Women who have affairs intentionally by targeting a married man, hurt ‘the sisterhood.’
By Sarah P.
While at first glance, this may appear to be an article that is interesting to women, the points addressed in this article also affect men. This is a complex topic and this topic affects marriages and social structures.
With 50% of married women having admitted to an extramarital affair, the gender gap in terms of WHO has affairs is closing. In feminist company, women often like to talk about the concept of the sisterhood among women.
Because of the work I do, inevitably I will come across a woman who feels my views about spouse poachers hurt women. Some women have told me that I am required to have an alliance to the sisterhood regardless of how women behave. Whether women are being toxic in an office setting, or seducing the husband of a friend, are we truly united just because we share a XX chromosome?
For anyone who has been reading regularly, I loathe spouse poachers. Several women in my life off-line have told me that if I assign the smallest portion of the blame for an affair on the other woman, I was not helping the sisterhood.
I am someone who has always tried and continues to try to put The Sisterhood first.
However, I have met some women who believe putting The Sisterhood first means lifting women up even when their actions harm others.
But, I don’t believe that. I don’t believe in anyone harming anyone else, whether or not they are male or female.
I believe that women who have affairs intentionally by targeting a married man – the bunny boilers of the world – hurt the sisterhood. In my mind, women cannot possibly trust each other if women intentionally target married men and do so with the singular goal of having an inappropriate relationship with that married man.
I believe that as long as we have women who have the goal to do things that destroy the lives of others, we cannot have a sisterhood.
Having a sisterhood implies that all women put each other first and put women as a collective first. Having a sisterhood implies we “have the backs” of women in general.
So, it is an impossibility to have a sisterhood when some women have set their sights on having inappropriate relationships with married men. There is no sisterhood when some women are intentionally doing things that hurt wives, hurt children, and hurt families.
You see, the sisterhood is NOT about women competing with one another or going after a man who is married to someone.
In my eyes, the sisterhood is about the following:
- Women lifting each other up, not tearing down the marriage of a married woman.
- Women being friends of the marriages of others.
- Women keeping to a code of conduct: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
- Women refraining from flirting with married or taken men.
- Women having the backs of each other and confronting a spouse poacher.
- Women forging deep and genuine friendships where they care for each other in times of need.
- Women realizing that men can come and go, but a good, female friend lasts forever.
- Women refusing to enable systems that keep women down.
- Women sharing information that benefits all, women giving credit to other women where credit is due, women collaborating together on projects that benefit society.
- You keep important secrets when you promise to keep them. Don’t use an innocent woman’s deepest secret as gossip.
- Creating circles of wise women who are elders in the community and valuing the knowledge of grandmothers and great-grandmothers.
If you’re the unfaithful, get it, read it and carefully consider the advice. If you’re the betrayed, give it to your unfaithful spouse.
Many do NOT agree with me…
I read an article in Salon magazine recently. The author was a teen in the late 1960’s and she bragged extensively about her ability to have sex with other women’s husbands.
Here is an addended version of her article, titled Screw the Sisterhood! I Would Rather Screw Your Boyfriend:
“In high school, my boyfriend Paul and I had co-published an underground newspaper…One day a new, local paper appeared on Lower East Side newsstands. RAT: Subterranean News had cartoons by R. Crumb and articles by Jerry Rubin. Its office, I saw, was mere blocks from where Paul and I lived. I put on the paisley Nehru shirt that I wore as a very mini-dress and my thigh-high Capezio boots and made my way to 201 East Fourth Street, humming Dylan’s “Positively Fourth Street,” mapping out my strategy. Standing in the doorway of the crumbling building, watching as a couple of actual rats disemboweled a moldy pizza crust, I unbuttoned a few buttons, stepped down into the fittingly subterranean office, and asked the girl at the front desk to point me to the Editor-in-Chief. Within minutes I’d flirted my way into a staff job. To secure my position (and because guys with power turned me on), I asked the editor if he’d like to take me home that night. “I sure would,” he answered. “But I live with my old lady. How ‘bout we go to your place instead?”
Conveniently, Paul was out of town. “Groovy,” I said.
This wasn’t the first time I’d balled some chick’s old man. Nor would it be the last….There were no limits on what you could do with your body, or with mine.
Once we’d sealed our sexual deal, I asked my new boss how he wanted me to earn my $25/week. He shrugged. “Ask one of the guys,” he said.
There were two other chicks in the office. One was brewing coffee in the makeshift kitchen. The other was working the front desk. I wasn’t about to ask either of them what to do. I had zero interest in learning to operate a percolator.
What did I want? What the guys had. When did I want it? Now.
How could I get it? Simple. Avoid the loser chicks, so the guys wouldn’t mistake me for one of them. Get close to the men, so they’d see me as one of them—only f**kable, because a girl with ambition needed an insurance policy.
RAT was a voice of the counterculture. Just as we lived to counter our straight parents’ boring, traditional marriages and politics and beliefs, RAT lived to counter the “straight press” in every possible way. We didn’t just report the news; we made it. We aspired to revolution, not objectivity. We refused the glory of individualistic, ego-boosting bylines; we reported and wrote and bylined our stories collectively.
By “we,” of course, I mean “the guys and me.”
Did I wish I was collaborating with female guerrillas? Hell, no.
Did I like being the guerrilla in the minidress? Hell, yes.
Did I mind having no one to talk to, no one to hang out with or go to Planned Parenthood with, not one single female friend? In the moments when the yearning arose, I swallowed it whole. I was on a mission. And my mission wouldn’t be served by wasting time with chicks.
One night the rumblings penetrated the bubble. The RAT women asked me to meet at one of their apartments “to talk about our unfair treatment by the men.”
“I like the way the men treat me,” I said, not in the friendliest possible voice.
I wasn’t waiting for anyone to liberate me. By rubbing up against the men who held all the power, I was liberating myself. I couldn’t understand why any woman who wanted something wouldn’t do what I was doing to get it.
Being the only female soldier in a battalion of men made me feel special. And smart. And hot. My lifelong role model, Lois Lane, never hung out with women. She hung out with Superman, and look what it got her: she became Superwoman. That looked pretty damn liberated to me.
After two of our friends OD’ed, Paul and I escaped to a small village near the small town of Taos, New Mexico, where we formed a small commune with another couple, Sunshine and Steve. The four of us raised goats and vegetables, joined the village water association, traded farming tips and gossip with members of the many other local communes at the general store in town.
One thing didn’t change. I was free to f**k whoever I wanted. Most of the guys I wanted to f**k had girlfriends. I didn’t let that get in my way. After a while, the other commune chicks stopped inviting me to their Little House-on-the-Prairie gatherings.
But I had something better than women’s work and women. I had men’s work, and men. Where would spinning wool and canning jam get me? Barefoot, pregnant, and powerless. Not where I wanted to be.
“I need to talk to you,” Sunshine said the next morning. The two of us were weeding the asparagus bed. Paul and Steve were up the mountain, cleaning aspen leaves out of the irrigation ditch.
“So talk,” I said.
“Not here.” Sunshine rose to her bare feet, spanked the dirt off her knees. I followed her to her kitchen table, watching nervously as she poured steaming water over homegrown chamomile flowers. I had no idea what she was about to say, but I knew I didn’t want to hear it.
“The women asked me to talk to you,” she began. “They’re tired of you f**king their old men.”
My heart lurched. Since when did we call chicks women?
“You don’t care about us,” Sun went on. “You don’t care about me.”
“You’re my best friend!” I sputtered. “We’re sisters. We love each other!”
Sunshine twisted a hank of long blonde hair around her hand. “You only put up with me to get to Steve. I know you want to f**k him. Just like you f**k every other woman’s man.”
I wanted to argue with Sun, accuse her of betraying me by taking the other chicks’ side, say whatever would keep her from uttering another word. But my rumbling stomach, my jagged breath told me that what she was saying was true. It’s even worse than she knows, I realized. I do want to f**k Steve.
Had I always known that the power I’d appropriated from the men I f**ked was someone else’s, not mine?
Had I always known that by working so hard at pursuing men’s power, I’d given up on growing my own?
I knew it now.
“How can you hate women so much when you are a woman?” Sunshine didn’t wait for my answer. “You’re going to have a sad, lonely life, Meredith, if you don’t change your ways.”
“I know I’ve hurt people.” I took a breath. “I’ve hurt…women. I’ve hurt you.”
Tears welled in Sunshine’s eyes.
“I don’t know how to fix this,” I said.
“It’s easy,” Sun said, regarding me calmly. “Stop f**king other women’s boyfriends. Start loving women. Including yourself.” (1)
It’s hard to read the words of a woman so proud of having sex with any man who had a girlfriend or wife. Now to be fair, this author eventually evolved and came to understand why the sisterhood is important. But, during the years that she took pride in harming women, she did a lot of damage to women and the concept of the sisterhood.
My parents lived in a town in Montana. My dad had finished USC Film School and got a job as an on-air anchor, TV producer, editor, sound guy, and anything else they needed at the station.
My mom was staying home and she noticed this town in Montana did not have a NOW Chapter. So, she started one and became the President of the NOW chapter in that town. My mom started a quiet revolution among the other housewives. She told them it was unreasonable to stay home cooking and cleaning while their husbands went to the bar after work.
She organized a NOW march and she caused quite a scandal that eventually made its way through all the newspapers in the Pacific Northwest. My mom felt that a 1-year-old me should march with the women. Only, I did not quite march yet, let alone walk. I kind of wobbled everywhere. So, my mom put me in a stroller and gave me an enormous NOW sign to hold. I knew it was my job to hold onto that enormous NOW sign and I held it through the entire NOW parade.
The men in town were horrified. They wanted to know who this evil mother was who was indoctrinating her daughter into a terrorist group. Yes, the men in this town viewed feminists as terrorists because these feminists were disrupting the power balance that was comfortable for men, but very uncomfortable for women.
One news organization asked my mom why she would take her daughter hostage and have her own daughter hold a sign for the local, female terrorist organization. My mom told the men that she wanted her daughter to grow up in a world where she did not get her butt pinched at work, where she was not relegated to fetching coffee for a bunch of lazy men, and where she was valued for her mind and her positive contributions to the world. My mom explained that women wanted to be seen as capable human beings, not just sexual objects who were to look pretty, keep their mouth shut, and lay on their back and “take it for the sake of the country.”
What my mom said was scandalous at the time. It sent shockwaves through Montana and other states. She got many television interviews at the time. My dad was very amused by this since he was also into counter-culture.
My mom said one time after she was on the news talking about feminist ideals; an old boyfriend of hers tracked her down, stalked her, and then told her off in public. He approached her at a public event, screamed obscenities, and said all kinds of ugly things to her just because my mom was asking for equal rights. Luckily, my dad was around.
My mom had always understood what the sisterhood was about. She and her sisters, who were born right after WWII, hated the way their father treated their mother. They made a pact to have each other’s backs and the backs of other women. They still have each other’s backs and they still hate the way their father treats my 94-year-old grandmother.
In February, my 94-year-old grandmother was dying of stage three cancer. There was so much unfinished business between her and my grandfather. She had not gotten to know God and she had not learned to forgive. She was terrified to die.
She was NOT given chemotherapy because it would have killed her. She was given a small dose of radiation and still the tumors grew.
I have not been close to my mom’s parents because of how they viciously fought. They were unpleasant to be around and they were never very nice to me. We had a relationship of mutual disrespect.
But, when my mom told me how her mother cried and shook because she was afraid of going to hell, I thought of the sisterhood that binds all of us together.
I figured if my grandma only had several months to live, I would spend the month sending her cards about how much God loves her. I prayed each night for my mom’s mom. I sent my grandma a necklace with two butterflies and wrote a card about how butterflies transform, but never die. I assured my grandma that she would not go to hell because God was so much greater and loving than any can imagine.
One night, God gave me a glimpse of how He saw my grandmother and I wrote my grandmother a card reassuring her how God saw her. My mom said that my grandma carried my cards with her everywhere and always had her hands on them, as if clinging to a life-line.
My grandmother was finally at peace with dying.
Still, the doctors wanted to do one more exploratory surgery to check on the tumors and let everyone know how much time my grandmother had and to talk about hospice care. My mom flew to visit her parents because she knew it would be a very difficult time.
Seven weeks of my nightly prayers had occurred and I hoped for the best. I hoped to instill peace in my grandmother and let her know that God loved and knew her, even if she had never loved or known Him.
One night I got a phone call from my mom. They had just finished surgically opening my grandma’s abdomen to check on the tumors that had grown through her organs and the tumors that were the size of lemons.
The surgeons were bewildered; when they opened my grandmother’s abdomen, they found no sign of cancer, only healthy organs. These were the very same surgeons who had attempted to cut pieces of the tumors away, only weeks prior.
They could not believe it, so they asked to take biopsies of her internal organs. The biopsies came back and completely normal. The doctors noted it as a spontaneous remission (of unknown origin) of stage three metastatic cancer. After all, she had no chemotherapy. They did not understand how, but they were grateful.
My mom called me after all of the biopsies came back. In the past, if things of this nature happened, she would ask, “What did you do? How did that happen?”
But, this time, my mom said, “Thank you. I know this is the result of your prayers.”
This is what the sisterhood is about for me; putting aside differences and rallying around a woman who needs care. I did not have the best relationship with my mom’s parents, but I had a fantastic relationship with my father’s parents. Sadly, both of my father’s parents passed on. However, I am learning to have a relationship with my mom’s parents.
My mom’s parents always favored two of my cousins. Surprisingly, these two cousins dropped my grandma like a hot potato when she was not useful to them. Most surprisingly, I was the family member that was the most help during this crisis. Everyone except for me, my mom, and my mom’s youngest sister, scattered.
I was raised by a mom who taught me that my mind and my compassion were my most important assets. My mom’s sisters also instilled these beliefs in me. They modeled throughout their lives what it looked like to be there for each other.
My mom and her sisters have all had their struggles, especially my mom’s two younger sisters. Each had their own heartbreak and they all have rallied around each other unceasingly. They don’t talk about doing the right thing; they spring into action and do the right thing without being asked. It is who they are. I am relieved my grandma has gotten through this trying time.
To me, sisterhood is about lifting a woman up during her toughest times and also about having her back.
Women Who Have Affairs Intentionally
This is an addended segment from a Modern Love column in the New York Times:
At 49, I was just about there myself, and terrified of losing my desire for sex. Men don’t have this drastic change. So we have an imbalance, an elephant-size problem, so burdensome and shameful we can scarcely muster the strength to talk about it.
Maybe the reason some wives aren’t having sex with their husbands is because, as women age, we long for a different kind of sex. I know I did, which is what led me down this path of illicit encounters. After all, nearly as many women are initiating affairs as men.
If you read the work of Esther Perel, the author of the recently published book “State of Affairs,” you’ll learn that, for many wives, sex outside of marriage is their way of breaking free from being the responsible spouses and mothers they have to be at home. Married sex, for them, often feels obligatory. An affair is adventure.
Meanwhile, the husbands I spent time with would have been fine with obligatory sex. For them, adventure wasn’t the main reason for their adultery.
The first time I saw my favorite married man pick up his pint of beer, the sleeve of his well-tailored suit pulled back from his wrist to reveal a geometric kaleidoscope of tattoos. He was cleanshaven and well mannered with a little rebel yell underneath. The night I saw the full canvas of his tattoo masterpiece, we drank prosecco, listened to ’80s music and, yes, had sex. We also talked.
I asked him: “What if you said to your wife, ‘Look, I love you and the kids but I need sex in my life. Can I just have the occasional fling or a casual affair?’”
He sighed. “I don’t want to hurt her,” he said. “She’s been out of the work force for 10 years, raising our kids and trying to figure out what she wants to do with her life. If I asked her that kind of question, it would kill her.”
“So you don’t want to hurt her, but you lie to her instead. Personally, I’d rather know.”
Well, maybe I would rather know. My own marriage had not broken up over an affair so I couldn’t easily put myself in her position.
“It’s not necessarily a lie if you don’t confess the truth,” he said. “It’s kinder to stay silent.”
“I’m just saying I couldn’t do that. I don’t want to be afraid of talking honestly about my sex life with the man I’m married to, and that includes being able to at least raise the subject of sex outside of marriage.”
“Good luck with that!” he said.
“We go into marriage assuming we’ll be monogamous,” I said, “but then we get restless. We don’t want to split up, but we need to feel more sexually alive. Why break up the family if we could just accept the occasional affair?”
He laughed. “How about we stop talking about it before this affair stops being fun?”
I didn’t have a full-on affair with the tattooed husband. We slept together maybe four times over a few years. More often we talked on the phone. I never felt possessive, just curious and happy to be in his company.
After our second night together, though, I could tell this was about more than sex for him; he was desperate for affection. He said he wanted to be close to his wife but couldn’t because they were unable to get past their fundamental disconnect: lack of sex, which led to a lack of closeness, which made sex even less likely and then turned into resentment and blame.
What these husbands couldn’t do was have the difficult discussion with their wives that would force them to tackle the issues at the root of their cheating. They tried to convince me they were being kind by keeping their affairs secret. They seemed to have convinced themselves. But deception and lying are ultimately corrosive, not kind. (2)
I have been studying infidelity for years now and I can tell you that this article is no more than a myth. These men that the woman cheated with were no more than cowards. They wanted to have their cake and eat it too.
These men wanted to convince themselves that they were the hurt party and that they were being kind by having a secret affair. I don’t know of ANY person – man or woman – who says he/she feels their spouse was being kind by having a secret affair. Do you?
What Does M. Gary Neuman say? Here is an addended version of his article on Oprah’s site:
“In a new study conducted by marriage counselor M. Gary Neuman, it’s estimated that one in 2.7 men will cheat—and most of their wives will never know about it.
Gary documented these findings—and many others—in a groundbreaking new book. To write The Truth About Cheating, Gary surveyed hundreds of faithful and cheating husbands to uncover the real reason some men stray.
What’s the number one reason men cheat? Ninety-two percent of men said it wasn’t primarily about the sex. “The majority said it was an emotional disconnection, specifically a sense of feeling underappreciated. A lack of thoughtful gestures,” Gary says. “Men are very emotional beings. They just don’t look like that. Or they don’t seem like that. Or they don’t tell you that.”
How often does a man cheat on his wife with a woman who’s more attractive? Not as often as you may think. Gary found that 88 percent of the men surveyed said the other women were no better looking or in no better shape than their own wives.
How often do men confess to cheating on before being caught? Only 7 percent of men who strayed told their wives without being asked. Fifty-five percent of men in Gary’s study have either not told their wives or lied after being confronted with hard evidence. “I kind of tell people, ‘If you’re going to wait for him to come tell you, go buy a lottery ticket, because you like playing against the odds,'” Gary says.
In 2004, Colleen discovered that her husband, Scott, was having an affair and says she caught him several times. The first time she says she caught Scott was on Father’s Day when the other woman called the house. “I was standing there right with him in the kitchen so I heard her, and she said, ‘Are you okay? Are you okay? Hang in there,'” Colleen says. “He tried to tell me it was a dispatcher from work and that was very suspicious.”
Colleen says Scott’s affair was painful, but the lying was worse. “When you’ve been married for so long and you trust someone so much and they look you right in the eye and they’re telling you a lie, it takes a lot to move past that,” she says.
Gary says Colleen’s desire to believe her husband is common. “The problem is that that’s the moment where every woman has to look at her husband and say, simply, ‘Look. The fact [is] that I think you may be cheating. I’ll trust you at your word. I’ve got no choice. But there’s something wrong with us.'” Gary says.
Although he felt connected to his wife, Scott says he started to feel insecure when Colleen’s mother passed away. “I felt powerless; I didn’t feel able to talk with my wife,” he says. “Looking back on it, I felt that it transferred onto our relationship when it really didn’t. She was really looking for me to be that strong point and I kind of walked away from it because of the insecurities I was feeling and the challenges we were facing in our marriage at the time and my abilities to be able to love her as a husband.”
Brian and Anne say they never thought they would have to deal with an affair in their marriage. Anne says Brian was never gone in the evenings, they were emotionally connected, and they had sex every night. Yet Brian was secretly having an affair on his lunch hour at work.
“I was always under the belief that affairs happened to people in either bad marriages or where there’s no sex going on. And because we had both of those things, I was really unaware of how easily I could slip into an affair,” Brian says.
In his research as a marriage counselor and for The Truth About Cheating, Gary says he found several signs that a husband is cheating.
- He spends more time away from the house.
- You have less sex.
- He avoids contact.
- He does not answer his cell phone.
- He criticizes you more.
“Not only are these the signs that he’s cheating,” Gary says, “but they’re the same signs for when he is about to cheat—because I’m very interested in prevention. So if he’s starting to do that, either he’s cheating or you should bring it up because he might be about to cheat. It’s a precursor.”
Gary says another precursor to a man’s cheating is when he suddenly cannot stop talking about another woman. “So many women, when they find out their husbands cheat, they know right away who he’s been cheating with because he’s been talking about her,” Gary says. “He’s been talking about lunch and the project and they’re building things together, whatever. They’re doing all kinds of stuff together.” (3)
Do I believe what M. Gary Neumann says? Absolutely.
Do I believe that the men M. Gary Neumann interviewed were telling the truth?
Yes and no.
I have found in my own research that the “other woman” is in no way better than the wife. Quite often, the other woman is far below the wife in all areas. The other woman is generally NOT more attractive, not more educated, not more interesting, not more kind, and not “better” in any way.
The other woman is no more than a person who is willing to knowingly offer herself to a married man and she feels perfectly all right in doing so. That automatically disqualifies the other woman as being “better” than the wife.
A good person does not have an affair with a married person and feel good about the decision. Such people lack empathy; such people are egotistical; such people think they are above the rules; such people think they are special in some way; and some other women get tremendous pleasure in destroying the wife.
What About you?
- Can we still have a sisterhood if women choose to target married men?
- Are we automatically bound to “the sisterhood” just because we women were born with the XX chromosome?
- Can a woman be a feminist and at the same time, seek out married men for sex?
- Wayward men…. If you are cheating with a married woman, that is someone’s wife, how does that make you feel?
- Betrayed men, if women obeyed the ideals of “the sisterhood” then they would not have affairs with married men. Do you see that?
- What was the most painful thing about the other woman?
- Betrayed women, do you prefer the company of men or the company of women?
- Women: what would a “healthy” version of the sisterhood look like to you?
- If ALL women chose NOT to have affairs with married men or even on their husbands, the incidence of infidelity would probably drop. What do you think of that opinion?
- Has your view of women changed after being betrayed?
- What was the most surprising part of this article?
- How have you been this week?
If you’re the unfaithful, get it, read it and carefully consider the advice. If you’re the betrayed, give it to your unfaithful spouse.