by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 18 March 2007)
When I talk about issues that effect women, 99 percent of the time my focus is rightly on how the current patriarchal system has twisted reality to the point that both men and women often mistakenly believe that females are less valuable to society than males.
However, in today’s column I want to touch on an issue that is very harmful to women worldwide and that - although it is still a by-product of patriarchal rule - is perpetuated by women. I am speaking of women who willingly chose to enter into a relationship with a married man even when she knows he has a wife and family.
The mistress role is one of the most degrading relationships in which a woman can choose to become involved, yet every day millions of women do it willingly and in the process hurt the cause of women severely.
The mistress role is the perfect example of a woman being used for sex - and very little more. Those sold into slavery for sex have no choice in their situation at all and prostitutes are often just trying to make some sort of money to live. Contrarily, a mistress allows herself to be used for sex even when she knows she will gain nothing in return but hurt and heartache.
In the meantime, while she is allowing some man to use her for sex, the cheating husband has a wife at home who most times knows full well about the affair and must decide on whether to confront her husband and kick his sorry ass out or keep her mouth shut because she cannot bear the idea of trying to raise their children on her own.
There are many reasons why a woman might decide to allow herself to become a mistress, but low self-esteem is at the crux of every reason because she likes it when he makes it seem that he has chosen her over his wife, even when this is not truly the case. This makes her feel as if she is better than another woman.
Additionally, the mistress might hope for money or gifts in return for her silence. She might want power if the man even has any power to offer. Or there might just be a real connection between the two people, or a sex appeal, or she might even love the man.
Quite frankly, not one of these reasons I have listed, or any others that someone else might think up, are good enough to break a family apart. None of these reasons provide any would-be mistress with the justification to move in on another woman’s husband or to respond to that husband’s advances toward her.
I am not going to cite religious verses about sex outside of marriage because they are just control methods from the patriarchal system to make women feel guilty for having sex. However, speaking purely from a social standpoint, marital trysts cause too many women to face single parenthood, which hurts the children and contributes to poverty (single mothers make up the majority of the poor in the world)
When a man and a woman get married and have children, they have made a vow to each other that should be honoured. If either person does not feel he or she can adhere to that vow, then the problem is easily solved – just do not get married in the first place.
A single person, male or female, can have responsible sex with whom ever they please without hurting anyone else. A marital affair hurts so many people and has a negative impact on society at large.
Worst of all, the mistress has positioned herself in a very degrading role and has betrayed her own gender – specifically, a fellow sister who is trying to do right by society and raise her children in a family setting with a mother and a father. Every single mistress needs to ponder the fact that she too may one day be a married mother who wants the father around to raise her children.
Of course, there is always the mistress who naively believes her lover will leave his wife and family for her one day. Sweetheart, you are being used in so many ways already, please do not let your heart overrule your common sense, too.
Even if he does leave his wife, is that the type of man with whom you want to have children? Do you really want to be with someone who balks at his responsibilities as a father and husband and takes up with the next young, pretty face to come along? I can assure you, he will do it to you too when you start expecting him to act like a father and a husband.
I believe every cheating husband has one thing in common, he would rather find a fresh new face that is naïve about relationships and use that girl for sex and intimacy before trying to work through a tough marriage relationship (which is probably tough because the man never knew how to develop and foster a truly caring relationship in the first place).
Women have enough to deal with in society – inequality, sexual harassment in the workplace, physical and mental abuse and social marginalisation – thanks to thousands of years of male rule. The last thing we need is a woman hurting another woman.
Women need to stand together to make the world a better place for ourselves and our daughters. If we cannot trust the men to do right by us, we should at least be able to expect women to do right by each other.
When women finally start coming together instead of hurting each other and pushing each other away, that is when we will be able to change the present course of history and form a whole new way of life for all women worldwide.
Keep this column in mind, Ms. Mistress, next time he comes knocking on your door. You are not creating a future for yourself when you are rolling around in that bed. You are actually destroying your future and the futures of so many other women and children.