The Unfair Sex

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"But wasn't it her fault as well as the man's?"
"Nothing is ever a lady's fault, you'll learn that," Lord Trimingham told me.

This remark, confirming something I already felt, made an immense impression on me.
L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between

A special kind of Double Standard that completely screws around with a show's internal logic. A male character is portrayed performing an act that seems evil and unfair in a relationship, like say, looking at another woman. Meanwhile, a female character can perform the exact same actions but not receive any sort of penalty or negative dividends for it. As such, the end result of this is usually both that male sexuality (and the expressions thereof) are presented as inherently 'wrong', 'dirty' and 'ugly', and that any problems that arise in a heterosexual relationship are automatically the man's fault.

This trope most commonly appears in long-running series—shorter works rarely deal with the characters long enough for the disconnect to be very obvious. This trope is also highly abstract in execution—expect the target of the discontent to either be a Guy Or Girl of The Week.

For a look at affairs in general, see Good Adultery, Bad Adultery. Interestingly, the more involved named characters a work has in any given adultery plot, the closer the Sympathetic Adulterer ratio between men and women reaches 1:1. I'm a Man, I Can't Help It overrides this trope, but only with sympathetic male characters. The Inverted Trope of My Girl Is Not a Slut, for the post-Women's Lib era.

Note: The Unfair Sex only relates to Double Standards against men in relationships, nothing else. If anything relates to abuse, please see Double Standard Abuse (Female on Male).

Overlaps with Females Are More Innocent, Women Are Wiser, The Mistress, and Never My Fault.

Yes this happens for real, like a lot. But still No Real Life Examples, Please.

Examples of The Unfair Sex include:

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • In Ranma ½, Akane, Shampoo, Ukyo and even Kodachi are incredibly quick to administer violent "justice" upon Ranma whenever they think he's interested in another girl. But past the manga's turning point, when Ranma sincerely believed that Akane loved the newcomer Shinnosuke, he took his grievances with the new guy and was incredibly polite and submissive towards Akane, only screaming his frustration when he was alone in the forest. And even when Ranma outright asked her "Why?" Akane never bothered explaining that she was helping Shinnosuke; meanwhile, no one ever lets Ranma explain his unfortunate accidents, let alone ask him.
    • There's even a Lampshading of this very early in the series: Akane walks in on Ranma while he's getting out of the bath, and both are naked, although Akane at least has a towel. Akane gets pissed at him, and when he points out the blatant unfairness of this, she responds with "It's different for girls!" Also note in both similar scenes, He looks her in the eyes, she looks him up and down.
  • In another Rumiko Takahashi work, Maison Ikkoku, Kyoko's reluctance to choose between perpetual ronin Godai and suave, well-off tennis instructor Mitaka drives a large amount of the plot, and it becomes Godai and Mitaka's responsibility to win her over. However, this doesn't stop Kyoko from criticizing Godai over his own inability to tell the truth to his not-quite-girlfriend Kozue, and formalize a relationship with Kyoko herself. The manga agrees with her point of view.
    • Becomes more apparent in episode 12 where Godai and Kozue go on their first date, when Kyoko learns of this as she runs into Godai and Kozue in the middle of their date she fumes in jealously at Godai for dating a cute girl that is younger than her. Keep in mind that is occurring while Kyoko was already having a date with Mitaka before she saw Godai with Kozue (and Kyoko's date with Mitaka is largely the reason why Godai was dating Kozue at the time.)
  • And in another Rumiko Takahashi work, she used it frequently in Inuyasha as well. When the title character showed any sort of interest in his old flame Kikyo, not only would he later be subjected to physical punishment by a jealous Kagome he'd also get chastised by his companions for making Kagome feel bad. Yet, somehow when he shows jealously over Miroku (before meeting Sango) and Koga flirting with Kagome, not only does he still get physically punished by Kagome he still gets criticized by the others for acting stupid.
    • Slighty justified in that Koga (and Miroku too at first) is really just some guy they met, but Kikyo is Inuyasha's ex; they have history together, they were in love, he was willing to become human for her. In fact; Kikyo was still a contender for Inuyasha's heart 50 years later. However it's no secret that Kagome doesn't like Koga the way he likes her. Kagome did have a reason to be worried
  • One non-Rumiko Takahashi example may be Love Hina, especially at the very beginning of the story, with the girls trying their best to drive Keitaro away from the Hinata Inn. However, he still has a hard time winning them over (except for Shinobu and, arguably, Kaolla); Naru, for example, kicked him once when she dropped into his room and found Kaolla lying over him - in fact, he was trying to stop her from messing his room, but she kept on running up and down.
    • Another example is when Naru frequently beats Keitaro up when he enters her room as she is changing her clothes. Once, however,she had dropped in while he was changing clothes. Still, she beat him up. This was rather badly hand waved by saying that at this point, it's a reflex.
    • Perhaps the most unfair example would have to be that whenever Keitaro walks into the girls baths (always accidentally) he is punched right into the sky no questions asked, but when Naru suddenly walked in on Keitaro bathing and jumped into his bathtub, Keitaro could do nothing. Afterwards her clothes became see-through and she decided that it was somehow his fault and punched him for her stupidity.
  • Similar to the above example, in Seitokai no Ichizon main character Ken frequently refers to the girls they're his harem, that they'll end falling for him and fantasizes with them. Naturally, they punish him for that. So far it's normal, perhaps a bit more focused on this than your average Harem Series but not too bad. However, one episode has Mafuyu reveal herself as a Yaoi Fangirl who writes Slash of Ken and a fictional brother of him. Naturally Ken complains, and not only he gets punished for that, Mafuyu's sister Minatsu makes him write slash of himself with said brother. When two minutes later he writes a story where they're his harem, he still gets treated as a pervert, and nobody even points out it's the same thing Mafuyu does.
    • In addition, Ken spends half an episode with his eyes covered by a mask that tazes him if he tries to remove it... so he can't see the girls in their swimsuits (In fear of what? At worst he would say pervy comments, but nothing beyond the usual. It's not like they can't kick his ass, they do it on a daily basis anyway), and once the mask breaks by sheer luck, they lock him on a closet and leave him there overnight. Basically, they treat him like if he was a super-pervert of sorts who would, well, do really bad things to them if let unguarded even one second, even though he's more of a generic pervert at worst and he genuinely cares for them. However, and now comes the "unfair" part: Chizuru acts MUCH worse towards Kurimu, but the attitude of Mafuyu and Minatsu is... stares and lifted eyebrows, but that's it. Definitely she doesn't gets treated to half the crap Ken is put through, for no apparent reason at all, even though she IS more dangerous and they're aware of that.
  • In general, this happens way too often on most Harem Series, where the guy will get treated as a pervert even when he's completely innocent (Or simply get mistreated for anything period), but girls doing the same thing or worse results in... nothing at best, the guy being punished anyway at worst.
    • Notable exception is the Tenchi Muyo! multiverse, where the guy is usually a genuine Nice Guy and the girls are less temperamental towards him (though the same can't be said towards each other at times).
  • In Dragon Ball Bulma openly flirted and at one point literally drooled over other men(who were also Hot Bastards). Yet if her boyfriend Yamcha would have to beg for her forgiveness if he just looked at another women. She even pulls a gun on him in Dragonball Origins despite earlier flirting with the evil Colonel Silver.
    • It Gets Worse. According to Future Trunks, Bulma found reason to believe that Yamcha wasn't faithful, and steadily grew attracted and a fling with Vegeta. As in the man who previously killed Yamcha, and was partially responsible for the journey to another planet just to revive him with their Dragon Balls. The anime somehow makes this even worse during the filler when the Z-Fighters were supposed to be training to prepare for the Androids, and Vegeta's stubbornness, coupled with him overtaxing himself while training, made Bulma more and more concerned about his well-being, to the point where Yamcha started to notice and get jealous. Later, she ends up marrying Vegeta, having two children with him, and, to give her some credit, playing at least a sizable part in his redemption story.
  • Comically slightly subverted in Futari Ecchi with the relationship between Rika and Yamada. Both of them cheat on each other (having, as the Japanese say it, "sex friends" on the side), both of them are angry when finding out that the other one cheated, both of them (especially Rika) are viewed as hypocritical because of this and both of them are quarrelsome but occasionally have a Aw, Look -- They Really Do Love Each Other scene, although Rika is presented as Closer to Earth, and thus slightly more positive.
  • Averted in GE - Good Ending, where you get called out if you really screw up, regardless of your gender, and you're expected to work to deal with the consequences of your actions.
  • A rather low-key example of this is during the Cowboy Bebop episode, Ganayme Elegy where Jet visits his ex-girlfriend Elisa. When they were dating, she walked out on him without so much a word of explanation. Just a letter with the words "Goodbye" and a broken stopwatch. Jet tries to get her to answer why she would leave, explaining that he doesn't blame her for leaving him just wants to know why she did. Elisa just dodges the question altogether once again leaving him with no closure. It isn't until her current boyfriend has a bounty put on him and Jet chases them down that she then tell him why. The reason: Jet made the rightful decisions on their relationships and she couldn't stand cause "she wanted to make her decisions".

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Writer Geoff Johns reinvented the Green Lantern Corps so that now there are seven Corps, each representing a different emotion. The Violet Corps represents love. ALL its members are female. When asked why, Johns just said, "most men are not worthy". Let's hope he meant that the all-female Zamarons[1] didn't consider men worthy. Since the Sapphires run on every kind of love, people like crazy stalkers can (and one was recently posessed by Predator, the embodiment of the sapphire) become sort of Sapphires, if not official members.
  • The X-Men's Cyclops cheats on his wife Jean Grey with Emma Frost in his mind (though that was actually Emma telepathically messing with his mind) and he's seen as a cruel cheat. But nobody mentions that earlier, Grey had lusted for and even made out with Wolverine.
    • And Gambit, and Fantomex. Lets not leave her lusting after them out of the way.
    • However, inverted in X-Men: Evolution, where for some reason, Jean is apparently a dirt whore for dating Duncan and being attracted to then-Best friend Scott, but when Pietro Maximoff dated four girls at the same time, no one had any complaint.
      • Well, Pietro IS one of the bad guys, one figures calling out bad guys for being bad is a waste of time.
  • Karen Page became a drug-addicted porn actress, sold Daredevil's secret identity to the Kingpin and slept with god knows how many guys. Matt forgave her. Matt had an affair with a supervillain. Once. Guess who got dumped. THREE. TIMES.
  • One of the early issues of Ninja High School features Sammi, a Chinese food delivery female forced to dress like a male due to the stupidity of her father making a bet with his friends to have a son (its a long story). In the story she runs afoul of the local cheerleaders who are very feminist and one of the girls takes a liking to Sammi (again due to looking like a boy). Sammi tries to let the girl down gently that she isn't interested. But this only offends her friends since they think Sammi figures she not good enough, to the point they nearly kill Sammi over it. Said girl isn't a saint either, practically trying to force Sammi to be her boyfriend. At the end, when Sammi finally reveals her secret to the girl, said girl gets angry (for her VERY psychotic mistake) and hits Sammi with a mallet for the embarrassment. Granted its played for laughs but really some people can't take a hint.

Film[edit | hide]

  • Happens in dozens of Lifetime Movies. The man cheats? His fault! The woman cheats? His fault too!
  • Before the Rains has the man taking advantage of the woman, who is trapped by her society.
  • In the Meryl Streep movie It's Complicated, the main character divorced her sleazy husband when he cheated on her. But when the main character has an affair with her (now married) ex-husband, it's treated like one wild fun sign of her living life. Her friends cheer and laugh when they find out. She does spend a good portion of the movie agonizing over the fact that she can't seem to stop, its when both her friends and her THERAPIST told her it's a good idea did she decides to stop and even then, she quickly realizes she didn't like it anyway and goes after the not married Steve Martin.
  • Somewhat subverted in American Beauty, as although the protagonist, the dad, does get 'punished' in the end, it's not at all related to his breaking away from his materialistic diseased harpy and hateful daughter and subsequent adultery, but a bizarre misunderstanding. Although we're lead to think that at first. It then goes even further, as he didn't actually end up committing adultery, but his wife did, yet her... shall we say ambitions, seem to be presented as justified. In fact, while everyone else is busy manipulating their loved ones, the worst thing Lester does is blackmail his hated boss.
  • In the 80's version of The Jazz Singer (don't know if it was used in the others) Jess's wife, Rivka, is worried over him chasing his dreams of becoming a singer and him heading to California. Later in the film she comes down herself to drag him back home despite the fact he been very successful and is happy. Jess tries to convince her to stay with him (despite a budding relationship with Molly) but she leave him saying "she lost him". Wait? So he in the wrong cause he wanted to do something he liked? Oh yeah keep in mind he and Rivka were still living with Jess's father in his house. So...yeah.
  • Averted in It Could Happen to You, the husband has an affair after his already materialistic wife grows distant from him after they both win the lottery, and he is considered to be sympathetic, since their relationship had already been on the rocks.
  • Averted in Along Came Polly where the wife is considered shallow for doing the hunky nudist scuba instructor on their honeymoon, and the husband is portrayed sympathetically and refuses to take her back.
  • Intolerable Cruelty dances this trope all over the place. First, sleazy lawyer George Clooney helps an unfaithful wife to divorce her husband out of all his money. Then he helps an unfaithful husband to keep all his money in his divorce. Then there's a far more complicated plot where he falls in love with The Chessmaster serial divorcer from the second divorce. It's all treated with Rule of Funny, you can discuss what the moral message of it is one your own time.
  • In This Means War, the female love interest gets upset that her two male love interests have not been upfront that they knew each other and lied about their jobs (to hide that they're CIA agents). At the point you start dating two people simultaneously, honesty in a relationship is not a realistic expectation. This definitely isn't the only example of hypocrisy in the movie (e.g. the male love interests complaining when they try to sabotage each other, even though they're both guilty), so it's possible that this is a subtle subversion.
  • Defied in another George Clooney movie, The Descendants. His wife has an accident and ends up in a coma with no possibility of recovery and to add insult to injury he finds out she was cheating on him as well. When her family tries to justify her actions by saying she was lonely Clooney's character becomes agitated and delivers one of the best lines in the film:

"So what, you're gonna go spouting cliches about women now? Nothing's ever a woman's fault, is it?"

  • In Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, the Casanova protagonist Connor Mead is portrayed as needing a lesson in respecting women. but not only is he given a sympathetic backstory (a childhood crush hurt his feelings, and he turned into a player to avoid such pain again), but they show the bridesmaids pretty much engaging in the same bed-hopping behavior (even competing to bed said protagonist) with no negative consequences. There is even a scene where it is discovered that one of them slept with the groom (Connor's brother). When Connor makes the logical arguments that 1) this was years before his brother even met his fiance and 2) they were comforting the bridesmaid, when she was the one he slept with and she didn't tell the bride either, he is treated as scum and even his own brother tells him off for it. It pretty much made Connor Unintentionally Sympathetic at that point.
    • He's the protagonist, and he grows past the pain and rekindles the relationship with Jenny by the end of the film. The sympathy is all intentional.
  • The Hangover is thankfully a subversion in this case with the character Stu and his eventually ex-girlfriend by movies end. Melissa is depicted as being that type of 'feminist' who mistakes equality for all genders as meaning supremacy for the feminine as she's been described as assaulting her boyfriend, cheating on him and then getting angry with him at the prospect of him watching strippers. 'Again' thankfully it's a subversion, because at the end Stu grows a spine, calls her out on previously described b.s. and sends her packing.
  • Particularly blatant in Zerophilia, with the main character and his love interest being revealed to both switch genders when they get horny / have sex you'd think the trope would be subverted, but no it's played perfectly straight Luke gets blamed for pretty much everything that goes wrong in the relationship while Michelle playing mind games by flirting with him as two different people while he was trying to deal with a difficult change in his life and stay faithful to her girl half is completely glossed over. Also Keenan being bothered by his girlfriend saying she'd sleep with his best friend is presented as him being close-minded, but his somewhat insensitive comments later on are a big deal that cause a breakup. The happy ending is earned by both guys eventually groveling sufficiently for forgiveness.
  • Played straight in Crazy Stupid Love - Emily cheats on Cal and then asks for a divorce, and she's treated with sympathy. Cal starts sleeping with other women after they seperate (again, initiated by Emily)? He's a cad and needs to ask for forgiveness.
  • Averted in The Painted Veil. Kitty is held fully responsible by Walter for her betrayal, culminating in him dragging her along to cholera-ridden China. The film focuses on Walter's emotional betrayal by the woman he had thought so much of and makes Kitty earn her forgiveness from Him.
  • A bit downplayed in American Dreamer. Cathy, while under Easy Amnesia, does sleep with another guy, but her husband isn't a cad, just a controlling jerk.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Common in Sit Coms, where one of the Running Gags of the Butt Monkey is that he is often times rejected by women in a pretty messed up way. But if one of the female stars is cruelly rejected by a guy of the week, or if she is dating him but he turns out to be a Jerkass, expect him to get some sort of comeuppance by the end of the episode, anywhere from humiliation to a Curb Stomp Battle.
  • On Maury, women bring on multiple different men, often over more than one episode, to find out if a man is the father of the woman's baby through a DNA test. The audience is always, always against the man in this conflict (though he often doesn't help his case, as many of these men accused of being the father make total asses of themselves). Even if the amount of men this woman has slept with is in the double digits, which is not uncommon, and even if the woman is the one who cheated on the man, the audience universally chides the man and praises the woman, even though Fridge Logic would point to the woman being at the greatest fault here.
  • Arguably worse on Steve Wilkos. At one point, a woman tackles her husband on stage while he, in turn, grabs at her ankles to pull her down with him. Steve threatens to arrest the man, treating him as the aggressor, while giving the woman a slap on the wrist. In another instance, a woman is beating up on a man after finding out he cheated on her and Steve asked the man why he should be surprised, even though Steve would have had her escorted out in handcuffs if the genders were reversed.
  • In Saved by the Bell, two occasionally-reused plots throughout the high school and college years were (a) "Zack pays a little too much attention to another girl and Kelly gets mad," and (b) "Kelly sees another guy and drops Zack like a hot potato." In cases of A, Zack having to figure out how to make it up to Kelly (or realizing he needed to) would be the focus of the plot. However, in cases of B, Zack would still be made the villain, for standing in the way of Kelly's happiness for his own selfish needs. Apparently, Negative Continuity is in play and you're not supposed to notice this pattern, but it's hard not to. The Grand Finale of the original students' saga is Zack and Kelly's wedding. What led Zack to pop the question? Kelly was drooling over another guy again and there was an upcoming trip. Zack wasn't going on it, but Kelly and the other guy were, and Zack was (rightfully, given history, though nobody said that) concerned about what would happen. Aw, how romantic.
  • Used regularly on Friends. From Ross and Rachel's breakup in season 3 to the beginning of season 5, when Ross was in a relationship, Rachel would become jealous, distressed, and often seek to make everyone around her miserable until he was inevitably single again; while this behaviour wasn't necessarily condoned, she was often given a great deal of sympathy from her other friends over it. Meanwhile, if Ross ever displayed the slightest bit of jealousy over any of Rachel's relationships, it was met with utter exasperation and being told the relationship was over and he needed to move on. However, from season 5, they became more comfortable with the others dating.
    • Though one episode finally seemed to put this in some perspective with Rachel latching on to a complete stranger on a plane and telling him her entire sob story, only for him to eventually get fed up and tell her how immature, selfish, cruel and petty she was being (especially in going to ruin Ross and Emily's wedding - calling her a horrible, horrible, person), and "By the way, it seems perfectly clear to me that you were on a break!" What made that moment even more glorious was the fact that the stranger was played by none other than House himself, Hugh Laurie. Here it is, by the way!
    • This is kind of lampshaded in an episode where Rachel borrows Monica's expensive car. We say borrow, but we really mean steal. Ross does his best to keep her from taking it, but ends up going along with it to make sure she brings the car back in one piece. Long story short, Rachel speeds, and gets pulled over by a cop. She shows him her license, which expired ten years earlier. Rachel flirts with the cop more than a little, and the cop let's her go without even a slap on the wrist, advising Ross to drive, since she doesn't have her license. Later in the same episode, Ross is pulled over—for driving too slow—and gets a ticket. He tries the same tricks as Rachel did, which is really more pathetic than effective.
    • Notably averted in The One that Could Have Been when Rachel is making excuses for why it would be okay for her to cheat on her husband with soap-star Joey, only for Monica to cut in, saying "Nothing you say could make me think it's okay for you to cheat on your husband!"
    • Later on however, after just barely resists temptation, she returns home to find her husband in bed with another woman (which arguably also justifies her infamous entry into the show as a Runaway Bride, suggesting her fiance was a Jerkass that would have been unfaithful to her anyway). Granted however as she attempts to play the injured party and complain about what pigs men are to Ross, he points out her plans beforehand.

Rachel: Oh what are you, a detective?

  • Used far too often in Scrubs.
    • Best exemplified in JDs Anvilicous closing narration in My Tormented Mentor: "There will always be a battle for power between the sexes, sometimes a man just has to give in, other times he just has to take a positive step, and once in a while a man just has to be there for her." The subtext being that women can't be wrong because they have it hard on account of being women(!?), while in the same episode the chief complaint a female surgeon has against Turk is that he assumes women in their profession have it hard (which is true, at least in universe) and then punishes him for being perfectly nice to her. The female surgeon who is in charge of Turk constantly insults everyone around her and then prevents him from operating indefinitely because she overheard him defending her in front of the resident Memetic Molester and he told her he doesn't share the prejudices of the other male surgeons. Hint: You're not supposed to be supportive of women, it's demeaning. All instances of female surgeons in the show basically illustrate one point: cocky men are assholes, cocky women are professionals who fight the good fight for women all over the world and it's completely justified if they lash out and misuse their authority form time to time (or all the time.)
      • Note that this head surgeon abuses her power over Turk when Carla uninvited her to their wedding.
    • That episode has another example with Dr. Cox and Jordan. After Jordan's brother dies (who was also best friends with Perry), Dr. Cox is extremely upset but finds it difficult to move on with Jordan's friends staying with them. Said friends openly insult and demean Perry at every opportunity and even lash out at him when he tries to get close to Jordan for emotional support. In the end, rather than getting an aesop that the two of them need to work together to overcome the loss, Perry learns he's meant to comfort and support Jordan at all times, even letting her cheerily keep her friends at the apartment knowing how much they upset him. His emotional needs are all but ignored.
    • Elliot sleeps with JD then immediately dumps him the day after because her old boyfriend came back; JD's jealousy is depicted as petty and he's advised to "be a good friend". Later, JD convinces Elliot to leave her boyfriend but realises that he doesn't love her. After struggling over his dilemma, he admits this to her; she physically assaults him and carries a grudge for the entire next season.
    • Elliot is engaged to marry Keith. The day before the wedding, she realises that she doesn't love him (wow, small world) and dumps him. The day afterwards, she changes her mind and gets back together with him, sleeping with him twice. Then she decides that she's repeating a bad pattern and dumps him again. Keith is understandably furious and carries a grudge for the next season; meanwhile, Elliot can't understand what the big deal is and bemoans Keith's "lack of professionalism". (Speaking of professionalism, the reason they got together in the first place was because Elliot wanted a sex buddy and chose Keith, her subordinate.) Carla does manage to force Elliot to face up to the psychological devastation inflicted on Keith and apologize, but this is undercut substantially by being basically a way to write Keith off the show. He wasn't seen until the penultimate scene of season eight's last show (which was intended to be the series finale ) and never again.
    • JD accidentally gets Kim pregnant on their fourth date, but they decide to raise the baby and work together to make their relationship work. Kim suddenly takes a lucrative job offer a few states over (naturally, JD doesn't want her to go but "learns" that the correct reaction is to support her decision unconditionally) and a few months later, informs JD that she has miscarried. Turns out, that was a lie to get out of their relationship. JD is furious but decides that he will get back together with Kim for the sake of his child, even if it means trapping himself in a loveless relationship for the rest of his life. When Kim is in labour she demands to know what he thinks of her; he admits that he doesn't love her and she is furious, dumping him immediately afterwards.
    • Inverted in one episode where Elliot sleeps with a male patient only to discover that he's married. When he tells his wife, the wife goes into a frenzy directed only at Elliot, and hunts her for the rest of the episode.
  • Sex and the City runs on this trope, though through an Unreliable Narrator and her female friends, who generally complain a lot about men. Some instances show Carrie in a negative light, like when she tore through a boyfriend's personal locked belongings in a fit of jealous needy snooping, or when she cheated on Aidan with the married Big. Or when Charlotte freaked out on Harry for waiting too long to "set a date", or Samantha cheating on Smith. But about 90% of the time, the women are portrayed more sympathetic or funny in any given situation, and the men are pigs. However this arguably down to the fact they are the protagonists than their gender.
  • In the nurse drama Mercy, the Jerkass lead Veronica claims it's alright that she cheated on her husband with an attractive male doctor in Iraq because 'it was Iraq and she could've died' and because 'he cheated first'. She gets called out on both of them, though.
  • That '70s Show has Donna Pinciotti who could be the Trope Codifier. The way she treats Eric is appalling and she is rarely (if ever) called out on it. Examples include:
    • Blasting Eric for daring to make plans with his friends without asking her permission first. At the end of the episode Eric has to promise to always check with her first before seeing his friends. He then asks her if she needs to ask his permission to see her friends, to which she replies "No." and skips off to meet up with a friend.
      • Yelling at Eric for having two dates with another girl when Donna and Eric were broken up, conveniently forgetting the fact that she herself dated and slept with Casey Kelso in that same time frame.
        • Going to a wedding with a guy whom she knows has a crush on her and then blasting Eric for not being alright with it.
  • Grey's Anatomy just... Grey's Anatomy
    • Not always. Sometimes it's inverted, too! Men cheating (Alex with syph nurse, Mc Dreamy with Meredith, George with Izzy) is forgiven much, much faster than when Meredith (single person) has a one-night-stand with George (single person) and is blamed by everyone else for being heartless, using him, and just not loving him.
    • The Spin-Off series Private Practice invariably follows suit, taking this to the extremes, to the point that one character dates two men at the same time, sleeping with/cheating on both of them regularly, gets pregnant, refuses to allow a paternity test while ignoring both men during her pregnancy, abandons her child after birth, sleeps with Addison's father, and when confronted about it tells Addison that she doesn't regret it because "It was a wonderful experience". Most of the other characters act like she's completely insane and very selfish but they just aren't mentioning it to her face, because she's so traumatized.
  • Desperate Housewives is a pretty bad case: The ladies get away with crap that they'd be crucified for if it was a man. Anywhere between throwing your spouse outside the window of the top floor when you find out he found out you were trying con him out of taking all his money (Gabrielle), to keeping your deceased spouse literally Stuffed in The Fridge, albeit to avoid tax (Karen), to kidnapping a drug-addict's child, murdering said drug addict when she comes back for her child and dismembering her corpse (Mary Alice), and though while the latter does lead to Mary Alice committing suicide after someone finds out, she is still remembered fondly by the four main characters while her husband, is perceived as a very unpleasant person for doing the exact same thing.
  • Averted in Bones, when Brennan has been dating two men; one she has the sex with, the other intellectual conversation. At the end of the episode, both men show up at her workplace at the same time, realize what's going on, say they wanted what the other guy is getting as well as their "specialties", call her out on it, and break up with her.
  • In the first season of Jersey Shore, Ronnie and Sammi were being followed home and harassed by a man who was determined to get Ronnie to fight him. Sammi was antagonizing the man and his girlfriend and wouldn’t stop when Ronnie insisted that she stop. When Sammi wouldn’t stop, Ronnie shoved her away from him in frustration, then ended up fighting the man. Everything that happened that night is blamed on Ronnie, and the part of the situation that Sammi and the rest of the cast focused on was that Ronnie shoved her. It's particularly obnoxious when Ronnie ends up with bruises and a black eye, and Sammi, without a mark on her, is yelling "You've TRAUMATIZED me."
    • Sammi’s role in her abusive relationship with Ronnie is generally downplayed. He’s cheated, screamed at her, and smashed her things in anger. Sammi is vindictive, emotionally abusive, and a spoiled brat, but that's rarely pointed out.
      • Months after finding out that Ronnie cheated, Sammi would follow Ronnie around the house demanding to know if he was with any girls and would not get out of his face; it appeared that she wouldn’t leave Ronnie alone until he admitted that he was cheating (at the time, he wasn’t). She won’t allow him to be friends with Jenni, and when she finds out that he is, she punches him in the face. When Ronnie refuses to get out of Sammi’s face after she’s suspected of cheating (she actually did) it’s abusive.
      • To get back at Ronnie after breaking up with him, Sammi goes to the same club he is at and makes a scene dancing with guys to make him jealous. Ronnie goes home and smashes all of Sammi’s things. What Ronnie did was way worse, but no one calls out Sam for getting revenge.
  • In the sitcom My Wife and Kids, the infamous Sweethearts Day episode. To summarize, the women (egged on by wife Jay) invent a holiday for the express purpose of forcing their men to buy them diamond jewelry. Michael buys Jay pearls instead when she displays a bad attitude, and she reacts like he did something terrible and responds by doing such things as refusing to make him breakfast (and putting raw bacon on his head). Jay is presented unflinchingly as the right one in the conflict, and at the end of the episode Michael is the one apologizing.
    • In another episode, Michael wants a quiet evening at home so he can watch the basketball game, but Jay drags him to a fancy Japanese restaurant instead. The restaurant's staff openly rips him off and treats him like garbage, up to and including the waitress stealing sips from his drink and lying about it when he complains. Jay's response is to chastise him for being a baby.
    • In yet another episode, the girls decide to play a Newlywed Game-style parlor game where the men have to guess their responses to questions like "When was our first kiss?" The men miss all the questions and end up in the doghouse, but turn it back around on the women and prove that they don't know anything either. All of the women admit their mistake, apologize and make up...except for Jay, meaning Michael has to go the extra mile to get back in her good graces.
  • Possibly subverted on Malcolm in the Middle where Lois says she has no problem with Hal looking at other Women. Hal insists he never does. When Lois mentions that she looks at other Men, Hal is crushed. It's very much played for laughs and eventually it's revealed that Lois is more devastated than Hal. This is because it means that he is even more in love with her than she is with him. Considering Lois' obsession with always being the better partner, its a hard hit to take.
    • When the flakey babysitter of Jamie dates Craig and Abe at the same time, no one finds fault with her. All it basically does is make her more of a Scrappy.
  • Law and Order Special Victims Unit had a case involving a murdered lesbian who was in an abusive relationship. The said abusive lover was portrayed much more sympathetically then any other on SVU. While most male abusers are treated like a Complete Monster she was treated like a nice girl with an unfortunate bad temper. In the writers' defense, they may have been trying to avoid Unfortunate Implications of the Psycho Lesbian variety.
    • Hell, whenever there is a female suspect or perpetrator, there will usually be something to throw the blame on a man, or a man actually did it, or something will happen to rob the man of his sympathy.
    • In the same show, whenever there's a female victim (unless it's a child) there will sometimes turn out to be a twist in which the woman actually did it, or did something else evil to cause her to be in the situation. That show just likes screwing with the audience.
    • One particular episode begins with a woman claiming to have been raped by a rich (married) man and had his baby, and he denied ever sleeping with her, typical set-up...until it turns out she's a con artist who drugged men and uses an anal probe to force them to ejaculate while unconscious so she could impregnate herself. The poor sap she accused is one of many rich, successful men she did this with and his swimmers just happened to be better than the competition. Oh, and that was just one part of a two-part scam she was running with her mother. Once the reversal is revealed Benson and Stabler are much more sympathetic to the male victim and treat the woman like a Complete Monster, though she gets away with it until she and her mother were later arrested in a Crossover with Law & Order, avoiding a potential Karma Houdini.
  • Degrassi the Next Generation generally avoids this problem. Males and females being treated equally (and having equal shares in drama). Use of schoolyard morals also means that if a male has two girls its okay, but if a girl has two guys she's a slut. Except when Hazel suggests it is the male's place to be afraid of and completely obedient to their girlfriends. Something akin to a puppy, or a faithful manservant. The instance itself is less of an example, as Spinner was cheating on Paige (or getting ready to).
    • Even then, it was a bit of a subversion because Spinner implied the whole "loyal puppy" thing was the reason why he almost cheated. Either way, the whole concept of the guy being subservient to his girlfriend is never brought up again thankfully.
  • In Glee Will's wife Terri admits that she did everything she could to prevent him from feeling good about himself in order to trap him in a loveless marriage and support her financially. What really horrified fans was that in the same scene Will got angry and grabbed her wrist hard enough to make her cry out.
    • That may have been contributed to the fact that Will was always mellow and passive to his wife, and that little confession kind of sent him over the deep end, a kind of shocking Beware the Nice Ones in a rather upbeat show.
    • Also in Glee (especially in the first season), almost everything involving Quinn. She had sex with Puck while involved with Finn. At the time, she was president of the chastity club and never had sex with Finn. When she found out she was pregnant, she lied to Finn and told him it was his child, saying it was because he ejaculated in a hot tub that both of them were in at the time. Throughout the season, this lie was presented as entirely justified, with Mercedes even telling Puck that it was Quinn's right to choose who would act as the child's father. Furthermore, Quinn judged Puck's fitness as a potential father solely on the basis of his fitness as a romantic partner for her. Once the lie got out, she chose to put the child up for adoption, even though Puck previously expressed a strong desire to be a father. The next season, Quinn resumed her relationship with Finn, the guy she had betrayed so blatantly before.
    • Even though Brittany cheated on Artie, the show presents their breakup as Artie's fault for calling her stupid.
  • An ID channel documentary called Women Murderers. The subjects were child murderers, black widows, angels of death, or went on violent rampages with their boyfriends where they participated in the bloodshed. However, the show was sympathetic toward all their subjects, consistently going to great lengths to portray them as victims driven to their crimes by past child abuse or stress in life. The one lone dissenting voice, who was also the only female interviewed, was a female profiler who put it all into perspective: Many people, men and women, suffered horrible abuse as children, yet they didn't go out and commit murder.
    • This is the basic premise of Snapped as well. Apparently all female killers are somehow driven to their horrific acts by men. But considering the channel it's on... this attitude isn't shocking.
  • The later seasons of Everybody Loves Raymond basically run on this trope. The Mary Sue-ish wife, Debra, acts like a total bitch and still gets instant forgiveness (in fact, the show usually acts like nothing she does is ever wrong), while Ray gets browbeaten and screamed at for the most minor of offenses.
  • There's Bridezillas, where whenever the man is involved with his groomsmen throwing a bachelor party, the bride-to-be pitches a fit, then promptly goes and dances with a male stripper sometime not long after, usually putting whip cream on him and licking it or some such.
    • Considering the show's premise, this sounds more like the producers showing the brides' hypocrisy rather than an example of this trope.
  • On Everybody Hates Chris, Julius is forced to go on strike and stay at home (not his fault nor his choice), forcing Rochelle to have to get a job again. Instead of just sitting around all day doing nothing, Julius cleans the whole house AND makes dinner with dessert. You would think Rochelle would be appreciative or at least show a sign of gratitude like the kids do, but no... she gets all bitchy at him and complains about every little thing (and by every little thing, I mean she likely makes stuff up to irritate him). Then when he justifiably snaps and says he does a better job and doesn't find it difficult, she yells at him saying he's only been doing it one day and has no idea how difficult it is for her. However it makes absolutely no sense for her to say something like this, as narrator Chris explains just seconds prior that Julius was the oldest of eleven children and had to do the cooking and cleaning for them, something you would think his wife would know. Then to add to the stupidity of it, he has TWO jobs at once, so of course he wouldn't find it difficult if he's already a hard worker. He then is guilted into 'fixing' the horrible crime of being a good, hardworking husband at the end. They try to play the whole "she just feels underappreciated" card, but that kind of fails since she starts getting irritated before the kids even say much, and there still isn't any logical reason to feel jealous, seeing as how the strike just started a day prior and showed no signs of lasting a long time. You know it's bad when the narrator says that the man is in the right, yet is STILL wrong.
    • Not exactly the same (although it is in universe) since the Chris Rock and the show agrees with this page, but it's a story, it pretty much says: They're women and we love them so much we would take the blame and all that, even when it's obvious they're wrong.
  • Occurs in Home Improvement, but perhaps most notably in an episode where Tim & Jill argue about whether or not Jill told Tim three times they were going to the opera that night, as she claims. As the episode progresses, Tim realizes that Jill did let him know, but the hints were so subtle that Tim missed them completely until that point. Jill, meanwhile, realizes that she "did everything except sit Tim down and tell him we're going to the opera-oh my God I didn't do that." At the episode's end, Tim apologizes to Jill for having missed her notes and Jill... lets him. She does nothing to apologize for what she did wrong.
    • Egregiously, Home Improvement used Recycled Scripts as well, using the same plot twice, only with Tim's and Jill's roles swapped around. Tim was always on the wrong side. For example, one episode portrayed Tim as an unfeeling jerk because he said he did not want any more children, seeing as in a marriage, he can't decide this sort of thing alone. Then, when in a later episode, Tim decided he'd like to try for a daughter, he was portrayed as foolish and insensitive because it's really his wife's decision, and she doesn't want any more children.
    • In "Let's Did Lunch," Tim helps his friend Dave conceal from Karen the fact that he is cheating on her. It is later revealed that Jill was concealing the fact Karen was planning to end the relationship anyway. Tim fails to understand why this isn't hypocritical of Jill.
  • This played out over a two part episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. It starts when Phil decides to go into politics instead of retiring as was his original plan and Vivian gets upset at him, fair enough. But then her motive quickly shifts into "You know how I feel about politics" with no further elaboration on it. It came out of nowhere too and we never find out what her big problem is. This culminates in her threatening to divorce her husband for pursuing something that clearly makes him happy, no compromise, it's either stop pursuing politics and stay at home or divorce her. The show completely plays this on her side and in the end, Phil gives up his dreams for... the wife who threatened to leave him for no real good reason.
    • The show does give a reason. He promised he would spend more time with his family but was taking a job that would give him even more time away from his family.
    • Also sort of played with in the episode "It's a Wonderful Lie". Will lies to his girlfriend Lisa, saying that he's at a basketball game when really he went to a frat party. Lisa says that she'll just hang out with her girlfriends at home, but he sees her at the same party. Lisa is rightfully angry because he lied to her, but at the same time she also shouldn't be mad at him since he wasn't with any girls and she showed up at the same party.
  • Subverted in Peep Show. While Mark and Jeremy often commit heinous acts,the women are just as complicit and likely to be viewed as bad,such as Elena cheating on Her girlfriend with Jeremy.In a season two episode,the show even portrays Jeremy sympathetically when He cheats on His girlfriend while showing Toni as the bad one for exploiting His unhappiness in His relationship because of her jealousy of his wife Nancy.
  • Averted in a season one episode of Frasier in which Frasier discovers that one of his parents had an affair. His father, whom he had a very difficult relationship with at this point, says it was his fault. Later however Frasier discovers that his late mother, whom he was very close to, had been the guilty party and Marty was trying to protect her legacy. Frasier is more surprised about his mother. While Marty does accept a degree of responsibility, both must admit that Hester was the one at fault. This trope is also averted in other respects, for at no point does anyone suggest that Lilith was justified in cheating on Frasier and Maris is portrayed as wildly unreasonable while divorcing Niles.
    • In fact, other than the typical Humiliation Conga of cruel women/embarrassing dates in which the men are given the Butt Monkey treatment, Frasier was far, far better at averting this trope than almost any other sitcom at the time. (And even the aforementioned humiliating dates were occasionally dished out to Roz or Daphne without bending over back backwards to let them get revenge.)
    • It even went so far as to do what few other aversions have done... it would occasionally have women admit their own culpability in the matter. While many other aversion examples are simply examples of other characters or the work as a whole not playing up this trope, Frasier's one of the few where the woman herself was known to say "Yes, it was my fault."
    • The overall attitude to gender can perhaps be best seen in the fact that when the characters do stand up to Their wives and call Them out on their crap (e.g' Niles standing up to Maris after years of mistreatment or Frasier's truly epic chewing out of Diane when she comes back) it is treated as Moment of awesome and is quite glorious to watch.
  • On Robin Hood Much and Allan-a-Dale are chewed out by Kate for saving her first from an attempted rape and then from a throat-slitting. Aware that Much has a crush on her, Kate demands that they both stop protecting her and concentrate on the mission instead. In the very next episode Kate manipulates and then downright sabotages several outlaw missions with her attempts to set herself up as Robin's girlfriend (by using Much as a proxy, no less!) The writers didn't seem to notice the Double Standard, and Kate gets what she wants by the end of the episode with no reprimands for her childish behaviour whatsoever.
  • Lampshaded on Buffy the Vampire Slayer with Anya, a vengeance demon who punished unfaithful men, when she finally muses out loud that in all her years granting wishes to scorned women they were often just as much to blame for the messes they found themselves in.
  • Community has an in-universe example. After Britta publicly declares her love for Jeff, he turns her down because he doesn't feel the same way. Everyone views her as brave for this, ignoring that she put him in an impossible situation and views him as a heartless jerkass. The show makes a clear point that Jeff does not deserve to be treated in such a manner.
    • Often played for laughs in later seasons; Britta, as the show's resident Soapbox Sadie Straw Feminist, will often attempt to invoke this by citing some claim of female moral or gender superiority over men, only for her to almost immediately demonstrate that she herself at least doesn't come close to meeting the high standards she claims for womenkind.
    • In "Digital Exploration of Interior Design", Annie encourages Jeff to make amends to someone who's feelings he apparently hurt when under the impression that it's a lady, only to discover that they've been misled by a Gender Blender Name. She then immediately dismisses the guy's upset and his subsequent actions, which she quite approved of when under the impression that he was a lady, as pathetic. Subverted, however, in that she later calls herself out for her own issues surrounding gender.
  • Coronation Street thrives on this trope. Sally Webster has a nerve to be upset about her husband cheating on her when she herself cheated on him years ago. And got away with it, lying to say said man had made it all up. When he brought it up in a Continuity Nod, Sally just remarked "I never slept with him" and it was dropped. And then there's Rosie who actually knew about the affair, strangely keeping quiet about that.
    • An interesting case happened with Dev and Tara. The whole "we were on a break" thing from Friends actually happened only it was a friend of Tara's though Dev didn't know this. A barmaid told Tara about it and Tara plotted her revenge, eventually revealing a nude picture of Dev on a billboard in the middle of the street. Of course if it had been Dev doing that to Tara, reaction would have been a lot different. But she was still treated as vindictive for doing it and Dev's daughter Amber gave her a Reason You Suck Speech.
    • Averted with Tracey and Steve in regards to their parenting of their daughter Amy. He refuses to see or even contribute financially to her but is depicted sympathetically because his wife insists on it (albeit due to Traceys terrible behavior announcing he is the father on their wedding day but that isn't Amys fault) but when she stops seeing her daughter because her boyfriend wants it she is depicted as the mother from hell. Although considering that Tracey is clearly a manipulative self-centred sociopath who has selfishly upset and ruined Steve's life more than once, it's not incredibly difficult to sympathise with Steve on this one, to some degree at least.
  • An episode of NCIS has Kate slap Tony upside the head. Just imagine the tantrum and sexist accusations she would've thrown if he'd hit her back.
    • Later averted with Ziva, who is treated like any other member of Team Gibbs, including receiving the trademark Gibbs slap when she messes up. And while she has occasionally hit Tony without retaliation, that's less sexism than the fact she's a genuinely scary Mossad Action Girl, and Tony's more than happy to annoy her into submission instead.
  • Played straight and subverted in Coupling In the last episode of the second series 'The End of The Line' both Steve and Susan flirt with random strangers in a pub, however it is only Steve who gets called out on it (though only because he doesn't find out about her flirting, while his was exposed in the worst possible fashion). However, in the first episode of the third series, Susan is shown to complain that the worst thing about finding out that her boyfriend flirted with a stranger in a bar is that she did exactly the same thing and so can't complain.
  • In Firefly, Kaylee can get steaming mad at Simon for fumbling a compliment, and he will get glared at and his psychic genius sister will call him a boob. No understanding of his Fish Out of Water status, his concerns for his traumatized sister, or the fact that he tried to tell her several times how much he liked her; she has expressed an interest in him, so he should drop everything and eloquently tell her that she is the center of his universe, and failing to do this is cause for reproach and cold shoulders. Meanwhile, Kaylee can flirt at fancy parties or throw herself at a random war buddy from Mal and Zoe's stint on the Independent army, and no one bats an eye at her behavior or thinks that, maybe, it might cause some tension between her and Simon.
    • Simon "fumbled a compliment" by turning it into a classist insult, and since Simon doesn't do anything to return Kaylee's affections until The Movie anyway, it hardly matters what Kaylee does with her sex life.
    • Kaylee is a little too quick to see 'classist insults' probably because she's insecure about the difference in their backgrounds.
  • Subverted in Oz. Tim McManus sleeps with multiple women throughtout the show and is still portrayed sympathetically. Claire Howell is sexually aggressive, assaults Tim and nearly ruins his reputation when he rejects her advances and sexually abuses many prisoners and is treated by the show as a near Complete Monster.
  • Surprisingly averted on The L Word which had an almost all female cast. Jenny cheats on Tim in Season one and spends most of the season lying and manipulating both parties. Both are treated sympathetically but it is never suggested that Tim was at fault in any way. When he does act like a jerk, it is viewed as nothing more than should be expected and he is allowed to leave the series as a good guy who simply got caught in a messy relationship.
  • Averted and Inverted in Friday Night Lights. Tim and Lyla have an affair while Jason, who was his best friend and her boyfriend, is in hospital and dealing with paralysis. Jason finds out and is understandably infuriated with both of Them and every other character is disgusted. The inversion is that Lyla, who was there for Him every day, is treated far worse for her infidelity than Tim (Who couldn't even visit Jason in hospital) by the school to the point where hate sites are dedicated to bashing Her. While She is treated sympathetically, the overall view is that She screwed up and had to accept responsibility for her actions while the majority of sympathy is definitely with Jason.
  • Usually averted in How I Met Your Mother, however, it crops up in season 6's "Hopeless": Ted and Robin run across a man at a club, which results in Ted finding out that Robin had a crush on him while she and Ted were dating and on one occasion (around three years prior to the episode), flirted with him at a store behind Ted's back and later that same night, Robin made Ted cover up his face while she had sex with him, in order to fantasize about the other man. Ted is angry over this, but then Robin reminds him that the same day at the store, the reason Ted bought his infamous red cowboy boots was because a pretty saleswoman said he'd look hot in them. Ted then "realizes" that maybe he's not in a position to criticize Robin, and anyway, all of that's in the past now. Which would be fine, except that getting convinced into making a bizarre purchase by a pretty face is simply eye-rolling and a little annoying, while fucking your (long-term, serious) boyfriend and covering up his face so that you don't have to look at him while you pretend you're fucking another guy is one of the most sexually degrading things you can do to a romantic partner, and a male character who did that to his girlfriend would be called a sleazy, disgusting chauvinist pig for it.
  • Averted on a M*A*S*H episode in which Margaret thinks she might be pregnant. In one scene, Margaret says that it's all her husband's fault. Hawkeye replies that he wouldn't blame it all on her husband, since Margaret was "probably there when it happened."


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Intentionally invoked in The Belgariad, as the main characters engage in a long running exchange of witty banter over the "fairness" of which gender gets to do which things, complete with an informal scoring system for particularly telling jibes.
  • In one of the Warhammer books about Malus Darkblade (Bloodstorm, to be precise), Malus mentioned in passing that a druchii woman could have as many lovers as she wished, while a male druchii was expected to be faithful. This example is especially notable due to the context - Malus's half-sister had discovered that her lover, Bruglir, was cheating on her. She got so angry that she literally became a living saint of the god of murder himself - and the first two times she appears, she was in the middle of her harem and having an orgy, respectively. Psychologically justified in that the overlord of the Druchii is the Witch King Malekith, who has a major Oedipus complex with his mother Morathi, who used to head up the largest Slaaneshi cult in the elf world. Malekith was born, and reached prominence, by his mother screwing the king of the elves. In short the entire kingdom of Nagaroth is built on the back of matriarchy, or rather the matriarch's penchant for being on her back. Other instances include only females are aloud to use magic, baby boys are rounded up for mass sacrifice one night a year, with the few survivors becoming assassins who are by game mechanic unable to lead their female counterparts. Strange how the evil elf races are always this trope in spades.
  • Subverted in Last Night at Chateau Marmont by Lauren Weisberger: throughout the novel, as Brooke and Julian's marriage falls apart, Brooke seems to constantly put the blame on how much Julian's career takes him away from home and otherwise causes him to neglect her. All while she insists on putting her career first by continuing to work sixty hours a week at two jobs, income from which they don't need anymore now that Julian's first album has gone platinum within its first week out. The subversion comes from the fact that she admits as much at the end when they reconcile, acknowledging that she's guilty of the same thing.
  • In one of The Princess Diaries books, Mia's friend Tina is dumped by text message by her boyfriend after she fails to return his calls, leading to her friends calling him a sexist pig. Granted, he broke up with her in an obnoxious way, but nobody calls her out for being rude enough to ignore his phone calls.
    • She is indirectly called out to this, as Mia's mother says during a conversation that it is just plain rude to not return somebody's calls.
  • The Anita Blake series practically runs on this trope after Narcissus in Chains. The main character has about 8 official lovers and sleeps with many other man during the course of each book, yet, except, Richard who's treated as the resident Jerkass, none of her main lovers are allowed to even look at another person, and she has dumped some lovers for being unfaithful. The author tries to justify with Magical Addiction to sex.
  • Some people say that Their Eyes Were Watching God has this trope written all over it. Your Mileage May REALLY Vary, however, because while Janie did leave her first husband with another man and then condemned her second husband while he was on his deathbed, the narrative makes it clear that she was an extremely naive, too-romantic-for-her-own-good girl whose hasty decision to run off with Joe Starks was probably not the best of decisions considering that Joe Starks turns out to be an insanely possessive Jerkass who tried to emotionally control her as a submissive housewife, which also most likely indicates that her "The Reason You Suck" Speech to him wasn't entirely unjustified. Plus, she never acted "bitchy" toward Tea Cake who mostly treated her like an equal (not even when she thought that he had left her or when he slapped her after she was set up on a date with another man), and the very fact that Tea Cake was shown to be a fairly decent and sweet husband should be a good indication that this book wasn't aimed at painting the entire male gender as abusive jerks. Any Unfortunate Implications here probably fall under Men Are the Expendable Gender or Her Heart Will Go On better than this one.
  • In the House of Night series, Zoey initially was slightly hesitant about having a relationship with Erik because he had previously dated Aphrodite. This is after (A) she walked in on Aphrodite all but raping Erik (trying to force a blowjob on him while he repeatedly asked her to stop) and (B) it was made pretty obvious that Aphrodite and her friends made use of Erik and other boys in such a way. Zoey does hook up with Erik...and dives into a relationship with a teacher at the school, while rekindling a relationship with her human boyfriend. At the end of the third book, we're apparently supposed to think Erik's such a mean guy for not being so kind and understanding that Zoey had sex with said teacher and just had "We share a bond" as an excuse.
  • Averted in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. After Ron found out that Hermione might have kissed a guy who asked her out two years prior while she was single AND getting told that his overbearing watchdog tendencies about his sister where due to his own inexperience with girls, he gets into an extremely shallow relationship with basically the first girl to give him the time of day, largely out of spite. He is portrayed as insensitive and, giving how publicly he flaunts the relationship, pretty hypocritical, and quickly gets his own comeuppance by means of his “girlfriend” being utterly insufferable. Hermione attempts to retaliate by asking out the Jerk Jock who had been eyeing for most of the book… only for the plan to implode immediately since she genuinely can’t stand the guy. Harry, and by extension the narrator, are quick to point out that they’re both idiots, though he’s slightly more overtly critical of Hermione, possibly owing to the fact that Ron was being an impulsive idiot who didn’t think things through, whereas Hermione was being consciously and deliberately petty.

Narrator: "Harry was left to ponder in silence the depths to which girls would sink to get revenge."

    • And note that this was written by a woman.
    • Ironically, despite the book's point, a good deal of the fanbase blamed the whole shebang entirely on either Ron or Hermione. Usually Ron.
  • Played with all the time in most Danielle Steel's novels. It is played straight whenever there is a May–December Romance. A villain (usually male, of course), is said to look ridiculous dating/marrying a younger woman, and the woman in question is always made out to be a gold-digging, airheaded tramp. Meanwhile, her heroines, can easily date or marry someone up to 40 years older with no one batting an eye. (In all fairness, her male protagonists are often granted this privilege too). But this trope is usually averted in the case of adultery. Usually no matter what, a protagonist and his/her True Love's adulterous relationships will be portrayed as good, while their cuckolded spouses will be portrayed as horrible excuses for human beings.
  • The Notebooks of Lazarus Long: From his "ingredients for a happy marriage":

In a family argument, if it turns out you are right--apologize at once!

  • Justified in Guilty Wives. The four eponymous wives do all cheat on their husbands, but it's hard to really hold it against them. Abbie, the protagonist, did cheat on her husband Jeffrey, but he had been cheating on her for quite some time before the action of the novel began, and she knew it. Bryah's husband Colton had been abusing her. Serena and Winnie, it's true, did not have such good excuses. Even so, the revenge that their husbands take is so out of proportion that you can't really hate the four women.


Magazines[edit | hide]

  • Cosmopolitan magazine and others like it run on this trope. Some examples:
    • This article offers some signs that the reader should note to tell whether their partner is cheating. They range from more-or-less reasonable to being rather paranoid, but all could have potentially innocuous explanations outside of infidelity. Take note, however, that number five on this particular list is "he becomes suspicious of you". While it is Truth in Television that one of the signs of being in an abusive or unhealthy relationship is irrational jealousy, the author apparently doesn't notice the Double Standard of suggesting that a man being suspicious of his partner's fidelity is itself suspicious in a list which is practically encouraging women to suspiciously micro-observe their male partner's behaviour.
      • Number 4. Wow, just wow. He is now happy because he is getting sex and attention. If you are ignoring your partner to the point where (s)he is depressed then I think you may be a touch to blame.
    • This article offers some suggestions for punishing a man whom the reader suspects has been unfaithful (and note that the article is called "10 Things to Do if You Think Your Man Is Cheating", and none of the suggestions is "make absolutely sure first"). They include stealing his property, painful 'practical jokes' (including poisoning him with laxatives), public humiliation and, in the case of number ten, a good old fashioned Groin Attack. The lesson being, adultery bad (when the man does it), but assault, abuse and theft a-ok (when the woman does it). The article also begins with a leader about a prominent male celebrity who has recently been in the news for adultery, which says something along the lines of "we don't know the full story, but one thing's for sure; his wife's a frigging angel". However, the identity of the celebrity changes depending on which matter of celebrity adultery is most timely; at one point it was Tiger Woods, another Arnold Schwarzenegger, and so forth. Not only is the automatic assumption that, the man's adultery aside, the woman is an innocent at no fault in the relationship, but in only changing the the celebrity and wife in question the further assumption is made that every relationship is the same and the man is always at fault.
    • A really interesting element of it is the contradictions involved. One article said that both being more affectionate and less affectionate (more because he's guilty, less because he's "busy") are signs he's cheating (both of which had the aforementioned abuse and assault as his "punishment.") I would be willing to guess that if all of those "Signs he's cheating" lists were combined, there would literally be nothing a man can do that isn't a sign of infidelity.
    • And, of course, it's fine for a women to sleep with her ex-boyfriend's best friend, just to screw with said ex.[2] Along with hacking into his Facebook profile, defacing his car with a sticker, ruining his next date, stealing his remotes, make him think he got you pregnant, and burning your names (inside a big heart) onto his lawn.

Commenter: Or you could just grow up and not handle things like a child. Jesus, Cosmo, what's wrong with you?


Music[edit | hide]

  • Even men buy into this. At the end of R. Kelly's video for "When a Woman's Fed Up," a caption reads, "There is no such thing as a no-good woman, only women made that way by a no-good man."
  • Beyoncé's "If I Were A Boy". Really interesting is that while she has plenty of songs about no good, lying, cheap, using, cheating men, but in "Jumpin' Jumpin'", she pretty much says "go out and party with men not your boyfriends because they are well off" and that "your boyfriends should just accept it". At least the men get similar advice, which actually means that all the similar songs decrying men for doing so are even further hypocrisy. And lets not even get INTO Diva.
  • Alexandra Burke's "Broken Heels" basically expounds that women can do 'everything' better than men, even wearing the eponymous broken heels. Throughout the video the women even go on to taunt the boys who just have to sit there and take it.
  • "Macarena" is about a woman cheating on her boyfriend with his two friends. We don't even get any indication that the boyfriend did anything wrong.
  • Rihanna's 2006 song "Unfaithful". To roughly summarize, Rihanna is cheating on her boyfriend with another man, and feels bad because he knows about it and it hurts him (Why she doesn't break it off with either one of them never crosses her mind, despite her claim that she doesn't want to hurt him). Contrast with her 2008 "Take A Bow," which is all about the woman refusing to accept excuses or apologies for the man's philandering. One line from the chorus pretty much sums it up.

"Don't tell me you're sorry 'cause you're not,"

  • "White Liar" by Miranda Lambert falls into this. The whole song is about the POV character calling out her no-good cheatin' boyfriend for fooling around on her. It all seems like righteous indignation until the end - when she reveals, "Here's a bombshell just for you/ Turns out I've been lying too." It's not a totally straight example, since in the final repeat of the chorus she more or less calls herself out on this by using the same harsh words on herself as her boyfriend ("I'm a white liar / Slips off my tongue like turpentine") but every time Miranda performs it live she gets thunderous applause and distinctively female cheering whenever she sings the pivotal "I've been lying too" line.
    • Country music in general tends to run on this. We were supposed to cheer for Carrie Underwood in "Before he Cheats" when she destroys her boyfriend's car.[3] Same thing with Miranda in "Kerosene" when she sets her boyfriend's house on fire. Miranda tends to be the worst offender simply since she doesn't seem to have as many love songs to balance out her "psycho woman out for vengeance" songs. She's done at least four: "Kerosene," "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend," "Gunpowder and Lead," and "White Liar." (Although a couple of those are debatable; "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" is psycho woman seeing ex with new girl, and "Gunpowder and Lead" is getting revenge against an abusive guy. Admittedly, an abusive guy who seems to have been recently arrested, and what Miranda describes is sitting in the house with a shotgun waiting for him to come home.)
  • "Before He Cheats" qualifies because the narrator of the song never actually says definitively that he's cheating. She says he's probably cheating, meaning that her actions are done on an assumption. He's probably in the bar, hiding from her in a place filled with witnesses.
    • The phrasing of the song is her speculating on how the evening is going for him, not about whether he is actually cheating or not. When coupled with the video, it's obvious that her actions take place outside of a bar while he's inside, wooing a blonde.
      • If a woman was cheating with another guy, and a man sang a cheery, triumphant song about destroying her car, he would be viewed as psychotic. Also, she is willing to call the other woman a "tramp", despite the fact that she apparently doesn't even know he's with another woman. Also also, she doesn't actually enter the bar until the end of the video. There's no indication she knew for sure what he was doing in there, just that she found his car nearby.
  • Shakira's "Don't Bother" is a woman talking to her boyfriend, presumably in his absence, about the affair she knows he's having, and how she would do anything to keep him, and passive-aggressively saying that she'll be fine. "She Wolf" is Shakira bragging about how her beau is not keeping her satisfied, and how she goes out (or plans to go out) and sleeps with hot dudes, possibly to spite him. And she's going to tell him about it.
  • Back in 2001, Blu Cantrell released "Hit 'Em Up Style." When she finds her boyfriend cheating, she maxes all his credit cards, sold everything he owned, and brags that she completely ruined his life. A man doing this to a woman would be the plot to a Lifetime Movie of the Week. Although, even she admits she doesn't like the song.
  • There have been two very similar country music videos released in recent years, Toby Keith's "A Little Too Late" and Sugarland's "Stuck Like Glue." Both have roughly the same premise, the singer comes a little unhinged, kidnaps their ex and keeps them tied to a chair while they sing the song kind of like a "The Reason You Suck" Speech. One big difference, when Toby Keith ties up Krista Allen, it's treated like a horror movie, when Jennifer Nettles does it (to Captain Awesome) it's a comedy.
    • In the former video, that's kind of the point. He's trying to do a Cask of Amontillado on her the whole time. It becomes a comedy at the end when it turns out he bricked himself in
  • Refreshingly averted by Taylor Swift, who seems to blame the boy (e.g. "Picture to Burn"), the other girl (e.g. "Better than Revenge"), or herself (e.g. "Back to December") according to the situation.
  • Shania Twain's "Any Man Of Mine" can basically be summed up like this: "I can and will cut your balls off if I want to, but you better treat me like a queen."
  • This trope is averted with "Close My Eyes Forever", a duet by Ozzy Osbourne and Lita Ford. The lyrics concern a woman who has been unfaithful to her man, and she begs him to forgive her for her infidelity. The man, however, feels that he cannot trust her anymore and tells her to "close your eyes for me" (i.e. forget about him).


Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • Between Friends is the queen of this trope. The only major male character that hasn't been one the teenaged kids, a hunky waiter, or Viggo Mortensen (don't ask -- please), has been an abusive husband featured in a recent story arc which had the added benefit of sending the comic spiralling into Cerebus Syndrome territory. Lovely.
  • A rare Gender Flip occured in For Better or For Worse: when Creator's Pet Anthony was emotionally unfaithful to his wife Therese, readers were supposed to be perfectly okay with it because the other woman was Elizabeth, one of the Pattersons. This didn't work out so well... not simply because of the prevalance of this trope, but due to the massive Moral Dissonance, and Anthony being a detestable Creator's Pet.
  • Subverted in Doonesbury, when JJ left Mike for scruffy bad boy Zeke, she was portrayed the entire time as a fool for doing so, for both her reasoning (She felt she had to "seize the moment" to acheive happiness) and for her taste (Zeke has never been portrayed as other than a dumb slacker).


Theater[edit | hide]

  • In Dreamgirls, Lorrell has an affair with Jimmy Early, who's married. Throughout the entire play/movie, he is made out to be a total sleaze for treating her badly and sleeping with two (possibly more) women at the same time. However, Lorrell is shown in a strictly sympathetic light, despite the fact that she's knowingly and willfully engaging in a long-term affair with a married man.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • In Persona 3, the protagonist's available Personas and their power levels are determined by Social Links with other people. For the male protagonist, reaching rank 5 with any female classmate will make the relationship "serious," and the game itself will warn you that merely seeing any other girl (regardless of that girl's current rank) will make her jealous, potentially stalling or completely breaking the link. In the PSP version's female protagonist route, this is not an issue; of the seven guys who can end up in love with her, only two (Akihiko and Ken) seem remotely aware of one another as rivals for her affection, and the only result is an argument between them which is played for laughs.
    • Note that that might have less to do with the double standard, and more because of gameplay changes. In Persona 4, even though the same warning message appears, there are no negative consequences if you pursue more than one girl romantically at the same time. Persona 3 Portable, which inherited many of Persona 4's gameplay tweaks, likely inherited this feature.
  • Dragon Age (specifically, Leliana's romance) plays this for laughs.

Leliana: Don't ask me that! You make me uncomfortable.
Warden: But didn't you just say you feel comfortable around me?
Leliana: I am a woman; I reserve the right to be inconsistent.

    • A thousand times funnier if you're romancing her as a woman.
    • The second game plays it far more straight with a side quest involving a man whose wife has left him. Not only was she unfaithful, she was apparently quite open about it and throwing it in her husband's face. While the husband is definitely a complete jerk, there's absolutely no option to at least acknowledge that what the woman was doing was wrong... every dialogue option involves shaming, scolding, or mocking him.
      • And you actually get rivalry points from one of your female companions for agreeing to help him find his cheating spouse. Despite the fact that he makes it pretty clear that if he doesn't at least find out where she is or if she's alive, her family will probably have him assassinated.
      • You get rivalry points from Isabela (who is very into promiscuity and independence, remember) because of him saying things like:

Man: She needs to be dragged home!
Isabela: She's your wife, not a dog.
Man: At least a dog can be trained.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • The Proud Family: Oscar showing the slightest interest in another woman (even so far as being tongue-tied around Mariah Carey) is perfectly justified grounds for his wife to abuse him (sometimes physically, sometimes emotionally, sometimes taking his things, sometimes depriving him of things ranging from dinner to entrance into his own house), but said wife is allowed to run off with any handsome man she sees and expects Oscar to go along with it without question (to the point of when, in one of the few occasions he was able to get out an objection, she threw him across the room and basically said she was going to cheat on him with this random guy).
  • Very simply and frequently played in Heathcliff and The Catillac Cats, usually in shorts involving Riff Raff and Cleo. If Riff Raff was cheating on Cleo, Cleo would beat the sauce out of him until he saw the error of his ways. If Cleo were cheating on Riff Raff, Riff Raff would beat up 'the other man' to win her back.
  • Lois from Family Guy is incredibly guilty of this.
    • In one episode, Lois forcefully and lustfully tongue kisses Richard Dawson, but later when Peter under amnesia is going to have sex with another woman Lois is hurt.
    • In a later episode, Lois is constantly barraged by Peter's insults regarding her age and declining sex appeal. Lois goes to Bonnie for help, and Bonnie actually admits she has had an affair with a man online and encouraged Lois to do the same since it's only a matter of "being in control of her sexuality." She makes out with Meg's boyfriend, and it caught by a very pissed off Meg and later Lois admits the affair to Peter and says that he drove her to it.
    • Lois raped Peter when he took up abstinence because she has 'needs' and was "proving" Peter wrong about abstinence.
    • And another occasion she became an Abusive Spouse and raped him again, upon which she blamed him for belittling her and not giving her a say in the household (granted Peter is a Jerkass but it's still Disproportionate Retribution). Later on, after slugging Peter hard and then outright gloating about it. Peter finally snaps and slugs her back, upon which Lois immediately whines Double Standard. Peter however hands it back to her and both of them end beating each other into an equally bloody pulp. Peter negating Lois' attempt at a Double Standard also doubles as a Crowning Moment of Awesome as well.

Peter: You...you hit me...
Lois: *smugly* That's right.
*Peter punches her back*
Lois: You can't hit me, I'm a girl!
Peter: Sometimes I wonder.

    • This treatment seems to run in the family. Her father Carter once cheated on his wife, Barbara, the episode was devoted to showing how tight and loving (in a twisted sense) their relationship was, and how unforgivable Carter's actions were, despite the fact Barbara had once left Carter for Ted Turner the moment he lost his fortune and also was perfectly willing to have sex with Peter due to being unsatisfied sexually by Carter.
    • Recently, Peter had been sexually harassed by his boss. When he tells Lois, she says very bluntly, "A woman can't sexually harass a man."
      • While that bit is questionable, since it's not made clear whether we're supposed to take Lois seriously or not, the episode falls firmly into this trope later on when the woman reveals that she was only sexually harassing Peter because she's too unattractive to get a man any other way, which suddenly and bizarrely makes her sympathetic.
  • In The Boondocks episode "Tom, Sarah, and Usher", Sarah has a fangirl moment over meeting Usher, which Tom objects to (while somewhat jealous, he is also embarrassed by her behavior and her treatment of him during their anniversary dinner). In the car, when he brings this up, she becomes furious with him and asks to be let out of the car. Played for laughs with his daughter Jasmine, who actively encourages her father to stay away from home so Usher can be her new daddy.
  • In Danny Phantom, Danny follows his friend Sam around on a date with the new guy in town and eventually sees what he thinks is a passionate make out. When he brings this up to Sam, she blows up at him for following her on her date. Danny must make amends. However, when Sam follows Danny around on a date with her rival, Valerie. They both had good reasons, since Danny was dating someone who wanted his ghost half's head on a spike, and Danny thought the new guy Sam was dating was a government agent, but only Sam's actions are treated as justified in the show.
  • Played With on King of the Hill: Bobby and Luanne (who are cousins) end up believing they're caught in an Accidental Marriage. After they both freak out for a couple of seconds, the first thing Luanne does is lay down some rules:

"I get to date whoever I want, whenever I want. You can see Connie if you want, but not in public. No, wait. On second thought, you can't see Connie. Ever."

  • Averted in Futurama. In the first episode, Fry's girlfriend Michelle cheats on him and throws him out. In a later episode, Michelle ends up in the 31st Century the same way that Fry did, and insists that she and Fry get frozen and thawed out in a future time she is more comfortable with. Even then, she still contunues to treat Fry like dirt, and eventually leaves him again. Throughout, Fry is portrayed as a Dogged Nice Guy, while she is portrayed as selfish and unreasonable.
  • Averted in The Simpsons episode "Dangerous Curves". When Homer and Marge learn that they both nearly had affairs on the same night five years ago, Marge gets mad at Homer for nearly cheating on her. He proceeds to call her out on her hypocrisy, pointing out that she is just as guilty as he is.
  • Daria averts or even inverts this--Jane is ticked at both her boyfriend Tom and her best friend Daria when they kiss, but forgives Tom fairly quickly, accepting his apology and the fact that their relationship was on the rocks anyway. She is considerably more hurt by Daria's betrayal, though, which takes most of a TV movie to repair.
  • Averted on Total Drama World Tour--Courtney's boyfriend Duncan and her friend Gwen kiss, but Courtney's wrath seems much greater for the latter than the former. Most of the D/C fanbase followed suit, but a notable minority wonders why Duncan should get a pass, especially since, unlike Gwen, he never seemed particularly sorry. He also went on to treat Courtney like dirt for the rest of the season, as if she was the one who had caused their breakup.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Cracked.com's 7 Psychotic Pieces of Relationship Advice from Cosmo demonstrates how magazines like Cosmopolitan can take this trope to extremes. However innocuous his actions or behavior may be, the reader is encouraged to treat their partner with utmost suspicion and respond with over-the-top, vicious, humiliating and even abusive reactions. It also deconstructs them, by presenting them from the point of view of a man who's girlfriend subscribes to these attitudes—she comes across as a temperamental, unstable and paranoid psychotic.
  • Inverted on Literotica, where stories about cheating usually get the heaviest criticism from readers of the same gender as the person being cheated upon. Most of the site's users are male, so stories where women cheat on men often score two points lower than similar stories where men cheat on women. (And it goes even lower if they cheat on a white man with a black man . . .)
  • Gears of War Versus Marriage is a video depicting a man playing Gears of War's Horde Mode online. His wife asks him to find some information about their friends' wedding so they can use their airline miles to buy tickets before they expire. He responds in a distracted manner, and she leaves, only to return and confront him under the reasonable assumption he was ignoring her. He then cuts her off by providing the information she asked for, in detail, since he's playing the match with the groom in question. The wife goes the equivalent of "Touche."
    • This trope kicks in not with the video, but with the response to it around the Internet; the husband is apparently still in the wrong for "being rude" and "ignoring" his wife (when he didn't) and not telling her that he was talking to "Mike" right then. He ignores her, he's wrong. If he accidentally makes her think he ignored her, he's wrong. Any response short of "Yes, honey, I'll get it done right away" or "I'm playing with Mike right now, I'll ask him" is unacceptable. What's more, the alleged rudeness is apparently more important than whether he actually ignored his wife.
  • Things I need to tell my teenaged daughters about boys. The entire piece is misandrist, but one bit in particular stands out. The list says that men are boring and their heads are "full of landmines and useless whining," and that the teenaged girl in question shouldn't bother trying to get into a man's head for at least ten years, and says that men don't have genuine interest in girls for another 10 on top of that. Then it denigrates men for not allegedly being interested in what women are thinking and being self-centered. Also, young men are "frequently ill equipped to handle the emotions that arise from having sex." Nothing about young women, who can often be just as irrational.


Webcomics[edit | hide]

  • In Questionable Content, this is one of the main problems with Dora and Marten's relationship. She repeatedly accuses him of attempting infidelity, at one point giving him the third degree because he intentionally didn't mention that a girl had asked him out - despite that he immediately turned the girl down, and despite that Dora's workplace routinely has to deal with customers asking the staff out and she doesn't think that is mentionworthy. She also blows up on him for getting a haircut without consulting her on it, but when she gets one and he says he preferred her old look, she dismisses him. She also goes digging through his porn folder just to sate her curiosity when he explicitly asks her not to, yet expects him to respect her own boundaries. However, she has been called out on this behavior, repeatedly and the last example is the catalyst for their relationship to breakdown; Marten, not unreasonably, flips his shit when he discovers her violating his privacy, and when they break up Dora is informed in no uncertain terms that she ruined a good thing for stupid reasons and needs help.
  • Something*Positive features this fairly often, but it's spelled out best here.

Aubrey: Like it or not, it's your fault she put you in a situation where you could only hurt her feelings or suffer through sex with her. It's how women are, and even when we're wrong, you're the one who's wrong.

  • One occurrence pops up during the wedding arc of Better Days. Both the bachelor party and the bachelorette party hire strippers. When the girls find out, they are outraged and treat it essentially as the groom "cheating" on the bride. They don't see anything wrong or hypocritical about their own party choices, since they're convinced that all male strippers are gay. (Exactly how does that justify lusting after them?) Eventually one of the male strippers call everyone out on their stupidity, explain the facts and force them to make peace.
  1. who made the Star Sapphires like the all-male Oans made the Green Lantern rings
  2. This carries an All Men Are Lustful subtext; apparently all you need to do is show up wearing nothing but a trenchcoat.
  3. And if you listen to the lyrics, every single description of his cheating is preceded by "probably." That's right, vandalism is just fine as long as he might be cheating on you.