America Loves to Hate the “Other Woman”

Hello, everyone! I usually don’t write about gossip on this blog, but in the case of Woods v. Kardashian in the grand court of public opinion, I couldn’t resist. I am not a fan of Kardashians or Kardashian affiliates, but it’s grotesque to see how this public shaming played out in the media. I’m sure Nathaniel Hawthorne is SCREAMING from the grave.

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On February 19, 2019, the gossip world was treated to yet another allegation that infamous lothario (and NBA star) Tristan Thompson had cheated on his partner Khloé Kardashian. Hardly surprising given Thompson’s past history of infidelity, the real juice came from the scoop that his alleged partner-in-crime was none other than 21-year-old Jordyn Woods, best friend of fellow Kardashian Kylie Jenner.

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The backlash was swift. While Thompson initially denied the allegation with a Trumpian “fake news” tweet, his spurned baby mama was quick to point the finger. Armed with Twitter and a coterie of vicious friends, she and her squad attacked Woods, first implying that she was a “snake”, and then calling her a “coward” for blaming the incident on intoxication. Meanwhile, Woods issued several public apologies and appeared on Jada Pinkett-Smith’s Facebook show Red Table Talk to give her side of the incident. While she admitted that Thompson had kissed her, she emphasized that it hadn’t been intentional. Yet Khloé refused to relent, accusing Woods of being “the reason [her] family broke up!” Only the repeated indignation of Khloé’s Twitter followers persuaded her to cease publicly dragging Woods and acknowledge that Thompson was equally culpable.

Whether or not Thompson cheated with Woods is beside the point. They’re both adults, and while cheating is widely considered to be morally wrong, it’s not a crime. Plus, Khloé herself cheated with Tristan while he was still with another woman. The hypocrisy is staggering, but that’s again besides the point. The real crime here is that Khloé and Co. publicly slut-shamed Woods for the alleged infraction, doing their absolute best to destroy her reputation and career. Despite the fact that Thompson was the one in the relationship, Woods bore the brunt of the public backlash, while Thompson remained unscathed. In fact, he’s already been spotted out with another woman! How serendipitous that women just keep falling into his lap. He seems perfectly capable of wrecking his own home, yet it’s Woods who has been labelled as the “home-wrecker.” Has a man ever been given that title in the history of mankind? 

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Oh to be an NBA star…you can get away with anything!

Wood’s treatment at the hands of the Kardashians demonstrate that slut-shaming is still lauded by the media as a way of putting women in their place. No matter the situation, it’s the woman who will be blamed for indecent sexuality. Even worse, Woods claims that Thompson was the one who kissed her, which makes it even more horrifying that she carries the blame for the situation.

Slut-shaming is often portrayed as solely male-perpetrated, yet the Jordyn Woods scandal shows that female-perpetrated slut-shaming is just as prevalent, and somehow even more effective. Men who slut-shame can always be dismissed as misogynistic, but it’s more difficult to pin that label on a woman. By claiming the position of the wounded mother, Khloé armed herself with the veneer of purity that is the currency of female acceptability. Branding Woods as the monstrous “other woman,” was equivalent to christening her as the new Hester Prynne, and none of her apologies were sufficient to erase the sticky taint of sin from her identity. Public backlash made Khloé ease up, but nothing can erase the tarring and feathering from the cultural consciousness. The gossip mags will move on, and the Kardashians will find a new way of boosting ratings, but as far as America is concerned, Woods might as well be forever doomed to wear a scarlet “A” on her chest.

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Except not in this case

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