A reader wrote in to suggest some discussion topics and one of them was:
Is there a relationship between being a cheater and misogyny / misandry?
My STBX wife loves to collect “anti-men” cartoons, etc. on Pinterest. You know, the kind that say “Menopause… Menstrual… all Woman’s problems begin with Men.” She’s made the statement to me and many others that she “hates men,” which I find to be odd, considering her disdain certainly has no apparent affect on her ability fuck men outside of her marriage. Her mother holds in contempt her father, and her sisters (one divorced, the other has come close many times) seem to share in this view. It’s not the funny “battle of the sexes” here, we are talking about vilification for the simple fact of being a male. It was only when I reminded her that she has a son, that will grow up to be a man one day, did she even acknowledge that it “might be a problem.”
My perspective is that infidelity is abuse, and when you see cheating from the lens of abuse — versus, oh say, your deficiencies drove them to it — cheating as misogyny/misandry makes sense. Abuse is about POWER — the misuse of power, the enjoyment of power over another, and the “authority” it gives one to justify their horrible acts. So when viewed from that angle? Hatred of men (you in particular) to your wife might feel like a perfectly valid reason to cheat on you. You “deserve” it. You’re Other.
Isn’t that what all bigotry is about? Whether it’s homophobia, or racism, or sexism — it’s about making someone Other. We deny our connections, our commonality. You cannot be a bigot and an empathetic person. Empathy requires that we get inside another’s person’s head and feel their pain, see their perspective. Bigotry says, well if you feel pain it’s because you chose it — your fag lifestyle, your inferior brain, your laziness. Whatever attributes a bigot wants to ascribe to you, gives them permission to abuse you — and then blame you for that abuse.
Cheating on someone is a total abuse of power. To be intimate with someone is to be vulnerable to them. In marriage, we hold those bonds as sacred. We vow to be faithful to one another, which another way of saying we vow not to abuse our power.
When cheaters lie, gaslight, and blameshift — these are acts of power, of gaining advantage by keeping the other person in the dark. The cheater knows what they’re doing — you do not. How delicious.
How does that translate into curating a collection of insulting cartoons on a Pinterest board? IMO, those are all pretty little justifications for abusing you. Women’s oppression is real, but if she identifies as a “victim” then perhaps she feels entitled to cheat because she is righting some historic power imbalance. I know, it’s pretty thin soup — but cheaters and wing nuts of all stripes use some pretty crazy justifications. Hitler felt entitled to Poland because Germany needed a little elbow room (Lebensraum).
As for cheating and misogyny? Sure. Same deal. I think there can be an element of “keeping a woman in her place” misogyny when a man cheats. Especially if she’s pregnant, or a mother of small children. She vulnerable and not going anywhere.
I always thought it curious about my own ex that he cheated on very bright woman. His first two wives were exceptionally accomplished people — more accomplished than he was. The first had a PhD in chemistry (he only got a masters). The second wife graduated first in her law school class. On the face of it, they were nobody’s fool — but he made a fool of them. However they shined in their public lives, he made a misery of their private lives.
He grew up with rigid gender roles, and while he talked a good game about equality or admiring a woman’s smarts, he still felt entitled to his dinners cooked and his laundry folded, and not having to do a damn thing around the house.
I could go into a whole segue on porn. I don’t have a problem with porn, but there is a kind of cheater (my ex was one, I discovered) who is obsessively weird about it. I think it feeds this idea that people are commodities, just a bunch of different bodies contorted in different ways, when you get tired of one, upload to another. It’s a removed sort of sexuality. Sterile, stylized, airbrushed, not intimate.
Cheaters are not intimate people. To cheat on someone is to lack connection to them. It’s a refusal to deal in an honest, considerate way.
And that’s the larger point, I think. It’s not that cheaters commit misogyny or misandry — it’s that they commit infidelity. This lack of empathy tends to permeate their whole life. They’re equal opportunity jerks. They can dress their narcissism up however they want to, point to whatever abhorrent ideology that “explains” it, but at the end of the day — it’s all about them.