My Man. My Everything.

I own a book with the deliciously attention grabbing title of “Change Your Man”. Occasionally I read it in public. It never fails to get attention. I’ll have women looking at it longingly, trying to make eye contact so they can ask about it, while men send me energetic poison arrows. One skinny little guy marched to me once, and indignantly said “Are you really reading a book called Change Your Man?”

There is a popular saying that “a man marries a woman hoping she never changes, a woman marries a man looking to change him” To some extent we can blame feminine nature, which is attuned to potential, the unrealized, how things could be. As a result women tend to fall for who a guy can be as opposed to who he is…then usually proceed to try and harass that potential into realization. This, however, is not the issue I’d like to discuss here. I’d like to talk about the other reason why women are inclined to want to change their men; the one that has less to do with our nature and more to do with the nature of our society.

In our society the right way to have a romantic relationship is with one person at a time. Apparently, if someone really loves you they will love only you, forsaking all others, needing none others, yearning for no one but you. Exclusivity is how you know it’s real.

Now this is how it’s supposed to be, but this is not really how it is, based on the number of people who “cheat”. If you check the Ts & Cs in the not so fine print, you’ll notice that in fact the real rule is you can “cheat” just don’t get caught, and if you do get caught you better be a man.

Apparently men are cheats…they think with their penises…a man is as faithful as his options…women need a reason to have sex, men just need a place…and on, and on, and on. Women on the other hand are all about love, so a woman who “cheats” is by implication an aberration. You need to have a VERY good excuse, as a woman, like a paralysed spouse, to conduct an extra-marital intimate relationship.

I love cheese. It is my favouritestestest food in the whoooooole wide world. I’ve been told by various health practitioners, numerous times, that dairy is bad for me. I do not drink milk, I can forgo Ice Cream but I refuse to give up cheese. I refuse to even cut down on cheese. I have cheese almost everyday, with pretty much anything. If cheese were a man, and it came to me with a sparkly engagement ring, and on bended knee, asked “Will you marry me?”, I would give it a resounding, starry eyed “Hell, yeah!” because I LOVE cheese.

Turns out that in becoming mated to cheese, I am expected to forsake all others. So no more carbs for me – no bread, no pasta, bye bye to cupcakes, heck not even essentials like vegetables and fruit.

All gone.

Now I have to subsist on cheese. I adore cheese. I consume insane amounts of it. I can’t imagine my life without cheese, so what’s a girl to do? I take the cheese, forsaking all other foods and then…the cheese predictably falls short of the RDA – recommended daily allowance- for a fulfilling life.

And so the season of discontent begins. I ask the cheese “why can’t you be more like a cupcake, sweet and decadent?” I leave articles on bread open where the cheese will see them, hoping it will get pointers on how to hug me from the inside like a good refined carbohydrate. I sigh and complain about how my diet just does not have enough iron. I talk loudly on the phone with my mom about my friend’s shiny, vital hair and skin. You see, she gets plenty of good fats from her nice piece of seared salmon, while my cheese delivers none.

When cheese was not my one and only, all I needed it to be was cheese. It is so great at being cheese, but now as I can have no other food, cheese has to change into…everything, really. The perfect superfood.

No one man (or woman) can fulfill your every need. As most women fear being labeled cheating sluts, as they do when they look to different men to fulfill their varying needs, they resort to the impossible and attempt to change their only.

Writer: Kagiso Msimango         Photography: Ebene Love