African Women: Music after Marriage Male dominance, Effects of culture and social expectations

From singing lullabies for children at a tender age to singing at weddings and funerals, women have predominated musical genres and one wonders why all this has to drastically change because of marriage, cultural views, religious values, dress sense, perceptions and misconceptions are some of the reasons why most female musicians devolve after marriage.

My Point Exactly by Kadder
My Point Exactly by Kadder

In the past, some cultural aspects have proved to be harsh to women and instrumental in the premature extinction of promising female stars. For instance, the Islamic culture which pronounced it sinful for the voice of a mature woman to be heard singing.

 

A little girl had a brief period to experiment and explore music but when she reached puberty, she was forced into the house until she became secluded with other women. From then on, the chance to sing would be presented at weddings and other merry making events only.
Another similar example is that of the Druz women in Lebanon. It was taboo for men to see their mouths when they were singing; therefore, they had to be segregated from men at funerals. To these women, funerals were one place where they could get the chance to express their talent and plights.

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Most men usually seem supportive before marriage but once the marriage is official, perceptions change. It is perceived that if a female musician gets married and continues to do music, she is less likely to give birth due to her busy schedule and she is most likely to meet new people she might like more than her husband in an industry so full of potential hosts, resulting in infidelity.

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Bad as it may sound; research has proved the above statements to be true and it is not only about female musicians but career women as a whole. Therefore, husbands and their families find it safer for a woman to quit music and focus on raising a normal family as working at odd hours alone could increase the chances of separation or divorce.

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Due to society’s expectations and an industry favouring younger women, when some women reach a certain age and they are still unmarried they become worried that they are of age and end up marrying not because they want to but because they are expected to.

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This is a fatal mistake as that woman might not submit to the husband and might have a vision completely different from that of his. She might end up misusing her talent against her husband to prove that she can live without him, the man in turn will feel intimidated by the woman and wrongly practise his dominion over her.

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Unlike a male musician, once married a female musician has to undergo tremendous alteration so as to fit the profile of a wife, mother and musician at the same time.

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Dress sense, stage performance and the way the woman carries herself around is often under scrutiny and most people be it media, audience or society at large have never quit considered the negative effects of their implications which have inevitably resulted in most women choosing to hang the microphone after marriage.

 

Sadly, the limited number of married and mature women in the industry limits the stream of intergenerational communication between women and the societies across the globe since through music, women can convey highly sensitive yet crucial messages which could have been inappropriate when said bluntly.

 
Most women who usually manage to maintain a successful career with less judgement after marriage are the ones into softer and mature music which does not require raunchy routines, revealing and seductive dressing. Artistes like Zahara have better chances of staying in the industry with less negativity.

Baba Na Mai Charamba Picture Online
Baba Na Mai Charamba Picture Online

Other female musicians who manage to do well after marriage are those whose husbands are also actively involved in the music industry. Nhlanhla Nciza of Mafikizolo and Mai Olivia Charamba are such examples of women who continue to strive with the support of their husbands who are also involved in music.

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Nhlahla Nciza of Mafikizolo

For some women, quitting music after marriage is not a choice but a sometimes unwilling adaptation which is a result of complicated marital situations and conditions.

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It is a known factor that even though married women are striving in the music industry, they are still doing the majority of child rearing and household duties in a patriarchal society and the demands leave them exhausted, disillusioned and spiritually drained.

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Since time immemorial, the primary role of women has been child rearing whilst men provided for the family.For a long time, this was not a problem until the Woman Question came into the picture. Since then male dominance has been viewed as a social injustice that has to be overcome.

Selmor Mtukudzi and Tendai Manatsa: Picture Online
Selmor Mtukudzi and Tendai Manatsa: Picture Online

In my own opinion, the issue of female musicians after marriage should not be viewed form the eyes of the male dominant elite because it is not easy to change a man’s mind about women’s place in the world.

Men won’t find it in them to grant women equal power and chance to achieve a status quo similar to theirs unless compelled to bow down because no matter how marginal their dominance is it is still an advantage and privilege they are not willing to relinquish.

The fault also lies not on individual males and female but rather on our very own institutions and the views of reality they impose on female musicians. For instance, the advancement of most female musicians after marriage sometimes tend to be one sided victories because even the attitude of other women is not in agreement with a married woman pursuing music.

At the end of the day this leaves a female musician confused and caught in between securing her chosen role, continuing to inspire and motivate upcoming women in Arts or bowing down to social expectations.

In conclusion women still have a long way to go in convincing the society that they are capable of maintaining a successful career and maintaining a healthy marriage at the same time because of the age old ideologies culture has instilled in the mind of people.

The truth usually makes us uncomfortable and we often turn to the internet, biology, psychology, T.V. shows, well researched and written articles for answers yet deep down all of us men or women we know the one right thing to do. We simply refuse to acknowledge it. As Dr Myles Munroe would say:  ‘people have turned to the creation for answers, instead of going to the Creator’

Female musicians and all women alike should not comfort to this world’s opinion of their place and role in society but find truth in God’s intent in creation. It is high time society faced the truth and stopped hiding behind norms and manmade cultures which hinder women from achieving their full potential rendering them incapable of greatness.
Culture is simply a way of living and it is dynamic therefore, change in female musicians’ perspectives and treatment is inevitable.

My last words not only go out to female musicians but to each and every woman suffering social injustices hidden behind culture Woman, you are fearfully and wonderfully made, blessed with the gift of influential power.

You strike a woman, you strike a rock. You strike me, you strike God’s image.