All is fair in Love and War. Or so they say.
Last night as I contemplated whether it would be bad to sleep with someone who is seeing another girl (Don’t worry- hypothetically speaking, mother!) my friend Laura cut in with ‘ Don’t betray the sisterhood.’
The sisterhood. It sounds a little too American for my liking if I’m honest. Are we all part of this sisterhood in the first place or can we opt out? When I told Laura about my last entry Things a woman shouldn’t wear she thought me too harsh on my fellow females, only to criticise the out-fit of the girl who’d just walked into the pub. (Rightly so by the way: who would wear red tartan tights with a fluorescent salmon skirt?)
If we are a sisterhood, we are also our own harshest critics. Often you hear that girls don’t dress for men but for women. Men usually go delirious with the sight of girl in skirt ( any old skirt if it is short enough), and are notoriously easy to impress with visually pretty pictures. Yet it are the women in the room who you want to bowl over. There is something double about the reasons why: either to impress them and be one of them or to out-do them and be envied.
So this sisterhood, if it exists, is the rose with thorns. To be fair: some women would rather perform a bikiniwax on themselves using gaffertape than be part of this sisterhood, shuddering at the thought of even a made-up relation to other women; whilst others relish it as the strenght that keeps this world turning.
Which is why there is also something ironic about the pivotal part that a man plays in ‘the ultimate betrayal’ which this is how ‘being the other woman’ is viewed. Isn’t this the survival of the fittest? If he is sleeping with someone else, surely the relationship was not that strong anyway? If he hadn’t cheated on her with you, there would have been someone else. Now I would say there are definitely some moral issues as it is usually nicer to get through life without hurting someone, but at the same time it is not like you are clubbing her over the head with a baseball bat – though some might say you might as well be- and secondly (more importantly!) there is: the man. Surely the man who’s already in a relationship should take some responsiblity too, I mean to just say that ‘Boys will be Boys’ is a bit lame.
Men play the adorably incapable card too often. They present themselves as presidents, bank-directors, CEOs, media-heads, firemen, actionheroes but when it comes to a little bit of moral responsibility the computer all of a sudden says No? I agree that men by nature might be less emotional about certain things, yet morality is still a man-made rational connecting emotions in cultural context. Surely men should be specialists on the subject in theory.
I was still pondering the issue when I saw ‘An Education’. This gorgeous film is set in the 60s and tells the story of Jenny. She is a bright sixteen year old who is drilled to go to Oxford University, when she meets David an older guy who shows her a more glamourous side to life. This makes her wonder what life is all about. The film just made me realise the relative recent right of women to be full-time members of society. To be educated, to have a choice about what to do with your life, to havefull autonomy of your own life are all things which are easily taken for granted.
This made me think that it is not ‘being the other woman’ that is the ultimate betrayal to the sisterhood. Yes sisterhood. Even if you don’t want to be part of this group of other women, you have to admit that you only have this freedom because of what other women fought for. To have the choice – out of context of affordablity – to be by yourself, to be with a guy without him having to marry you, to have the choice to (try to) conceive, to have the choice to travel, to have choices even though you don’t know what to choose, would only 50 years ago be some woman’s dream come true.
For me, the ultimate betrayal to the sisterhood would be to accept that he cheats on you. Because to be unhappy and to wallow in it as your lot, when so many women have fought for your opportunity to change it, is quite frankly just unacceptable.
The moral of the story, if he cheats on you: dump the loser and don’t waste a thought on the other woman who in your eyes will be a total slag with a bad dress sense anyway.