by Laura K. Garrison
|Kristen Stewart cheated on her longterm boyfriend,
Robert Pattinson. Although perhaps back together, the controversy
of the high-profile, media “slut-shaming” still stands.
I’ve always had a hard time feeling bad for Kristen Stewart while she pouts and complains about her life (which is terrible considering she’s the highest paid actress and is/was dating one of the most coveted men in Hollywood). But being (for better or worse) a Twilight fan, when I found out that she cheated on her boyfriend and costar of four years, Robert Pattinson, I was mildly interested. (Also, the whole scandal did make for a really cute interview on The Daily Show).
I know Stewart had a rough couple of weeks. She was talked about in the tabloids, hated on by eleven-year-olds with Twitter accounts, and bashed by the what seems like hoards of people who disliked her. But by no means should her plight deserve to be called “slut-shaming.” It’s disrespectful to those who’ve ever been hurt by cheating in a relationship, and more importantly, to the real issues that women face in the fight for equality.
The fact of the matter is Kristen Stewart cheated on Robert Pattinson with a married man, director Rupert Sanders. Cheating is never okay—it is selfish, untrustworthy, and just really low. In Stewart’s case, not only does it hurt her relationship with Rob, it has hurt Sanders’ wife Liberty Ross and their two children. Sanders and Ross are reportedly trying to work through the scandal, but there will still be powerful ramifications on their marriage and children. It is a nasty situation for all parties involved. The only real victims here are Robert Pattinson, Liberty Ross, and the children.
This media backlash isn’t slut-shaming, but rather the consequences of Stewart’s actions. She wasn’t under attack because she is a woman; she was under attack because she was unfaithful. Let’s face it, a career in Hollywood has been long known to invite criticism and lack privacy. If she did not want this attention (as she so often bemoans) she should have left Tinseltown a long time ago and settled for a life waiting tables while she acted off-off-Broadway. Yes, many vicious, horrible things have been said about her, but this comes with the territory of being a celebrity in our social-media-using, freedom-of-speech-protected society. She made her decision to cheat on her high-profile boyfriend and paid the price. To tell you the truth, she really shouldn’t be all that concerned with the ramblings of the Twitterverse–she has more pressing matters to deal with.
The attention paid to Stewart’s indiscretion has been directly proportional to her fame. Those who cry “slut-shame” point to the fact that the media has attacked her more than Rupert Sanders, automatically reasoning that this is because of her gender. This couldn’t be further from the truth: Stewart has amassed a considerable acting portfolio, while Sanders, on the other hand, has only directed one feature film. Naturally, the media is going to angle their story on Stewart, the successful and controversial actress, over the obscure, up-and-coming director. I don’t think anyone argues that Sanders isn’t just as guilty (if not more so, being married and with a family), and no one wants to let him off the hook for what he’s done to his wife and children. But it’s no surprise that the media has simply zeroed in on Stewart, one half of the arguably most iconic couple of the past decade.
|Rupert Sanders with his wife, Liberty Ross|
There is some question to how Kristen Stewart will bounce back, if at all. Protectors of the slut-shamed predict the negative attention will hurt Stewart’s career more than it will hurt Sanders’, which I personally doubt. Women, I think, actually tend to come out on the better foot of these situations; once we move on to the next scandal, it will be easy to forgive Stewart for her youthful, misguided decision. Besides, many women have been guilty of cheating, and continued their careers unhindered—Meg Ryan, Madonna, Ingrid Bergman, Elizabeth Taylor, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, and Angelina Jolie. If Stewart plays her cards right, it’s very likely she could continue to be a just as, if not more, prolific actress.
My heart goes out to Rob Pattinson, Liberty Ross, and especially the children who have to watch their parents’ struggle in the public eye. Those who are offended by the alleged “slut-shaming” of Kristen Stewart should consider that her actions may have irreparably hurt another woman, Liberty Ross. It takes two to tango, and Stewart is just as responsible for the disintegration of Ross’s marriage to Sanders as he is himself. There is no doubt in my mind that women are still trapped under glass ceilings and victims of blatant sexism, but here Kristen Stewart doesn’t count. If men and women are to be considered equals, we must take the good with the bad, and hold female cheaters just as accountable as their male counterparts. I find it rather refreshing that we pity Rob Pattinson instead of Sandra Bullock or Maria Shriver. And, as is already happening with the reunion of “Robsten,” Kristen Stewart will bounce back. She has a PR team on her side. Rather than defending Stewart, we should be concerned with standing up for equal wages, reproductive rights, and other pressing matters affecting women.
Laura Garrison is a sophomore at Barnard College and Managing Editor for The Nine Ways of Knowing. For the record, she’s Team Edward. All the way.