In defense of the other woman

Jessa Crispin in The Smart Set:

ID_BS_CRISP_MISTR_AP_001 There are rational human beings who are still angry at Angelina Jolie for stealing Brad Pitt and who need to talk about this online. The woman is supposed to tend to her own nest, that’s her nature, and so with the mistress there must be something damaged, something sick, some as-yet unknown or diagnosed personality disorder warping her feminine desires, or else why go after another woman’s husband?

Because if we believe that monogamous marriages that produce children are the strongest units of our society — and we do — then the mistress becomes the termite gnawing at the foundations. And we don’t much care if pests have feelings; we simply want them dead. Americans love marriage. By which I mean of course that Americans hate marriage. Lisa Appignanesi reports in All About Love: Anatomy of an Unruly Emotion that Americans are the marrying-est of all the countries. “Americans have the highest divorce, romantic break-up and remarriage rates in the world: 10 percent of American women — a far greater proportion than their European sisters — will have lived with three or more husbands or domestic partners by the age of 35.” Even after the shine wears off and we’re disillusioned about that “til death” stuff, we fight to find new spouses. And yet, when we are married, all we can do is complain about it. How stifling it is. How boring, how dull, how sexless and dispassionate. It’s because of these opposing feelings that we defend the institution of marriage so vigorously. Underground ambivalence often presents itself as vicious certainty.

We mistakenly equate the mistress with the homewrecker because we hear from the homewrecker all of the time, from Jolie to Rielle Hunter to Monica Lewinsky.

More here.