Men shouldn't feel entitled to 'dabble' outside of their marriages
The same indiscretions that earn men a slap on the back still earn women the titles of 'sluts' and 'hos'. It's time to break the cycle, writes Ndumiso Ngcobo
Due to the high incidence of divorce in our society, I find that I'm having a lot of conversations with my peers about whether monogamy is the default human condition. If that reasoning sounds an awful lot like, "There is an obesity problem in the world, ergo, maybe the default human condition is to munch on KFC, wash it down with Fanta Orange and snack on Magnums afterwards", it's probably because it is.
That said, according to a quarterly journal published by a Yale University research agency, the Human Relations Area Files, out of 1,231 societies in the world, only just under 190 were monogamous. About 450 dabbled in polygyny (many wives) and about 590 had a strong preference for polygyny. Only four had open polyandry (many husbands).
I was unable to find out where South Africa falls in this regard, but I'd venture that we're "dabblers" in polygyny. Besides, there really isn't such a thing as a homogenous South African society, is there? She's quite the crossbred mongrel, this beast called South Africa.In any event, it seems these reports confirm what everyone knows: patriarchy rules and women are not allowed to sample more than one partner at a time. Especially not openly. For such "sins" that her male counterparts are "entitled" to, a woman will be labelled a slut and a Jezebel and most likely subjected to the public stoning ceremony that is usually proverbial, although it very often takes on more literal forms.
That's my segue into the assertion that many men feel entitled to their "right" to "dabble" outside of their formally monogamous arrangements. Without fear of social judgment. Even 18 years into this millennium, a male cheat is a "stud", a "playa" and a "Don Juan" to a woman's "slut" or "ho".At the pub, men talk openly about their indiscretions and impressive sexual prowess. Such revelations are rewarded with Jägermeister shots, back patting, fist bumps and approving chants of "you dirty dawg, you!"
And that, apparently, is just the way it is, to quote Bruce Hornsby.
This is how I come to have, in my possession, a list of philandering stories longer than former president Jacob Zuma's cabinet.
I have an ex-colleague who told us how he went out to a club called Moloko in Rosebank about 15 years ago, "hooked up" with a woman, went to her place, drove home and slid into bed next to his sleeping wife. In the wee hours of the morning he got up to empty the tank only to find that in his haste to get back home, he still had a latex cap strapped on.
A friend shared with me how his late father was notoriously clumsy and indiscreet in these matters. Apparently the old man once went on a non-kosher weekend away to Mpumalanga with his drinking buddies. After dropping everyone off in a drunken stupor, he drove home, miraculously parked the car safely in the garage and went to bed.At around 3am the family was rudely woken up by the shrill sirens of the alarm system, signifying an intruder inside the house. When the armed response guard got there, they found a disoriented, half-naked woman in the house, calling out my friend's dad's name. It would seem our Don Juan had forgotten to drop off the mistress at her place.What is fascinating about this last story is that apparently, until he went to his grave, the old man never once admitted to his transgression. He had some fancy tale about who she was. It is called the "Deny, deny, deny" shield by accomplished connoisseurs of the art of below-the-waist shenanigans.It actually reminded me of a 1967 movie starring Walter Matthau, titled A Guide for the Married Man. There is a scene where a wife catches her husband in bed with a woman. He casually gets up, gets dressed and makes the bed while asking nonchalantly, "What woman, dear?" until she's convinced that she's hallucinating.Which reminds me in turn of a township urban legend about another man who was literally caught with his pants down. He apparently got up, hiccupped and quipped, "I must be really drunk. All this time I thought this was you!" Deny, deny, deny.
The explanation for the success of this denial approach is provided by comedian Chris Rock on his CD, Roll with the New. According to Rock, "Women are just like the police. They can have all the evidence in the world, but they still need to have a confession."I am raising three sons without a parenting manual or a diploma. What that means is that I have no idea what I'm doing. I get heart palpitations when I consider the possibility that I could be unleashing testosterone-fuelled bundles of toxic masculinity on the world.
But I have hope that the hundreds of chats I have with them about why they need to break this cycle are working. Just the other day I was picking up the 10-year-old, who seemed quite irate. When I asked him what happened, he responded, "I'm annoyed with one of my friends. He's been spreading a false rumour that he kissed this girl and now everyone is judging her." I think that's a good start.
I hope that means he won't join the rest of the bumbling idiots otherwise known as men. Especially not the fellow who was caught in bed with another man's wife, ran all the way home in his birthday suit and rushed into the lounge, breathless, claiming he'd been the victim of a mugging.
It was at that point that his mother-in-law remarked demurely, "So I guess these thugs took all your clothes and then slapped on a condom on your willy, huh?"..