Feminism and ‘The Other Woman’

January 26, 2009 at 11:34 pm (feminism, Uncategorized) ()

I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot recently, and I’m genuinely conflicted about it.  There’s not a lot of posts out there on feminist websites about this, but there sure is a lot on anti women sites.  Apparently, and I must say I was not surprised at this, it’s all the mistress’ fault when a man cheats on his wife.

I’m personally a bit conflicted about how being the other woman meshes with feminism, but I’d never go the extent of blaming either woman.  Both have made choices based on the limited options open to them as women in this society.  Any male who excuses his cheating because of any behaviour on his wife’s part is not worth the time.  If men aren’t going to own up to what they’re doing, they’re not worth the time.  The mistress herself also has to choose between different options, and it’s not always as easy as it would seem from the outside.  At the end of the day, the only person who is 100% in the wrong is the husband who cheats.

However, as I mentioned in an earlier post, I don’t agree with the way society dictates how a relationship should work and which relationships are ‘valid’ or ‘right’.  I do believe it is perfectly possible to sleep with someone else and still maintain a healthy, stable relationship with your partner.  It’s usually the lying that kills everything.

But beyond all of that, is it actually feminist to sleep with a married man?  And if the act itself is not feminist, as I doubt it is, is it necessarily anti feminist?  Is it possible to ‘keep your radfem card’ whilst knowingly betraying another woman?  We’re not going to win any revolutions by stepping on each others toes, and we’re certainly not going to win equal rights from the bedroom, of married men or otherwise.

Now I have focused on heterosexual relationships in this post, mostly because I’m talking about a legally binding contract that is not yet available to same sex couples, however in places where same sex unions are legal, the same things would apply.

And one final thought from all of this jumble, where is the line?  Is cheating on a wife the same as cheating on a long term, live-in partner?  Is that the same as cheating on a long term, non live-in partner?  On the reverse, is sleeping with a married man the same as sleeping with someone in a long term, committed relationship?

I know I have more readers than commenters, but if anyone reading has anything to say, I’m actually interested in a discussion about this.  But, for the record, any nasty, personal attacks will be deleted.  This is not the place to be angry about personal experiences with this sort of thing and I won’t tolerate insults here.  I mention this based on the comments that have popped up on other websites.



  1. Y said,

    The way I see it (and I don’t necessarily think I’m right as I haven’t thought too much about it) is that the cheater is entirely unethical as they are the one who has made a commitment to their partner, they are the one who is (presumably) lying to their partner.
    The ‘other woman’ has made no commitment to anyone, and is not cheating or lying to anyone.
    My only experience with this is my father cheating on my mother with another woman and eventually marrying (and divorcing) her. From her perspective (she’s a wonderful woman and both my Mother and I are friends with her…. now) she was lied to about the state of my parents marriage and I certainly don’t think she has done anything ethically wrong with forming the relationship she did with my father under the circumstances, naive perhaps but certainly not unethical. I suspect this is the case in most ‘affairs’ with the cheater not being exactly an honest and forthright character to have instigated an affair in the first place.

    • whyimbitter said,

      and does your opinion hold up if the other woman isn’t under any illusions and isn’t naive about the relationship?

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