Why is it a woman's job to keep men from cheating?
Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are getting a divorce, and that is very sad. It's always sad when a family splits up.
But the most disturbing aspect of the public response so far has been how quickly people started blaming the cause of the split on a woman. In this case, this "homewrecker" is rumored to be Pitt’s co-star Marion Cotillard. She is, apparently, "absolutely devastated" to be implicated in the whole media ugliness and very possibly was never even involved. Regardless, she's still getting the blame.
Now, let me come out and say that I have no idea what inspired the divorce between Angelina and Brad. None of us do. There are rumors of infidelity, cheating, rumors of long-standing problems — we don’t know if any of them are true and I don’t think it’s fair to try to start assigning blame when we know so little about the matter.
I’m not on Team Angelina or Team Brad. I’m on Team “Oh that must be hard, I feel bad for the kids.”
But that's not what society seems to do. When we hear that a marriage is breaking up, and our two responses are either “What did she do?” or “What woman lured him away?"
I can't help but wonder why we’re always so quick to turn men into passive participants in their own break-ups. As if cheating is just something men do naturally.
If you do a search on the Pitt-Jolie search, you’ll notice that so many of the stories focus on either Angelina driving the divorce or reporters trying to blame outside women for the split.
If the cheating narrative that media sites are reporting is true, shouldn’t the story be “Brad Pitt ruins his marriage” as opposed to “Angelina uncovers infidelity” or "Another woman comes between a happy couple"?
Oddly, this has all happened before. When Brad Pitt was married to Jennifer Aniston and he left her to be with Angelina Jolie (his co-star in Mr. & Mrs. Smith), the lion’s share of the “blame” for the split was placed on Angelina’s shoulders — even though she wasn’t the one who was married at the time.
Shouldn’t the person who actually committed infidelity be cited as the “cause” for the break-up? Shouldn't the person who said "I do" and pledged to be faithful be the one to blame?
But, instead, we threw a word around about Angelina — “homewrecker.”
It’s a loaded word and it’s very, very telling that we don’t have a male equivalent for it. If you Google “Angelina Jolie homewrecker,” you get lots of stories about how Angelina Jolie broke up Brad Pitt’s marriage.
If you Google “Brad Pitt homewrecker,” you get lots of stories about how Angelina Jolie broke up Brad Pitt’s marriage.
It’s a double-standard, and it keeps happening, even beyond the Pitt-Jolie marriage. For example, when Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner were preparing for their eventual split, the media kept pulling other women into the mix, as if we needed a woman to blame for yet another celebrity couple not working. Or for his choices.
They blamed an attractive nanny, they blamed Affleck’s Gone Girl co-star Emily Ratajkowski. But, again, if ANY of those rumors of infidelity were true — not saying they were — then wouldn’t Affleck be the person most deserving of blame?
More than anything, the media narrative surrounding the Pitt-Jolie divorce is just showing us how regularly, as a society, we blame women for relationships ending and we don’t hold men to the same standards.
But we don’t know what to call that, do we? We’re so used to women either being portrayed as shrill taskmasters or seductive man-grabbers that we don’t even have a word to describe when men do the exact same thing.
And that's a real shame. We've invented this concept of a homewrecker for women, when there is no equivalent for men, and that says a LOT about what we believe. And we need to challenge that, because it's completely unreasonable that we can publicly suggest that a man cheated on his wife and, in the same breath, not expect him to take any blame for it.
After all, as they say, it takes two to tango.