On March 1, Jordyn Woods did what Tristan Thompson has not and cannot do: she faced the music. Bombarded with hate from the media, the public and a family who once took her in as their own, 21-year-old Woods sat with Jada Pinkett Smith to tell her truth surrounding cheating allegations.
On Feb. 19, news broke that Thompson, father of Khloe Kardashian’s child, was caught cheating with Woods, Kylie Jenner’s best friend. This was not Thompson’s first cheating scandal. Days before Kardashian gave birth, videos circulated of Thompson with two women.
When the news broke, the attention immediately went to Woods. She was slut-shamed, called a homewrecker and people began to make fun of her for losing “the easiest job” in being Jenner’s best friend. Meanwhile, where was Thompson?
Thompson, a forward for the Cleveland Cavaliers, last played on Jan. 16. The team is statistically the third-worst in the NBA. Since the Woods scandal has died down, he has been seen with other women. And yet, initially, Kardashian let out her frustrations at Woods.
After Woods appeared on Pinkett Smith’s “Red Table Talk” show, Kardashian tweeted, “If you’re going to try and save yourself by going public, instead of calling me privately to apologize first, at least be honest about your story. By the way, you are the reason my family broke up!”
Despite allegation after allegation against Thompson, Kardashian decided to go after Woods and place her family’s downfall on her. Kardashian’s best friend, Malika Haqq, rolled with the name-calling, replied to a fan alluding to Woods having “coward-like behavior.”
These women and others who stood up for Kardashian have been embroiled in cheating allegations themselves. But as long as they have the strength-in-numbers and security within their squad, they won’t shy away from bringing a woman down. This behavior happens all around the world.
The Oxford Dictionary defines slut-shaming as “the action of stigmatizing a woman for engaging in behavior judged to be promiscuous or sexually provocative.”
Girls are taught from a young age that their behaviors define their worth. Women who do not meet standards and expectations are considered radical and dangerous. Society shames women for being open, honest and adventurous with their sexuality. Shame is a threat to a person’s reputation and can lead to isolation and a decrease in self-worth.
Women cannot stray off the path or have a lapse in judgment without repercussions. We live in a world where women are asked “What were you wearing?” and “Were you intoxicated?” when they say they’ve been raped.
An office relationship can be seen as a woman sleeping her way to the top. And in Woods case, a kiss – initiated by a man – can result in losing friends, career opportunities and a hit on her image.
For the exact same behavior, men will be congratulated. A jock who sleeps around is considered “the man.” Kevin Hart cheated on his pregnant wife, like Thompson, and was almost the host of the Oscars and continues to gain momentum within the film industry. Jay-Z cheated on Beyoncé and his career remains the same.
Slut-shaming can be harmful to women because once they’ve been labeled, they can become a target for sexual assault. If a woman is referred to as “easy” or “dirty”, but then she rejects a man when approached, some men’s egos are so fragile they will spread rumors or in some other way hurt the woman because they did not get their way.
Women do not have to be sexually expressive or active to have these labels thrust upon them. Anyone can decide to sexualize or objectify a woman and the label can stick. So telling women to be abstinent is not a solution to the problem. It boils down to the fact that we allow men to be assertive, but women cannot.
Kardashian’s frustrations are understandable, but she went after the wrong person. It takes two to cheat, and Thompson has not learned from previous experiences. He, a few days shy of being 28, decided to host a party after being at the club with 21-year-olds.
Thompson decided to cozy up with Woods. He decided to kiss her when she was leaving. Yes, Woods was a participant, but Thompson deserves his share of the blame.
If women continue to act like Kardashian did when they find out their partner cheated on them, we will continue to live in the cycle of shaming women and ostracizing them while men continue to live on with their lives.