Mistress Shaming

We already know that every move we make can be captured and made public online. Nowadays, people are always posting pictures, tagging who they’re with, sharing every detail. Cell phones can track our locations. It’s lamented that there really isn’t any privacy anymore. And if we do something we shouldn’t, odds are, we’re going to get caught. After all, there’s an entire Wikipedia entry dedicated to Anthony Weiner’s dick pics. Howard Stern held a “beauty pageant” on his show for Tiger Woods’ mistresses. The inevitability of getting caught is definitely incentive not to stray, cheat, or do anything we really shouldn’t be doing.

As if the risk of being caught in a photo out at a bar when you told your significant other that you were working late isn’t enough to keep you honest, now there’s the chance of ending up on a website called ShesAHomewrecker.com. Apparently this website has been around for awhile, but it just came on my radar when I saw a story about it on the news this morning. Basically, the idea is that scorned women can go onto the site to upload stories and photos of “the other woman” to alert the Internetverse about that other woman’s misdeeds. The listings can be as detailed as the creator wants them to be, and might even list personal details like home address and telephone number.

The website was launched by a woman who calls herself Ariella Alexander. Alexander has stated that she feels she’s not in the wrong for starting the website, because “if women loved each other so much, women wouldn’t be sleeping with other people’s husbands. At the end of the day it’s about RESPECT” (quote from abc.com).

When I was a kid, my mom would remind me that “two wrongs don’t make a right” (usually after I’d hit one of my siblings, only to protest that they’d hit me first, as I was being sent to my room). What she meant was that hurting someone who hurt you first isn’t okay, because it doesn’t stop you from feeling the pain that they inflicted and does nothing to improve the situation. And while I admit that there have been times when someone did something to me that really hurt me or made me mad, and I fantasized about running them over with my car, I never actually did it. And listing a girl on ShesAHomewrecker can be every bit as harmful as hitting her with your car: women who have been called out on the site have received cruel messages and even death threats from strangers who now know the intimate details of what the so-called she-whores have done. Because the women uploading the content are the ones who feel victimized, they aren’t likely to include important details about whether or not the mistress knew there was a wife in the picture, or what the actual circumstances are. That “slut” being bashed and harassed online may not have even known that the man she’s been seeing isn’t single.

My initial reaction when I saw the story was “Hmmm, the type of person who could dream up a website like this is clearly kinda nuts. I wonder if that’s why she was cheated on?” To be fair, I’ve never experienced a cheating husband or boyfriend, so who knows how crazy I might get if it happened to me. But I’d like to think that I’d stop short of rallying the lynch mob online. I’m not saying that anyone deserves to be cheated on, because a commitment’s a commitment, no matter how nuts you might be. But I do think that if you’re the sort of person who believes it’s okay to ‘out’ your man’s mistress by listing her name and contact information online, then it’s possible you might be the sort of person who drives men away from you. Just maybe.

Another issue I have with this site is that it places the blame for the infidelity squarely on the shoulders of the mistress, who may or may not have even known she was wronging anyone. Let’s consider who DID know he was wronging someone: the guy that was in the relationship, and knew full well what he was doing. Unless a couple has a different, well-communicated arrangement, going off and snogging (does anyone say that?) some other random person is a pretty clear no-no. So why is there no MyHusbandBonedHisSecretary website to upload pictures and shame the guys?

For that matter, why is this website geared only for women whose men have cheated? Sorry to rat out my gender, but girls cheat too. According to Static Brain, 54% of women and 57% of men surveyed have admitted to committing infidelity. Those numbers are incredibly close. Clearly, men are not the only ones who are guilty of cheating.

Relationships are so terribly complicated. And although I think cheating is incredibly wrong, I can admit that I see how it can happen. I have multiple friends that have been both the victim and the perpetrator of cheating, and each instance was unique and stemmed from different problems. Sometimes, people simply find the right person at a very wrong time. Sometimes one person feels neglected and seeks solace in the first person that offers up attention. And sometimes, as much as it sucks, someone just makes a stupid decision that has some really horrible consequences.

If you’ve been cheated on, hey, I get it. You’re hurt, you’re pissed, and you’ve been betrayed. But the way I see it, you’re either going to try and pick up the pieces and fix what was broken, or you’re going to admit that the relationship is too badly shattered to put it back together and try to move on. But either way, publicly shaming your ex’s mistress online seems to me like a really terrible idea. Whether or not it hurts her, it will most definitely hurt you – and haven’t you been hurt enough already?