By: N. Amma Twum-Baah
My fathers, husbands, and brothers, please pardon me for once again interrupting your manly talk of politics; about what Yar’Adua is doing and not doing, whether he is dying or not dying, whether he should resign or not resign; talks of Rawlings this Rawlings that, Atta-Mills this Atta-Mills that, and all that other politics talk in general; with my womanly talk concerning matters of the heart. Yes, I know that sentence up there is long and winding, but that’s what we women do – we never get straight to the point.
Now you all know by now that I cherish and adore you, my African men. I was raised by one of you, and the most important defender I have in life is one of you, so I hold you all very dear to my delicate heart. But, a lot of things that concern me have led me to disturb you again with a few questions. A lot has been boggling my mind of late. Well, it has been boggling me for a very long time, but has only come to a head now in light of all that has happened over the last few days. This time I will speak for myself, based on my own views and experiences, and leave my sisters out of this. The last time I spoke for them, they were not too appreciative; if you know what I mean.
A lot happened over the Thanksgiving holiday week, weekend and thereafter. See, rumors of Tiger Woods cheating on his wife was spreading like wild fire after his “accident.” Before that, I had read an article that talked about Marriage, Divorce, Alimony and Child Support that sort to paint African women as vindictive people who are scheming men through the foreign court systems that seem biasly tilted in our favor. I know a lot of you will agree with the writer. I must mention, for the record, that I am a personal fan of this writer, but that article was the first time I had seen him swinging at women the way he did; I could not help but be surprised. Now, some of the things he said were true and carried some weight, but I did not like reading it even so.
Then that same week, I was craving some African literature after having just finished reading “The Thing around Your Neck” by the lovely Chimamanda Adichie. So, guess what book I picked up at the library? Yes, you guessed right: “Things Fall Apart,” by the great Nigerian author Chinua Achebe. The last time I read “Things Fall Apart,” I was forced to do so as part of a primary school course. Because of the forced reading, I did not care too much for the book back then. I thought I’d give it another try as an adult at my own free will. All I can say is I loved it! But, I also keep thinking “I could not have been one of Okonkwo’s wives. The man acts like he has a stick up his rear and I am too strong-minded a woman to be dominated by a man like that.” But who knows maybe I would have had to conform or be thrown in the “evil forest” with all the “obanjes,” “osus,” and other social outcasts for refusing to share my strong Mandingo warrior with three other women “voluntarily.”.
I know I know I am not getting straight to the point, but you will see why all this is relevant if you just indulge me a little. Please be patient, I am getting there soon.
There was then the actual Thanksgiving Day. I spent it with family. And as is typical with my family, every time we gather there has to be a debate of some sort. We are a family of highly opinionated people. And usually after we have feasted and drank all we can drink, we can get really loud and heated. I argue the most and never let up until all have agreed to disagree with me. Anyway, the discussion started with politics as usual (there were men in the room) and we women were bored to death so we drank some more and then decided to talk about matters of the heart. The argument started with Oprah not being married as we listened to the latest on Tiger’s “accident.” I pointed out that African men need to leave Oprah alone because her decision not to “marry” is not your business. The argument started from a biblical standpoint based on God’s first commandment to Adam concerning marriage. My argument came to be that Oprah and Stedman are married in the eyes of God because Stedman “left his father and mother and has clinged to Oprah making the two one.” Now is that not what God instructed us to do? Where from all the ceremonies and all that?
They all, except my cousin’s wife, disagreed with me pointing out that the lack of some social ceremony made their union illegitimate. Then my question was this: “legitimate to whom; man or God?” Oprah may not have had some fancy ceremony in the courts or church, and yet she has been married longer than most “married” people I know. And we have not heard any rumors of Steadman cheating on Oprah! They all agreed to disagree with me and we continued to watch the Tiger Woods debacle. But, something strong was still tugging at me heart strings..
See, this is not making sense because as is typical with any gathering trying to have discussions and arguments, there is no logical sequential order to the arguments. You start from somewhere irrelevant in order to get to the relevant. People just bring up issues and you argue those issues out. At least, that’s the way we do it.
So, from Oprah we turned to Tiger Woods and his cheating ass because I just couldn’t let it go. Yes, I said “ass” because talking about married men who cheat gets my blood boiling to a point where I can’t seem to control my emotions and all sense of class just rolls out the window. So pardon me for being uncouth. If you have ever been cheated on by whomever – girlfriend, fiancé, wife – you should know that it is the ultimate form of betrayal. To imagine the one you love doing the nasty with some random guy just makes you want to take up your golf clubs and club someone in the head.
One thing that struck me as odd during all the yelling back and forth about the necessity of marriage ceremonies and the importance of the social occasion was the fact that the men were the loudest. And yet, they are the first ones to break those social vows when they see a pair of swinging hips that do not belong to the one they have made a commitment to. I will swear that sometimes they mistake all hips to be the same and they mistakenly grab onto the one that is not theirs’.
If you have been following me up until now, you probably already know what this is about. Yes, it is about men and cheating … married men and cheating … married men who supposedly so love to do the right thing of wedding their women and cheating. Why on earth do you all do it? If you know you cannot be faithful to one woman, why marry? Seriously, why do you all do it? So far, no man has been able to give me a reason that makes any rational sense besides the excuse that it is some sort of inherent privilege linked to the creation of their manhood.
If a man knows he can’t be faithful to a woman until thy kingdom come, then why doesn’t he remain single? Why must he take on some innocent woman who will later fall so deeply in love with him and remain loyal to him only to have him turn around and cheat on her? Do you all even imagine the amount of pain and confusion that comes with such betrayals? I know women who never quite look at men the same because she’s been cheated on one too many times – sometimes, once is all it takes to make a good girl go bad!
And don’t even come at me with that we, African women, did ourselves a great disservice by wanting the abolishment of polygamy. Polygamy was just another unjust way for men to satisfy their sexual appetites – only they made it lawful to subject women to such degradation. If I don’t want to share my biscuits and tea with another woman, what makes you think I want her parading under the same living quarters with me and my husband sharing his bed every other night because the laws of the land say it’s okay?
I know what some of you are thinking right now: “I am talking as if women don’t cheat on men!” Now don’t get me wrong, I know some of my sisters also cheat. But, this time I will stand up for sisterhood and state that when a woman cheats it is usually for a very good reason. Men, on the other hand, just cheat because they feel like it and can usually get away with it. Before a woman cheats, she has usually done all she can and has beaten herself silly with guilt before doing so. She cheats either because she is not getting the attention she deserves from her man and seeks comfort in another man’s arms; or because she is involved with a “typical Africa man” who thinks African women are not supposed to enjoy sex and so he pumps her one, two, three, and then lays on his back and lets out a sigh of relief for both of them. It is these same men who then turn around and tell other women how African women are boring in bed and whatnot.
And, oh, while I am on my rant, allow me to tell you this: stop degrading us to other women! We hate that with a passion! I was on a business call the other day talking strategy when this African American woman (not thinking clearly obviously, because no one seeking a favor from me should have said what she said) just blurted out how her former Nigerian boyfriend had told her that African American women are the ideal of what Nigerian men want African women to be. Now he may have been Nigerian but I can see some Ghanaian man making the same idiotic comment. Are you kidding me? What on earth is that supposed to mean? Of course, she regretted it the very moment she had said it and stated that she didn’t mean to offend me, and I refused to give her a piece of my mind because like I said we were talking business strategy. I can separate my personal feelings from business, so I let that one slide. But, I can only imagine what a woman like her thinks of African women in general after one of our own has so foolishly and ignorantly gone and said something like that! It makes me want to pick up the phone and tell her not to be deceived into thinking they are any better than we are!
Now I am not saying it is right for women to cheat just because we have legitimate reasons. All I’m saying is that women can give defensible reasons why they do it. Men, on the other hand, can’t. They can have a woman slaving at home catering to their every need, giving him the nasty on the regular (don’t mind my Americanized English. I mix them all in when I get hyped up like I am now) and still tiptoe out the door to some sleazy chick. And you know, they always pick the lowest of the low to cheat with. She’s never on the same level of class as the Mrs. or “Main Woman.” Like say, from Swedish model to cocktail waitress, or from madam of the house to maidservant, or from first lady to wide-eyed intern. And because we, Africans don’t wash our dirty linen in public, our women suffer in silence. But, I can tell you from personal experience that at least five of my girlfriends have suffered from their cheating husbands in the year 2009 alone. And yes, three out of the five are still married trying to “work it out!” One out of the three now has to accept another woman’s child into her marriage because her husband couldn’t keep his zipper zipped. I applaud her for her decision because I definitely couldn’t do it.
Now see, Tiger Woods is paying his wife some $300 million to stay married to him another two years, (and I wonder why he would do such a thing.) These friends I am talking about are staying out of their own free will and their strong love for their husbands. Some may call it stupidity and low self-esteem, or even fear of public rebuke and scorn. I call it dedication on the part of African women wanting to see their marriages work and to flourish despite their heartache and pain. Some of the things my girlfriends have taken from their men, only African women will take such things. And you all have the nerves to call us vindictive and scheming? So help me out by answering this simple question for me: why do you all cheat on perfectly good women who deserve nothing but your love and attention? Pardon me for giving you a lot of “non-fa” before getting to the point, but I would like some answers please!
N. Amma Twum-Baah is the publisher and editor of Afrikan Goddess Online, www.afrikangoddess.com, an online publication for African women of superior charm and excellence.