I recently watched a new television show called "The Mistress". Starring Sarah Symonds, a former mistress, the programme showcases women who are looking to get out of the lifestyle of being in a relationship with a married man.
show is terrible on numerous levels, but the most outrageous
implication of the show is that affairs are the fault of women. It is the wife or the mistress,
but oddly never men (who evidently can't control themselves), who
provide an environment for men to cheat. Men, naturally, are only acting
on their evolutionary imperatives.
As such, Symonds has hosted various seminars, written articles, appeared on talk shows, telling women to "affair-proof"
their relationships. This idea is at the heart of what "The Mistress"
is effectively about. Men are apparently naturally promiscuous and the
only way to keep a man is to constantly work on making sure that his
every need is met. Not only does this have serious practical
ramifications, it also means that women have to saddle yet another
responsibility. Women are already often forced to take on work outside
the home while simultaneously taking care of the household, the
so-called double burden. I would argue that Symonds, along with numerous other personalities like Oprah Winfrey and Tammy Nelson,
is advancing a triple burden. Women are responsible for taking care of
the home, making money, and preventing their partners from straying from
It is common knowledge that both men and women are attracted to people they meet on a daily basis.
These attractions are not inherently scary, nor are they dangerous to a
relationship. Our society, however, doesn't give individuals the tools
to really examine attraction outside of relationships and move forward
with it. Effectively, we are taught that these feelings will destabilise
a relationship and that it is best to keep them secret. In that sense,
the discourse that comes from so-called relationship experts like
Symonds is that we should be valuing monogamy over honesty.
this, there are also some rather odd suggestions that Symonds makes on
the show. The first is the wedding dress. She has the mistress don a
white dress and look at herself in the mirror in order to instill a
sense that she should find a man who can give her a stable, monogamous,
marriage. Marriage is supposed to embody all the cultural attitudes
about love that are instilled in us from childhood. Think Disney, romantic comedies, and popular loves songs.
perhaps even more troubling is Symonds suggestion that women put
themselves in certain positions to meet men. Here's a secret for any
woman looking to land a man, evidently all you have to do is go to a
place where men are doing things they enjoy. Golfing is a perfect
example of such a place, and for more than the aforementioned reason.
Women should be putting themselves in positions where they are inferior
to men. Symonds tells these women that they should find men to share
interests with by having them take on submissive roles, like student for
example. It is absolutely crazy to suggest meeting men through sharing
men's activities, rather than something both men and women can enjoy
I was unimpressed with the show, but I feel
that this sort of dim television is more than just harmless
entertainment. It actively reinforces the attitudes that men and women
have towards each other, that people have toward relationships, and that
shape our concepts of morality.