Sab’s Eye: NOT All Men Are Dogs

SaboiWith Saboi Imboela

One of the hardest things that any human being can ever do is to try to convince a woman in a bad relationship, with a heartbreak or even failed marriage that NOT all men are dogs.

This is more so when it is not the first time such a woman is going through such an experience. Although men go through experiences which also make them say all women are the same, it is very common to hear women declare that ‘all men are dogs’.

The question then that we need to ask is what causes men to be classified in one bracket as dogs. Is there any truth in such claims by the female specie or is it just an expression that has become synonymous with a broken heart? The fact is that man is a function of his environment so certain cultural socialisation may make men or women in a given community or society behave in a similar way.

For instance, in most of the Zambian cultures, a man is told, from a very young age, that he is a dog and that his promiscuity is not such a big deal. The young man is told how the most important thing is to respect the woman at home and always hide his extra marital affairs.

As a result, his ‘dogness’ is tolerated and to some extent encouraged. He is not taught that infidelity in relationships or marriage is wrong but rather that he should be discreet about it. On the other hand, the woman is brought up to be a faultless being. She is told to look after her husband and house and beware of her short comings as these will make the man look for other women to ‘fill the gap’.

A woman is taught that she should never follow a man to the bar or ask questions when he comes home late in the night. All she has to do is give the man a hot meal and go back to sleep without ‘making any noise’.

With such cultural socialisation, both men and women are engineered to tolerate and consent to the ‘dogness’ of men. The woman is, therefore, not judged by the quality of her character but by the broom, cooking stick or mutton cloth in her hands and how well she can conform to the dog in man, while in some cases a man is judged by how many women he can have.

A woman that is disappointed by one man may end up having somebody similar or even worse because they are all brought up with the same cultural beliefs and hence may not respect women or treat them as equals.

With a dynamic society and globalised world where people and women in particular have come to demand a certain level of respect and particular ways in which they should be treated, the cultures and current expectations of women seem to overlap.

Unlike one Zambian proverb from the Bemba speaking people that say that a man’s infidelity does not break a home, in today’s society, one of the main causes of break ups in marriages or relationships is a man’s infidelity. There has to be a profound cultural shift and behaviral change to, therefore, complement our ever changing societies and dynamic expectations of today’s woman.

One thing to also note is that, while most African countries including Zambia are still battling with how to treat women, many societies already regard women as equals worthy of respect in both the home, work place and society in general.

Men from such societies will respect women naturally and even though all societies have cheats and dishonest men and women, the cheats in such societies are the exception rather than the rule. In most of our societies, however, the cheats are the rule rather than the exception. I have been sharing with some non Zambian friends of mine who say that they have been married for over ten years and that their husbands have never cheated on them.

I tell them that in Zambia when you say that people will laugh at you and think you are naïve or insane because it is not ‘normal’ for a man to be faithful to you for so many years. We have been trying to assess certain cultural similarities and differences and while they have brought out the kind of problems or challenges they face, infidelity is not one of them.

For me, as a Zambian, that has been top on the list in our discussions. In their societies even politicians are forced to publicly apologise or resign when they are caught cheating on their spouses because cheating by both women and men is such a big issue to them. They say a man or woman who cheats on his/her spouse cannot be entrusted with public affairs.

How can someone who cheats on the people he/she loves be expected to be faithful with society and its resources? This to me is a good argument and one I do not see happening in Zambia or most African countries for many years to come. However, I have hope it will happen one day, just probably not in my lifetime.

In Zambia, we actually get to know the girlfriends of the politicians as high up as the president and these people become rich and untouchable overnight, until the men are no longer in power. With such acceptance and to some extent institutionalisation of infidelity in our societies, it is no wonder it becomes so hard to find good faithful men even in the churches.

Additionally, a lot of songs encourage and condone this behaviour and society has not taken a deliberate step to denounce such behaviours with the contempt that it deserves. Conversely, even with such backgrounds and cultural beliefs, there are men who choose to do good by their spouses and live according to what makes them happy as a couple.

Such men will be looked at as weak or under the influence of the woman and not man enough by their friends and even their families. However, the good news is that NOT all men are dogs, but the reality is that such men are hard to find.

I was fortunate enough to realise that NOT all men are dogs in the same year I discovered just how much of a dog, a man can be. Had I not come to this realisation, I probably would have broken down, stopped trusting men, declared that they are all dogs and that I will never love again, like most women do when shown the real ‘dogness’ of a man.

But in as much as I saw and experienced the worst betrayal that any woman could think of, I still was exposed to cultures and people that respect each other as equals and human beings. I have seen firsthand that indeed NOT all men are dogs and more women need to realise that for their own sanity and peace of mind.

So never give up on a quest for a good man, they are very few but definitely there.

Until next week, hope you get yourself a new pair of eye glasses and look near and far and as hard as you can and I guarantee that maybe, just maybe, you will begin to see that NOT all men are dogs.