By: Kate Gruetter
More and more often social media and news outlets peg women as scapegoats for men’s infidelity — more specifically, rich and influential celebrity men’s infidelity. Cheating scandals like Adam Levine’s dominate headlines, but it seems that in the majority of these situations men emerge unscathed, while observers attack the women with whom they had affairs. Attacking and ruining women because of men’s adulterous tendencies needs to end, and people must stop normalizing this slander. This practice enforces misogyny and is the product of unfair power balances that lead to manipulation of women.
Placing the blame on women for men’s mistakes sets a precedent for future accountability. It enforces a misogynistic idea that women are guilty, regardless of who cheated. This ideal then bleeds into other, more serious areas. Believing it is okay to blame women for men’s mistakes makes it easier for more harmful actions like assault to adopt the same ideals. When news outlets and audiences place blame entirely on women, the process becomes normalized and bleeds into other issues. These actions allow for the continued development of misogynistic practices such as blaming women for pay gaps or mistreatment.
Additionally, oftentimes women accused of having affairs with celebrity men are younger and less well-known than the males. This creates a power imbalance that gives men the advantage, leading to manipulation or mistreatment of the woman, and the women still take a majority of the blame.
For example, news outlets accused Downton Abbey actress Lily James of having an affair with Dominic West, a married man. The age gap between the actors is 19 years; James is 33 and West is 52. Because of his older, audiences accepted West’s decision to handle the situation off of social media, whereas James was still harassed and her younger age made her easier to label “a flooz” or “mistress.” Audiences perceiving West as more credible and trustworthy due to his longer career and achievements could make it easier for him to manipulate James and the way audiences view her.
Another example of this age and power gap is 43 year old Adam Levine and 23 year old Sumner Stroh. Levine is known for his music with the band Maroon Five, as he boasts many awards. A with these accomplishments and older age is sure to hold power over a 23 year old Instagram model, which is predatory and manipulative, given she had less public support than he does through the course of their alleged scandal.
Although gossiping about celebrities is fun and audiences love to read about affairs and discuss their opinions on them, I implore you to think critically about these cheating stories the next time you hear one. Oftentimes, the blame the media decides, or even the blame you place yourself, only hurts women and puts them at a disadvantage. Normalizing the practice of mostly blaming women in these situations is harmful, misogynistic, and ultimately dangerous.
(Sources: IMDB, Google, Grazia, Page Six)
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