We all know infidelity stings, but who's to blame when it happens? If you ask the community behind She's a Homewrecker, it's not the people breaking the boundaries of their relationship, it's "the other women."
She's a Homewrecker is basically an online burn book that's been "exposing the women who choose to become involved with an involved man" since 2012. Slighted women are encouraged to upload several photos of the mistress who's driving them mad, and their stories to the site. Each "homewrecker" is listed and tagged by her full name and the state she lives in.
In almost every story, men are positioned as helpless fools who fall prey to scheming, careless women. In one post, the contributor chose to blank out her cheating partner's face but left the other woman's in plain view, writing:
"I will never forgive this homewrecker for what she has done to me and my family. I don't understand how someone can even live with themselves knowing that they ruined a family, a marriage and a friendship. She will never have his heart like I did. EVER. I will love that man until the day I die. But I will NOT put myself through that pain and anguish ever again…I just wish home wreckers like her would think about their 'boyfriends' [sic] families before themselves."
A quick Google search about "hating the other woman" will give you pages of advice: some encouraging you to continue getting your hate on, others urging you to place the blame where it belongs – on the cheating partner. "Homewrecker" is most often used to describe women, and that the word even exists – taking responsibility away from the people in the relationship or "home" – says a lot about where we prefer to lay blame.
There's also lots of online evidence that we, as humans, simply love to hate en masse: Buzzfeed's roundup of spoiled teens; collections of Pax Dickinson's racist/sexist garble; the Nice Guys of OKCupid Tumblr (and countless other Tumblrs) – I could go on. We love exposing those who irk us.
She's a Homewrecker takes it above and beyond with its catty quotes page, filled flawed wisdom ("There's a reason why 90 per cent of the women who your man cheats with are fat, ugly or stupid. They are easy women. Only desperate women go after someone else's man"); and snarky one-liners aimed at "homewreckers" ("I brought you a to-go box since you like my leftovers!").
Of course, I don't think the other women are entirely innocent – any relationship formed out of deceit and betrayal is never a good thing to get involved with. But people don't steal people; people make choices. Men aren't helpless when faced with temptation, they're adults who decide how to conduct themselves.
Ignoring this only fuels woman-on-woman hatred and the idea that men either simply can't help themselves or are the more "natural" cheaters. (Hello, women cheat too. A lot.) We're all capable of betrayal and when it happens, it's the person who made the commitment who should be held most responsible.
However, no amount of public shaming seems to satisfy these women scorned. If it does, it must be mighty fleeting for them to keep going on like this. And it's no wonder: Focusing all their anger and pain on other women and absolving their partners of responsibility must create a wound that's tough to heal. It seems almost cruel to publicize a community run by women who are obviously hurting, but the all-to-common hatred of "homewreckers" and the absolution of cheating mates go well beyond this one.
The Evil (and Usually Mentally Unbalanced) Homewrecker is a common stereotype, and a favourite film villain. In Fatal Attraction she's Alex, the suicidal editor who gets clingy, stalks her lover and then boils his daughter's pet rabbit. In Chloe, she's a sultry sex worker of the same name, who is determined to woo a suspicious woman away from her husband by faking an affair with him and sleeping with their son. In Obsessed, she's a deranged office temp who, enraged by her failed seduction attempts, breaks into the home of the man she desires and fistfights his wife.
In all of these movies, the "homewreckers" die pretty grisly deaths; presumably getting what was coming to them. They are all extremely violent and totally bonkers, coaxing viewers to sympathize with the stalwart wives and helpless husbands who betrayed them – except in the case of Obsessed, in which the husband was shockingly "strong" enough to resist.
As I write this, the She's a Homewrecker Facebook page has a whopping 242,000 likes – in case you were wondering how popular this is. After gaining attention via Jezebel coverage recently, Good Morning America solicited She's a Homewrecker contributors for interviews. The readers' responses are practically gleeful: "Will they show the homewreckers pics on national television?" and "There's going to be some real pissed off bitches here soon."
Perhaps, in an ideal world, the women of She's a Homewrecker might heal with a little more reserve: venting with friends and family, finding support – doing almost anything other than contributing to revenge sites. Instead, because we are people on the Internet, there will be even more public shaming. According to a recent blog post, the creator of She's A Homewrecker will soon launch He's A Homewrecker.
It might not be right, but at least it will be even.