Merissa Richards, The Voice, June 19, 2011
If the figures are to be believed, there could be as many as seven black women for every eligible black man when you consider the number who are already married, dating women of other races, are gay or in prison.
Some of us black women are already missing out. Statistics for the UK state that 48 percent of black Caribbean families and 36 percent of black African families are headed by a lone parent, usually a woman.
And there are commentators who have argued that increasing numbers of highly educated professional black women could be facing the same fate as their counterparts in the US, where figures released in April showed as many as 42 percent of African-American women have never married, double the number for white women.
“I find that positive and intelligent black men and black women in the UK are more likely to find themselves single due to the fact that it is quite difficult for them to find someone on the same level as themselves,” online reader Veronica wrote in a Voice blog about why so many people are single.
With the shortage of eligible black men, should black women just learn to happily share the men they have?
Some deejays and rappers think so. From Beenie Man singing that “Man fi have nuff gal” to Shabba Ranks wishing for his Trailer Load A Girls to Jay-Z singing “I love girls, girls, girls”, having an abundance of women seems to be a dream many men wish for.
This has been justified for any number of reasons, ranging from slavery conditioning to men being unable to practice monogamy and just be with one woman.
“Don’t get angry ladies,” writes Michael Stevens, author of Monogamy Isn’t Natural: Get Over It Ladies. “I’ve had candid conversations with my friends and associates that I have known over the years, boys’ locker room stuff. Trust me when I say that there are many things your mate’s male friends know about him and his sexual appetite that you, his partner, don’t have a clue about. I think that we men feel that if you women knew how we really felt about sex and sexual behaviour, you would hate us or think lowly of us. We play this silly monogamy game with you, but in our hearts we are not into it.”
However, could this be about to change owing to the scarcity of eligible black men in the UK?
Some advocates say there is a better way to handle such situations, where men can legally have more than one wife–polygamy.
“I think it’s a good idea and I would definitely agree that black women should accept polygamy as long as there is perfect harmony and no favouritism,” said Baby Father author Patrick Augustus, who works with children’s charity Barnardo’s Baby Father Initiative to promote positive black fatherhood.
“This could certainly work in the UK because it would reduce the need for people to lie or hide and they could be up-front. A lot of people lie, and that applies to everybody when they are having extra-marital affairs.
Although polygamy is illegal in the UK, it remains acceptable in several cultures. Muslims in the UK have gone as far as to challenge the law, which forbids husbands from having more than one wife.
“I spend a lot of time in Gambia in which, like a lot of Muslim countries I’ve travelled to, a man can have four wives,” Augustus added. “In Gambia, women go to men and ask if they can be a man’s second wife and the women work together. It’s good where it’s necessary; I have a friend with more than one wife and they help one another.”
Danielle Johnson, 29, from north-west London, is typical of this view. She said: “I’m not sharing my husband with no other woman. A relationship is not meant for no more than two partners.
“I love my husband and couldn’t bear the thought of him having a relationship with anyone other than me. Polygamy shows a lack of self -control and contributes to heartbreak and stress.”