Out with the escapism

  By Rachel Bii

15/3/2021

One evening, I sat down to read an article. In the article, the author passionately argued that cheating in relationships is a pre-meditated move when women do it and just a slip, even natural when a man does the same.

I must admit that I found the argument not only appalling but also outrageous in its generalization and simplification of such a sensitive and feather-ruffling matter that is unfaithfulness in relationships.

To assume that men cheat without a second thought as it is ‘second nature’ to them is truly insulting to men’s intelligence. This line of thought paints the man as an individual who is unable to take hold of his life to make informed decisions. 

An individual that walks through life blindly plucking fruits from any tree he comes across without a clear understanding of the consequences of his actions. If this were true about the man, society would surely not have made the strides that have been made to-date in terms of socio-economic development at personal and societal levels. 

Men get to choose whether or not to engage in relationships other than the ones they are committed to and their actions should not be dismissed as a case of nature taking its course in the name of the male species being ‘naturally and historically polygamous’.

Since time immemorial, the man’s sexual desires, needs, and explorations have been widely and publicly acknowledged. This has been to the point that now, a man’s infidelity is considered nothing more than a sexual quest that should not be harshly called out so the man walks free with just a slap on the wrist. 

But this is the year 2021 and the woman has newfound liberations that were for a long time considered men’s domains. Sexual liberation is one. Why is it still so strange that a woman would also cheat for the same reason that a man would? A moment of weakness in a compromising situation is very likely to cause a woman to engage in sex with a man she is not committed to. The same way a man is sexually attracted to a woman is the same way a woman is attracted to a man.

 It is just biology. Women are not immune to lust. It doesn’t have to particularly be a pre-meditated motive that leads women to cheat as it is stereotypically put so. 

It is easy to conclude that women cheat with sentimental reasons behind the act while men ‘just do it’ with no strings attached. This ideology is strongly linked to the societal mentality that downplays men’s emotions. 

A man’s infidelity can be rooted in emotional insufficiency that the man may choose to look for outside his relationship. Most people do not care to admit that men have emotional needs that should be met because society, as we know, deems it laughable for a man to be expressive in matters of the heart.

This is especially true in an African setting. Rather than sit down with their partners to discuss their feelings, most men opt for alcohol and sex as an outlet for their anguish. Surely, cheating in such a circumstance should not be simplified to be an act of lust.

Most men do not walk around with hearts of stone to just engage in extra-marital relations with women they do not care much for. They may also cheat as an act of rebellion or revenge for a wrong they perceive was done to them. Men and women are human beings intelligent enough to think their next actions through, even if only for a split second before they act.

The argument that a woman’s cheating is malicious and a man’s cheating is just men’s play strongly reeks of misogyny in a largely patriarchal system. Why do we have to be steered into this direction over and over? Why can’t we regard cheating as just what it is notwithstanding which gender does it? 

Much improvement has been made in the various aspects of life to relieve women of the double standards they have to constantly contend with when it comes to perfectly normal processes of life. Misogynistic arguments like that drag us back while we try to look at complex matters like relationships and marriages reasonably without the bias of stereotypes.

What I do feel strongly about is that cheating men should equally deal with the consequences of their actions. Infidelities in relationships and marriages are unique to the circumstances of the particular relationships or marriages in question.

It is about time for both men and women in relationships to deal with issues in their relationships without letting the influence of long-standing gender biases distort how they judge situations. We need to open our eyes to facts and shut them to messed up ideologies.

Cheating is a shameful, disrespectful and hurtful act and no reason should be used to justify or minimize what it is and its consequences. Men and women seek love, respect, and loyalty in romantic commitments and when either of the two genders does not value the commitment enough to remain faithful, they should not get to make excuses to shield themselves from the ramifications of what they have done.

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