I could really use your advice.
My friend has been discussing about the Tiger Woods scandal for a while now. Mostly, I just shrugged and let her say how she felt about it, nodding and listening the best I can, when, honestly, I was entirely done with that whole topic long ago. But I was caught completely off guard was when she discussed the mistresses. “I don’t how he could do such a thing!” she said, “His wife is so pretty. They’re [meaning the mistresses] not even pretty!”
I have to be honest here. I hate that phrase, “They’re/She’s not even pretty!” I fucking hate it. To me, it’s just a cheap way of saying, “I don’t agree with this woman’s choices. It makes me uncomfortable. But I can’t explain it to her because I don’t have the intelligence so now I’m just going to go after her looks instead.”
I told my friend just that and she disagreed. “I don’t mean it like that. I mean, usually guys go after girls prettier than their wives. It makes more sense.”
“You make that sound like that is a legit excuse for a man to cheat on his wife.” I told her and then I asked,” What if the wife wasn’t beautiful? What if the mistresses were pretty and the wife was ugly? Would you still be as upset?”
Gradually, the topic went elsewhere and while my friend forgot about the argument. I couldn’t stop thinking about it all day.
I don’t condone anyone cheating on their loved ones but something about the wife’s and mistresses’ looks being brought into discussion irritated me. I think that sort of thing should not be discussed, I think what should be discussed is, to put it plainly, is merely the act of cheating itself. I don’t care if the husband, the wife, or third party is hot, what I do care about is the terribleness of someone’s terrible action of hurting their spouse by cheating.
Am I wrong here? Am I reading too much into this?
BeckySharper: Ugh, I’ve heard this with regard to both Tiger Woods and Jesse James’s girlfriends. And it’s nothing new, when it came out 20 years ago that Prince Charles was happily shtupping Camilla Parker-Bowles—there was such a hue and cry of “OMG, why?? She’s so ugly! Diana’s WAY hotter!”
PhDork: That’s the first thing that’s totally fucked up about this: women are valuable for their bodies, first, last, and always. Fuckability.
But the second thing, which to me is even worse, is that turning a dude’s philandering into a female beauty discussion is about MAKING IT THE WOMAN’S FAULT.
If the other woman was prettier (whatever the hell that means, to whoever the hell says it), then it’s the wife’s fault for being a dog. If the wife is prettier, then it’s the wife’s fault for being beautiful (read: tempting) BUT [frigid/bitchy/shallow/fill-in-the-ladysin].
Occasionally, it’s the other woman’s fault for being overripe/trampy/whatever Tina Fey said the other week (since men are slaves to giant boobs), but if we’re playing the Why’d He Do It? game, the answer is never “Because SHE…” It’s “Because HE…”
BeckySharper: And even if you focus on his actions, victim-blaming is always with us. No matter how egregious the man’s wrongdoing, there’s always someone out there who wants to take a swipe at the woman, which is wrong and deserves to be called out (so STFU, Jim Carrey, you nasty judgey weirdo!)
PhDork: If your friend brings this up again, shut it down. Maybe you can say “talking about who looks like what takes the responsibility off the male shoulders where it firmly belongs,” if you think she might be able to hear that.
If not, maybe you just say “I’m not having this discussion again, Maxine,” or simply change the subject. Repeatedly, if necessary. But regardless, don’t go there. There’s nothing to be gained from hashing it over again. Your brain cells have got a lot better things to do, even if hers don’t.
Becky Sharper: In terms of shutting down the victim-blaming, I often give the blamer a hard look and say, “Really? You’re blaming the victim here?” It’s quite effective. Some people actually don’t seem to realize that they’re victim-blaming until you flat-out tell them that’s what they’re doing (which indicates a huge problem with the way our society thinks, but that’s a whole ‘nother post).
And I totally second Dork’s advice not to bother reopening the conversation. That just invites conflict, and your glorious bitch-energy could be better used for something else. If your friend has a bee in her bonnet on this issue, rest assured, there will be ample opportunties for her to bring it up again in the future and you can shut her down then. Cheating is here to stay. You’ll likely wind up having this conversation again. We all will.