As the world reels at news that Kristen Stewart and Rupert Sanders had an affair, my heart goes out to Stewart.
Of course, affairs are Not Good and I feel sorry for Stewart’s partner Robert Pattinson - to whom she apologised in a statement thus publicly confirming their relationship for the first time yesterday - and Sanders’ wife Liberty Ross and their two children.
But where I’ve always subscribed to the adage ‘it takes two to tango’ (or, in this instance, it takes two to have a ‘marathon makeout session’ in the back of a car) the fall-out from Stewart and Sanders’ affair has illuminated a worrying trend of blaming ‘the other woman’.
Despite Sanders having two children, it is Stewart on whom the media seems to place all accountability for the affair.
Of course, since she is the highest paid female actor it makes sense that she should be the subject of the headlines, but most brand her a ‘cheat’ and the comment sections are rife with words like ’hussy’, ‘tramp’ and ‘homewrecker’.
It’s not a new trend. The barrage of abuse garnered by Rebecca Loos when details of her alleged affair with married father David Beckham came out was sub-human. I can’t remember reading anything negative about Beckham. And more recently, when married father of four Balthazar Getty embarked on an affair with Sienna Miller, it was she who was dubbed ‘Slutienna’ in the tabloid press and had ‘SLUT’ daubed in paint on the front of her house.
The whole sorry affair has quickly been picked up on Twitter; users serving Stewart with criticism of everything from her looks to her acting talent, and even death threats.
One of the most popular lines from men commenting on Twitter is ‘r u still into ruining marriages of guys with young kids? DM me’. Of course, it’s tongue-in-cheek, but it only goes to support the idea that the full blame should land on the woman’s shoulders.
Kristen Stewart has become a role model for young women. Affairs sometimes happen in adult, complex relationships. These two factors in particular should inform the way we report and speak about the Stewart/Sanders affair. Instead, the nastiness aimed squarely at Stewart only serves to convince some young fans that such ‘other woman’ baiting is OK. Even Philippine presenter and actor, Aubrey Miles, blasted Stewart on Twitter to her 93, 676 followers, saying: ‘Kristen Stewart Cheating Photos and the director is married pa!! Lost my Respect!'
The idea that Stewart is the only one to blame pervades the comment section in the latest Huffington Post article about the affair, as one reader questions ‘Why would a woman betray another woman like that’.
In an interesting turn of events, those young fans of Stewart and Pattinson who deny the affair as a rumour are tweeting their support for the couple with the hashtag #Robsten. I hope they stay so balanced and fair in their approach if they choose to believe the infidelity.
So like I say, my heart goes out to Kristen Stewart. Because it always takes two to tango and we could do worse than to remind ourselves, and impressionable youngsters of that.
Ali Schofield is a freelance lifestyle journalist based in North Yorkshire. You can follow her on Twitter as @Ali_Schofield.
Image via GageSkidmore's Flickr