Dorcus Murungi, a New Vision journalist, has had her share of men doubting her age.
When she celebrated her 23rd birthday, most of her social media friends responded by asking her how old she was, and when she did disclose her age, to her utter surprise, most of them rubbished her as a downright liar. Many added an extra five years to her 23. Murungi believes most women find it uncomfortable to reveal their actual age, and opt to lie about it instead.
“Not all women hide or lie about their age, though. However, men tend to be very judgmental and we don’t like being judged. It is better to keep them guessing,” adds Murungi. “You see, for instance myself… I am 24, but when I tell people my age, they seem not to believe me.”
She, however, attributes the age secrecy issue to being a natural woman thing. She believes women tend to be very secretive when it comes to revealing their age to the extent that there are men who don’t exactly know how old their girlfriends, or even wives, are.
However, debates have for long been held, especially on Ugandan female ‘celebrities’ whose actual ages are unknown to the public. The few who do mention anything about their age, will lie through their teeth, and do it without even blinking an eye.
Besides telling lies in broad daylight, women celebrities will for years celebrate their 24th birthday, yet some of their classmates, OBs and OGs, are evidently clocking their 40s or 50s.
These women will work tooth and nail to see to it that they look young enough to justify their proclaimed ages. Many a time their ageless looks will go a long way in serving their personal agendas. However, the big question is: in light of the obtaining situation, would men believe the women, even if they revealed their actual ages?
“No one likes to be judged, evaluated, critiqued or dismissed based on a number, and many women will, therefore, want to always appear to be young, which makes them think they will also continue to be good-looking,” says Joseph Musaalo, a renowned counselling psychologist at Uganda Christian University Mukono.
For many women, tasking them to reveal their age for public consumption is akin to attempting to touch the tail of a lion. Whether you are a writer or not, you will at some point most likely find yourself talking about that great woman.
You can talk about her success and achievements in society, her inescapable beauty, her journey into the limelight, but the moment you raise the issue of age, you may be sailing into uncharted and treacherous waters.
The issue of finding out a woman’s age may be a topic of amusement to people in general, but presents a particular headache to many a journalist, some having to facing the wrath of their female interviewees whenever the subject of age is raised.
I have interviewed hundreds of men and women from different backgrounds and I can clearly state, without any exaggeration, that interviewing women can get pretty sour when it comes to the subject of their age,” notes Murungi.
She goes on to say that sometimes during an interview, women can get quite evasive when the issue of age crops up. Murungi gives an insight into excerpts of one typical interview of a man and a woman she once conducted: “Joseph, how old are you?” she asked.
“23, third-year student of Development Studies,” he answered without fidgeting or acting in an unusual manner.
“And you, Joan?” “Hhhhhaaa! Let us skip that part,” she answered.
Though Murungi feels such evasiveness is really unwarranted, it doesn’t come as a shock to her because this particular candidate wasn’t the first female interviewee to hold her age tightly close to her chest.
However, Musaalo’s view is that the reluctance by a woman to reveal her age could be a matter of the lack of confidence in herself and also the failure to appreciate the fact that people can, and will, love you just the way you are.
“A genuine person will not fall in love with a number, but with a person, and will love them for who they are, not for their age. If love is tied down just to age, it may actually not be love at all.”
Shamim Kirabo, a graduate of Marketing from Makerere University, says there is no need for a journalist, or any man trying to hit on her, to ask about her age because it does not matter.
“What has age got to do with my success in life? You are supposed to ask me who I am and what I do, not how old I am. That is private information!” Kirabo argues.
Harriet Asiimwe, working in the human resource office at Uganda Christian University, responds rather differently, when faced with the age question.
Whenever asked about her age, she will give her correct age, without hesitation, but also holds the view that beauty is closely attached to being young and every lady loves beauty and will always strive to stay looking young.
“It so happens that after the maiden age range, a woman is expected to mother children, get home and cook the meal for her family, and therefore people stop viewing her in the context of an individual but in the larger context of a family. If a woman at a certain age, say 35 years, does not have children or a family, the society also looks at her differently,” Musaalo argues.
He, however, notes that “Society should also start thinking outside the box about women because there is really more to a woman than just that number, and how your culture views that number. It is the hope that society will not be looking for a number but who owns that number.”
Source : The Observer