Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Women Cheaters: Is There a Double Standard?

Tom Matlock, in The Good Men Project Web site, writes that there's a double standard when it comes to adultery. Men are vilified when they cheat, he argues, pointing to Tiger Woods, Jesse James, Spitzer et al. Women, on the other hand, are pretty much let off the hook, such as Tori Spelling, Leann Rimes, Jennifer Lopez. And most notably, he says, Elizabeth Gilbert, who admits to infidelity in her blockbuster bestseller Eat, Pray, Love.
I find myself somewhat stunned.
For starters, though I read Eat, Pray, Love before it became a household name, I somehow missed the part where she admitted to cheating. Sure, her subsequent relationship came pretty quickly on the heels of her marriage breakup...but it didn't occur to me that she'd cheated. Given that I was coping with my own...ummmm...stuff at the time, perhaps I just missed a few paragraphs through my tears.
And, in a fit of total irony, the Eat, Pray, Love that I'd loved because it gave a voice to that pervasive shame that so many women feel for not fitting into the mold morphed into the Eat, Pray, Love that I hated when Julia Roberts was cast at the main character. Why? Because Julia Roberts took great delight in taking husband Danny whats-his-name from his then-wife. And then rubbing the woman's face in it.
It was nasty and low and utterly childish.
So I loved the book by the author that admitted to infidelity...but hated the actress playing the author because she committed infidelity. Yeah, I'm confused too.
So...back to the original topic of this post: Double standard? Certainly not by me. And frankly, I judge cheating men less by their cheating than by their response to getting caught. Is there remorse? Is there some intention to at least allow both parties to maintain some dignity? Is there some desire to protect their spouse from further humiliation?
Which is why (don't hate me please!!), I didn't hate Tiger Woods. I felt sorry for him. Yeah, he was a scumbag for sleeping with not only the 8,000 pancake waitresses, but his neighbor's daughter (ugh!). But I still felt his remorse was real, his shame deep...and he went out of his way to allow his wife to handle the fallout in a way that allowed her privacy and dignity. Too little, too late...maybe. But still.
Jesse James, on the other hand, has revealed himself to be a total creep...with his public engagement blah blah blah.
It's not their gender that makes their adultery so repulsive...it's them.
On the female side, we've got Tori Spelling as the poster girl for vacuous adulterers. Off the hook? I don't think so. Most people I know think she's pathetic. Same for Leann Rimes. Jennifer Lopez? Well, perhaps she's off the hook simply because it's too hard to keep track.
Seriously, though, I know far too many guys who've cheated on their wives. And far too many wives who've cheated on their husbands. And I know that marriage is complicated and tough and that none of us on the outside of another's marriage can possibly know the whole story.
But a double standard? I really don't think so.
What do you think? Do men get roasted for their transgressions more than women? Do we let famous women off the hook when they engage in extracurriculars? Or are we a group of equal-opportunity dissers?? Would love to hear your thoughts.


  1. I have to wonder if we are harder on men and women alike only after we "join the club" of betrayed spouses. I myself didn't really have an opinion on those famous people that cheated or were being cheated other than gossiping with family/friends. Now that I am a betrayed spouse I have an opinion that I voice to anyone that wants to listn regarding the Tiger Woods, Jesse James etc. My wrath isn't gender specific and the Leann Rimes of the world make me just as sick as the Jesse James. I agree with you that it is how those cheating spouses react in the aftermath will impact my opinion of them. I have more respect for the David Duchovny's that have gone out and sought help and are fixing the problem than those who stick it in their betrayed spouse's face. Famous or not there is no excuse for being insensitive and if you are in the public eye you sure as hell better go out of your way to be sincere and do the right thing if that is what you want. Don't play games to further humiliate not only your spouse but your children, family and friends because we all know that cheating hurts more people than we realize.

  2. Your blog caught my attention and I am so in awe. As a young lady in my twenties, I do not tolerate cheating in all walks of life. I think both men and women should be roasted for being cheats regardless of their social standing, appearances and their occupation. As for famous women, I think they should be shamed the way Ok So-ri (Korean actress who had an affair behind her husband's back) was humiliated when she got caught out. In Asian countries like Korea and Taiwan, cheaters not just earn a loss of reputation and shunning from family and society, they get slapped with one or two years of jail sentence and maybe a fine(a prison sentence for adultery is meant to protect the family unit and show cheaters that society won't tolerate what they do) for cheating on their spouses.

    Lastly, I agree that cheating will mean getting caught out sooner or later followed by destroying a good marriage and relationship with the other half. Cheating is wrong in all levels.

  3. Maybe we still do see men as the more powerful, decisive members of society. There is less assumption that they were 'led into' and affair than a woman.



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