Affairs to Remember

The media loves a sex scandal—but only, it seems, when the adulterer is a powerful man screwing over his wife while screwing his mistress

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Women lie and cheat and yield to lusty urges almost as much as the next . . . well, guy.

A promiscuous number of surveys have found married women have their share of affairs, but men still steal the show where public sex scandals are concerned. Think hard enough on the female front, and the likes of Nikki Haley, LeAnn Rimes, or one of those high-school teachers who fell for horny boys come to mind. Television and movies swell the ranks—Nurse Jackie, a couple of Wisteria Lane housewives, Vera Farmiga’s character in Up in the Air—but they’re the exceptions.

Historically, women have had fewer opportunities to stray, what with being mostly housebound, and more reasons to resist—a lack of birth control comes to mind—should a vacuum salesman bring heat along with the hoses. That changed when women flooded the workforce, and again with the pill.

Research, in fact, has found that who commits adultery is predicated more on power than gender, a theory backed by this year’s annual men’s survey from Glamour: If “forced” to bed either their female boss or their female assistant, 55 percent would opt for the boss.

Yet stories of philandering wives and cuckolded husbands aren’t publicized in quite the same way as the dramas in which Arnold Schwarzenegger and his fuck-ups in arms find themselves embroiled.

The traditional narrative is that women are smarter, better liars, and more adept at multi-tasking. The double standard has also primed women to be more secretive about sex, fibbing downwards about our number of conquests, while men brag upwards. Not only are we more discrete (Farrah Fawcett had an 11-year affair that was never leaked to the press), but we can make darned sure we don’t get pregnant. There’s also the notion that because women still have to work extra hard for their fame and fortune, they’re less prepared to risk it all for an easy lay. If we do, we’re hardwired to be attracted to men of a higher pay grade, so will pick a guy with just as much to lose, rather than a cocktail waitress hungry for a reality TV gig.

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