First, the disclaimer. Disabuse yourself of the assumption I am against marriage and monogamy. You could not be further from the truth.
I’m not only a veteran in the practice, I shared some supportive insight on how to do monogamy successfully; with eyes wide open, realistic expectations and cost/benefit ratio rooted in the reality of your health and happiness here and now, not some fantasy afterlife for which there is no empirical evidence of existence.
This little op-ed you are about to read, is about letting go of double-standards, unrealistic expectations and embracing some unadorned and inconvenient truths about ourselves we like to brush aside with ‘tradition’ and ‘sanctimony’ and ‘fairytale fluff’.
On Monday 26 April 2021, Wired868 brought readers into the life of a proud ‘outside woman’ following Missy Elliot’s advice for her hit song Work It:
‘[…] Girls, girls get that cash. If it’s 9 to 5 or shaking yo ass. Ain’t no shame ladies, just do yo’ thang. Just make sure you ahead of tha’ game…’
Elliot’s lyrics exposed a brutal truth, which is that in our capitalist society whether you are working 9 to 5 standing on your swollen feet all day serving KFC for slave wages, blackening your lungs in a coal mine or chemical plant, pushing your body past its physical limits to beat world records or your opponent in the ring, straining your eyes staring at a screen and taxing the last brain cell in your tired mind to finish a proposal, or on your knees giving head or back shots as your wifely or side-chick duty, it is all work.
Everybody is selling their body in some way or the other for material security. It is purely superstition, paternalism and misogyny why one form of body-selling is deemed ‘respectable’ and another is not.
In fact it is particularly rich for the most paternalistic of them all, conservative Christian married women, to be looking down on professional side-chicks. It is married women who signed a contract to perform their ‘wifely duties’ to their husbands—whether they like it or not—‘for richer or poorer… better or worse’.
So who is really ‘ahead of the game’?
Several Christian Conservative platforms and organisations advocate for wives to provide sex on demand whether or not they want to. The Bahamas Christian Council is still opposing legislation to make marital rape illegal. Talk about hostile working conditions!)
I can recall so many sermons at the ole Kingdom Hall admonishing wives: ‘Please please, please, please give your husbands sex! It is your Biblical obligation!’
Yes, according to Paul, a likely asexual who loathed marriage for himself, was never in any romantic relationship with a woman, lived in an era where female sexuality was not even properly understood and never considered that women have a far more temperamental, seasonal sexual drive with limitations and medical issues on occasion.
Yet his is the advice some choose to follow rather than an expert sexologist!
Ahead of the game for a sex worker means avoiding the pitfalls of believing in Pretty Woman fairytales and not having a financial plan. Ahead of the game is using birth control and protection from STDs. Ahead of the game is being content in one’s role and not trying to overstep.
Smart side-pieces do not try to usurp the wife, as they recognise it is wifey’s support at home that helps his earning potential. It’s wifey’s lack of certain sexual and emotional aptitudes that necessitates the side-piece’s services.
Ahead of the game is the current owner of a certain guest house in Bois D’Orange, Saint Lucia who, rumour has it, used to be a professional ‘ho’ catering to foreign visitors back in her younger days and is now a ‘respectable’, charity-donating business-woman.
Ahead of the game is the Rastaman supplier of seedlings and potting soil I faithfully patronise who set up his Agri-business after returning, well-compensated by his middle-aged, ex-sugar mama abroad.
In fact, the main thing that bothered me about the woman featured in Wired868’s article was her wasteful lifestyle. Buy land, property, stock, bitcoin and university tuition, not another pair of US$1,000 designer sunglasses.
However, even she is more ahead of the game than some married women whose only back-up-plan is faith in their husband’s continued loyalty just because he said a vow, which the evidence shows is more likely fulfilled by women than by men. Women stick around for better or worse, men do not.
Part of palliative care training is preparing nurses to deal with the high likelihood of terminally-ill wives being abandoned by their husbands. The study, Gender Disparity in the Rate of Partner Abandonment in Patients with Serious Medical Illness, was published in the 15 November issue of the journal Cancer.
“Female gender was the strongest predictor of separation or divorce in each of the patient groups we studied,” said Marc Chamberlain, MD, a co-corresponding author and director of the neuro-oncology program at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA). Similar studies in several countries confirm this.
At least B Smith’s husband, unlike many, was willing to continue taking care of her instead of abandoning her outright. But he like the majority of men, expect to be taken care of their entire lives by a woman.
As certain traditional gender role preachers and sites love to emphasise, the woman was created for the sole purpose of being a helpmate. Whether or not she gets the kind of love, sex, companionship and support she needs in return is her cross to bear. She will get her happiness in the after-life for her long-suffering in this one.
It is why married men statistically live longer and are healthier but it is the reverse for married women. A major survey of 127,545 American adults found that married men are healthier than unmarried men. Not so for women.
Behavioural Scientist Paul Dolan’s book, Happy Ever After, cites evidence from the American Time Use Survey (ATUS), which shows unmarried women live longer than married women and middle-aged married women, in particular, are at higher risk of physical and mental conditions than their single counterparts.
So who is really ahead of the game?
Wired868 chief editor Lasana Liburd remarked that an earlier column on a sex worker—who was in an exploitative, disempowered, desperate situation—elicited far less back-lash and debate. The poor, unfortunate prostitute is the narrative people expect!
Punishment must follow all women who have the audacity to not play by the ‘rules’. How dare they aspire to be as the famed Hetairae of Ancient Greece who, unlike wives of their era, were not sequestered at home, were able to own property, have businesses, get access to learning and could often read, write, play musical instruments and create works of art and have a lot of influence on their patrons.
Many of them are famed for their wisdom and shrewd political minds.
In our post-colonial society, entrenched in European Judeo-Christian values, a sex worker who is ‘ahead of the game’ brings up a great deal of cognitive dissonance for those who refuse to accept that her existence is an adaptation not an aberration. The social construct of life-long monogamy is the aberration.
In fact, sex workers need to be thanked for allowing so many to maintain the ‘appearance of respectable monogamy’.
Extra-marital outlets—from concubines, to courtly love to mistresses to prostitution—to serve the libido of men are only necessitated by socially-imposed monogamy, which is guaranteed to fail.
“There are 80,000 prostitutes in London alone and what are they, if not bloody sacrifices on the altar of monogamy?”- Arthur Schopenhauer
The Church accepted alms from prostitutes. The Church knew all too well that the elimination of prostitution would create a pressure cooker situation that would dismantle society were it to explode.
A man’s daughter was valuable property that could secure a dowry or even business and political alliances if she was delivered ‘unspoiled’ (selling our bodies for money) to the arranged husband.
So better for a horny young man or sex-starved husband to visit a whorehouse and then go to confession, than ruin a hymen or tamper with another man’s ‘property’ and cause lasting economic and social status upheaval when it comes to patrilineal inheritance rights.
What do you think marriage was? It was primarily a religious-imperial mandate (obligation to church and empire) and a socio-economic arrangement (to serve the industrial and political model).
Romantic love being the standard basis for marriage as the rule rather than the exception, is a fairly recent Anthropocene construct. It is also the least stable thing upon which to base a life-long relationship.
Hence it was also necessary to shelter women and keep them as naive as possible with as little options as possible, so they were easily wooed into marriage; and then hobble them socially and financially to trap them in the marriage, once the fog of sex hormones and biochemicals responsible for all those initial feelings of ‘falling in love’ began to clear.
Once the reality of the situation into which they were swept off their feet began to manifest, many would realise deep attachment based on compatibility, respect, empathy was not possible, because of disastrous incompatibility, personality and emotional disorders and deficiencies.
Do people think it was a coincidence that the divorce race spiked the moment women got more financial independence and social protections?
The ad campaigns of middle-aged men with their middle-aged wives enjoying the benefits of his erectile dysfunction medication, are a tad deceptive as the statistical norm is very different.
The norm is that her husband is also going through a mid-life and love-crisis and has younger women looking at him as a very viable option. Meanwhile she is menopausing, experiencing a rapid change in her sexuality and the kids she used as the reason for staying in the marriage—during the times she really wanted to call it quits—have gone off to college or are old enough to handle their parent’s divorcing.
When my schoolmates and cousins in the same peer group finished A’ Levels, any remaining parents who were not already divorced/remarried multiple times already, were hit by the mid-life divorce wave. They had done their job. We were grown and off to university!
Today, we are in our forties and those of us who married young in our 20s and had kids who are now in secondary school are getting hit by the divorce wave.
There are exceptions!
They are the couples who did not have children. They are the couples who are only now having children in their forties after establishing a very secure life and a commitment. Or those who have been successfully ‘shacking up’ very happily for many years, riding that oxytocin and vasopressin train, and are only now deciding to tie the knot purely for practical tax, economic and other legal reasons—not because they attach some kind of additional, fictional expectation of it.
Finally, there are the couples who, over the years re-negotiated their monogamous commitment to be about their financial, legal, familial, domestic and emotional commitment to each other, and not about preventing sexual hookups that supplement their relationship.
Maybe it is time for women to reconsider some of the marriage propaganda and fairytale notions they are hounded with since they are little girls and get smarter about this arrangement.
You may be surprised by what is said within certain protected woman-only spaces online—where we get to talk without the scrutiny of men. It is not just men who have serious discontent in marriage. Women do as well.
Women lose interest in the same ole dick. Women get hot and heavy crushes on others outside the marriage too that make them remember what it was like to feel that rush of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin (the ‘falling in love’ biochemicals) again, since their spouse no longer triggers that for them.
Women who married young, then grow and learn and change in values and perspectives, often become incompatible with their spouses. Motherhood changes women as well and their priorities in who they love the most and would die for shifts from husband to their child.
Often the maternal love is so intense, it clears the fog that prevented them from seeing their spouse clearly.
Tim Jacobs, professor of physiology at Cardiff University, said: “Some studies have shown that during ovulation, there’s a surge of oestrogen which increases a woman’s olfactory sensitivity.”
And why would a woman need to have a better sense of smell during her monthly sexual peak? Why to sniff out a better potential mate!
In one study, women in committed relationships were asked to be blindfolded and smell the t-shirts of a number of men (who had worn it all day) and list which ones they found most appealing/arousing. Consistently, the women who were not ovulating picked their husband or boyfriend’s scent.
However, those who were at their monthly sexual peak were twice as likely to pick another man’s scent and it was usually a man more rugged and physically imposing than their current mate. Sometimes it would be a man they would not normally find attractive or consider as marriage material but was a better biological fit than their current partner.
With all this hindsight, is it still rational and even ethical to:
- Continue to pretend our homo sapiens primate is organically a monogamous species and be scandalised by the reality of our own nature that has always existed, and perpetuate the double standards and hypocrisy around it?
- Continue to pretend our homo sapiens primate species are supposed to live in nuclear units of mating pairs in a nest like birds, rather than in large communal groups/extended families, where our diversity needs are not the burden of just one person to fulfil?
- Continue to indoctrinate women to romanticise putting her entire well-being on the shoulders of one man as her everything, rather than establishing her independent sources of support, which includes a solid community that will protect her whether she is married, single, widowed or divorced or deserted when she is sick, old or unattractive?
- Continue to indoctrinate young people to enter marriage young, naïve, with zero understanding of themselves, based on their romantic attraction and desire to legitimately consummate it?
- Continue to criminalise sex work and keeping it black market, unregulated and dangerous for women?
Journalistic pieces like the one Wired868 did should spark innovative discussion about these things.
All the ‘tut, tutting’, platitudes and pearl clutching is, for anyone who is a realist, a complete waste of time.