You All Know the Story of the Other Woman
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Many women have an affair outside with married men but never question themselves about what the spouses of these men think of them. How would someone thing of you, if you were the one having an affair with their spouse. Many people who engage in love triangle never think beyond the affair itself. Beyond the individuals who do this, how does the society take people who have illicit adulterous lives? First, the society believes that such people have no respect for the family. They lack self-respect, they may also be charged with betraying fellow women.
Anne Sexton’s poem “you all know the story of the other woman” analyzes what the thoughts of the women whose husband is cheating are. What does she think of the other woman who is involved in the love triangle? Anne Sexton, initially called Anne Gray Harvey is an American poet and a playwright. She also writes children short stories. She is one of the celebrated poets of confessional school. She writes emotional, self-reflexive poems. Her poems are distinguished for their stunning imagery and remarkable cadences. Sexton won a Pulitzer Prize in 1967 for “live or die”.
The poem speaks about a woman whose husband is cheating on her. It focuses on the idea of what husband relationship with another woman who is not his wife consists of. The woman who knows that her husband is having an affair comforts herself by the thoughts that the other woman is comparable to an inanimate object instead of a human being. Since she does not see the other woman as a real person, she discards the reality that her husband may actually have bond with the mistress. She assumes that the man is just using her as a “selection part time”.
She assumes that the man is just using her as a “selection part time”. This is denial on the part of the wife. By assuming that her husband is just having an illicit relationship as a part time affair, she tries to justify that she is the main one. She is cheating herself that all the love, emotions, care, trust and all that a husband should provide the wife belongs to her. The other woman is just an object and cannot be loved or cared for. This is why she says that after the other woman has played her role, her husband will come back to her. “She is his selection, part time” (Sexton, 215).
This is the line of thinking the enables her to persevere the betrayal. She needs this denial so that she can keep her self-worth. She accepts the fact that her husband is having an extra marital affair but thinks that it is limited to just the physical aspect only. As they say, no strings attached. The relationship begins and ends with the carnal pursuits only. She also believes that her husband does this to satisfy his lustful desires at the nocturnal hours. She thinks of the other woman as a toy that belongs to her husband. The husband can play with the “play thing” but all the love and care belongs to her. Since her husband always comes back to her, she believes that she is the one who is connected to him emotionally and gets the special attention.
The truth is that these are just excuses that a wife can make to run from the reality. She denies the fact that she is not in a normal relationship. She denies that she is suffering from emotional abuse from her husband. She does not want to accept that there may be factors that are making her husband seek extra marital affair. Let us analyze her arguments. The wife believes that the other woman is not real; she is just an object to be used. “You know the story too! Look, when it is over he places her, like a phone, back on the hook’’. The opposite may actually be the truth. If a husband can leave his wife and have an illicit affair with another woman to the extend that even the wife knows, we can say that he is treating his wife like an object. He believes that his wife does not have emotions. She should endure his actions without question. She should persevere all the ridicule that a married woman faces when she has a cheating husband. The wife also believes that the other woman is just part time “She is his selection, part time” (Sexton, 304). The truth might be that to the husband, the wife is part time. He may be spending more time thinking about his mistress than his wife. He may even care and love the mistress more than his wife. His wife is just justifying his behavior by saying that the relationship is part time to help her believe that she is the main attraction.
The poem is an illustration of the several unpredicted things that a woman can encounter. Many times, she is forced to get accustomed to such issues. She becomes accustomed to an issue by rationalizing on it regardless of how absurd it seems. A wife realizes that her husband is cheating on her and gives reason for this behavior and accepts it. The issue of extra marital affair should be outside the question in a marriage. However, it is amazing that it is accepted as the in-thing in this relationship. A woman can accept the fact that her husband is cheating and even try to justify his actions.
The theme of unfaithfulness is portrayed clearly in the poem. A cheating husband as viewed from the wife’s perspective is analyzed through the poem. The wife struggles to overcome guilt, loss, betrayal and inadequacy. Cynics, feminists, and moralist throughout the world argue that men engage in unfaithfulness because of power. Men are always in quest for more power or they desire to protect it. The mainstream culture portrays feminists as antagonistic to the family values. This is because it is a universal belief that all women who engage in extra marital affairs are home wreckers. Mistresses are presented as people who do not value reproduction. They do not link sex with reproduction.
The other woman is portrayed to know his man for his flesh during the passionate moments they spend together. They view pleasure as an end in itself. However, in this poem Anne Sexton somehow advocates for illicit affairs. The fact that she presents a woman who has accepted this behavior leaves a lot to be desired. It is not only accepting this but also citing justifying the same. Is it true that immorality has grown to the levels that it has become socially acceptable. Issues of mistresses should be private and confidential, but when it becomes so obvious that the people affected are justifying it, it means that it is so rampant. The poem thus raises issues that affect the society directly. Today marriages are collapsing due to immorality. Women can publicly confess that their spouses are cheating on them. This calls for the society to begin thinking of ways to curb this vice. The poem is thus a wake up call for all the affected people to don something.