I am Me
A few days ago I was introduced to someone who knew my husband through work/studies. I was introduced as “so and so’s wife”. Hmm, that felt weird. I’ve never been introduced as someone’s wife and I never introduce myself as someone’s wife, but rather as Usma, myself. If I’m going to get to know somebody it’s going to as me and who I am, and what I’m like. Being introduced as the wife of somebody that people know of from beforehand makes me feel that they might perhaps assume that I’m very much like my husband in terms of interests and work ( and I kind of felt that by the questions I was asked by the person I was being introduced to). Maybe I’m thinking too much into it, my husband thinks so :P.
The thing is this, for many years women were only studied (in terms of sociological research) in relation to others; they were either seen as a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister and their identity was constructed mainly, if not only, around these relationships. Are women not an entity in themselves with their own distinct identities and their own self? In some traditional cultures women are solely seen in relation to their family and the work they do such as housework or being a mother. For example, in the Arab culture mothers are referred to as Umm so and so, the mother of so and so. All the mothers here are referred to as Umm and most of them aren’t Arab but come from the West. Why? I understand the honour and greatness of being a mother but I don’t know if I would want to be called Umm. Maybe it’s also related to the fact that the Arabs generally don’t ask about a man’s wife using her first name but rather use the word for family, again out of respect. I’m not saying that this is negative or backward or anything, but rather that women cannot and should not be limited to these aspects of their life. And this is why I felt weird being introduced as someone’s wife rather than me who they could get to know as Usma. I am a person outside of being married too. I don’t like to be lumped into the category of “married women” and be referred to as the “married one” who has to go home a little earlier or that it’s because I’m married that I can’t make it to a gathering or whatever (which has been said to me by some single girls).
Yes, being married adds to who you are and plays an important part in your identity but you shouldn’t be defined just by it and neither should it limit who you are and what you can do.