…ruined by “too much” education

Last year, a friend of mine asked me to critique an article she had written about condom use, abstinence and the whole gamut of issues that revolve around HIV prevention ahead of World AIDS Day.

I could not stop laughing as I read it, because the article was so typical of her – it was brash, crude, and blunt to the point of being rude, outrageous and even a little obscene!

And my friend is all of the above (in varying degrees, of course) and those who don’t know her as well as her friends do are often put off by her directness – she has no tact and is quite proud of it.

I am often annoyed when I hear people trying to psychoanalyze her and when they fail they all invariably proffer the nonsensical explanation that my friend was “ruined” by too much education!

I have often been diagnosed as suffering from the same ailment myself and I have been told (rather unkindly) that “too much education” has supposedly ruined me.

I honestly have no idea what that expression means, considering that my level of education is relatively modest in comparison to what I aspire for.

I have since realized that the phrase is used loosely with reference to any intelligent woman who knows her mind and is not afraid to speak it.

Many educated women have been scorned for purportedly failing to keep their marriages intact because their ‘schooling’ gets the better of them and they fail to ‘know their place’ in the home.

I don’t agree with that analysis.

I don’t think my education has anything to do with how I have turned out, it influences my ideas yes, but does not shape my convictions nor does it affect my temperament.

My personality is not a result of my education, neither is it an aftereffect of my upbringing – it is just a peculiar consequence of who I have chosen to become.

I have always been a feminist.

I simply did not know that my feelings of discontent, frustration and animosity towards the ‘status quo’ had a name nor did I know back then, that I was not alone in my dissatisfaction at how women in our society always seemed to be relegated to inferiority.

Now I am told that I am too headstrong to succeed in marriage, told that my insistence on being an equal partner in the marital institution is a folly resulting from ‘too much’ schooling.

Perhaps the emphasis on getting an education has always been premised on the belief that education emancipates women, that it creates for them the opportunities to excel in any career path they chose.

And that their competence as professionals will be rewarded financially and materially ensuring that they always have a choice, they are not under any man’s thumb, less likely to face abuse.

Education translates to knowledge, which translates to skill, which translates to wealth creation either by being gainfully employed or by being an employer – it levels the playing field for both men and women.

Yet the irony is that for all their education, most women are their mothers’ daughters, incapable of breaking free of the deeply ingrained patriarchal values that inform their perception of themselves and color their perception of men.

I have encountered on numerous occasions narratives of highly educated women, with high paying jobs who have been on the receiving end of domestic violence and have failed to break free of the mold despite the fact that they are not economically dependant on their assailants.

There are successful career women, who when they dress to face the world, paste a smile on their faces, conceal the bruises with expertly applied make up and silently live in hell.

Education has not done anything for them – it has merely made them easier targets because they are made feel guilty for excelling in life and are ashamed to seek legal recourse because they have reputations to maintain.

Ever wondered what makes them stay?

They stay because they were conditioned and raised to stay, to put up with it, to suffer and endure it and no amount of degrees can convince them otherwise!

As long as we have mothers raising their daughters to believe that suffering is some badge of honor we will never break the cycle of violence because such misnomers are what enslave, entrap and incapacitate women, making them the perfect victims of gender-based discrimination and violence.

As long as we have fathers raising their sons to believe that beating a woman is an appropriate expression of ‘real’ manhood we will never stem the tide against domestic violence and abuse because these wife bashers are a products of a certain kind of upbringing. The wrong kind of upbringing, I might add.

Finally, gender activism must be premised on the indisputable fact that women are people too and that their womanhood must never obscure their humanity.

If believing in the most rudimentary principles of fairness, equity and social justice is a form of ruination – then may education continue to ‘ruin’ more women, freeing them from the mental toxin of a patriarchal upbringing that would have them believe that they are lesser beings.

Parting shot: Power can be taken, but not given. The process of the taking is empowerment in itself. – Gloria Steinem


12 thoughts on “…ruined by “too much” education

  1. Taffy says:

    as much as education may translate to creation of wealth The girl child has from an early stage been conditioned and taught that for you to be a woman amongst women then you have to b someones wife or a Mrs so so thus most times women are forced to endure abusive relationships so as not to break that status quo despite of their wealth

  2. Khanyile Joseph Mlotshwa says:

    I want to agree with you that people misunderstand education, especially in women. They see it as subversive and a threat to the ‘status quo’. I believe people who are educated are made to interrogate and question some of the ideologies (read ‘patriarchy’) that we are made to take as normal and acceptable. In the teaching of society, we are made to believe that such institutions can never be challenged or altered. But education empowers us to question, to look at things from another light. Actual, society must celebrate that because it empowers us to explore other horizons…

  3. tsitsi makwande masuka says:

    I don’t believe that education ‘ruins’ women but that it emancipates them to levels that most people are not comfortable with. Society seems to think that the more educated a woman becomes,the more problems she will have in her marriage,the later in life she will have children etc.
    Which is not true. Education does not make you a bad wife or mother. It simply makes you understand your world better.It helps you to know yourself and what you are capable of achieving in life. No woman especially an African woman should be uneducated or despised for her education. We owe it to ourselves as African women to embrace the gains of education.
    In reality,if you are not educated you become more susceptible to abuse,poverty,disease and many other negative things that affect African women today.
    Education is our escape from all these things.Unfortunately,there are still some elements in society that do not want women to escape but remain entraped in social injustices.
    However,educated women need to strike that important balance. Being educated does not make you a man, you are still a woman,wife and mother.An educated woman should still carry out these roles.The only difference is that education helps you perform these roles on an informed and better level.
    Educated women should still submit to their loving husbands. Note,i say loving husbands because the good book is fair. It says in Ephesians 5verses22-29 that wives should submit to their husbands and husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.
    So submission and love go hand in hand.
    The mistake some educated women make is that they think they are too educated to wash their husbands clothes or cook his meals etc.Or even respect him as the head of the home. At the end of the day we find most educated women are divorced or in unhappy marriages because they have abused their education.
    Education is good. Women should be educated to the highest level imaginable.It is not only a right but a need.A need to become better, a need to prosper,a need to escape from our negative circumstances.
    I know of an orphan girl who grew up in an orphanage in Harare.She is now studying medicine at the University of Zimbabwe. For her education has taken her out of an orphanage. It has given her an opportunity to make something out of herself.Through education,she has escaped the life of poverty and orphanhood.
    As such, educated African women should be celebrated rather than condemned.

  4. Destelia says:

    Very True… I strongly feel that society is to blame for all the abuse thus going on out there because once you speak out on being abused, the blame is shifted back to the woman. “The husband beats her because she thinks she is educated and does not listen”! I think we are fighting a losing battle if you ask me, there is a lot of work to be done in changing societal perceptions on gender and violence. Otherwise Lovely Piece of work Deh, goes a long way in emancipating the “educated woman”!

  5. PABS says:

    i think ,LESS EDUCATION IS MORE DANGEROUS… look at it this way someone tries to use the Holy book to defend their silly actions.if well read the bible in eph 5 vs 22 – 33 says (wife submit to your husband… man love yo wife … no one has ever hated his own body …feed and care..)(well read and understood )
    the abusers are just cowards who were brought up to believe that violence works better in what ever situation ,their anger is even worsened by the women courage to acquire knowledge ,skill and wealth. i also think that as women we need to apply the education in a more benign and wittily manner not vigorously when ever we get it .on the other hand … for as long as we have aunties who tell us “when a man hits you, don’t discuss it with your neighbors.it shows how much he cares “nothing will happen even to the next generation as far as domestic violence is concerned .i am a statistic my self and i was disappointed the other day when these nurses at private hosp said to me i shouldn’t have gone to the police the guy loves me Wat did they know … deep down i cried and said “this is rubbish ” at least i tried correcting them LESS EDUCATION IS MORE DANGEROUS SO I WOULD RATHER BE BATTERED FOR MY EDUCATION.

  6. Bonnie says:

    Hehehehe. I loved this piece Del.
    Let me put it this way….The world Yajaira!!!! Yakajaidzwa! Manje HATIBVUME. And there is no shutting us up. There is no such thing as too much education. I cannot believe people actually use that term! OMG! Too much education?? Pliz. Are these people even listening to themselves? Too much education? I can’t get over that phrase I’m sorry :-). Isn’t the point to acquire as much enlightenment, nformation and knowledge as possible to be able to understand things as much as we can? To dispel myths? To do away with what doesn’t work? To improve the world? And then you have some people inventing phrases like “too much education”. Geez. Just one question, is the “too much education syndrome” a condition which affects men too? Or is having a penis sufficient to make one immune to this deadly condition?

  7. Soxy says:

    The very thing tht men seek when they go to work evryday is the same thing tht we as women want.People are quick to say a man can be excused 4 cheating bcoz women r more thn men in ths world,so if we r the more abundant sex how thn can we all expect a man 2 b our sole provider.change is inevitable and the age of woman is @ dawn.not 2 say education is an excuse to b abusive,there r better things to do with it & thats wat we will do.bcoz im educated doesn’t mean i am going to change the way i was brot up.

  8. dzulani ndou says:

    Thats one good piece of info that i have rrade thus far.u realy good delta. its the inferiority complex in the society that set good women back.a woman is a person thus said and have every right what soever to be educated,the way we tacle our day to day situations is determined by the knowledge and conceptiual skill we acquire during our years of education.education bring out professionalism in us.african woman pliz do not get layd off by those who find insecurity by being with you, they dont derseve u.

  9. Mduduzi Madlela - Kwakye says:

    Socialisation.Yes i repeat socialisation.Most people have been raised and tuned into believing that a woman has to be always inferior to a man but thats rubbish and an insult to our intelligence.Respect has to be reciprocal.Submission has to be different from worshiping.Women we can’t worship our men but we can only love them,they have to appreciate our worth.After all we are their passage to this universe mani!Let a man that was not born of a woman disagree with me

  10. Nomakhosazana.K says:

    The major problem here is not too much education.It is that ever since education was introduced to women,they are twice better,passionate and creative than their male counterparts.If there is no such thing as too much excellence why should there be too much education….or too many shoes(had to defend my shoes gal).If anything,the more we learn,the more we discover how much we dont know,then the more we learn.The problem here is pussy envy(excuse my french).Men are so dazzled by our intellect that they wish they had the femine touch.I dont blame them.theyre goin through an era where they lack identity.The world over,cultures and ideas are colliding and people are beginning to rethink what it means to be human,to be a man or a woman.Luckily for us women we got a 100+yr headstart when it comes to this kind of thinking.Where gender equality is concerned,men no longer know where to fit their traditional roles since the crowns of Breadwinner and Protector have been taken away.However the crisis is not lack of power but lack of purpose-where purpose is not known abuse is inevitable.Men are struggling to cope with the new system where women are no longer devalued.All this pussy envy,penis envy and name calling should stop.Its time for us to compliment one another.So men-stop whining and get with the program!*On a lighter note-Why are men so afraid of women who speak their minds.At first,you find me witty,ambitious and assertive.10 conversations later i am labelled as a risk.overoppinionated,stubborn and ‘should be kept on a short leash’,follow shortly after i flex my intellectual muscle.Now after borrowing some ideas from the supermarket (cremora,coke etc) i am thinking of going Lite….how about that-Noma Lite*batteries not included.Does not talk much,and when dead,bury in a ‘Y’shaped coffin as she says yes all the time…lol…..What?i’ve been ruined by education?..Pshhh-pleeease.talk to the hand!!

  11. Bridget says:

    if a ‘man’ feels threatened by my success or ability, then he was never a man at all. its time Africans- male and female stoppd viewing the educated breed of educated wmen as social pariahs. we have alot to contribute, it wont always be comfortable cz alot of outdated pracices will be questiond, bt progress will be made. a new generation of mothers is emerging- one tht will teach their daughters partnership and not servitude in marrigae.

  12. odottcymn says:

    Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
    I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

    Thumbs up, and keep it going!

    Christian, iwspo.net

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