One of the friends had invited a lady over, a lady he referred to as “my wife”. I said hello to her but soon observed a wedding band on her finger. She was married, but not to this man!
By the way, it is important that I add that all the men present were married. Yes! Including my friend
But regardless of that fact, I found myself for a brief second judging the lady. How can a married woman boldly come out to drink us and her boyfriend? I thought to myself. This bar was not a fancy set up, it was a local pub aka joint; where random men and women went to have fun and misbehave.
In the middle of all this, I stopped myself. I began to question myself. Why did I judge this woman so harshly? All the men are married but I am not taking offense at them or specifically at the man who called this woman his wife; who was bolding moving around with a married woman.
Then I looked at myself. Am I any better? I am here in public drinking with four married men. Why do I think I should be spared? Is it because I am not married? I am a single lady drinking in the midst of men; isn’t that worse?
It was in this moment that I became aware of my sexual double standard. I realized that sometimes, we all carry these beliefs that seek to hold women captive. The belief that men seek lust and women seek love, so because of this women should uphold superior self-control.
I realized that I had expected the woman, as a married woman to have more self-respect, whilst easily forgiving and recognizing that behavior as acceptable for the married man. This! I am aware stems from the fact that we assume that men have no shame and are more likely to misbehave, so because of this we demand that women should hold the fort; to be the ones with self-control.
However, what we fail to realize is that this assumption is an insult to men and shows a lack of agency and autonomy for women. The idea of sainthood for women robs us of our humanity; it refuses to acknowledge that we have a full spectrum of emotions and behavior patterns, whilst reinforcing the idea that men are inherently bad. This is one reason we continue to label men as abusers and women as victims.
This double standard is something I believe many of us carry deep within us.
Why should I expect the woman to do better and accept that the man can’t do better? Why did I believe that woman was shaming herself in public but the man gained a certain street credibility?
This is something I recognize with affairs as well. We often tell the women to hands off the men like the men had no part in making that decision; we find it harder to forgive the women but in a blink of an eye, we accept the men back because deep down, we believe they can’t do better.
And the irony of this is the fact that many men believe this works in their favor; the fact that they can misbehave and still be accepted. However, there’s a deeper issue here. I have to ask the men; why do they accept you back without seeking that you do better? Could it be because they believe there’s nothing better you have to offer?
This, in my opinion, is one of the reasons many people carry the belief that men cannot turn down sex, because as usual, they can’t do better. “Men will be Men” – a statement that reinforces the idea that men lack self- control and have a lower moral compass.
I would call this an insult and a slap on the face of men, but after many years of men embracing this stereotype in a bid to justify their actions; how do you believe we can rectify this sexual double standard??
Lolo Cynthia Is a public health specialist, sexuality educator and founder of the social enterprise LoloTalks, that employs all forms of media (online and offline) to create awareness and sustainable solutions to our contemporary social and health issues in Africa. She also doubles as a documentary and talk show producer and lends her voice on issues regarding interpersonal relationships, sexuality, gender, and social issues through her YouTube channel LoloTalks and her blog.