It is a sad fact in today’s world that cheating is a common occurrence. While I know that cheating can happen in any type of relationship, it is statistically more common for men to cheat on women. As a woman, the only perspective I can speak from is that of a woman in a relationship with a man. But, please know that I understand women are just as capable of cheating as men, and that the act does not only occur in heterosexual relationships.
However, the act of cheating itself is not the focus here. For a while now, I’ve been disturbed by most of the things I see on social media, especially posts in regard to the way men treat the women they are in relationships with. While I can appreciate a joke now and again and understand that social media should not be taken so seriously, I fear for the minds of young women in relationships.
One post that struck me, and consequently inspired (and titled) this article was in regards to a man’s loyalty. It was a tweet of a gif of Beyoncé dancing with the caption “when you go through his phone and see that he’s been loyal.” Thankfully, somebody had the sense to quote the tweet with the response of “don’t applaud a fish for swimming.” As if to say, don’t praise somebody for doing something that they simply should have been doing in the first place. Why should you thank him for not talking to other women? Why should he be praised for being loyal? Why should he be thanked for being a respectful human being? Why do we expect anything different?
What scares me, though, is that there are more posts applauding the fish for swimming than not. There are more posts, more girls that are praising boys/men for just simply acting in a respectful way in a relationship. There are far too many tweets gifs/memes, celebrating “when he calls you back when he said he would” or “when you’ve been dating for a few months and he hasn’t cheated,” as if to make it seem as though these acts are unheard of and that men need to be thanked for going above and beyond by doing them. What is even scarier is that there are young women who believe this. I am not sure where exactly this notion stems from; that there needs be praise and celebration for men when they act like respectful partners. I can assume though, that most of it comes from being mistreated for so long. This asks a whole other question in regards to what has happened to relationships, love and respect. However, I believe there is something that young women in these type of relationships or agreeing with these posts on social media need to hear.
Do not thank a man for not cheating on you. Do not thank him for not lying to you. Do not thank him for being nice to you. Do not thank him for being loyal. Do not thank him for acting how a partner is expected to act in a relationship. Do not thank him for treating you like a human being. Do not applaud a fish for swimming.
Collectively as women, we need to stop accepting this behavior from men. By praising them for simply treating us like humans, we make it seem as though it is a special occasion when they do so. Once this is established, it portrays the notion that it is therefore okay to treat us in the opposite way, as long as there are times when they are loyal, call us back, or are respectful. This is so wrong and fosters completely unhealthy relationships and standards between men and women.
By no means do I believe that all men treat women like this or feel as though they should be praised for their expressions of respect. However, I do believe that more young women need to understand that if they find themselves in a situation where they are indeed praising their boyfriend/husband for not cheating, they need to reevaluate the way that they see themselves and the way that they see their partner. We cannot keep making men feel as though they are doing us a favor by being loyal, respectful, loving partners. There is no need to thank a man for simply treating a woman like a human being. We do not need to applaud fish for swimming.