I know there is that one MRA (Men’s Right Activist) that is probably going “WOMEN CHEAT TOO”. I know women also cheat but men cheat more than women [Source: Steven Nock, PhD, a professor of sociology at the University of Virginia]. Even if you refuse to accept the above information because the study was conducted in the USA, in Nigeria, male infidelity is accepted and even expected while female infidelity is not accepted and is punished. We’ve all heard stories of unfaithful wives been thrown out of their homes and in some cases, their children are taken away from them. So there is no denying the double standard. I personally feel the men cheat more than women data also applies in Nigeria but I want to be as objective as possible.
Earlier this year, I was in Nigeria for my holiday. During the holiday, I decided to volunteer for NACA (National Agency for the Control of Aids). I volunteered for an outreach program that provided free HIV/AIDS and STD tests to female sex workers in Abuja. The outreach program was challenging at first because the brothels we visited were in the slums of Abuja and I’m an ‘ajebutter’ (If I do say so myself). Seriously though, I was scared at first because of stories I’ve heard about the violence in brothels but, I eventually got the hang of it and it became easier.
During the outreach, around 5pm, the girls would start to get customers. So our day ended at 5pm because after 5pm, the sex workers would start receiving customers so they wouldn’t come to our test area. I noticed that most of the men were married or least wore rings on their ring fingers (for the people that would ask “how do you know they were married?”). It made me sad and angry (but mostly angry): I was angry because the men didn’t even respect their wives enough to take off their wedding rings before soliciting prostitutes. I told a friend that witnessing those men unapologetically cheat on their wives had made me reluctant to get married. She told that we have to get married and that men would cheat no matter what. I wasn’t shocked by what she said because I’ve heard similar statements throughout my life. Women are expected to look away and pray for the man to change as their husbands do “their thing”.
One argument usually used to defend men’s infidelity is that it’s “natural” (rolling my eyes) and there is nothing women can do to prevent it so women should just take pride in being the “main chick/wifey”. Well, I do agree that there is nothing a woman can do to prevent a man from cheating on her but I don’t know what a “main chick” is because as far as I’m concerned, if a man decides to cheat (it is a decision) on a woman then you are not his “main” anything because he couldn’t even respect you enough to “hold himself”.
The general consensus is that the main chick is the woman that the man goes to bed with at night. In other words, the main chick is the one that cooks, cleans and takes care of the man and the children (if they are any) after he has spent the day with other women. I believe the main chick concept was created to make women feel better about themselves because being cheated on can do serious damage to the self-esteem and calling yourself “the main chick” is one way of making yourself feel better.
Scientific research has been carried out to determine if infidelity is natural to men. There is a camp who believes it is biological and another that believes it is behavioural. I believe it is both: temptation is natural and unavoidable but I still hold that cheating is a conscious decision. I mean, women get tempted too but cheat less than men because of the consequences are worse for us. This leads me to conclude that men are not natural cheaters; they are just allowed to cheat.
In several Nigerian movies, when the man cheats, he is forgiven by his wife at the end of the movie and his mistress is punished (something bad usually happens to her to indicate karma). However, when the wife cheats, she is thrown out of her house and usually never sees her children again: there is no forgiveness. Some people might think it is just entertainment but those movies are sending a very clear message that is internalised by many people.
This can even be seen in real life: when Brad and Angelina got together, everybody called Angelina a “home wrecker” and other demeaning names. Brad caught heat too but Angelina was mostly blamed. Look at Chelsea Handler. This woman has so much hate for Angelina because she “stole” Jennifer’s man (I don’t know how someone can steal a grown man, did she kidnap him???????). Chelsea never insults Brad as much as she does Angelina. She acts as if Brad was blameless in the affair: the witch (Angelina) cast a spell on the prince (Brad) and there was nothing he could do about it (rolling my eyes so much I have a mild headache).
CONFESSION: I know cheating is wrong and all that but when I find out that a woman cheated in a relationship, I get a little excited and I want to give her a high five (I know, I’m a terrible person). I get excited because she is giving one for the team.