When I came here from India almost 20 years ago it was the things that were different in America that stood out. These days, I notice how similar we all really are.
Take our reaction to revelations of marital infidelity, for instance.
There, and here, when we’re in the vicinity of this type of salacious dust-up, us women, we band together. We become a sisterhood of good wives. “How could she?” we say, or “that home breaker,” as we turn on the woman who’s erred, even if her guilt is only presumptive.
I mean, do we really know what happened? But that doesn’t stop us from reinventing the scarlet letter for our age. Even the phrase, The Other Woman, is so well known as to be a cliche. To say it is to tell the story of a happy family broken by a predatory woman, while the wife suffers, in silence.
But where is the husband here? He’s the one who took the vows. He’s the one who broke them. And he’s the one that got not one, but two women into this mess of public heartache and embarrassment.
And yet we don’t have verbal short hand for this male misstep. We’re quick to forgive. We even feel a sense of right-ness, when the lying man apologizes and professes undying love, once again, to his long suffering wife.
It occurs to me, as it probably does to you, that there’s something not quite right with this picture. Because there could be no Other Woman without a straying man. And the fact that we are so ready to blame the woman hearkens back to the dark ages, or to dark and insecure parts of ourselves.
In 2016, and in our global village, we really should shift the spotlight to where it belongs.
With a Perspective, this is Priya Balasubramanian.
Priya Balasubramanian is a gastroenterologist and hepatologist, and has just completed her first novel. She lives in Gold River.