If you have the misfortune to be heterosexual, as many of us do, you have enough on your plate just trying to bridge the divide on how differently men and women go about all things sexual. Women don’t need the extra headache of watching their backs with their own gender. But when it comes to affairs, the focus often shifts from The Marriage to The Other Woman.
This morning I turned on the Early Show just in time to hear the breaking news that there was a “Battle Over Brad” (!) and that in Vogue “Jennifer Aniston breaks her silence and blasts Angelina Jolie for breaking up her marriage.”
The segment went on to pull up quotes from the article in which Aniston didn’t appear to use that language at all. She seemed to express more of a distaste for the way Jolie handled it rather than accusing her of husband stealing.
So this is the problem I have with CBS: it took the sexist route. You never hear people say The Other Man stole someone’s wife, and men are never referred to as home wreckers. But because the appeal of a catfight is apparently news worthy, CBS pit woman against woman and obfuscated the realities of affairs which are these:
No woman can steal another woman’s man, and no woman has the power to break up a marriage. It’s always a decision the husband makes, a choice to step deeper into his marriage, or to step further outside it. Women aren’t omnipotent sirens who lure poor helpless men, and this is true even of women who might have predatory leanings.
None of us has control over anybody — which is usually a big fat drag, as anyone who’s ever tried to change someone knows, but in this case it’s a tremendous relief because it means we only have to worry about our couple — those outside it don’t need our attention because ultimately, they aren’t the threat.
Obviously whoever participates in an affair is accountable for their actions, but that’s not the same thing as being accountable for the end of a marriage.
If a husband is having an affair, it’s the husband who threatens the break up the marriage. If a wife is having an affair, it’s the wife.