Stop Blaming the Wife for Her Husband's Affair

Writing at Essence, The Root's contributing editor Demetria L. Lucas says the "blame the woman" mantra is as dangerous as it is damaging -- in the Petraeus scandal and beyond.

Posted:
 
blaming_woman_affair_111912_575cl
Troels Graugaard/Getty Images

Writing at Essence, The Root's contributing editor Demetria L. Lucas says the "blame the woman" mantra is as dangerous as it is damaging -- in the Petraeus scandal and beyond.

Surely you've been following the fallout from ex-CIA director David Petraeus' affair. You can hardly turn on a news channel without seeing a salacious update. Given that Petraeus' gigantic screwup has led to repercussions beyond anyone's juiciest imagination, so many of us have been wondering just why he did it. The usual motivations have been cited: because he could, because of a midlife crisis, and obviously because he thought he wouldn't get caught -- an especially baffling outlook as he was the leader of the Central Intelligence Agency, whose mission it is to know all manner of things it is not supposed to.

During the guessing, another, less kind reason for Petraeus' affair has been cited. It's about his wife, Holly, his spouse of more than 37 years. News sites and bloggers have been kind enough not to go on record saying it, but commenters have not been so polite. They say Petraeus cheated because his wife "let herself go." Over on Voxxi, a story about Mrs. Petraeus' charitable work on behalf of military families devolved into a lengthy critique of her looks, with suggestions on how she could improve her image and possibly save her marriage.

I'm sorry, what? This "blame the woman" mantra is as pervasive as it is stupid as it is damaging. Not only it is victim-blaming and sexist (and it ignores that Petraeus himself is no prize package), but it also puts forth the idea that as women there's really something we can do to stop men from cheating, other than, you know, not dating, committing or marrying ever. That's not to say that all men cheat. It is to say that there's nothing you do to make your partner cheat, and there's also nothing you can do to stop him from cheating.

Read Demetria L. Lucas' entire piece at Essence.

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.

Like The Root on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. 

Comments
The Root encourages respectful debate and dialogue in our commenting community. To improve the commenting experience for all our readers we will be experimenting with some new formats over the next few weeks. During this transition period the comments section will be unavailable to users.

We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your continued support of The Root.

While we are experimenting, please feel free to leave feedback below about your past experiences commenting at The Root.