Written by Nana Darkoa
I remember a number of years ago having a conversation with an older Ghanaian man and he said:
“Ghanaian women are hypocritical; they remain virgins until they get married but when they get married they start to sleep around”.
Hmmm, that was news for me. All I had seen throughout my life was the reverse. I had seen (and still see) married men perpetually cheating on their wives, I had seen (and still see) men who have several girlfriends, heard about men who die and post mortem entire “new” families are discovered. I know people who have no idea how many children their fathers have and some who have lost count of the number of half brothers and half sisters that they have so I was frankly amazed that this man accused Ghanaian women of being hypocrites.
I have done a little (unscientific) poll amongst my friends/colleagues/
“There are no sanctions for men who cheat”
Seriously! That really gets to me. What are the consequences for a woman who cheats on her husband/boyfriend/lover? Chances are he will leave her, her reputation will be in tatters and no one will be interested in hearing her side of the story.
What happens to men who cheat? Nothing! The women they have cheated on very often stay in the relationship and/or turn a blind eye to continued infidelities. The excuses that people (men and women) make for men who cheat is what really drives me up the wall, “Men will be Men”. Really? Of course, “Men will be Men” if we continue making statements like this. What one is really saying with that statement is that part of being a man is being a cheat. The implication is also that men are somehow genetically wired to cheat or are so physically weak that they cannot resist a woman they are sexually attracted to. Puh leeze! I would like to give men a lot more credit and say “Men cheat because they get away with it”
Let’s come back to the issue of Ghanaian women who play the field only after they are married. I was speaking to a friend today who originates from a neighbouring African country and according to her married women in her country are beginning to have affairs “…because after all the men do the same thing”. If we accept the hypothesis that “Ghanaian women play the field post marriage” could this be the reason why? Or do Ghanaian women cheat post marriage because they are given no opportunities to express/learn about their sexuality before they get married? Young men are encouraged to sow their wild oats whilst women are encouraged to keep their legs firmly closed. Actually who are those young men supposed to be sleeping with? It is usually girls who are perceived to be from the wrong side of the tracks or girls who are regarded as “loose”.
The real crux of the issue for me is the double standards around sexuality for women and men. However, I think the double standards have a negative impact on both women and men. Double standards around women’s sexuality prevent women from totally letting go in the bedroom (or wherever you choose to have sex). After all if you are as wild and freaky as you want to be the man starts to wonder “How many men has she slept with”, “This girl is a freak (and not in a positive sense)”.
What are your thoughts? Do Ghanaian women cheat once married? What can we do to get rid of these double standards? Any other thoughts?