As a member of an anonymous women’s group on Facebook, the topic of infidelity often arises. Some women seem to be oblivious to signs that their mate is stepping out on their marriage or partnership which is evident by questions such as “my husband hides his phone when I’m around him, do you think he is messaging other women?”
Other women are in denial and pose inquiries, along the lines of “I’ve looked through my husband’s phone and I’ve seen flirty messages and/or explicit pictures exchanged between him and other women, I’m sick of this, I don’t know what to do anymore.”
The consensus amongst many of the women in the group is that men cheat regardless of how dutiful a wife is, and consequently, a woman should accept this characteristic of men. The advice I often read is to “pray” about it. Nevertheless, I’m pondering why African women seem to take cheating without questioning or protesting it.
As a Ghanaian-American, I stand for the rights of women and for opportunities for women to grow in all aspects of their lives. Anything that threatens these notions shouldn’t be entertained. So why do some of us choose to needlessly suffer in baseless marriages?
Lydia Forson, an award-winning Ghanaian actress shares her opinion:
True. We’ve been brought up in our culture to accept that it is in a man’s DNA to cheat; we don’t like it or accept it.” She goes on to mention, “In our culture, women are not vocal; women are not supposed to be hurt by these actions“.
When asked if she personally condoned cheating, Ms Forson stated, “My thoughts are ever-evolving; I don’t think any woman can accept infidelity and I am against it.” “Though, it also depends on the individual, the partner, and their circumstances; it’s a case by case basis.”
She continues: “If a woman sleeps with many men, she is labelled a slut as if a woman cheats, she is horrible, and her children can be taken away.”
Finally, Ms Forson emphasizes that women need to be empowered. “We are a product of our mothers’ and grandmothers’ pain since many of them didn’t have a choice but to stay in these types of marriages; currently, we should have a backup plan – even if it’s going back to our mother’s and father’s home and make our own money.”
Furthermore, a Facebook user responds to a question posed stating: Are African women more tolerant of cheating? “Yes we are. We’ve made marriage to be the yardstick in judging how successful a woman is despite all other levels attained, thus, u fail at your marriage, you’ve failed in life. Very sad mentality” [sic]. Another user states, “Yes oo… We have been taught from our various homes that cheating by men is allowed. So we’ve become tolerant.” [sic]
In countless African nations, marriage is an imperative pinnacle in one’s life. Nuptials are an important stepping stone to be attained. Numerous women endure marriages that may be abusive, unsuccessful or strained for the sake of not being labelled a disappointment, due to societal pressures or financial obligation.
Promisingly, as the role of women is changing slowly but surely in African societies, we are becoming vested in not only beginning families but also in climbing the corporate ladder, becoming entrepreneurs and pursuing extraordinary careers. Marriage is beginning to be more of a contract of love than a business which provides convenient services such as stability, social status, powerful merges amongst families and financial stability.