From Jordyn Woods to Lady Gaga, How We Talk about Cheating Matters

Why do we continue to hold women accountable for the actions of their male counterparts, while men aren't held accountable for anything at all?

Jordyn Woods poses at an event

Photo: Getty Images

It’s been a big week for the KarJenner family. In case you’ve been living under a rock, their worlds were rocked—like tectonic-plates-shifting-rocked—by the news that Tristan Thompson reportedly cheated on baby mama Khloé Kardashian with Kylie Jenner’s bestie, Jordyn Woods.

While this could have been chalked up to one of the many outlandish rumours swirling around the reality royalty, the Valentine’s weekend hookup was seemingly confirmed by pretty much everyone involved; Khloé responded to an Instagram post by Hollywood Unlocked, liked a series of tweets referring to the scandal and posted several not-that-vague Instagram stories, including one that said, “No matter how much a snake sheds skin, it’s still a snake” (complete with snake emoji).

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Her BFFs, on the other hand, went hard in various comment sections. Malika Haqq and Larsa Pippen responded to the same Hollywood Unlocked post in support of Khloé, and Haqq also posted (and later deleted) a comment saying, “These hoes ain’t loyal” in response to a meme account. Since the news broke, Woods has been cut by the famous fam, reportedly even moving out of Kylie Jenner’s guest house. And in the latest development, she’s now privately disclosing to people, Kylie and Khloé among them, that alcohol was to blame. According to TMZ, she says she was “blackout drunk” at the time of the hookup and doesn’t remember it.

It’s a lot to take in. But amid all the online outcry, there has been one thing largely missing from the narrative: backlash against Tristan freaking Thompson. Considering he’s also in the middle of this shitstorm, Thompson has sailed through the scandal relatively unscathed. Some of that may come down to the public’s very, very low expectations for a serial cheater, but still. While Woods has been reportedly distraught over the fallout, Thompson has taken his seriously DGAF attitude to the next level, partying with Kardashian family nemesis (and problematic fave) Drake amid the scandal, tweeting than deleting any denial of wrongdoing and fully leaning in to his nickname, Tristan “Third Trimester” Thompson. Woods, on the other hand, has earned herself a not-so-fun moniker: Homewrecker.

Which just… doesn’t seem super fair? After all, if anyone owes Khloé something, it’s her seemingly committed partner and the father of her child, no? But honestly, we shouldn’t be surprised. Because if the reaction to the Thompson/Woods cheating scandal has shown us anything, it’s that we continue to hold women accountable for the actions of their male counterparts, while men aren’t held accountable for anything at all.

Jordyn Woods didn’t force Tristan Thompson to hook up with her

There’s no argument that, if Woods consented to a hook-up with Thompson, it was crummy and goes against girl code in every way. (Though if she was blackout drunk, she actually could not consent, which puts a whole other spin on an already brutal story.) But… Tristan was there, too, though you wouldn’t know it from the way people are talking. From the moment people heard about the alleged affair, everyone from social media users to Khloé’s inner circle have made it clear who *they* think is at fault: Woods. In a February 21 video posted to her Insta story, Kim Kardashian West cheekily referenced the situation, singing to Nivea’s “Don’t Mess With My Man” alongside Haqq.

But this type of reaction puts responsibility for Thompson’s fidelity on Woods, as if he had been tricked or entrapped into cheating.

And this type of language isn’t just relegated to the Kardashians. Kim’s diss-via-early-2000s-bop echoes some of the commentary about Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. The co-stars, who recently performed at the 91st Academy Awards, have blessed the awards circuit with their friendship and *palpable* chemistry, and their performance was no different. But it was also a tad uncomfortable, because while Gaga and Cooper were steaming up our TV screens, Cooper’s longtime love, gorge model Irina Shayk, was front row. And when they weren’t performing together, Shayk was plopped directly between the duo, something Twitter users definitely noted.

FYI, no one can “take” your partner, because people are not inanimate objects

Twitter users were quick to chide Gaga for trying to “take” Shayk’s man, pitting the two women against one another as (imagined) rivals for BCoop’s heart. (FYI, Shayk and Gaga actually seem like good friends).

Let’s be clear: Whether we’re talking Woods or Gaga, the idea of women “taking” men from each other is total bullshit. The person who’s most accountable here is the one who’s in the relationship, and pretending that he (because this trope is *super* heteronormative) doesn’t have the autonomy or self-control to resist temptation is not just untrue, but also insulting. Aaaand a good example of toxic masculinity, tbh.

The “boys will be boys” attitude allows men to continue being trash

Let’s be honest, we weren’t *that* surprised to find out that Thompson had been unfaithful (yet again) to the mother of his child—he famously cheated on Khloé just before their daughter True’s birth, and his previous girlfriend, Jordan Craig, was pregnant with their son, Prince Oliver, when he got together with Khloé. We don’t know that he cheated on Craig, but… let’s just say there’s a reason for that Third Trimester nickname, yeah? But our low expectations are kind of the problem. In the days after the scandal broke, social media users overwhelmingly responded with a collective “meh,” classifying cheating as part of Thompson’s MO.

While this is partly due to the fact that he’s done this before, some shrugged it off as a byproduct of his age and financial status. On a February 21 episode of The Real, comic and host Loni Love acknowledged that Thompson was more at fault than Woods, as the father of Kardashian’s baby, but tried to explain his actions away, implying it’s normal for a young man with money and fame.  “He’s young, though,” she said of his infidelity. “That’s the thing when you’re young and you’ve got money and there’s fame.” So, essentially it’s not his fault?

It’s this flippant mentality that allows Thompson to continue his seriously problematic and trash-like behaviour.

And it’s a mentality Thompson is banking on and clearly aware of. If his partying with Drizzy wasn’t indicator enough, according to People, Thompson reportedly “doesn’t care too much” about the whole cheating thing. “He seemed to mind the drama, but didn’t act like he regretted hooking up with Jordyn,” a source told the magazine. “He actually denied [the affair], too, and has had no explanation since as to why it happened.” So, all in all, great guy.

While writing off Thompson’s behaviour as “boys will be boys” only concerns matters of the heart *this* time, the recent allegations against Brett Kavanaugh and the ensuing debate around male entitlement has shown us how dangerous this mentality can be when taken to the extreme.


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