2013 Scarlet Letter?

We talked about reality TV in class this week, and I was reading Jennifer Pozner and her work on Reality TV. [I will post about her later because some of the things she says are exactly what Prof. P was talking about]. Anyway, in the internet world of links and hyperlinks, I ended up on this website: She’s a Homewrecker.

It is a lot like reality TV in the sense that it is overdramatized and there is the feeling that this is real people’s lives. But it does not follow a script, and that is what makes it even harder for me to deal with. The content is driven sorely by submissions from the general public; the “general public” really is “scorned women”.

Let’s use Pozner’s Deconstruction Guide, and look at the website in terms of framing, exclusion, casting and impact:

The website is set up so that one woman writes a letter shaming their partner’s mistress. They tell the story of how the mistress took away their husband, casting themselves completely as the good guy and excluding the husband as an actor in all this as well. The blame lies solely on just one woman, who is shamed as the husband-thief and shipwrecked who deprived the writer of their partner of oh-so-many years and their children of a father.

I have read some of the letters, regrettably. I convinced myself it was only so I could write a more informed blogpost, and filed it under “educational purposes”. I regret that they got blog traffic from me and are most likely to get traffic from you too, after you read this post. Most of these letters construct women as just wives and mothers, and those that are not wives are busy running after other women’s husbands. It also completely, and without any ambiguity, blames a woman for divorces and the breaking of the family structure.

The woman is at the center of this family structure. She is trying to preserve it, by writing these letters on the internet. It is not her husband that is writing. She talks about what they did when they were together, the children they had/have, the decisions they made, etc. And when this breaks down, there’s another woman at the center. And you hear about how she came into the picture: Facebook, etc. No one talks about the husband’s response or when they do, it is treated like something that could not be helped. As if “the bitch was sending him all these inboxes and inviting him over, what was he supposed to do?”

The person behind it is a woman, and in this ABC News article, she said;

“At the end of the day, it’s about respect,” Alexander continued. “As a woman, I am not going to sleep with somebody else’s husband. I am not going to flirt with somebody else’s husband. I am not going to involve myself in somebody else’s marriage.”

Women are in charge of their sexuality and everything that happens to them comes back to their supposed control of this. Sex might involve two people, but the woman is cast as the one in control. This can be seen in victim blaming too, when rape is addressed in many discussions.

And this is where the impact comes in because this website continues a conversation where violence against women is blamed on their sexuality; a conversation that should not be continued. It is excused by some people because oh well, it’s women doing it. Women shaming women, so a discussion about the patriarchal system may be dismissed. The system has become so ingrained that a woman cannot try to see- through her vantage point as a woman living in this world- how harmful such a website is to women, mentioned on site and unmentioned.

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