When I was writing my thesis I was specifically interested in the emotional aspects of infidelity. One aside to that was how men and women are treated differently in the media after infidelity. Women are often described as the mistress, the other woman, or the home-wrecker. Men tend to be rewarded. He’s a player or a hustler or has a little extra on the side. In infidelity it is the woman who is sexualized regardless of who is “stepping out” of their relationship.
For weeks I researched and then detailed the sexual affairs of Donald Trump.
A notable example is his affair with Marla Maples that became public in 1990. He had been married to his first wife, Ivana Trump, and was actively seeing Maples for some time. Though it was Trump who strayed from his wife, the media from this time specifically targets Maples involvement as the other woman. Maples describes herself as a good girl, reiterating this statement several times over interviews about the affair. One article “Marla Sez: I am not a home wrecker” (Seattle Times, 1990) generated a stark contrast between how good she was (a christian girl, an angel, wouldn’t hurt a fly) and the bad thing she did (I just got caught up in this mess, I stayed longer than I should have, etc.) Fifteen years later Maples had married and divorced Trump herself. Though she is well known in her own right as an actress and TV personality, articles often highlight her long ago involvement with Donald Trump.
Language of responsibility is often ignored when men are unfaithful. There is a general assumption that men just can’t help themselves – and it is the women who must be the guardians of everyones purity. This is one reason why Maples felt such a juxtaposition between her “good girl” personality and her “bad girl” action. This is taught early when emphasis is put on young girls to keep their bodies pure – not the same for young boys. Donald Trump likely did not feel a similar struggle between his identity and his current sexual endeavors.
There is a narrative of power in infidelity and I think it is important to think of this in respect to Trump. This is a man who has done whatever he wants to do for a long time. In his relationships, in his business, in his personal life, he is rewarded because of his power and because of his gender. When a man can continue to be unfaithful to his wife and our attention goes to the woman, we can begin to see how feigned our emotional outrage is.
This story took up two pages of my final thesis. My thesis mainly explored the emotional experiences of women who are unfaithful. To read more, visit the category “infidelity – thesis” on the sidebar.