This first appeared on http://blog.storymojafestival.com/
In my short life, I’ve, of course, never been married but I’ve been in dozens of relationships. That may sound like many but I’m counting from when I was in primary school up to two years ago. One term/sem would yield one- maybe two- different girlfriends because at that age relationships were more about who you had a crush on than who you’d want to spend your life with. At least to me that’s what it was.
Over the course of those relationships I cheated (crowd of ex girlfriends claps slowly in the background as they sharpen their butcher’s knives) and I’ve been cheated on. I mention these relationships and marriage because I believe that it’s important I give ample notice that in no way am I a professional on the matter of marital infidelity (but neither are most of the people talking about that article). My cheating was as a result of greed. Sex at that age was more about getting more and more and rarely about intimacy.
The first years after high school (being the first years of university) were more like a script out of a National Lampoon movie or American pie (Van Wilder in The Westlands Adventure or something like that) than the inspiring RomCom that most people think they were/will be for their kids. Get laid! Get laid! Get laid! Morals were those things they held over your head in church and were absolutely BORING. The only thing slowing us down was the potential of getting an STD, the dreaded AIDS virus or the girlfriend. Because a lot of the time that’s what the girlfriend was, a speed bump on that road of seemingly endless conquest.
Now that I’m older and wiser (even though slightly) I’m willing to admit that cheating on her was not about her flaws but more about mine. About my own misconceptions about virility and what the male is supposed to do; about my own greed and insecurities, feeling that without the affirmation of the women I was constantly hopping in and out of bed with I was not attractive enough, not cool enough not MAN enough. I give no excuses for my actions I was in short a dick living a booze fueled, drug induced fantasy. I don’t regret it though was fun while it lasted although now I seek more out of my life and relationships.
On to Njoki Chege’s article/blog post (it appeared both in her blog and in the newspaper) I find myself agreeing with all the responses that have been churned out by mothers, bloggers and feminists. The ones from men mainly seem to center around their love for big women and the fact that everyone should mind their own business when it comes to relationships, Njoki herself included. I’ve never joined a bandwagon with regard to content for a post but this time round I felt I had to speak up. Actually I’m not really joining the bandwagon, everyone on it seems to be bitter and angry.
“HOW DARE THIS SKINNY BITCH TALK ABOUT WIEGHT! African men love them some chunky luvin!”
Seems to be the general tone. That and a wonderful amount of highly imaginative insults ranging from “I pray to God you get a disease whose cure makes you gain weight” to “you need a dentist honey, your man would cheat on you because of that dental formula.”
They all agree on one point however that a woman in a marriage should be able to make a choice about how she lives her life and that a man, every man, should love his wife unconditionally no matter what changes her body or personality go through over the course of their marriage, I mean that’s essentially what marriage is. ‘For better or for worse’ (not that I’m saying gaining weight would count as ‘for worse’) . What they never seem to mention is that Njoki points out (albeit in the completely wrong way) the excuses a man would give himself every time he cheats. I was the first person to share it on Facebook, literally three minutes after she put it up, and since then I’ve been defending my position on the post which is that of being in some sort of agreement with her. Wake up and smell the patriarchy people, it’s a musky cologne with hints of testosterone and a touch of oppression (which all in all probably smells like a sweaty rugby sock). Calm down and put away your pitch forks, angry mob, let me explain why I sort of agree:
You might remember some years ago when classic FM had the rather embarrassing incident where a few of the texts sent in to that travesty of a radio show called Maina and Kingangi in the morning were leaked? Did you see the trend those messages exposed? Husbands and wives, kawaida wananchi in otherwise happy marriages, bitching about their spouses and giving reasons as to why they slept with the tea boy, the secretary, a prostitute or a priest. One in particular stands out, more for the image it stuck in my head than anything else:
“Maina imagine coming home at 5pm and ur wife in nities with a stocking on matiti hunging kama socks”(the grammar is his not mine calm down grammar Nazis).
That’s the reality ladies and gentlemen a lot of the time when men stray they don’t want to look at themselves and realize that it’s their own weakness that drives them to it. They search for excuses; she got fat, she’s an idle nag, she’s lazy and boring, she dresses horribly (I honestly don’t get this one but meh). This helps absolve them of responsibility for their actions at least to themselves.
They’re men! They don’t want to think of themselves as weak in any way, who else can they blame other than the woman.
“She’s the one who’s weak! The one who ‘let herself go’ ”
Instead of condemning Njoki Chege (and going all out on a wonderfully entertaining campaign of character assassination), Kenyan feminists need to wake up to the reality that this is the world we live in. Look at the article again and rephrase it by saying something like
“Women erroneously blame themselves for his cheating using these reasons…”
and rectify that. Make sure it’s a known fact that it’s not her fault and work towards getting men to accept that sometimes they are weak. That the lapse/s in judgment that jeopardized their relationships with the women they love, intend to spend the rest of their lives with and the mother of their children were entirely their fault. Maybe then we’d stop seeing articles like hers all over the web and we can find something more fun and constructive to gripe about, like how hard it is to get an open liquor store past 11 pm.