I have never been entirely convinced by the idea that men struggle with fidelity. I don’t believe that their sex drives are so high that if they do not have it away with a different woman every day of the week that they will self combust. This type of thinking is really disrespectful to scores of men out there. It debases them, making men out to be mindless drones controlled by their hormones. It’s very simple, if men want to be faithful, they will be.
That said; where does the belief that men struggle with fidelity and that somehow women do not comes from? As we all know both men and women cheat. In the UK a statistician, Dr Catherine Mercer spoke to 2000 people and questioned them about their sexual activity within a year. 15% of men had been unfaithful compared to 9% of women (source: BBC) Based on this small study and general consensus we can ascertain that men are still more likely to cheat. However, the chances are that they are cheating with single women who wouldn’t appear in these stats but whose behaviour is just as complicit.
The big question is why do we expect men to find it hard to remain sexually exclusive? Male sexuality is seen as this insatiable, uncontrollable force. Yes I am a feminist but here’s a news flash, I like men. I even live with one. I don’t deny that the average man thinks about sex more than the average woman but how they express their sexuality is complicated and dependent on the individual.
So the next big question is why are men encouraged to demonstrate their sexuality in a uniformed way. It all boils down to gender stereotypes. Women are supposed to crave love but hate sex, men love sex but hate emotion and so both parties trade to get what they want. Women who step out of this norm and dare admit that they love sex are sluts and men who admit that they like snuggling are seen as wimps. Ultimately control is name of the game. If a man has sex with a lot of women, the chances that he will have a limited emotional connection, if any with his sleeping partners. That detachment brings control. He can come and go as he pleases; his conquests’ emotional well being is not a priority, if it were he would not be sleeping around. True strength of character comes from being vulnerable and genuine with the people in your life. I think that serial cheaters prevent themselves from having honest, loving relationships.
Whenever I have debated men and fidelity, the polygamy counter argument rears its ugly head. Men aren’t meant to be faithful; one man can impregnate several women at a time, blah blah blah. What a lot of men fail to realise is that in all polygamous society only the wealthy could afford to marry. This would typically be the elder men in the community who had land, wealth and livestock. The upshot being that poorer, younger men would be excluded from the marriage pool. There are areas in the world where this practice continues. These unmarried men are more likely to partake in risky illegal behaviours. Joe Henrich, a leading anthropologist saw a rise of rapes, gang activity general disturbance in men who stood little chance of marrying. Love and family life gives a man motivation to invest in the wider community. I am intrigued to see how countries such as China and India will fare in the future. Both countries have seen a massive decline in the female population due to, infanticide, sex selection abortions and the one child policy. According to a study by the BBC, 8 million female foetuses were aborted in India in the last decade. By 2030 projections suggest that 25% of the male Chinese population will never marry due to the low number of female to male ratio (Source Forbes magazine). It would be ironic that an enforced bachelor life might bring about more social disturbance than war or a financial crisis. It just highlights how strong the human desire is to love, be loved, to care and be cared for by others.
To conclude, monogamy works. Now I am not a member of the sex police. There are many people who don’t want conventional relationships. What two consenting and equally informed adults get up to is their business. At different points of our lives we look for different things in our relationships. In my early 20′s marriage was the last thing on my mind. The point of this post is that I don’t believe that men are hard wired to be unfaithful. I do believe that men are encouraged to focus on the physical pleasure and not necessarily the emotional connection to be found in sex. This way of thinking hurts us all. In order to have a real connection we all have to be honest and vulnerable or what’s the point? The love that we are shown and we show to others are the ties that bind us to our families, communities etc. Monogamous relationships instead of being perceived as the ball and chain provide the platform to experience emotional, spiritual and physical love. That type of love requires concentration, tenacity and most importantly exclusivity. None of us have enough within to give that type of love to several people at a time.
Please let me know your thoughts