Before I start, I must apologise in advance for what may change from a benign post, to a rant about moral obligations, double standards, and equal rights. This title speaks to my initial idea for the blog post, I have now written about so much more.
Today I decided to blog about an “epidemic” which seems on the increase in Naija. Have you noticed how it is now quite common place for men to cheat on their wives? If you go into the clubs or just regular fish and drinks gardens in the evening, you see scores of older rather unfit (although sometimes youngish) men wearing wedding bands, hanging around with younger women and the body language tells you that this is no family or blood connection. They don’t even hide it anymore. A good friend of mine spent Valentine’s day with her girlfriends (they are all single) at an entertainment centre, and apparently, one girl came up to them sobbing uncontrollably. Her boyfriend stood her up, they were supposed to spend valentine’s day together. Obviously this was a “side chick” who had been played. In the course of consoling her, this man’s photo came up and he seemed to be in his late 30s.
“Is he married”? My friend asked her
“Yes, he is. But his family is in Calabar”, She said
The girls just looked at each other, and bade her farewell and godspeed. Here was a side chick who knew she was with a married man, and felt entitled. She also felt it was ok because his family lived in another city. In other words, she was the non-Calabar wife. What exactly did she expect? I wonder if she expected anything different when she got married herself.
I have spoken to many men about this issue of cheating on their wives, and the answer has always been the same; men are polygamous, you do not get married planning to cheat, it just happens, the temptations out there are too strong, the wives are not supportive and are too materialistic, they need an outlet, etc. I often ask them if their wives know, and the answer is always the same; there have been close shavings, but the women always let sleeping dogs lie. I ask them if they know that it is wrong, unjustified and smacks of a lack of integrity, disrespect for their partners, and a gross let-down of their children. I ask them how they would feel if their wives did the same, the answers are usually varied, but have the same theme.
“Abeg Anne go and rest, it is a man’s world, men are polygamous na, that’s African culture”
“Ha how can she cheat on me? Women are usually faithful and supposed to look after the family. If my wife cheats on me, she’s gone the minute I find out”
“You know women attach emotions to sex, that’s when your real problem starts. To a man, a side chick means nothing. That’s why it is not good for a woman to cheat, because that means that you have lost her”
“How can you even suggest that? Are you becoming western or what? If a man takes care of his family and has an affair, as long as he takes care of his family, it shouldn’t matter”
“Well my wife is still number one, I don’t joke with her. I make sure she doesn’t lack anything”
“There is a lot of temptation out there, you may not want to cheat on your wife, but these single girls will not allow you to rest”
All these responses left me feeling amused, particularly the second and the last one. Our society is still a very unbalanced one, what is good for the goose, is certainly not good for the gander in Nigeria. Men are quite egocentric and expect submission, it is almost as though women have not come fully formed, and are lesser beings than they are. You think we do not feel exactly what you feel? We do, but do we act on it? No. You think I do not see all those hot men? They are everywhere; in the banks, in the restaurants, in church. Chai. Have you seen those types?
I follow a lot of them on instagram too o. All they do is close business deals, work out and take photos of their bodies. Their bodies make me want to sing “Imela chineke m ooo”, drop out of postgrad school, and cook for them all day long. In high heels and lingerie of course. They are so hot that I want to cook all the dishes my mother taught me, like ofe onugbu, nsala, ukwa, abacha, coconut rice and pepper soup. I feel like adding a twist to all the dishes; cheese, just because I can grate those blocks on those abs, then take my clothes off very quickly. But do I do that? Mba nu. Do you think I don’t want to have Bible study with that assistant pastor all day, everyday? Look, he has a lot to say about the Lord and he looks good saying it. I must find out what lipbalm he wears and the aftershave. Dear husband, I don’t want chapped lips or “townsend” perfume on you. Pastor Gaf’s lipbalm and aftershave are your possession and keys to the holy land.
I have been told that I am a feminist; no arguments there. Why are we so afraid of that word? Why has it been demonised? According to the Oxford dictionary, It simply means the “economic, social and political equality of all sexes”. I think this is fair, do you regard yourself as superior or less than any other human being? Do you regard yourself or anybody else, regardless of sex, as undeserving of the same opportunities? I think God is a feminist as we are all created in his image and likeness. So are the gods in traditional African religion; think about what you have read and heard about the roles of Ani, Idemili, Yemoja, Oya. Sometimes I worry that the advent of new religions in Nigeria and the subsequent interpretation has stripped us of all fairness and objectivity, with the verse about “submission” consistently quoted halfway and taken out of context.
I blame my father for my views hahaha. I was raised to believe in equality and to hold myself and others accountable for mine or their actions, regardless of sex. We were raised (boys and girls alike), to be able to cook, and clean, and carry heavy things up flights of stairs, and change tyres, and be compassionate and empathetic all at once. I was 16 before I realised that it was unusual for a Naija husband to wash his plates after his meal, to wash his clothes by himself, to help his wife out in the kitchen while she’s making dinner, to cobweb, dust family photos, take the thrash out, and also be home at 6pm unless both of them were out together. Forget all those fake late meetings and constant hanging out with the mistresses, missing the vital family time.
My friends were shocked when they spent extended time at the family home and saw this. Ah it was already too late, that was my worldview, that everyone chipped in, that this was a partnership full of love and laughter and accountability and equality.
I took this worldview to the university and I still remember my first serious boyfriend. He was a great looking “corper” from Ilorin. Bros invited me to his flat one day, and this ensued.
“I bought ingredients for bitterleaf soup, come and cook”, he said
To which I responded by staring at him in shock. He carried on.
“If you are worried about staining your clothes, you can wear my boxers and singlet,” he said, while reclining and chilling with a football match on.
When I didn’t budge or take my eyes off the Readers’ Digest which I was reading, he carried on.
“Oh you don’t know how to cook? Ok, come, you can do this one.”
I followed him into the room where there was a mound of dirty clothes including jeans and the like for yours truly to wash. I went into the living room, chuckling to myself. I picked up my handbag, and like Lot, I never looked back, poor guy. Now tell me, who raised this man to have such expectations that a girlfriend was his housekeeper? O gini?
Anyway, enough digression. I have theories around why married men cheat on their wives and why there are such saintly expectations of women. I shall share these soon enough in my next blog post. I leave you with a thought; it is time that women started picking up some of the bills and helping out financially around the house, and ask the men to pull their weight domestically. I wrote a post last year titled “Should Men Pick Up All The Bills”, there, the comments and opinion came to 50-50, some thought a man should look after the finances of his family solely, others felt women should contribute, my theory is that a partnership brings about accountability, open and honest communication, and reduces the chances of infidelity in marriage.
Unfortunately, it looks like women are now beating men to their game; your wife going to fellowship and bible study three times a week, or going for school run 30 minutes before the time, and attending all those weddings in asoebi, may be enjoying other less ideal activities. This is just something based on a survey for the most unfaithful wives in the world, carried out by Durex, which found Nigerian women to be the most unfaithful wives, emerging in first place out of 35 countries surveyed. It seems we have now overtaken Thai women who were number one in 2012 and last year. Is this true? Could this actually be happening? Why are the tides turning (besides the temptation on offer on instagram :-)?)