It’s 2015 So Why Are Women Still Treated Differently To Guys When They Cheat?

Double standards much?


by Alexandra Haddow |
Published on

‘It doesn’t matter if it happens again, it’s not your problem.’ Nope, this wasn’t a response to an issue in my job, nor falling off the wagon in dry Jan, this was the advice from a friend regarding me sleeping with a guy who had a girlfriend late last year.

I was carrying a lot of guilt (arguably not that much or it wouldn’t have happened) and I justified it to myself by acknowledging that I didn’t pursue him, and that he was about to break up with his girlfriend, which he did. But deep down I knew that I probably would have done it regardless (several G&T’s, and a late night jazz bar, will do that to your judgement).

I understand that was his decision to cheat, but was I the innocent party - or an accomplice in an event that if revealed would hurt another woman deeply?

It sparked quite the divide in my friends, half of who were adamant I was perfectly within my rights as a single woman - and the others not claiming I was the devil incarnate, but condemning my lack of control with a man whose moral compass was lacking and suggesting I would be a bad person if I continued it further.

For me my issue of conscience was down to feeling like I slept with another woman’s boyfriend, not a man with a girlfriend, did this mean I was in some way hypocritical as a feminist? Was I going against the sisterhood? Or was that an outdated and patronising point of view? When male friends sleep with girls that have boyfriends it seems to be somewhat admired, or a challenge to tempt her away, so why did I feel so differently?

I spoke to psychotherapist Abigail Eaton-Masters who said that ‘conquests [are seen as] part of the evolutionary scale of male DNA. So when cheating occurs, it is considered a normalised behaviour by society.’ However when a woman cheats or sleeps with a man who is taken ‘for a woman to be seen as the instigator to an affair, it goes against the seemingly 'natural order' of society's beliefs,’ she continues.

Read More: Today Is The Most Likely Day We Will Cheat On Our Loved One, Apparently

I think this comes down to the age old shocker that women enjoy sex, sometimes just sex, no strings, and the thought that a woman would sleep with a man because she wanted to, like I wanted to, without probing too much into his relationship status, is sometimes hard to handle.

One of my best friends went through a stage for a while where he couldn’t move for pulling girls who had boyfriends, I don’t know whether it was his new grown out hair style or his position as captain of a sports team – but something rendered him irresistible to girls in LTRs. It became something of a running joke (note: not a running criticism like it did for me). ‘I didn’t necessarily go out to get these girls, but there was a certain element of a challenge in that I knew they weren’t going to be immediately available, perhaps it’s bad but thoughts of ‘the boyfriend’ didn’t even come into it, and my mates never saw me as a bad person for doing it,’ he told me.

And yet if I constantly hooked up with guys that had girlfriends, I think my friends would wonder what my motivation in it was. And give me a lot of stick.

I put this issue out to my (male and female) friends to assess the difference in opinion, one (female) friend said ‘If you like someone and you think it could be something serious you owe it to yourself to go after it, I don’t let other people stand in the way of my potential happiness.’ whilst other girls told me that they could see that point of view, they have felt anger towards women their boyfriends have cheated on them with, so they do judge girls who do it.

I couldn’t help defending myself and feeling my guilt lessen due to the notion of a woman as a temptress leading a man astray. Of all the times my friends have been in the same situation as me (many of whom are now in serious relationships with the relevant men) it has certainly been equal pursuit, and more so the guy if it was just a one night thing. There were also a couple who said they would never and have never blamed the other woman, so they wouldn’t feel as guilty in the situation.

Ultimately if you’re single you can do whatever and whomever you please and if you’re not out to hurt a specific person you’re certainly not a home wrecker or a sexual temptress, just a woman with free will. Just like a man with free will too.

However if it’s more than a drunken fumble after too many jaegers and you don’t know what to do – and ultimately you’re not that bothered, think about how you personally would feel towards yourself as the woman being cheated on, and ultimately that should give you your answer.

Oh... And as for me I did pursue my guy once he was single, only to be told he had started seeing a girl he had been trying to pull for months, while she still had a boyfriend. So I guess I’ll have to let that one slide.

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Picture: Eylul Aslan

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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