When the truth doesn’t fit into a narrative
[Possible trigger warning below, sexual trauma mentioned]
One of the worst things you can do to your reputation as a woman is to sleep with or be in a relationship with a married man. It’s not nearly as bad when the married man cheats on his wife, nor is there much accountability for single men who sleep with married women. Nevertheless women are expected to be responsible for men’s morality.
In my case and (as I understand it) Sia’s case, we weren’t afforded the information necessary to guide the moral choices of the men we were involved with (though that shouldn’t be a requirement anyway). Shia LaBeouf was married between 2016 and 2018. While that’s not a long period of time, it is plenty long enough to commit adultery.
For those who’ve made the choice to knowingly cheat or help someone cheat on their spouse, there’s a certain sense of wrongness that settles in your gut. It’s a bit different when you thought you were with a perfectly single person and you found out that in fact, you were the other woman. I have never heard the phrase “the other man” or any of the connotations that come along with the opposite term.
When looking at comments about Sia admitting to the betrayal she experienced there is not surprisingly, a lot of vitriol. Which I’m assuming I might get as well, outing myself. I’ve never admitted to more than 3 people who are the closest to me that I’m in a relationship with a married man.
I’m not a homewrecker, because the man I was with did not have a home with his wife
In my case, while it was still either a betrayal or an extreme lack of personal responsibility, it still weighs on my moral standing. I know that the impetus in American culture is to default to blaming women for the ways other people react to them. This man decided to lie to Sia about his relationship status, and based on that lie she proceeded.
This was not consensual. There was no consent (excuse me for raising my voice, I’m feeling triggered)! At this point in the history of our brief social media-driven, woke culture, we should, as a collective, have an understanding of what consent is, shouldn’t we?
This was her fault though, apparently for not knowing. Or of course, she knew, because all women are psychic about everything. Even in the case of a man who has admitted to hurting the people closest to him, is largely hated, and has been for years, the woman gets her fair share of the blame. I know from experience that being lied to in that way feels similar to rape. It’s a complete violation.
I know because I’ve also been raped (not by the same man, of course). And when bravely (might I add) sharing, I’ve been told I could have said no, or not went into the room alone with the previously mentioned rapist, or any other number of perfect actions I should have taken. Because as a woman, I’m supposed to act perfectly at all times.
In my case of accidental adultery, I left the relationship when I found out he was married. I talked to him and his family about it and none of them knew he was still married, nor did he seem to know. I know for a fact he had no relationship with his (legal) wife for years, as a matter of fact, no contact, except for her stating periodically that she’d filed for divorce and that it would be final soon.
According to him, he believed this and thought he was divorced. I also talked to her and read all his emails and Facebook messages (that he didn’t have the sense to delete) and it’s clear that they absolutely are only married on paper. In my case, there’s a fine line between married and divorced.
He had quite a few financial and personal struggles that prevented him from getting divorced on his own, once he realized he was still married (again, if that’s true). For a long time, while we were separated I berated him about this terrible fact and I didn’t believe that he hadn’t intentionally lied to me. In my case, although sometimes I’m still skeptical, the evidence points towards him actually being ignorant enough to not know that he was still married.
being lied to in that way, feels similar to rape. It’s a complete violation.
I still feel conned sometimes. Although I chose to talk to, listen to and work things out in my relationship, I wonder what my life would’ve been if I’d known my boyfriend’s legal marital status before we got involved. I know I wouldn’t have been with him for at least a year after his divorce was finalized, that was a rule of mine.
I’ve realized though that all the rules we have for ourselves and others are based on fantasy, even if it’s a moral fantasy. Real life is often vague or blurry, with incomplete and run-on sentences. I’d love to act like I can stand on the dot, on the periodt, but truthfully I’m riding on ellipses every day. I’ve learned to see this as reality, because my story can’t be judged until I’m dead.
I really feel terrible for Sia, who not only experienced a high profile betrayal, she’s also experiencing the toxic comments on social media about her brave statement. I believe she did this to support FKA Twigs who did an extremely brave thing this week in suing Shia for the abuse he committed against her. Life is obviously not black and white, but celebrities, are either condemned or put on a pedestal for having human experiences.
I only wish there was more solidarity when it comes to women’s stories of betrayal and violation. I only wish women weren’t shamed, blamed, and held accountable for transgressions towards them by men. I only wish we, as a culture could look at individual situations, individually, rather than hopping onto the same bandwagons we’ve been corralled into following for decades, if not centuries now.
People should be judged based on the full extent of their situations, not headlines, not stereotypes, not clichés. I’m not a homewrecker, because the man I was with did not have a home (or an anything) with his wife. Sia isn’t playing a victim because she made a bad decision (as many comment sections suggest) because she didn’t make an informed decision at all.
She was conned.
That doesn’t fit nicely into anyone’s narrative. It doesn’t fit into any boxes. But it’s true. If the truth isn’t safe to tell, what is safe in this world at all?