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This is discussion archived from a time before the current discussion method was installed.

From YKTTW

Ununnilium: Hmmmmmm. Is there a trope here about tropes that come from a backlash against traditional sexism?

Solandra: Traditional sexism being misogynistic (A Man Is Not a Virgin, My Girl Is Not a Slut) and the new sexism being misandric (The Unfair Sex, Rape Is OK When It Is Female on Male)? It could be mentioned in the Double Standard page, with the man-biased and woman-biased tropes separated.

Ununnilium: Sounds good to me.

Fire Walk: Hmmm, although it seems more the case to me that the idea that runs is that men are the ones who do things. Men have sex, girls don't. In Unfair Sex, it's OK for a woman to leave, because her husband drives her into another mans arms, but when the man is with someone else, it is the man cheats. Sure the more recent misandric types, the man does bad things, but it's still "man does, woman responds", mostly. Yeah, we need to examine this more.

Well, yeah, but usually in fiction the hero is just reacting to a villain.
  • Novium: I agree with Fire Walk. It doesn't really break free of the old double standard as much as it slaps a fresh coat of paint on it. In the attempt to reverse the whole "it's ok if a man does it, but a woman who does is evil" idea, it only serves to reaffirm the idea that women don't (aren't suppose to) have agency.

Influence This: I don't think this is misandric and new as much as it's old and moving towards equality. This seems like a trope that dates back to the times where it *was* the end of the world for a family if a man cheated or decided he didn't want his wife anymore. If a woman can't work, can't own property, and isn't even legally a separate person from their husband—as was British law up until Victorian times—it's easy to see why they would hold onto their husband for dear life and revile those husbands who did cheat or leave them. The husband's leaving leaves them absolutely destitute and without any prospects. On the other hand, if a woman cheated, she could marry the other man and the first husband still had all the property brought into and gained during the marriage, he'd get custody of the kids if they had any, and he could marry a younger woman to make up for the loss of the old model. It makes sense to tell cheating husband that they're no good when they step out on their completely dependent wives. The trope doesn't carry over to a world with property-owning and job-holding women, which is why it's outdated and offensive. Feminism *threw out* this trope, it didn't popularize it, as some of the trope examples seem to believe.

Fiendish: This trope is a vestigial side effect of the old Double Standard that "good girls don't." More specifically, it assumes that since [Female Character] is a good girl, she couldn't be guilty of whatever the big bad male character is doing. But as Fire Walk and Novium point out, this only reinforces the old sexist tropes that women are either passive (driven to do things by men) or binary (virgin/whore) instead of, y'know, actual complex human beings.


Lale: The Awakening is more about independence than an unhappy marriage. The woman doesn't only want a better lover but her own home and career and hobby... and ultimately commits suicide, blurring the sympathy line.

Whogus The Whatsler: Roxie and Velma are both portrayed sympathetically in Chicago? Did I miss something? I've only seen the movie, but it struck me that it was a work of biting cynicism, in which everyone was deliberately portrayed as callous, unscrupulous and out for number one, Roxie and Velma particularly. Amos, in fact, was pretty much the only sympathetic character, and even he was a total schmuck.

Licky Lindsay: agreed. Chicago is about as dark as satire gets.


Twin Bird: I think this might read better if I changed "A," "B," and "C" to "Alex," "Blair," and "Chris." Any objections?

Zeke: I actually liked it better with letters. But if we're gonna use names, Chris is definitely preferable to Leslie, so I've changed that one back.

Kizor: "Leslie" is only acceptable for lesbian characters.

Seth: I split Alex into Alexander and Alexis for the next paragraph, i just thought it was good for illustration.

Shire Nomad: You know, Leslie can be a guy's name. ("Arnst is fine!")

I originally made the change because "Alex" sounds like a guy's name at first, while "Blair" and "Leslie" sound like female names, so "Alex dumps Blair for Leslie" sounds like "male dumps female for other female" until the punchline hits in the second paragraph. But "Chris" also defaults in most minds to "male", which makes "Alex dumps Blair for Chris" sound like Alex just came out of the closet (which is another trope entirely).

Ultimately, it still works, though, so if Twin Bird and Kizor insist, I'll defer to democracy.

Zeke: I see your point; to me, though, it's still not enough to make it worth breaking the ABC pattern. But then, I still think it's better with just letters — that avoids gender assumptions completely. Using names doesn't, and seems too deliberately clever besides.

Scientivore: The first time that I read it was just recently, with Alex/Blair/Chris, and I was impressed. I found it very effective.

Darekun: Just read it, and to me "Blair" was so obviously(if falsely) female that I assumed whoever wrote the first para intended it to be gender-marked(until, of course, the second para). I'm American, I've heard that Blair as a male name is more common on the other side of the pondů I think we may have to choose between keeping the A/B/C-ness and having the names be non-gender-marked for readers from various places.

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thatother1dude: I was wondering if a this had a name ever since I noticed my sister's music library includes both Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats" and an R&B song (that's name escapes me) about a woman that is deciding to cease her affair (I can remember the line "I can't do this anymore" and I'm wondering if anyone can think of the name)

Guy Smiley: That would probably be "Unfaithful", by Rihanna. In the video, she notably fails to break off the affair, but it appears to be shown as a sign of weakness on her own part.


Shire Nomad: I haven't seen the play myself, but it sounds like Charity is just a subversion of My Girl Is Not a Slut. It's only a case of The Unfair Sex if the women are a) cheating on someone and b) treated as if that wasn't a problem at all (that is, it doesn't even need redemption). Pulling it to here until someone can at least rephrase it to explain better:
  • W. S. Gilbert's Charity is notable for not only coming from 1874 (making this one of The Oldest Ones in the Book) but also for arguing against the sexual double standard of its time, which claimed that any woman who ever had sex outside of marriage was to be considered a fallen woman, whereas men, well, men were just like that, and couldn't be held responsible. Gilbert allowed his "fallen" women to redeem themselves without the necessity of death, and so was declared shocking and immoral.

Probably the most contemptible thing about the paternity test shows on Maury is that men who say the kid's not their problem even if it is their kid are actually *applauded* by the audience, when men who say "I will take responsibility for my child. I just want to know that child is mine" are reviled.


Keenath: I removed the following entry, as I can't see how it's playing on the Unfair Sex trope. It's an example of adultery and its results, but it doesn't show the adulterous wife as anything but trashy (which is the opposite of how a cheating wife is shown in the trope), and she's long gone before the titular romance begins.

  • Played for laughs in Me, Myself & Irene, where Jim Carrey's character is the only one who has no clue that his three sons are the obvious byproduct of an affair that his wife had with a black midget limo driver named Shonte, with whom she ran off the day after the boys were born. He raises the three boys (Jamal, Lee Harvey and Shonte, Jr.) on his own. Despite having been raised by a white Rhode Island police officer, all three sound like they're from Harlem.

Nobodymuch: Of course Carrie Underwood got enough heat for her song that she had to officially disavow such criminal behaviour, which is more than I've ever heard of Justin Timberlake doing for the equally criminal actions depicted in Cry Me a River.

Guy Smiley: Perhaps. On the other hand, hip-hop artists have drawn so much fire for misogynistic lyrics that we're all desensitized to it at this point. Rock group Nickelback had their song "Next Contestant" torn apart for its "neanderthal-like" attitude towards a girlfriend who may or may not have been even hit on. It's not that male artists don't get attacked, it's that so many of them have shrugged off the blow for so long that it's commonplace. That doesn't mean misandry should be condoned either (at least, I don't think so), but somehow this can't be considered normal forever...can it?

I also think some of this stems from Underwood's song being slow enough in tempo for anyone to keep up with and the property-destruction chorus being a catchy refrain. Nobody sings along with a rap song (it's barely possible, to the credit of the singers themselves), but if half the room starts singing along with something like this the implications become completely impossible to ignore.
Pro-Mole: I'm a bit confused, in the sense that maybe I'm the only one that has had this epiphany. So, on American Beauty, is it just my thoughts or do they really manage to avert this, in the sense that one might feel more sorry for the husband(who is the main character, but maybe that's just an unrelated fact) that about the wife? Tka ein consideration that they're both cheaters in this movie, so this would be an inversion, aversion or simply a subjective trait of my own?
This trope seems to have almost no actual examples, they're all subversions, aversions, partial examples, etc. Is this really even a trope?

Pro-Mole: I found at least 5, so it's enough. And it is a trope, if not simply for the fact that just the description seems familiar to me as a situation. It is also the most proheminent example of Double Standard to ever exist. Also, I think the subversion/aversion of a trope implies the existance of the trope, even if it's a Dead Horse Trope already.

Reading more into the Discussion, though, it may also be that this trope attracts Round Hole Square Tropers, in the sense people don't realize what characterizes the trope is not adultery in itself, but the reaction toards it, depending on the sex of the guilty part. That'd require a clean-up, and oh boy, that's not simple at all...

Rebochan: But looking at this page and looking at the introduction, most of the tropes are just about infidelity in general and are not in synch with the actrual trope, which implies that women can have as many affairs as they want and not need to feel guilty. The examples rarely depict this. If they're to stay, this page needs to lose its anti-feminist tone and simply be a page documenting hypocritical reactions to affairs by both genders.

There seem to be just as many examples where where a cheating man is sympathetic as there are where a cheating woman is sympathetic, so it seems sort of silly to have this as a page that specifically talks about female examples. It wouldn't be much of a trope, then, if it were gender-neutral, because of course you can still have a character be sympathetic after making a big mistake.

Rinny. I agree. The introduction definitely needs some tweaking. Much like those ignored, under-appreciated wives. Ba-dum-bum-ching!


26/7/09 The Square Peg Round Trope examples on this page are to be moved into Sympathetic Adulterer as per forum discussion here.


Lucky Mc Dowell: I switched Alex to Sam(Samuel/Sammantha), and Jamie to Alex. I think those are more gender neutral. I've known alot more Sam men and women than I have Jamie men and women.


Duckay: I'd really like to see someone go through and cut a lot of speculative examples. The examples would be much better if it was limited to works wherein both men and women did something horrible and it was treated in different ways, rather than including a lot of examples that end with 'but this could have happened this way and it would have been different'.

Some Guy: Ask and ye shall receive, though I admit the overhaul was probably incidental. Most of the examples of this trope have been moved to Good Adultery, Bad Adultery. I also completely rewrote the description so people stop assuming this trope is universal.


Some Guy: To the troper that reverted to the old description- no, this is not saying the exact same description as the old description did. It's gone over in detail in this forum thread, but basically, the old description made a lot of broad statements and generalizations that ended up leading to the page becoming a giant mess. The new one gives far less excuse for bashing on a Straw Feminist.