And of course, this statement is a gross generalisation – a stereotype at best. But I always say that stereotypes stem from some truth that has gotten out of hand and now shape perceptions of a particular group of things, places, animals, foods and… people. The thing is, I’m not inclined to believe this is just a stereotype, and I’ll tell you why.
Just stay with me here. And no, I don’t think all men are primitive, animalistic and driven relentlessly by their most basic carnal desires. BUT, (and let’s take the stories of various women out of this for now), if I were to consider the manner in which men describe their own sex, I end up in a very confusing and contradicting mess of rhetoric.
“Sihle, what are you babbling on about now?” Well, please discard whatever assumption you might have made about what this post is about, and continue reading.
Okay, so how many of you read the title of this post and immediately thought, “What? That’s not true. That’s a sweeping generalisation!” or something of the sort? Okay, I see a few hands. Well I have the same reaction when I hear that statement too. But why is this statement not true? Well, that’s because there are loyal men out there who do not stray. Yes, ladies – they are out there somewhere. I can’t currently give fine details on where that “somewhere” is, but let’s just hope, lol. In fact, I’m sure some of the men reading this can be described as such gentlemen – honourable, faithful, loving and honest. Might I even say that they are disgusted at the very idea of being called a “dog” simply because of their sex. Well here’s a big Hi-5 to you, Gentlemen! If you were riled up about my title, I hope that I’ve pacified you for the time being.
NOW let’s talk about the problem behind the statement, “All men are dogs”. I’m not talking about women screaming, “Every man disgusting! Every man cheat! Yuh cyaan trus’ none a dem!”
I’m talking about this statement as a declaration cheaply given as some kind of excuse by men themselves. Why does it irritate me? Well, am I supposed to feel relieved that men “admit” this themselves? Should I be grateful that I can hear it straight from the horse’s (or, in this case, the dog’s) mouth?
Well, I’m not. I’m hella annoyed.
Here is the truth: All men are not dogs. In fact, no man is a dog. A man is a man.
Comparing himself and his fellow human brother to a mammal that barks at anything that moves, chases any old arse in smelling distance, and licks its own genitalia, is a huge degradation of himself as a man, and is a horrific representation of men in general. People can hold opinions. And if you agree with me that not every man acts like a less intelligent, carnally passionate creature, that is your right. However, I WILL call you out if you suddenly flip your argument 180° once someone is trying to hold you accountable for your actions as a man.
Many times —too many times– have I conversed with men and pointed out despicable tendencies of their gender, only to be given the flimsy argument that this is just how men are. This is especially prevalent in a society (Jamaica) in which the concept of having a “wifey” and several “maties” is glorified as the optimal romantic/sexual situation. This is even to the point where all members of this multisided polygon of a relationship are made to feel special: the “wife” should be proud that she is the main piece, the #1, the one the man eventually goes home to; and, the “matey” should give herself props for being able to lure a man who already has a woman, as if this is some impressive and noble feat. This idea is reflected in the songs put out so often by those in the Jamaican music industry. Think, “wifey walk out and matey stand up!” and songs in which women boast about how they “tek weh a gyal man!” (Take away a girl’s man). These among many other suggestive lyrical content in our songs show this common ideology. Everybody gets some ratings! Well done everyone! *applause* Of course, the one who receives the most praise is the man who manages to maintain these several partners. Wow, I am so impressed. Really. Why don’t we have a national Gyallis award yet?
*10 thousand eyerolls*
Anyway, that was a mini rant. So, back to my point. Conversations involving the measly excuse that, “men are just the way they are,” normally go something like this:
*cue dramatic theatre stage with bright stage light revealing two characters at a café sitting across from each other at a small round table*
Me: … but I don’t believe that cheating is ever justifiable. I believe that if you want someone else, you should end it with your partner and move on.
Man: That’s a naïve way of looking at it. There are a number of reasons why men cheat. And women cheat too, probably more than men. They just don’t get caught as often.
Me: First of all, I specified neither man nor woman. Secondly, of course there are a number of reasons – I’m saying I don’t think they are justified.
Man: What about if the woman is not giving the man nuh good-good? Him must stay there and simmer until she decide she wants to give him some?
(Besides the fact that my belief is that sex is for the context of marriage only) Me: If he’s already expressed his issue with feeling neglected sexually and she, for whatever reason, still doesn’t want to engage him, he can just leave… since it’s intolerable for him.
Man: But is not like di man nuh love him woman. But men are men, and if he’s not getting it from her, he’ll go elsewhere.
Me: He can break it off before going elsewhere then.
Man: You’re not getting it. Men are different from women. Whereas for women, sex is emotional and psychological, sex is mainly physical for men. So he doesn’t have to have feelings for the other woman. He just has to satisfy his need. He still gonna want to work out his relationship with his girl.
Me: Sooo basically you’re saying, infidelity is biological, he only cares about the woman’s physical appearance, and he has no control over whether or not to act on his lust for a woman other than the one he’s with?
Man: Um, well I’m just saying that’s how men are. If they aren’t satisfied, they’ll go outside the relationship.
Me: So yes?
Man: … Well, men just function differently.
Me: So you’re saying yes.
Man: The thing is… Um…
CUT! And end scene. *curtains close*
The reason the guy in this sample conversation (based off real conversations I’ve had) doesn’t want to be trapped in a corner is because at some point, this particular man (because he’s hypocritical) will want to defend his sex, or himself rather, when he is shamed for his irresponsible dog-like, or according to him, “man-like”, behaviour of stepping out on his commitment and dipping his hand in another cookie jar. When he’s interested in Woman, Woman may reject him saying,
“I don’t want no man – man a crosses! All they do is lie and cheat, lie dung wid yuh and not even spread the bed in the morning! Dem will carry other woman inna di house pon yuh inna di same bed weh yuh spread. When all is said and done, they are all terrible.”
To this, Man promptly argues that all men are not dogs. Especially not him, and he may even go as far as to ask her why she had to “try all men” in order to get to that conclusion. He tells her it’s really her fault, because her past men are a reflection of her own choices, not the entire male population. What she needs to do is choose better (i.e. choose him, obviously).
My question is this: If according to some men, all men are dogs, and when some women say the same thing it is because they make bad choices, does that mean that the women must upgrade their choices and choose better breeds of dogs — I mean – men? Perhaps she’s only been with mongrel dogs, and that’s her downfall. She must choose pedigree dogs! Because though also pups, they are more ideal! That must be it.
“The problem with the ‘All men are dogs’ catchphrase is that it removes the accountability from the man for the choices he makes by playing them off as inevitable events. He’s wired that way, so can you blame him?
Well yes. Yes, you can.”
– Sihle Atkinson (Amidthethunder)
We blame and shame the woman for cheating, (and for less than that), so why not men? She’s a hoe, but he’s a boss? Do women not also have these desires? Is it really because women connect sex with emotions? (And by the way, I’ve spoken to women who mingle sex with emotions as little as it is said that men do) And if this is the case, can’t the woman simply cheat with a man who she finds tends to her emotional needs, when the man to which she’s committed is neglecting her in this department? Isn’t that just her nature? To give up the cho-cho to any man who listens to her and calls her beautiful? No. Cheating is a decision one makes.
No matter how heated you are in the moment, opening up physically to anyone is a choice. Sexual desire is biological (some could argue that it’s psychological or spiritual – say, chaste monks in the wintery mountains of East Asian countries), but consenting to sex is not biological — it’s a conscious decision.
Mister, you don’t get to hide behind a false notion of biology. And ladies, please don’t reinforce this excuse. Biology and psychology may dictate what we are urged to do, and even what we are more predisposed to do, but when you claim that biology decides when you make unethical choices –when you lie, when you violate your commitment to your partner, when you are selfish — it’s not just painful to your significant other; it is a great injustice to you too. I acknowledge that some persons prefer a polygamous lifestyle. I am not here to condemn anyone. If that is the case, I would expect that a man or woman be honest with his partner(s) about his/her stance and ensure that they agree to this arrangement.
What I am about to say will sound tragic, but it is the truth. Personally, I don’t know very well any man to whom I can look up and respect in terms of romantic relationships and fidelity. I can list a lot of poor examples. Arguably, they may be good men overall, but are very weak in this area. I am simply tired of men embracing this weakness, being complacent about it, and even painting it over as a mark of true manliness – the inability to restrain himself when he sees a desirable woman. Lack of self-control is not manly. It’s a destructive flaw. I’m tired of little boys being taught that cat-calling a woman is the way to communicate that you have a working penis and scrotum, because surely this is the predominant concern of every woman you come across, and you are doing her a huge favour by expressing your desire for her body. Because really boys, every day that I leave my house I’m in a terrible mood until some kind man bawls out to me that my body is just what he’s looking for to bring his sexual fantasies to life. Oh joy! A man wants me physically! All my dreams and aspirations have been fulfilled! I can die in peace…
All men are not dogs. In fact, although some men may act like them, no man is a dog.
“Leave us furry and adorable beauties out of your whack justifications. Thanks.”
I want to see a revival of faithful men, and happily faithful at that, because even several so-called God-fearing men seem slaves to their smaller heads, if you get what I mean. I’d like to see more Joseph’s. I long to see noble and admirable men, exemplary men, some I-have-the-choice-whether-to-defile-my-body-and-my-relationship-or-not kind of men, some run-far-far-from-sexual-immorality kind of men, some “how-can-I-do-this-thing-and-sin-against-my-God?” kind of men, some run-and-lef-jacket-inna-some-gyal-hand kind of men! That’s what I’d love to see.
Joseph be like, “Oh hell nah, this lady be cray cray!” (See: Genesis 39)
Thankfully, I believe the guy I’m exclusively dating is a Joseph type. I wouldn’t settle for less. And hopefully, he doesn’t adopt the toxic mentality that he can’t help himself when he sees another attractive woman, because I checked, and as it turns out, I do NOT have “fool” nor “baby-sitter” marked on my abundant forehead. My beautiful brothers, there is no excuse. And my stunning sisters, you do have a say in which thought upon which you act.
Both men and women should be careful about what they write off as uncontrollable. We often place imaginary boundaries around ourselves which prevent us from behaving in a way that is most honourable and ideal. Culture plays a huge role in these matters, but it’s now up to you to recognise that blurting out, “That’s just how men are!” robs you from the possibility of being the best version of yourself that you can be (unless, of course, your idea of the best version of yourself is a seasoned liar and cheat, in which case, boy bye). We can do better, and we must.
If you’ve reached this far, I thank you so much for reading. That being said, what do you think are the reasons men and women cheat? Do you think it’s ever justifiable? Do you think one gender gets shamed for infidelity more than the other one does? Do you think the matter is best left undisputed, because men or women will always cheat and there’s nothing we can do about it? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
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