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'She's a Homewrecker,' a site for bullies

By Peggy Drexler
updated 7:27 AM EST, Thu November 14, 2013
Peggy Drexler says women who post photos and slurs about their partners' mistresses should remember it takes two to tango.
Peggy Drexler says women who post photos and slurs about their partners' mistresses should remember it takes two to tango.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Betrayed women post details about partners' mistresses on "She's a Homewrecker" site
  • Peggy Drexler: "Other women" called "life-sucking whores," "skanks" who "steal" men
  • Drexler: Women never blame the men; posts seem to be attempts to regain control
  • She says posting details, photos on "She's a Homewrecker" is simply cruel bullying

Editor's note: Peggy Drexler is the author of "Our Fathers, Ourselves: Daughters, Fathers, and the Changing American Family" and "Raising Boys Without Men." She is an assistant professor of psychology at Weill Medical College of Cornell University and a former gender scholar at Stanford University. Join her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @drpeggydrexler.

(CNN) -- "The father of my child began cheating on me with this whore on July 14th, 2013," begins one post on the website "She's a Homewrecker," on which scorned women publish the names, photos and, in some cases, contact information of women with whom their husbands and partners cheated, along with detailed narratives of how the affair went down.

The website, which has 250,000 likes on Facebook, operates under the guise of offering important reader service or, as the tagline goes, "Exposing the women who choose to become involved with an involved man." Who knows if any of these affairs actually happened.

But no words are minced here for the so-called "other women" who are, invariably, "life sucking whores," "homewrecking sluts," "tramps" and "skanks" who "stole" someone else's man.

Peggy Drexler
Peggy Drexler

But wait -- doesn't it take two to tango? Of course it does.

Although sleeping with a married man is of questionable morality -- and that's, of course, assuming the woman is even aware the man's attached -- the job of staying faithful belongs to the man who took the vow. And yet on "She's a Homewrecker," the men get off largely scot-free. They are not named or pictured. In many cases, they are forgiven, even in cases where the man "abandoned me and my child ... He then kicked me and our baby out of the house and onto the street to be with her," as one woman writes.

Another woman writes about the "twit" who started "talking to her husband at work." After the "twit" got pregnant with the husband's baby, the woman says she and her husband fought for custody of the child and won.

She writes: "Our marriage is now the best that it ever would have been because we have worked through issues that we didn't even know we had. We are a happy family ..."

Despite this, the "homewrecker" still must pay, and does, in the form of having her name, details of her life and no fewer than six photos of herself splashed all over the site.

Although sleeping with a married man is of questionable morality ... the job of staying faithful belongs to the man who took the vow.
Peggy Drexler

The fact that this site exists, and was created by women with the sole intent of bullying and shaming other women, is especially notable given the recent discussions about how to deal with the problem of "revenge porn," in which scorned people -- men, mostly -- post explicit, formerly private photos of their exes online without their consent.

States are working to criminalize both the posting of such photos and the host sites, with advocates saying that under existing law, it's nearly impossible to get remediation or the pictures removed.

Revenge porn exists to belittle and shame women and to "put them in their place." But what's happening at "She's a Homewrecker" is just as misogynistic; that it's women targeting women doesn't make it any less so.

Bullying among grown women has often happened out of public sight: undermining in the workplace, whispers during the PTA meeting. Although sleeping with a married man is of questionable morality -- and that's, of course, assuming the woman is even aware the man's attached -- the job of staying faithful belongs to the man who took the vow.

As Jennifer Aniston told Glamour magazine this summer, "We're living in a time where, whether it's the Internet or tabloids, being sh-tty has become a sport."

With revenge porn and sites such as She's a Homewrecker, the damage is tangible: intimate photos and character attacks that may turn up with a simple Google search of a person's name.

Despite the women's stories of betrayal and humiliation and the sympathy they hope to elicit, humiliation is exactly what they intend to dole out, continuing the cycle of meanness. They play the victims while making victims of someone else, bullying others in the name of "just desserts."

The whole M.O. of bullying is, of course, to gain leverage and power. At least some of the women posting on She's a Homewrecker do so, it seems, out of desperation to regain some of the control they lost when they were betrayed by their partners. But that doesn't make their retaliatory actions defensible. For one thing, it doesn't explain why the cheating men aren't taken to task.

What's happening on She's a Homewrecker is bullying. In many cases, it's illegal -- it's flush with defamatory comments -- and not without consequences.

By turning on their own gender and by encouraging a community based on judgment and fear, women sabotage their ability to develop strong female relationships. They promote the idea that other women are untrustworthy. And so, instead of finding empowerment and community just when they need it most, women who use and read sites like these will end up feeling more alone than ever.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Peggy Drexler.

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