Women of Affairs
Susan Shapiro Barash ’76, who teaches critical thinking/gender studies at Marymount Manhattan College in New York City, has written eight books about relationships from a woman’s point of view. In researching female infidelity, Barash realized that “wherever [she] turned, someone was having an extramarital affair.” She interviewed hundreds of women, and the result was A Passion for More: Wives Reveal the Affairs that Make or Break Their Marriages (Berkeley Hills Books).
…there are many reasons why a married woman takes a lover. The rationales are diverse and often complex. A volatile subject from the start, this exploration has not only provided eye-opening insights into the female perspective on contemporary extramarital connections, but painted a sometimes startling portrait of how women in the early millennium are choosing to live their lives…. Because it was evident to me that many of my peers were indeed engaging in these triangles, I set out simply to hear their stories, leaving aside preconceived notions of right and wrong….
I did not set out to re-create a Kinsey-type report, with its inevitable reams of questionable statistical data, nor to predict any emergent social trend or universal pattern. However, I do know as a certainty what is going on with a specific group of women today. Within a sphere of working-class, college-educated, middle- or upper class married women, lovers are sought with a sense of entitlement. Women find them everywhere: in the workplace, at their children’s school, the playground, a health club, or while an addition is being built onto their home. Taking lovers seems not a rite of passage, but something very possible at any time.
….As a professional in the field pointed out to me, women are seeking men outside of marriage in each instance, but not always to sustain a love affair. Friendship, anger, companionship, rebellion and pure sexual fulfillment must also be given their due. Women appear to appreciate the sense of control their self-initiated action produces; that is, if a man can do it and get away with it, so can a woman. The assumptions of a generation of married women have been shaken so that in their search for emotional satisfaction they have entered uncharted waters. Combine these factors with the narcissistic desire to battle growing old and less attractive, and an explosive potential for infidelity results.