The other woman: Female empowerment in infidelity

Illustration shows man with his arm around one girl and secretly holding hands with another girl
Photo credit: Kiv Bui

Attending college as well as parties may possibly lead to an occasional “hook up” or even a full-fledged relationship. There are situations where one of the people are already in a relationship, however they may continue the possible one night stand or on and off relationship with someone else. But that girl that the “taken guy” is hooking up with might not even know that he is in a relationship, and just go for it. Nevertheless, the “side chick” might know that he is taken and still choose to continue to entertain the idea and become fully committed to it.

A story by an anonymous writer in “Cosmopolitan” titled “I am the Girl Sleeping With Your Boyfriend” shares the background and first-hand experience a woman has with being attracted to and hooking up with men who are already taken. She explains, “There’s a definite ego boost to having a guy like you enough to cheat on his girlfriend.”

There is the constant trend that men are always cheating; however, it takes two to tango. Men would not be so willing to cheat if there was isn’t a woman that is allowing it or giving him the opportunity to, especially after realizing that he is in a committed relationship with someone else. In a 2017 study on infidelity by Trustify.info, statistics show that 22% of men cheat on their significant other.

So to answer the question, is it empowering for a woman to pursue an affair with a man even though he is in a relationship with another woman that came before her? The mistress can definitely feel empowered; nonetheless, this does not make her a self-empowering feminist woman. It does not seem like a positive form of empowerment for a woman to break down another woman in a situation like this.

Brandon Mikhail, a senior majoring in Gender and Women’s Studies Law and Public Policy, says, ” I definitely think that cheating is wrong, especially if it’s s violation of trust between two people. I do feel bad when someone is cheated on but at the same time I don’t think that cheating is the absolute worst thing ever, especially because monogamy is a relatively new concept and the way our culture values and promotes monogamy often romanticizes abusive behavior.” He continues, “I’m not sure if I have an opinion on whether or not it’s empowering on it. I think monogamy definitely doesn’t work for everyone but our society pushes it and forces it on people when it doesn’t actually work for everyone. I think the most important thing is that two consenting adults have an agreement that works for both of them.”

The writer in “Cosmo” takes complete pride in the whole experience regardless of what her therapist has described it as how, “it’s all down to deep-rooted insecurity, and the need to have my ‘personal worth legitimized.'” She does not even mind that the guy is not fully committed to her the way she is to him, however she continues to be quite hopeful.

Long-time CSUN Lecturer, Terry DeCrescenzo, who is now adjunct faculty at the University of Southern California School of Social Work says,”The answer to the cheater, the cheatee, and the specific topic you raise, which is the ‘other woman,’ is wide-ranging and complex. It is global, it is cultural, and it is epoch-based, both in terms of what decade it is in the life of the other woman and what decade is it in the life of the country, especially if we’re talking about the United States.”

In modern culture and society, there have been countless songs and films that feature a “side chick” or a “forbidden affair”. Hip hop song “Paranoid” by Ty Dolla Sign has the lyrics, “I see two of my bitches in the club” and Kid Ink’s chorus for Main Chick says, “girl I know you wanna be my main chick” imply that there is such a lifestyle and ongoing relationship even though it may be immoral. However, the “side chick” may feel empowered and call it feminism because a man chooses her instead of his significant other who thinks he is being loyal.

The anonymous writer shares her feelings about her lover’s significant other by saying, “I just seem to be missing the part of my body that should feel empathy for you…It allows me to be the side chick with no guilt, just frustration that I can’t see him more, that he’s not free tonight because he’s playing host to your parents, or taking you out for your birthday.”

Regarding the “other woman”, Professor DeCrescenzo continues, “She also doesn’t have to put up with the aggravation of a husband. Her lover is always on his best behavior when they’re together – always – because he doesn’t want to lose her. She doesn’t have to put up with bad breath or dirty underwear – no laundry to do, just smooches, intimate dinners, and romantic sex.”

The plot for the 1939 film, “The Women”, and it’s 2008 remake display how one woman’s marriage starts falling apart when she finds out her husband is having an affair with a saleswoman. She goes through a mental breakdown and throws out his things out. When she happens to bump into her husband’s mistress, the mistress does shopping with on the husband’s tab and feels just grand about the whole ordeal regardless of knowing that her man is actually someone else’s husband.

The anonymous “other woman” explains that she does not “set out to seduce someone,” but she just happens to fall into such scenarios or situations due to her attraction to these type of men as well as their willingness to take part in the affair with her. Although, the most recent relationships that she has been involved in has placed her in the position of the being a man’s second choice or “mistress,” she does dream of her “happily ever after.”