The conventional duo of pregnancy and marriage has evolved into a trio roped into the (in)famous bridal/ baby shower mix . Neither seems unable to proceed without an intimate but costly celebration.
Over the years women and men have felt more and more ambivalent about both the baby and bridal showers due to the changing trends and expectations regarding the planning and throwing of the ‘perfect’ shower. The fact that the mother and wife to be hand pick their organizers, guests and gifts by providing a gift registry list from selected stores annihilates the whole traditional element of surprise. Organizers are expected to make contributions ranging from anything between P300 and P2000 depending on the hosts wish list and expectations. Other items taken into consideration when setting the contribution bar include the venue, d├®cor food and a really big present bought by the organizers who are usually the host’s closest friends and family.
The other side of the coin regarding these festivities has very little pomp and fanfare. It has been argued that showers are guilty of perpetuating gender stereotypes seeing as at bridal showers the bride to be is constantly reminded on how to take care of her husband primarily through submission and alter her lifestyle to play the role of being the ‘perfect’ wife. Human Rights Gender Activist Professor Sheila Tlou however points out the diversity that exists within showers of the 21st century by stating that, “Baby showers can be for Single mothers and bridal showers can now be for gay and lesbian couples,” thus suggesting that the conventional stereotypes are being overshadowed. Tlou considers that showers are financial and social support because attendants bring gifts for the forthcoming event and life thereafter which has proven to be tad bit financially challenging. She further states that nowadays there are also showers held for parents who have adoption in the pipelines and divorce as well.
Botswana Country Manager for Genderlinks, Gomolemo Rasesigo is of the alternate view that showers perpetuate stereotypes and sidelines the single and childless women. Rasesigo explains that, “There is a lot of truth in that because in most instances we tend to seek opinions of married people forgetting that there are those who have experienced marriage by staying with married parents or relatives.” Rasesigo further explains that people fail to acknowledge that marriage is merely a continuation of a relationship that started way before marriage. She applies the same analogy to parenting suggesting that for one to raise children they have to have borne them. Rasesigo feels that these types of celebrations need to be inclusive of everyone and possibly invite professionals rather than relying on guest who will be guaranteed to perpetuate the stereotypes.
From the mouth of a young working married other of two who has been married for 9 years and chose to speak on condition of anonymity described the past nine years as ‘quite the rollercoaster.’ She further stated that the advice she would give a newlywed is to get into marriage with no expectations and an open heart. She also said that women tend to forget themselves when they get married and that it is important for them to take care of themselves. “When I got married I was told that you are a woman and household occurrences should not be exposed, I took that to heart and kept quiet while stuff piled up and 9 years later I have high blood pressure and suffer from migraines.” She deems her perception of marriage before she got married as a fairytale and that people at her bridal shower just brushed over the nitty gritties of marriage. She however claims that there was the one friend who said, “Marriage is like an extremely long truck that has to be maneuvered into a straight parking not forgetting it’s carriages being the in-laws, children friends and the husband.”
New wife and mother, Ndiyane Sekgopa, who is yet t have her bridal shower thinks that her baby shower taught her a lot stating that “No two experiences are the same and that as a new mother not following your instincts and taking advice from anyone who claims t know it all can lead to a lot of confusion and error.” Sekgopa further explains that guests and organizers at these showers often mean well but most of what they say gets lost in translation so when in doubt she turns to Google for clarity. Sekgopa concludes by pointing out that, it is imperative for guests to inquire before purchasing gifts, lest they end up buying stuff that neither the mother of child needs.
On the upside of all of this, department stores make a lot of money from these two festivities , Sales Manager at Game Stores Gaborone, Ogaufi Ikaneng attested to this. Ikaneng stated that they have functional child birth and beyond and household appliances units and they entice mothers and wives to be with incentives like their cash back discounts where they get 10% of whatever amount was spent o their gifts as cash back.
The society we live in will never award the same honor and prestige to achievement like publishing a book, finishing a University dissertation or training for a marathon and completing it as they do to becoming a wife and a mother.