I was watching an episode of House, where a woman was admitted with a life-threatening illness that no-one could work out. They suspect it’s an obscure sexually-transmitted virus, but both the woman and her husband are adamant they didn’t have an affair. Having run out of options, the doctors start her on treatment for this virus. If she gets better, it means she had an affair; if she dies, it means she didn’t.
At one point, when she was comatose and not responding to treatment, the husband said to the Doctor that he loved her so much, but he felt so betrayed at the mere thought of her having an affair. Part of him would rather have her die as proof she had been faithful then live as proof she hadn’t. He asks the female doctor if this makes him a bad person, and after a pause, the she says yes it does.
And I breathed a sigh of relief. I thought she was going to say, no, it’s not wrong for you to want your wife to have been faithful. Because apparently we live in a society where it’s a cardinal (and some wish capital) sin for a woman to have an affair.
Now, I’m not condoning pathological philandering. But I never understood what was such a big deal about an isolated indiscretion. Sure, you have to work to get a person’s trust back, but is your love for a person so conditional that they can’t make a mistake?
The show ends up with the woman responding to treatment – and her husband’s pleas to get better. Then he walks out on her. Because you were, like, completely distraught over losing her five minutes ago and now you’re back to be a proud, stubborn male with (presumably) double standards.
If the media must make such a big deal out of infidelity, then create a single standard. Have women walk out after one misguided affair, one drunken mistake. Have men be remorseful because they couldn’t keep it in their pants that one time and now they’ve lost the love of their life. If nothing else, it should make the (mostly male) writers sit up and think that they don’t like it much when the shoe’s on the other foot.
After all, nobody’s perfect.