Producer Swizz Beats recently admitted that he is in a relationship with singer Alicia Keys, confirming the rumor for many that Keys is behind the break up of his marriage to singer/songwriter Mashonda. While this celebrity soap opera is fun to gawk at, this scenario is all too real for the army of the dumped and disrespected and brings us back to the age old question: Can someone actually break up your marriage or was it already broken for a new person to show up in the first place?
First, the case of Swizz Beats and Alicia Keys:
More after the jump.
For months now, Swizz has been trying to keep his thing with Alicia on the down-low …
Swizz didn’t want to talk about Keys till now because, he says, “What we have is so precious.” He also felt it would aggravate Mashonda, who’s also a singer.
He may have been right. “When he told Mashonda he was dating Alicia, I think she got jealous,” says a friend of the couple.
Having filed for divorce in February, Mashonda is seeking interim support for their 2-year-old son, Kasseem Jr., arguing that Swizz has slashed his payments. (NY Daily News)
I’m sure if you asked Swizz Beats when his marriage started to go to the crapper, he’d argue that it was a pre-Alicia scenario. Yet I’m sure his soon-to-be ex-wife would, of course, beg to differ. This is your classic “chicken and egg” situation. Like when Will Smith divorced his first wife due to “irreconcilable differences” and for more than a decade now Smith and present wife Jada Pinkett-Smith still care not to elaborate on the exact details of when they started dating and whether or not his marriage was really over at the time.
As I recall they both said they were “just friends” when Will was married.
And I can still remember the rancor when actor Brad Pitt ran away with Angelina Jolie and blogs like Jezebel went wild (and are still wild to some extent) with the giant finger of shame for Angelina, and to a lesser extent, Brad. Angelina was branded as a homewrecker and as I recall Jennifer Aniston, Pitt’s then wife, would later accuse Pitt of missing something called a “sensitivity chip.” And everyone felt pretty bad for Aniston until they saw how striking the now Jolie-Pitt combo looked together, and now Aniston has been reduced to boring tabloid cover after tabloid cover about how lonely, miserable and baby-less she is.
While it’s pretty easy to accuse someone like Keys, Pinkett-Smith or Jolie of homewrecker status, most homewreckers would argue that the home they allegedly trashed was already in disarray.
I’ve heard many feminist (and not-so-feminist) arguments about infidelity. I think the most unrealistic and immature is the expectation that women, out of some form of female solidarity, should never, ever touch a man that isn’t theirs. That homewreckers are anti-feminist.
(I’d only argue that truly obnoxious homewreckers are anti-feminist. You know? The ones who act like they won the man lottery with your straying spouse and prance around singing “Boom, I got cha boyfriend. I got cha man.”)
I honestly don’t think you can make a coherent Gender Wars argument on cheating because there is no male equivalent of this argument. Often times unless the man who broke up another man’s marriage is an actual relative or good friend, most men don’t go around expecting other men to be respectful of their relationships out of “male solidarity.” Maybe they expect other men to keep their hands off out of respect for the bonds of marriage, but I’ve never heard a gender argument on the male end of infidelity. I’d argue that Gender Wars go out of the window when marriage, love, sex and lust are involved. It’s every woman for herself. Who’s thinking about what bell hooks or Gloria Steinam would think when your loins and heart are aflame?
Maybe you didn’t know your relationship was on the ropes. Sometimes infidelity blindsides people, but I’d argue that if most men and women are honest about it, there were signs that all was not well at Casa de You.
I can still remember my ex-boyfriend expecting me not to be mad that a female co-worker of his slept over at his house. It’s a testament to my then immature, 20-something mindset (re: Love Drunk Stupidity) that I still married him despite this infraction. So I couldn’t claim “SURPRISE!” when he disappeared to New York for nearly two weeks and mysteriously wound up staying at some strange woman’s house. I also couldn’t really get outraged when I found the ridiculous letters from the other woman he met online. I knew he didn’t tell people he was married and I knew he refused to wear a wedding ring.
Long story short: I was a fool. I was not the first person to ever be a fool. But I don’t blame his co-worker, the New York lady or the desperate chick online. This is a guy who told me that if I cheated on him, he’d probably kill the guy, then commit suicide by cop because he’d be so hurt. I chose something a tad more conventional. I divorced him from 2,000 miles away.
Like I said, not everyone’s situation was as obvious as mine. I’ve known both men and women who worked hard, tried to do the right things and then had to deal with the shock of an out-of-wedlock child, usually finding out in the most cruel and painful way possible. (Nothing like learning your kid isn’t your kid or that some woman across town has a son almost the same age as yours.)
But then, for every person who just completely disrespectful of a marriage, there is the reality that sometimes there is blame to go around. While there’s no excuse for infidelity, you can understand why some people stray from unhappy marriages. Like if you have a spouse who isn’t supportive or affectionate. If you’ve grown apart. If you learn you have conflicting dreams and priorities. If you treat your spouse like a “fixer upper.” If you are hard and cold. If you are emasculating. If you’re neglectful. If you never should have gotten married in the first place (ahem, see: my marriage). If your love is based on the superficial. (Re: His money. Her looks.) If people change over the course of the marriage.
In Laura Kipnis’ polemic “Against Love” she argues that the big infidelity, the love affair, is really more of an act of revolution than betrayal as people trapped in unhappy marriages fling themselves onto someone new in hopes of escaping their not-so-blissful domestic life. The book is a fun read if your single and horrifying if you’re married.
Kipnis would argue that an affair of the heart is an act of liberation from something that has long gone terribly wrong.
Then she would cackle maniacally.
But despite her unpopular viewpoint, there is some truth to it. While I didn’t use infidelity as my mode of escape from my marriage, I don’t think I would have beat up on myself too much if I’d used another man as an excuse, any excuse, to get me out of that suffocating, cold relationship. So I don’t know what Mashonda and Swizz Beats have going on (only they would know the details of who did what to whom first), but I would agree with Swizz that perhaps Mashonda should leave Alicia out of it, even though Alicia was in the wrong as well. (Unless she and Alicia were BFFs or something, the other woman is largely a distraction from the real culprit. It was Swizz who promised to love her forever.)
But I don’t have any problem with Mashonda giving her soon-to-be ex hell.
I was pretty magnanimous in my break up. I took on nearly all the debt (largely because I simply didn’t want to ever see his face again), and just let go. But that is an act not all scorned spouses can pull off. I held on to a lot of unexpressed anger because I chose to be the bigger person and not wallow in revenge fantasies. Maybe some overt anger at the person who actually hurt me would have been a good thing.
So while I don’t necessarily recommend that Mashonda take the path other scorned famous women and spouses have taken (Re: Lisa “Left-Eye” Lopes burning the house down. That Texas woman who ran over her husband repeatedly with the car. Brenda Richie administering the most famous beatdown in celebrity infidelity history by allegedly kicking both her husband Lionel Richie and his girlfriend’s ass, etc.), if she wants to turn the screws a little, I wouldn’t blame her.
He probably deserves it.