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How To Get Cheated On

Pro Tip: Don't be a woman.
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You are almost definitely going to get cheated on at some point in your life.

The only surefire way to prevent that from happening is to avoid dating altogether or, more specifically, to stay away from the Anthony who attended St. John Vianney High School in Holmdel, New Jersey. Otherwise, it is going to happen to you. It happens to everyone. It happened once, at least metaphorically, even to Beyoncé. The question is how to handle it.

This already tragic situation is even trickier when you and your philandering dickhead of a significant other are famous. What to do, what to do? Should you "stand by your man," proving that you are weak and acknowledging your role in everything that went wrong? Should you leave him, asserting yourself as a strong, independent old maid who is destined to die alone? Should you immediately forget both choices and just turn to dust as a result of your clear inability to deliver sexually?

Enter Jennifer Garner, Ben Affleck and their nanny, proud Alicia Keys fan and Other Woman, Christine Ouzounian.

There are several articles now praising Ouzounian for taking ownership of her emergence into the spotlight as Affleck's alleged adultery accomplice, celebrations of her Sydney Leathers-esque subversiveness. Caught in the hyper-version of this scenario, the options are to 1) become a hermit monk searching for Enlightenment in the Mogao caves, or 2) capitalize on the publicity and become a reality star ($$$)! 

It's a little harder to praise Ouzounian's confident seizing of that second option while acknowledging that Garner and Affleck have three kids who she was being paid to watch. But let's blithely ignore that and consider Garner's options.

The news of Garner and Affleck's divorce broke before nanny-gate, so unfortunately it's unlikely Garner and Affleck will get back together and invite you to join them for a boozy landscape painting class, while they talk about that episode of "Dinner for Five." Still, is there a version of this scenario where Garner is not left as the apparent loser? Is there something she might have done to avoid that fate?

Based on Jennifer Aniston's experience with her own reported cheating-cum-split 10 years ago, the next decade is not going to be so great for Garner. Poor Jen. Poor Jen(s). The tabloids just assume a stance of automatic pity for women in the fallout of infidelity, offering to help explore the heartbreak and ugliness of divorce from the perspective of her pain. It is always the wife who comes out on bottom, somehow branded as the lesser person, forever understood as a scorned woman.

Obviously, cheating is a garbage thing to have happen to you. But it is a less garbage thing when you are the man being cheated on. Kristen Stewart was the monster when she cheated on Robert Pattinson. LeAnn Rimes will forever be a villain unless she discovers she is at risk for breast cancer and gets a mastectomy.

Why do women have the burden of the mortification factor regardless of whether they cheat or are cheated on? Neither Garner or Aniston did anything to generate a pitying narrative. It's a bit icky that we're so capable of indulging in Ouzounian's apparent brazenness, while forcing all the shame on Garner.

It took Aniston a decade plus a marriage to liberate herself from the albatross of rejection. But what would it have looked like if there was news of Brangelina, and then they stayed together? We would likely still feel sorry for her as a woman who couldn't "keep" a man with far more intensity than Brad was ever trashed for being unfaithful. Of course, all this phenomena is just an offshoot of the evolutionary and misogynistic idea that men are entitled to multiple partners coupled with the insistence that women must maintain a single one. But that's getting a bit academic.

In short, the best way to be cheated on (especially if you are famous) is to not be a woman.

Middlebrow is a recap of the week in entertainment, celebrity and television news that provides a comprehensive look at the state of pop culture. From the rock bottom to highfalutin, Middlebrow is your accessible guidebook to the world of entertainment. Sign up to receive it in your inbox here.

Follow Lauren Duca on Twitter: @laurenduca

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