When infidelity occurs within heterosexual relationships, there is a common tendency to project anger towards the other woman, rather than the man who is responsible for not remaining monogamous. Often, society falls into the trap of treating the matter as a woman vs woman issue. All over mainstream media, we see contrasting images of the two women being put together in rivalry, regarding who is more attractive and successful (such as in recent ‘cheating’ scandal involving Kylie Jenner, Rojean Kar and Travis Scott) – even when the man is to blame for his actions due to the lack of emotional appreciation, narcissism, and impulsivity to satisfy self-desires. The consequences of unjustified hate are always faced by the other woman, where monolithic ideas of her being a terrible person are created. Thus, fueling a misogynistic competition where the outsiders must pick a side between the two women.
The first issue lays in the depiction of women in western society, seen as the dangerous seductress that has no self-control, making men fall prey to her charms. Parallel to this idea is that men are unable to control their sexual urges and women must take responsibility for making sure men don’t cheat.
In 2017, the results of a research conducted on 2,000 Europeans and Americans by Superdrug’s Online Doctor, claimed that men cheat simply because they find other woman too sexually alluring to resist. Now think about it: such responsibility for men’s sexual behaviours is the same component that has created rape culture. It’s the same as saying a woman was asking for it if she dresses a certain way – no correlation whatsoever! The truth is women don’t lure men into cheating. If men wanted to, they could turn down an attractive woman to honour their existing relationship. In the same way they are capable of understanding ‘no’.
It’s for this reason that women in relationships become controlling and possessive over their partners, because paradoxically the fury is redirected at the woman labelled as the ‘femme fatale’, responsible for the breakdown of the relationship. In hopes of controlling outside factors they limit their partners access to attractive women through controlling behaviours, contributing to the downfall of their relationship via emotional abuse on their partners. In this way, women can create an environment of hatred, comparison, and competition amongst each other for the possession of men without a justifiable reason. If women were to fully accept that their partner are responsible for remaining faithful, they wouldn’t fall into the overwhelming and anti-feminist narrative of competing against the other woman. Being in a partnership is a choice made every day; to be honest, present, and caring. That’s why men are not passive objects that can be ‘stolen’ and there is certainly an abundance of them on earth. This means we shouldn’t objectify relationships, because those involved are and should be viewed as separate entities making conscious decisions, capable of facing the consequences of those decisions.
It’s understandable to see why those who are cheated on question their self-worth and give into blaming others for the end of their relationship by comparing themselves to the other woman. Society’s normalisation of cheating has created a misguided expectation of relationships that feeds into people’s confidence and self-worth, where they often accept the cheating and settle for less than what they deserve.
Such loss in confidence brings about obsessive comparisons against the other woman, creating feelings of self-doubt, anger affirming self-worth, and lovability. By dissecting every detail of the other woman there are attempts to reason why someone else was better to justify the cheaters actions.
Discharging our anger towards women for the wrongs of others is not a new concept, it’s been seen throughout history with witch burning and stoning. As a result of social anxieties, we deflect the blame for someone else’s wrongdoing, making it community sentiment to villainise a woman. Naturally, it’s easier to blame a woman you don’t know rather than accepting the fact that your partner didn’t value you enough to remain faithful. By becoming vulnerably attached to someone through love, it often means we give our partners endless excuses for their behaviour, ignoring the betrayal and not dealing with deeper hurts. The healing process is to look at your partners choices and hold them accountable to it. It’s important to recognise that women are never responsible for managing the sexual behaviour of men. We need to hold men accountable for their decisions in solidarity, rather than projecting our feelings towards each other. If you too want to defeat the misogynistic expectations of rivalry between women constructed by men and society… blame your boyfriend, not the other woman.
Written by Roxana Horvadi