THE LANGUAGE OF MARITAL INFIDELITY: SOAP
OPERAS IN CONTEXT
GLORIA P. GEMPES
Marital fidelity is one of the most important symbols of commitment in a marriage. Yet it is increasingly under attack from new pressures, and few of us understand why people have affairs or how best to recover from them. Therapists approximately counted three-quarters of men and one-quarter of the women they see individually in their consulting rooms are going through marital difficulties in part because of an affair. Indeed, infidelity appears to be so common today (Campbell & Wright, 2010) that it’s now more likely than not to occur at some point in a long relationship. In fact marital infidelity is often depicted in the television, in several soap operas. The wife and the mistress are the more popular and more widely depicted stereotypes in the media, specifically television. These two stereotypical characters and the phenomenon of marital infidelity have been depicted in various ways throughout television’s history. The housewife is often depicted as a bore or a nag, as someone who is plain and unsophisticated who suffers and struggles in the love triangle in order to save her marriage while the mistress is often cast as a temptress, a loose woman who uses her wiles and subtle seductions to ensnare the married man. Whatever the stereotype, both women are strong stereotypes and have multi- faceted personalities which the media have explored from various angles. The conflict between these two women characters often become the center of conflict and make for spell binding entertainment, not to mention the language used by each character.
Every Filipino household has practically a television set and it becomes the “central cultural arm” of the society. The effect of programs aired in television is far reaching (Ahmed & Khalid, 2012; & Zia, 2007) specifically, the TV series entitled: The Legal Wife, Ang Dalawang Mrs. Real, and Two Wives exhibit various portrayals of women and its role in the society and relationships. These also have given the audiences perspectives of the Wife and the Mistress in which both characters are shown struggling for equity in terms of love, attention, respect, and ultimately the man. Filipino viewers seem fascinated by these kinds of television series where the other woman barge into the peaceful life of a happy couple. In addition, where the other woman will always be put up as someone who deserves a healthy slapping and the sympathy will always be with the legal partner. Contreras (2014) stated in his article that men are the ones now used and objectified in this post-feminist world and “there will be no female victims if the legal wives can also deploy their natural power over the pleasures of their husbands“, thus, being the “other” woman could be a liberating position. He also added that “the contestations between women no longer as a battle between the victimized wife and the sinful other woman, but as a fair game between and among women who are fully aware of the power of and in total control over their bodies and their pleasures”, hence, women who are conscious of their power of their bodies and their sexuality over men are empowered women and in the game of empowered women, the power of men to control the allocation of women to positions of who becomes legal and who becomes the other woman can effectively be undermined.
The images that the television transmits affect the way how society acts (Becker, 2004;
Croteu & Hoynes, 2013; & Fiske, 2002) just as how most of us want to be just like our favorite actors and actresses where the audience can relate on either the character’s journey or the character’s philosophy and principles portrayed. There are a number of studies on extra marital affairs but none of those dealt with the valuing of the language spoken by the two important characters...
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