A Dubious Sign Of Progress For Women: When Ladies Have High-Profile Sex Scandals Too

It’s 2009, bitches, and women are kicking ass and taking names. We’re outpacing men in colleges, running our own companies, and buying our own homes. But there’s one area in which we girls are sorely lacking: sex scandals. Yes, sex scandals. Poor LeAnn Rimes is one of the only high-profile ladies who has been caught cheating and she’s up against infidelity heavyweights like David Letterman, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, and, of course, Tiger Woods.In an article on The Daily Beast yesterday, writer Rebecca Dana wondered why women don’t have sex scandals the way men do:

How is it possible that there’s no reciprocal formula for a sex scandal involving a prominent woman? Conventional wisdom has a few explanations: Some argue that women have to work extra hard for their prominence and are therefore less willing to risk everything for an easy lay. Others suggest women are overwhelmingly less susceptible to physical temptation. Or maybe it’s just that women are too damn busy doing their jobs and taking care of their families to make time for an affair or 10. Or it’s because, apart from Madonna, real women just don’t have sex like men.

These are all possible theories, but I adamantly believe we aren’t less sexual or less susceptible. And we certainly aren’t inherently “good” and less likely to cheat on our spouses! It’s just more socially acceptable for men to cheat because they don’t have to worry about being branded a slut.

Women feel all those same sexual urges, but we all know someone who had nasty scribbles written about her in the girls’ bathroom in high school, or “SLUT” scratched onto the side of her car. So we women police ourselves and each other, while men egg each other on.

The truth is, society still sees men as “more sexual” than women, that they “need sex,” and thus that explains their cheating. Unfaithful men still get a finger wagged at them, of course, but it is eventually shrugged off as “oh, boys will be boys!” Compared with the way women are punished with social scorn, men in our culture don’t have the same experiences at all in terms of getting their sex lives policed. (Maybe it’s because so many of Tiger Woods’ paramours were trashy cocktail waitresses and porn stars, but I’m actually surprised that after his string of affairs was revealed, his promotional deals, like the relationships he had with Gatorade and Accenture, dropped him, one by one.)

I’m not actually serious that women need to have as many sex scandals as men to achieve true equality. Cheating is not in-and-of-itself a feminist act (although, it can, admittedly, come from a feminist motivation to free oneself from a crappy relationship). But as long as our knee-jerk response is to assume that the next high-profile sex scandal involves a famous man, we’ll know there’s still a double standard.

The Frisky last wrote about cheating in What Do You Think Of Cheating To Even The Score?