I read this article in the Guardian a few days ago but it has taken me awhile to put my finger on exactly why it bothered me so much.
The woman in question tolerates her husband cheating on her for 35 years, including fucking her best friend in their child’s bedroom on the day of his christening and feeling up a pregnant woman at a PTA wine tasting.
I don’t judge this woman for making the decision she felt was best for her and her family. She seems like an intelligent person who made a calculated choice under non-ideal circumstances. I’m not mad at her for that.
But those circumstances don’t exist in a vacuum. And I am mad at the society which put her in the position to see staying with this man as the best choice.
I’m mad she needed “willpower to not fall into his bed” and to keep “his hands off of [her] until the wedding was booked.” I am mad at a society that teaches women their value is in their sexual purity. I am mad at a society that teaches men one of their greatest accomplishments is getting a woman to have sex with them, regardless of means.
I am mad that she was convinced she had “tamed” her husband. I am mad that society creates a dynamic in which women are expected to be so amazing that by their sheer greatness alone will convince a man to settle down with them. I am mad at a society that teaches women one of their greatest accomplishment is marriage.
I am mad she felt obligated to be “fit really quickly, looking good and always ready to jump into bed with Matt when the babies were sleeping.” I am mad at a society that teaches women their value is in adhering to society’s impossible beauty standards. I am mad that society still views sex as a woman’s obligation in a relationship, with little or no thought given to her sexual needs and desires.
I am mad that she didn’t want to disrupt her “lovely, happy life.” I am mad at a world where this is a lovely, happy life for someone.
I am mad at a culture where an intelligent woman is convinced that a man who fucks her best friend, feels up other woman at events and is only faithful to his wife during a period of time that he was “besotted” with their newborn daughter.
I am mad that she was “smiling outwardly through it all.” I am mad at this man who put her in a position where her best choice was to smile at the other women he was fucking.
I am mad that she had to “drop friends” who he was fucking. I am mad at him for fucking her friends.
I am mad that she was convinced that if she “just hung on that there would come a time when his libido would calm down and I’d be enough for him.” I am so so mad to live in a world that teaches that men are sexual animals whose appetites must be fed or else. I am mad that his incessant cheating is characterized as a sexual desire and not his inability to respect his wife and his marriage.
I am way past mad at this. “This is our time now and my prize for sticking it out is every anniversary celebrated, every quiet moment together relished.” I am beyond mad that this man is seen as a prize. By anyone.
I am mad at the endless criticism of this woman for making this decision.
In any other situation where a human is forced to make a painful and difficult choice, in which they are given two options, beyond their control, and forced to pick one, we get mad at the people who put them there. But here, we don’t.
Because then we would have to be mad at ourselves.