Stop looking for the ‘other woman’ in every failed relationship

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Stop looking for the ‘other woman’ in every failed relationship

Funny how it’s always a woman, never a man

Anna Faris and Chris Pratt had one of those marriages anointed and idolized by the Internet. They routinely topped BuzzFeed lists of “couples we would literally DIEEEEE if they split up </3”, sandwiched between Chrissy Teigen and John Legend and Ellen and Portia.

So when news of their divorce — not entirely shocking or unexpected factoring in two incredibly different and busy schedules — broke online Sunday night, fans were devastated. Tweets about “never believing in love again” were posted by the hundreds, memes were made, heartbreak was demonstrated performed loudly on all social media channels.

Everyone was collectively sad (which is in and of itself a strange emotion to project on literal strangers who, even by Hollywood standards, keep their romantic lives private) but by the arbitrary standards we assign to random celebrity couples, this was a heartbreaking uncoupling.

And then we started projecting even further onto the Faris-Pratts. Ask anyone in your office or groupchat their “theory” as to why they split up — everyone has an opinion. No, seriously, everyone. The prevailing one held by many is that whatever problems the couple may or may not have had, it all began when Chris “got hot.” Pratt’s glow-up for a starring role in a Marvel movie was well documented, and overnight we shifted our thoughts on him from lovable schlub to unattainably hot.

Which is why when news of the split reached us mere mortals, many were quick to decide that it was another woman who broke up the marriage.

The target du jour is Jennifer Lawrence, Chris’ one-time costar. Nevermind the fact that she’s been dating director Darren Aronofsky for over a year. The accusations have been cast. Jennifer is painted a man-stealer, Anna a scorned woman, Chris…the guy who just got swept up?

When we talk about celebrity breakups, cheating is always the first thing that’s thrown into the ring. And it’s almost always framed as the man — typically a beloved type — seduced by a female coworker.

That’s how women are categorized: the boring one who wasn’t enough to keep her man, or the spicy seductress who couldn’t turn off her sexual prowess long enough to shoot a movie. A victim and a villain, a madonna and a whore.

Even in non-celebrity heterosexual relationships, the idea that some other woman is lying in wait to snatch up your unsuspecting man has been around since the dawn of time. In movies and TV shows and even music, we’re repeatedly confronted with the idea of a cheating man and some cheap slut who had the nerve to take him.

Agency is rarely projected onto the men. They’re painted as helpless, powerless over the charms of the seductress. By routinely and systemically accepting the very-often-false narrative of a scorned woman and a snake, we’re just feeding a never-ending cycle of insecurity. Let’s get it straight: every time a man has cheated, it’s because he wanted to. Their partners couldn’t have prevented it by keeping them from guy’s night or a work trip or blowing them seven nights a week. The cheater makes the decision, not the person cheated on.

And that said, we have to stop looking at every co-ed interaction as some golden opportunity for infidelity. When we pore over the celebrity scandal rumor mill, the narrative seeps into our consciousness. The idea of coworkers or friends becoming more goes beyond a plot device used to sell magazines.

The ever-present homewrecker narrative is my favorite Lifetime Original Movie plot, but there’s a reason that’s regulated to cable.

@itsamandaross

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