why do women feel the need to ‘fix’ unfaithful men?

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Just this past weekend, I attended my oldest sister’s bachelorette party in VA Beach. The attendees were women from the bridal party–my sisters and friends of the bride. During this weekend, I couldn’t help but observe the interactions and actions of these six very different–yet also very similar–women through a feminist lens. Consequently, I left the weekend with a lot of observations which made me question the ways in which women historically feel the responsibility to stay in unfaithful relationships or attempt to ‘fix’ the unfaithful man.

The most important aspect of feminism is to do the work of feminism, rather than to simply state that you are a feminist. This work can take shape in either activism participation on a wide scale, or through advocacy for women/feminism on a personal or interpersonal scale. Thus, when observing the women of this bachelorette party over the weekend, it was intriguing to me when they chose to turn a blind eye to a “sister” in need of help and when they chose not to.

In specific, two women of the group had unfaithful husbands–as told by my sister as they’re her friends–one which has been dating the guy for over 10 years and just recently got married, and the other who just recently had a baby with her husband. When out drinking, these two women would get very drunk and dance/flirt with almost any guy who approached them. To me, when a stranger approaches me I can’t help but shy away and revert to “stranger danger” vibes. But, it was apparent that these women were acting out of hurt and sadness toward their husbands.

Watching this somewhat downward spiral take place left me with many questions. One of the primary ones was, ‘what is it about women that we feel the need to stay with men who are obviously unfaithful? Why do women often feel the responsibility to fix the relationship or the other partner rather than putting themselves first?’ And what I could think of was that, there are little to no women around them who are doing the work of feminism. It is important as women, and as feminists, not to compete for the perfect life, but to help every woman around us to achieve, not a perfect life, but a better life. If women did not feel pressure to have a perfect relationship in the eyes of other women, but had allies around them to help show their worth and what they deserve then perhaps we could start on the path to secure women and strong women who don’t have to diminish themselves to improve the man.

This concept is important for women of all ages to remember, and especially in college. Life is too short for you to not focus on bettering yourself, rather than focusing on reversing someone else’s damage or unpacking their personal baggage. Surround yourself with strong women who do the work of feminism, for that will give you life and liberation, a man can only provide so much if he is not prepared to step aside and allow you to be your authentic self. Additionally, as a woman, to be a good feminist it is important to look after the women around you in toxic relationships and be their supporter before they lose themselves, and you lose them to an underserving man. As a personal reflection from this weekend, I intend to get to know the women a bit better and talk to them about my observations. As for now, it was helpful to observe these signs in an intimate setting to help me look out for them in future situations and with my female friends I have now, to better myself as a feminist and spread the work of feminism.

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