanaian women couldn’t have asked for a better example of a woman who made choices for herself. I wish her well on this journey too.
The point is, it’s time to accept that women deserve respect because they are human beings, not because of their husbands or children (that counts too). We should be respected and valued for our contributions to the growth of our nations.