Ok, I’m in a moral dilemma. Well, actually – no I’m not, but I do find myself in a situation that is making me think about things on a larger scale than usual, which I guess in some ways is a dilemma.
I like to stay abreast of Oakland gossip, just because I find other people’s lives to be interesting. Recently, I came across a bit of gossip that I found to be particularly juicy: someone’s husband was cheating on her.
While this is pretty standard, average gossip, the circumstances of the gossip are what piqued my interest. The woman in question? She’s one of my long time haters. She’s someone who has taken her time to slander me on the internet and to our colleagues. Her main quibbles with me are (in a nutshell) that I am anti-gentrification and pro-Islamic immigrants, and also that I am anti-gentrification but not cripplingly poor and actually doing well for myself professionally as a local woman of color. Basically, she hates my writing.
So, yeah, she’s a hater. Which is fine, she can do her own thing. I’m perfectly content not talking to her or not interacting with her – it doesn’t make my day worse, it makes it better.
However, over the past several weeks, three (yes, three!) different people have offered me accounts of her husband cheating on her. While, yes, I know, it’s not really any of my business, after having three people tell me that her husband cheats on her (and with people that she knows), I’ve started to notice a pattern. This here is hot gossip. Hot enough, in fact, that it has reached me, someone who is completely divested from her social circle, disinterested in her life, and in no way digging for dirt (promise). If three people have told me, someone who is very socially distant from her, how many people close to her are talking about it?
And, yeah, I also know, you’re probably thinking, “What if they have an open relationship. Then it doesn’t matter.” Yeah, that’s true, and I don’t know if they have an open relationship. All I know is: he’s acting like a pubescent boy, hitting up people that she and I and everyone else know, and he’s being messy, and his advances are rebuffed often enough for this to be a fairly cringe-y situation. Let’s just put it this way: if they were in a functional open relationship, people wouldn’t be talking about it so much.
I’m sure you’re all thinking at this point, “Pilar, don’t you derive joy from watching your enemies suffer?” And while the answer to that is always, “YES!” It’s also worth pointing out that I am, on a base level, somewhat concerned about the situation. You know, I try to be a feminist, and knowing that a woman is being humiliated by her husband in a public arena doesn’t sit well with my feminist ideology. I wonder: who is looking out for her? If the gossip has spread so far and wide that three separate people (whom, I might add, don’t have any social overlap with each other but all know the woman in question through different ways) have told me, I wonder: who on her team is coaching her through this? Who is sticking up for her? Who is helping her through this difficult time? Who is helping her keep her private life private? Whoever is helping her is not doing a good job.
So, herein lies the dilemma. I am trying to be a better feminist these days. Regardless of whether or not I like this person, I don’t think any woman should let her partner publicly humiliate her with rampant infidelity, whether it’s within or outside of an open relationship. Their relationship should be their relationship, and not something the rest of us are watching burn in a car wreck while eating popcorn on the sidelines. She may disagree with me about gentrification and immigration – fuck, by that logic, she might disagree with me about feminism, too. But I don’t want to have to hear about her relationship. I wish people would stop telling me, because I don’t want to have to think about whether or not I feel vindicated by watching her husband cheat on her, and I don’t want to have to think about whether I have any moral obligations as a feminist to say something.
I guess I just believe in happy endings. As a feminist, the happy ending here is she leaves him.
But I also don’t believe that this story is any of my business. It’s something that has been spread throughout the community via petty gossip. I don’t want to have to think about this or look at this. I shouldn’t have to. It’s not fair to either me or her that I’m sitting here, speculating about the demise of her marriage. Because, who knows, maybe I’m completely wrong and the rumors are false. (Actually, if the rumors are false, that’s even worse because that means she has an enemy even scarier than me who is willing to go to “those lengths” to hurt her.) But, in the event that I’m completely wrong, and everything is beautiful in her paradise, and she knows, and she’s okay with it, and the rumors are just exaggerated, and I’m being a judgmental bitch – this is all still incredibly uncomfortable for me. Please leave me out of this.