The #TooGoodWoman

Lenina Rassool
Posted February 19, 2020 from South Africa

While this piece speaks to relationships, it is really about 1. the triple burden placed on women, 2. gender norms that persist even in very feminist spaces and 3. the effect of this socialisation on our self worth and careers.  This piece is dedicated to my mother, Jean Rassool, the most #TooGoodWoman I know. 

____

>>It’s been four years since my divorce, almost five since the cataclysmic event that led to the end of my marriage. And since then, I’ve shared stories with so many women who have been burned and betrayed in hundreds of different ways by various types of men. At point of departures, I’ve heard of women being called too fat, too ugly, too stupid, too crazy, too lazy, too morsig, too...too...too everything. 

My ex’s narrative was a bit different. I was, and I quote, ‘too good’. Oh, and apparently it was ‘too easy to make me happy’ too. Now I don’t know about yah’ll, but in an age where every man’s second worst fear (after false rape accusations, of course) is a golddigger - you’d think this would be a dream! Alas, it was not to be. And they say women like bad boys (insert appropriate eye-roll here). 

The thing is, with every story I hear, once you remove all the angry, nasty (read narcissistic) insults, what emerges from these failed and traumatic experiences is the presence of a #TooGoodWoman. Women who cooked, cleaned and (if you were more domesticated than me) ironed their partners shirts. Women who drove men around, women who relentlessly searched job ads, created CVs and coached for job interviews, studies and...rehab. 

Women who bought clothes and jewellery and booked weekends away.

Women who (if you were anything like me) painstakingly removed the peas from the curry because he did not eat them, even though everyone else did. 

#TooGoodWomen

Women who sacrificed their own plans and friends and favourite places to accommodate their men’s favourite things. 

Women who smiled too much, who cried too little, who said ‘Don’t worry about it’, ‘it wasn’t that important,’ and the famous ‘it’s okay’.

Loving women. Self-sacrificing women. Servant women. 

Now yes, you may come back and say, so what, you didn’t ask for all that (although yes, you did, most of the time anyway). And you may say we never complained about it (of course we didn’t, that would take away from our too goodness). You may say, it’s our own fault for accepting and enabling this taking behavior. And yes, you may be right. 

But four years on, stronger, healthier and a lot more selfish, here’s what I think. There is NO SUCH THING as a #TooGoodWoman

I want to say, ‘How Dare You Shame Me for doing good things for other people?’ Yes, you are just ‘other people’ now. And I should have said, ‘Too Good? Why thank you for that compliment’, and then walked off taking my Too Goodness somewhere else. 

Instead, I wallowed in #TooGoodness. I condemned it. I called it stupid, naive, easily duped and cheated. I called it dom and versinne and shameful. I took my Too Goodness and tucked it away deep inside and started laying in bed, missing deadlines for work (see - I’m not perfect!) and downloading pirated movies (see - pffft - I can break the law!) and eating too much junk food or nothing at all (hah - good people are healthy! Not me...I’ll just starve myself thin.) 

And then I did some other bad things, like give up great jobs because, ironically, not so good people don’t deserve good things. Or decline amazing opportunities because not so good people can’t manage such big projects. 

All the while maintaining a modicum of normality, health and occasional happiness. Because God forbid you get depressed or fall apart. Oh no, you have to maintain a perfect balance on the spectrum of too good and not good at all, or else, well, you lose everything and then you’re just plain ol’ No Good. 

It’s been four years since my divorce, almost five since the cataclysmic event that led to the end of said marriage. And finally, I am reclaiming my #TooGoodWoman. These days, I’m good at writing proposals, looking people in the eye, accepting opportunities and applying my mind to solving at least some of the world’s problems. 

I’ve grown oh so too good at nestling my pain and indecision and, yes, naivety, gently in the palm of my heart and whispering, ‘it’s okay, you got this, you’re too good, remember!’

So ladies, my sisters, hear me now. You were never too fat, too ugly, too stupid, too crazy, too lazy. You were just #TooGood for him. And that’s a good thing. 

Lenina Rassool is a storyteller, journalist and producer of The Womxn Show on Cape Town TV.  Image Source - an american housewife

Comments 19

Log in or register to post comments

Wow, Lenina! This is another powerful piece!

I am glad you found your worth and "reclaim (your) #TooGoodness". I have never seen myself as a good woman, and I keep trying hard to be that. But thank you for giving me a new perspective on #TooGoodWoman. It's like an "Aha" moment where I say, " Hey, I am a #TooGoodWoman after all." I'm just grateful that my husband is also a #TooGoodMan. LOL. Our marriage is more of a partnership, teamwork, and mutual love and respect.

Thank you for sharing this, dear sister! You did it again! More, please.

Lenina Rassool
Feb 21
Feb 21

Thank you so much Karen. Women are generally socialised to be good and nice due to traditional norms and cultures, which I believe affects self worth. We're given the bulk of the tasks and are only as good as how many we complete. But...there are good, progressive people and good men in the world, and i am SO GLAD you found one of them :-) xx

You're welcome, dear. That is true. I appreciate you for speaking up the obvious. Thanks again!

Bara'atu Nasidi
Feb 20
Feb 20

Hello Lelina,
this is a very touching piece,thank you for sharing it with us,I really applaud your courage for not allowing anybody bring you down for being a good person.

Lenina Rassool
Feb 21
Feb 21

Thank you so much Bara'atu. Women are often shamed either way, for being too much or too little of anything and everything.
My philosophy is that we just ARE. And we are worthy. Full stop. x

Metiege Noel Eve
Feb 21
Feb 21

Congrats sis for the pains in break up but congrats for summing up the courage to walk away from a relationship that was draining your energy and self worth.
Our prayer is that men should just love their wives and just accept them for who and what they are like we women do

Lenina Rassool
Feb 21
Feb 21

Thank you Metiege. I often say it takes so much courage to both stay (which I did for 10 years) and so much to go.
But I believe we are breaking a toxic cycle in the family. My mom left a toxic marraige after 20 years. I left after 10.
We pray my daughter does not even enter one...and we continue to fight for a better world for everyone. x

Anita Shrestha
Feb 21
Feb 21

Dear Sis
Thank you for sharing this information. Please update regulalry

Lenina Rassool
Feb 21
Feb 21

It's a pleasure Anita. Thank you for reading and supporting xx

Beth Lacey
Feb 21
Feb 21

This is a great post! I so enjoyed reading it. Thank you

Lenina Rassool
Feb 21
Feb 21

Thank you Beth. That means so much. Hope all is well your side of the world :-)
x

Tamarack Verrall
Feb 21
Feb 21

Thanks for this Lenina, so true! No matter how good we try to be as women we never measure up because that is part of the plan. We are so hard on ourselves and each other, and there is so much pressure to not associate with others who break free and break the rules. Your words melt all that away.

Marie Abanga
Feb 22
Feb 22

Dear Lenina,

I watched one of your shows and so loved it. I mean I struggled with being a #toogoodwoman too, but today I am proud to be a #toogoodwoman - I just know who or who doesn't deserve my too goodness hurray.
Keep doing and being dear sister

lizzymark
Feb 22
Feb 22

Hi Lenin's,it was never your fault and all those things you did and bore were all a loving partner could have ever done for the one she loves. Never regret any of it and yea you are just too good to do all that. So good that you played your role,what you say about your self is important and what God says about you is very important so keep your spirit up and keep encouraging others you are worth more than anyone can imagine. Thanks for shearing this brave story.

subhashrinivasan
Feb 22
Feb 22

This is a great read. Thanks for sharing.

Shirin Dalaki
Feb 24
Feb 24

Beautiful, Thank you.

Beatrice SunTrack
Feb 24
Feb 24

hey Lenina! this is such a great piece, a must read for women thinking they are not worth just because their men (husbands and boyfriends) think so.

Wukwen Destiny
Feb 25
Feb 25

Hi lenina, this is wonderful. one of the main goals is to achieve gender equality and give power to all women and girls because the truth is empowering women means empowering the world. Thanks for sharing

Myra Tambor
Mar 01
Mar 01

Great story that echos how women feel. thank you for sharing.