By Attiya Karodia
It seems as though for every step my ’empowered’ sisters take forward, there is a reaction ready to pull us 5 steps back, whether it’s slut shaming, or simply donning the garment of the submissive woman in society. This week though, I’d like us to take a moment and think about a scenario.
You’re married, with children, and your husband cheats on you quite regularly, what do you do about it?
Do you divorce him?
Do you demand that he ceases this betrayal, so that you can work things out?
Or do you attack the other woman/women?
In the US, the percentage of married women cheating rose to over 14%, showing that there are lots of women who are cheating and yet, women are still more likely to take back a cheating partner than men are, which speaks volumes about the dynamics of heterosexual relationships, and where the power lies most of the time. The sad reality is that women stay with men who cheat because we prefer the sense of security that a relationship (be it a dysfunctional or abusive one) offers as opposed to a- God forbid- lonely existence. We may have high powered jobs and independent bank accounts, but when it comes to a cheating man, we’re always willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and another piece of our trust.
‘The affair is often less important than the lying,’ says relationship psychologist Susan Quilliam, and is possibly one of the most crucial factors in the aftermath of infidelity, asking the question, should I throw everything I’ve invested into this relationship away? This is followed inevitably by whether the affair was meaningful, as though the extent of the betrayal is somehow affected by the level of emotional intimacy, a hark to our carnal definition of what men need and want, even in a monogamous union.
I’ve seen too many women chalk up a cheating husband or boyfriend with the justification of masculine instincts and desires, as though the primal nature of a man’s man cannot be dented by reason or morality, let alone by the concept of partnership. He is not just a man who has ‘needs’ or a ball of conflict that is worthy of the defense you put up for him, he’s an adult human, with a mind of his own who should be able to see right from wrong and care about you enough to treat you with respect and even more importantly, loyalty.
In these cases of infidelity, we almost always find women fighting with women while the man has his bread buttered on both sides, but to what end?