Careers in healthcare have a proven record of leading African women out of financial woes and hardship. It has been responsible for their financial stability and independence; becoming the breadwinners of the household and the “ATM” for other members of their family. Their choices to become physicians and mainly nurses have given them a bad rap and have made them a target for lazy good-for-nothing men with little or no ambition of their own. These nurses have also been stereotyped as “bad women” and that men looking for wives should steer clear of nurses. *Note- all of above situation develops once they come to America. Contrary to popular belief, such conclusions have no basis when we take a closer look at the dynamics at play why nurses have been labeled as they have.
Contrary to past practice, in the last two decades, Nigerian men living in the United States travel back home in search of a “wife,” regardless of physical attributes, family background, and personality traits. After all, the men are not looking for a trophy wife, but for a “nurse wife.” They choose nurses because of the economical and financial benefits they hope to gain knowing the earning power of a nurse. Genuine love is never factored into the equation. As a result, women are deceived into believing the men courting them are doing so out of sincere attraction and interest, unaware of the dishonest and selfish motives behind the man’s interest. Sadly, these women fall for empty promises.
Finally, the newly married woman come ready to live in the United States with her new husband who may not have had any higher education or a stable job, a fact not often disclosed to the wife. The nurses are then put to work 24/7 and begin to note great changes in her earnings compared to the earnings in Nigeria, a significantly larger salary. However, the husband’s joy in cashing in from his newly acquired “ATM” machine does not go unnoticed too long as the nurse begins to realize the motive behind the marriage. The man is not what he claimed to be neither does he show her love but is only interested in driving her to her two full-time jobs and a third part-time job.
As the nurses’ exposure to varied professional environments and people from all walks of life grows, her strength and independence grows coupled with the realization that she is nothing more than an “ATM”. The husband begins to lose his grip and control over her and as the realization that he can no longer manipulate her hits home, his frustration grows escalating to constant arguments about finances. Rather than staying in an unhealthy relationship, they chose to exit out of it which often leads to bitter divorces.
Unfortunately, with this newly found independence gives them a bad rap. Outsiders looking in, start to label these women as “bad wives, financially independent, non-traditional, and Americanized.”
In their defense, they are not to blame. If love was the foundation, and if men were looking for true mates instead of importing them as “cash cows” in America, this whole situation could be avoided and nurses would not have to be labeled as such. If all the right elements were part of a marriage, then it would no doubt be a successful one.
Nigerian women have always been independent, but not by choice. The demands on them to be perfect daughters, mothers and wives had always been their reality, so even in America; this “independence” did not come by chance. However, independence would not drive them to wreck their relationships simply because they have money rather they continue to be independent women because their culture and circumstances gives birth to that quality. It is a quality that makes for a great wife and contributor to a man looking for a woman to marry with all the right intentions.
By: Ashley I. Okonkwo, inspired by Helen (R.N.)
Photo Credit: http://www.positivenation.co.uk/issue114/pics/nurse.jpg