The Woman Who Made Me Feel Like ‘The Other Woman’

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Practically every woman has felt like an object of lust at some point in their lives. And, with the triumphant arrival of social media, it’s hard to find any female under 30 who hasn’t at least once in their lives received a creepy comment they’ve wanted to delete off the face of this planet, a friend request from someone in Iraq [“how did he even find me though?”] or an unwelcome “hey babe” from a grade A ‘bro’- a generic white male who wears snapbacks and calls you ‘ma’.

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The internet is a strange and mysterious place. I’ve heard of virtual realities (my 12 year old sister is obsessed with them) but I genuinely thought that they stretched as far as The Sims or perhaps Fortnite. Yes, there are dating sites that extend to far corners of the Earth and in this sense, with mail order brides and long distance Tinder relationships, cyber space makes reality virtual. But what people are starting to realise is that the giant that is social media platforms has expanded and engulfed our every day being so that people begin to create drama, turmoil and pitiable beef with a few clicks of their keyboard… and fingers of course, this isn’t 2009.

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It’s like social media has become the new Met steps, playground or perhaps even piazza; it’s the place people go to chill, gossip and show off their outfits or material wealth. And by ‘people’, I don’t just mean those with no lives. I mean literally everyone. Some watch more than others from behind their Ray Bans and refuse to participate, others walk past the cool kids to get their attention, and everyone is a keyboard warrior.

The inner workings of our mundane suburban life has a sell by date and can get exhausting, so we need a well deserved escape. A ‘staycation’ which transports you to practically wherever you want to be. A two way ticket to the most glamorous place on Earth: Instagram.

There’s something in it for everyone, after all. Looking for facetuned chicas who sell laxatives under the guise of fit tea? Done. Self-deprecating memes? Double done. Fitness videos which motivate you for the total thirty seconds that you spend watching them before you go back to eating your sad little pizza? You got it. We have to face the music: reality has become more image based than ever. If likes were lucrative we’d end world hunger by next week and Kim Kardashian would be our queen.

Like it or not, there’s no leaving it. Instagram is a powerful entity. And, with the birth of the DM, it can genuinely ruin lives.

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Or, if you’re fun like I am, you can use it to pretend you’re living a movie.

Ever watched that standard rom com where Kate Upton, the mistress, teams up with Cameron Diaz and some other white, curly haired housewife to wreak havoc on the cheating husband? Neither do I (because I have coursework and good taste). But it was called ‘The Other Woman’, and the gist of it was feminine empowerment, enragement and revenge. There must have been some sort of conclusion to the whole ordeal, but real life doesn’t have cheesy endings so let’s ignore that part.

Well, when I was 16 ,Instagram made me The Other Woman. Or tried to, at least.

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Between revision breaks, interspersed with PMS and stress eating, I stumbled upon a very unusual message request. I was shocked. It was actually from a woman.

Naturally, I was intrigued. What did someone want from me that didn’t include my number or a picture of some miscellaneous body part?

It read ‘can I ask you a favour?’ The woman looked sweet, was wearing a hijab and had eyes not unlike Bambi. She was actually smiling in her picture. And she did calligraphy for economic reasons. There was no way I was going to ignore this.

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Long story short, she sent me what was practically a thesis explaining the position she was in. Her husband, a football coach or something, had sent me a DM which she saw when she hacked his password. It’s true what they say- a woman scorned becomes better than the CIA.

This feels very anti-climatic, but all the DM read was ‘where you from?’ or something like that. I hadn’t even noticed it and would never have replied. But, for a ‘happily’ married couple, this was more than enough to trigger things.

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I was overly sympathetic. At 16, having just discovered the concept of social justice and feminism, I was mad at the world. What’s more, I needed any excuse to avoid revision. Henceforth, my tulip-curtained bedroom became the headquarters of operation takedown. My face may have looked expressionless as I stared into the bright screen of my phone, but inside I was fuming.

This spanned the width of a couple days. She borrowed her dad’s sim card and we decided that I should follow him back. Knowing it was fake, I put all pride aside and became a reflection of his thirst, flirting and suggesting we meet up for drinks. Meanwhile, she messaged him from the fake number which she told me to give him. Something went wrong with the original sim and she actually bought a new one. That’s how invested this woman was. But wouldn’t you be too?

Naturally, I took screenshots and these are the ones I could rummage up.

I wasn’t very comfortable with the profile she created for me. She used my real name and a picture of my back as the DP. ‘My’ bio said ‘just living life’ and had two champagne emojis clinking merrily next to it. But I was 16 so I just ran with it.

After we both messaged him for a few days, she asked him in real life if something was going on. She couldn’t help it. And we decided that I should make plans with him for drinks in central London after work.

The plan was that she would show up instead of me and all hell would be sure to break loose in the sleazy place he calls his brain. But she did, and he did not.

This was because, right before we were going to meet, I asked him persistently if he had a significant other and he found a multitude of ways to avoid this question. Finally, he started apologising and saying that his friends took his phone to message ‘potentials’. ‘Potential what?’, I asked. I still can’t comprehend why even his excuse made him sound absolutely vile. At least have the courtesy to lie better. Also, it was the eve of their anniversary.

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She defeatedly decided to forgive him but sent me a paragraph to copy and paste to his DMs. Again, I was a little uncomfortable. The message began ‘I would have initially loved to have drinks with you but then saw that you had a wife and messaged her to let her know’. She wanted to conceal her knowledge of his password this way. But this lie was not on my agenda. Why would I let him think that I ever would have replied, let alone think to meet up with him? He didn’t deserve the confidence boost.

But what made me like her is that she wanted me to tell him to buy her flowers as compensation for all he put her through. Apparently, roses atone for attempted adultery. Personally, I wouldn’t be able to be bought back with flowers… ok, who am I kidding, yes I have. But I will not be this weak in the future.

She showered me with compliments and thanked me profusely for helping her. Mentally, she was in a better place; a place of false hope and the prospect of roses.

I don’t want to pat my own back here but I did feel a sense of girl power by somewhat cooperating in this situation to make this poor woman feel less alone. I’m not the first girl this guy has tried to talk to outside his marriage, and I sadly still won’t be the last. As a presumably religious couple, the concerns she privately voiced to me were that she was unable to leave him largely due to her culture and the issue with divorce.

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Blind eyes are often turned to misbehaving men whereas their female counterparts must always bear the brunt of the relationship. It’s easy to ask why she doesn’t just leave him, but the reality is that many women genuinely do not have that option. They have the freedom of choice, but this freedom is restricted by their own, very real world outside of social media. For many, being ostracised by their family and friends, the community they call home and know like the back of their Instagram feed, is a threat not worth realising- even if the gain could be much more. We are socialised to internalise the values of those around us and leaving a relationship is easier said than done.

This story is neither grand nor moving. It’s just a form of gossip, I suppose. But it should encourage you to think back to every time you’ve seen a guy do a double take at you while holding his wife’s hand or kissing his college girlfriend while maintaining steady eye contact with your chest.

You were just minding your own business and these people tried to affiliate you with their impurity. They tried to make you feel like the other woman, the fool on the side, but with none of the perks.

I’m satirising of course- there are no perks. You’re not a stop along the way, you’re a destination. And if there’s something you can do to teach these men a lesson, why not do it? You’ll feel like Kate Upton.

The other moral of the story is to go get your man if he’s being slimy. And then proceed to throw him away for good. And also, go find a counsellor to help soothe your relationship struggles rather than involving a 16 year old (school girl by day, thirst trap by night)  in your marriage drama.

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