Should we listen when women tell us why they cheat?

I’ve reached the ‘reading to first person narrative’ part of my thesis.

These are the comments from just one online article about a women who had cheated on her husband.

  • Whore….
  • Pathetic waste of life
  • I can help summarize this article so you all don’t have to read it: I”m a cheap, tawdry slut who can’t take responsibility for my actions. If I lived in Saudi Arabia or the days of the Bible, my ass would have been hauled out to the town square and stoned to death. However, feminists will come to my rescue as there is no such thing as shame anymore.
  • What a way to try and rationalise [sic] her actions. What a weak little girl. She probably doesn’t understand the idea of taking responsibility for her actions in any area of her life.
  • If she forgot herself so easily, and was randomly brought back to herself by some guy being into her, there wasn’t much of a self to care about in the first place.
  • tl;dr I didn’t feel special enough
  • You fucking dirty slut you need your twat sewn up.
  • I don’t even have to read this garbage. You did it because you are a deceitful, lying, cheating whore. End of story.
  • You know what I find funny? The fact that you think this man will still want you after you leave your husband. He’s using you. You’re like a toy or a video game, he picks you up when he’s bored. Please divorce your husband, he deserves a wife that isn’t an ungrateful slut.
  • Way to shift blame from yourself, classic.

They go on, similarly.

There were a couple comments that strayed from the norm. A few people saying they believed what she did was horrible but they weren’t going to call her names. Ye olde white knights. “I’m not going to call you a slut buuuuuuut…” There were also a couple women who stepped up and said “I have felt like she has felt before. I haven’t cheated, but I understand why she did.”

Boom. That’s where my thesis rests.

Why don’t women leave before they cheat? Why do they cheat and then take to the internet for confessional? Why do studies report that guilt after infidelity is a sign of the desire to make reparations and not just a shitty emotion because you did something shitty because you wanted to leave? Many women report guilt because they felt they couldn’t live up to being the perfect wife. Many women report guilt because they had desires that they felt were ‘greedy’ when they should be pleasing their husbands. Many women report guilt in being unable to hold their families together for their children. Infidelity in this case may act as a crutch to ‘have it all.’ To be the wife. To be the mother. To hold the family together. To not have to find ways to make your needs met. But to find satisfaction somewhere else.

In turn I argue that when we call women sluts we’re silencing the real story behind what they did. Not the justification. Because you can’t justify infidelity. But you can look towards explaining what could provoke a women to do something that causes such moral agony. You can put a lens towards her grief, even if she is the one who caused that grief. (How often do we put ourselves into situations that we know will hurt us, after all?)

It’s no big shocker that internet comments are the dregs of the internet, but they are also a place of active silencing for women who want to share their stories. They say: we hear you, and we don’t want to hear you anymore. I think we can learn something from those stories that help make our relationships (with ourselves, and with our spouses) happier.

You may also like

No Comments

    1. Same. It can be motivating for me though, because I remember that people like that exist. Sometimes I spend too much time in my bubble of ‘everyone is so sex-positive and feminist!’

      The comments did vary depending on what site I was on. This one was from thoughtcatalogue.

    1. Yep. The gender divide on the studies I’m reading is pretty interesting. Basically every study about infidelity is about gender too, actually. And they’re almost entirely heterosexual.

  1. Do you think that a contributing factor to women cheating then breaking up their current relationship has been the historical dependence that women have had economically to men? Could fear of being without a man, in other words, lead women to want to find the next mate before leaving the current one. (I hope this isn’t one of those comments you hate!)

    1. Great question. I did find in many cases women cheated because they felt they could not leave. Some women were in abusive relationships and were afraid of what would happen if they left or were psychologically tied to that relationship. Some women had serious ties to their family that they did not think they could break (they were very involved in church, for instance.) Some women were afraid of what it would do to their families. Some women could not leave because they had no other places to live and no work experience or money of their own. My thesis covered a lot of these points. I definitely think that some women may be unfaithful (while still saying they love their partners) because they want to believe that their relationships can last even if they are unhappy. Yet because they are unhappy, they reach out to have those needs met elsewhere, when really they should just throw in the towel. Women are given a lot of messages about things working out, just trying harder, family, and so forth that contribute to that – I think.

Leave a Reply