When people cheat why is the "other woman" generally seen as the one primarily responsible?

This salon article asks a similar question where the author describes how she slept with the boyfriend of a close friend because she was drunk and lonely and wonders why he mostly got a pass on social judgment by her buddies and she was (for a time) shunned by her friends. She is sad that no one wanted to know her side of the story.

The comments section after the article with mainly (it appears) female commentators basically burns her alive.

This notion of women “stealing” men from other women seems to be persist across time and even across cultures as a fairly serious behavioral and manners crime, but the reverse notion of men “stealing” women is not nearly as prevalent. It’s like men are just cattle and a woman who sleeps with other women’s men is a willful cattle rustler.

Why is the blame for cheating assigned by women often so lopsided and unilateral?

I blame the lack of a cat myself.

I agree their is a problem. From my experience most women just want a secure home life of husband and children and are less interested in sleeping around (although it does happen). Almost all men though have wandering eyes.

As for myself any man I know who cheats on his wife is no true friend of mine because if he cannot be trusted in that realm, I certainly cannot trust him. And men who ditch their family for another woman are pure scum to me.

Its just wrong to go after another mans woman.

I never, ever thought “the other woman/man” was primarily responsible. I think many find it easier to blame the outside party for the failure of the relationship. But the way I see it, the only person who made a vow to stay faithful was the partner. The “other woman/man” made no such commitment. You, my spouse, broke the vow.

Several reasons, which all boil down to different (and wildly sexist) views of male and female sexuality:

Women who like sex are sluts. Men who like sex are studs.

Women are expected to be the gatekeepers of sex, not personally eager to have it.

Women are expected not to have sex drives where men are expected to fuck anything that will stay still long enough. So of course the man is trying to cheat!

If women can’t get carried away by their sexual natures, then it must be that a woman who has sex with a taken man were just scheming to take him away.

Women are supposed to use sex as a tool for controlling men. Sex cannot just be sex for women. There must be an ulterior motive.

They probably realize she’d do the same thing to them.

Take this spectrum.

On one end (heh) sex is pretty much just about sex. On the other end it is mostly about long term relationships, team building, living your life together, and domestic violence issues regarding putting new tile down in the kitchen.

Statistically speaking IMO (and the public, hence the following train of thought) when married/involved men cheat it is more likely to be about the first end of the spectrum. Some putang on the side doesn’t likely mean they dump their wives and kids for some new stuff. OTOH, when a woman cheats with a married/involved man, the winning bet is that she is angling towards the other end of the spectrum and the result she wants is the end of the mans current relationship.

So some a societal point of view…which is worse…an imperfect relationship or the total destruction of one to get what you want?

PS. Don’t get me wrong…I ain’t condoning any of said crap.

Also like it or not, there is some truth to the idea of women as gatekeepers of procreation.

From the paper “Sexual Economics: Sex as Female Resource for Social Exchange in Heterosexual Interactions”

I cannot find the Cohen and Shotland paper from 1996 though. Basically, sex happens when women want it to (very high correlation of 0.88) and when men want sex to happen has almost no impact on when it actually happens (0.19).

I feel bad for “Mike’s” wife. If he offered himself to a woman repeatedly, he is also offering himself to endless other women too.

Yes, but that means the “other woman” has “nothing to lose” from the illicit sex, unlike the cheating spouse/partner. The spouse/partner’s punishment is the breakup of the relationship, or at least the loss of harmony and trust within it. The “social judgment” mentioned in the OP serves the purpose of punishment for the other party.

I suspect it may be a simple internal syllogism that people likely don’t even realise that they are making:

A: Ralph and I were happily together for X years.

B: Sheila appears on the scene.

C: Ralph and I are no longer happy.

Therefore Sheila is to blame and if she goes away everything will return to normal.
I am not saying that the reasoning is terribly cogent or sophisticated - just that it is there.

If there are repeat offenses with other women the syllogism can reset to B. Ad nauseum until A resets to Ralph and I have not been happily together for a long time (if ever). And then the dynamic will likely change.

I read the article and some of the comments. I think the only reason Mike was still accepted is because he stayed with Kathy. If he’d dumped her or vice versa, I don’t think that would’ve happened, at least not by the women. The commenters are ripping into the woman because she doesn’t take responsibility for her actions. She says she was drunk and lonely, she’s not making excuses, but she was drunk and lonely! Not just once, but twice. She’s making excuses while saying she isn’t.

If Mike had written the article from his POV, I’m pretty sure the commenters would lay into him, too.

I don’t deny that in general women get more of the blame, but I blame both of them and wouldn’t trust either one.

ATA: And really, that’s what she’s the most upset about? She doesn’t seem all that remorseful or care that she betrayed her friend.

I’m not sure I entirely agree with the premise. If a man went around sleeping with his friends’ spouse(s) or girlfriend(s), I think most people would form a very negative opinion of him, too.

In addition to this (and I suspect some people will view this as controversial): women are held to higher standards when it comes to ethical conduct in general. But especially in the domestic realm. These standards not only apply to the “other woman” but also to women who cheat.

A couple months ago I saw The Free State of Jones. Matthew McConaughey plays a civil war-era rebel rouser against the Confederacy.Good movie; I liked him as a protagonist. But what was interesting was how little his infidelity to his wife and infant son seemed to matter to his portrayal as a selfless hero. He essentially abandoned his family to make war with the local government and then, over time, started seeing another woman. Only years later did he reunite with them but only after they searched him out for God knows how long, both of them starving and homeless after losing everything in the war. So then he “graciously” allows them to stay in his new home, with him and his new woman. Happily ever after, right?

Now obviously this movie is fictionalized and set in older time period. But that doesn’t alter the fact that infidelity and domestic abandonment by men historically (and still to this day…given our ability to accept these portrayals without blinking an eye) are excused or glossed over in ways that it is not in women. I find it difficult to imagine any female protagonist who could walk from her family and not have this act of abandonment be a major impediment to her hero status, even if she is pursuing the worthiest of causes. But male protagonists routinely do this.

If the “other woman” is believed to be the fault for the breakup, I also think it lets the wife off the hook. She no longer is responsible for any part of it. It was all because of some whore and she has now become the perfect martyr.

How is the wife responsible for the husband’s bad behavior? Sounds a lot like blaming the victim to me.

The only time I can recall that a positively portrayed female protagonist got away with this consequences free was Doonesbury’s character “Joanie Caucus” who literally walked away from her husband and kids and was reunited with her daughter decades later largely without consequences.

As a counter-point, there’s a wonderful film called A World Apart, about a white South African couple who are activists against Apartheid. The POV character is there 13-year-old daughter; both parents come and go from her life as they are arrested, or have to go into hiding to avoid being arrested, and are both sort of lousy parents because of their activism for what is undeniably a worthy cause. What is interesting (and quite deliberate) is how the father is just sort of a background character, while the mother (Barbara Hershey) is shown to be on the horns of a dilemma: she knows she isn’t doing right by her daughter in the moment, and doesn’t know quite how to explain that ultimately she wants a better future for her daughter in a better South Africa. Her daughter is lonely and neglected and suffering, though, and so the mother suffers too. The father’s feelings are never much of an issue.

The film is set in the 1960s, but it was made in 1987 or 88, when Apartheid was still a reality.

ETA: I felt really old last month when I mentioned Apartheid, and a 20-something I work with didn’t know what it was.

It’s about culture.
I’m no MRA guy by any stretch of the imagination, but for the first time in my life, I was actually offended at a movie I caught on Hulu this weekend. It’s called “Knock, Knock” (Keanu Reeves,)

Good lord! This movie takes the stupid trope that men turn into blundering idiots whenever a pretty girl shakes their ass around them, and just ran with it.

The movie is basically: Happily married man is home alone for the weekend while the wife and kids take a trip to the beach. Two girls come knocking on his door. They are “stranded” and need “Help”. So, of course he lets these two strangers in his house, and of course they have a three way, and of course these girls use that as leverage to make his life a living hell because surprize surprize, these girls are under 18.

And the biggest joke of the movie is they make the man “The Victim” in this movie. Give me a damn break! :rolleyes:

There’s also another series on Showtime called “The Affair” where the hero of the show is a married guy who fucks around. But hey, don’t blame him. He’s just a man. He can’t help it if he’s a slave to his libido!

To be fair those women were evil. Plus they ignored his rejection of their advances repeatedly.

If the other woman is a stranger to the woman cheated on, that’s one thing. But the woman in the article linked in the OP was a friend of the woman whose husband she slept with.

Doesn’t a friendship imply some sort of professed loyalty too, at the very least loyalty to the point that you won’t try to sleep with your supposed friend’s spouse or boyfriend?