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Friday, April 4, 2008

How Does Cheating Translate?

What's in a name? That which we call "infidelity" by any other name would still smell as sour.

Or would it?

Shakespeare may have been onto something about roses, but when it comes to matters of extramarital sex, I don't think the same philosophy applies.

We are all aware of the negative connotation that American society puts on words like "infidelity", "unfaithfulness" and "cheating". The verb "to cheat" implies some sort of breaking of the rules and therefore conjures up images of moral impropriety. Cheating on a test? Bad. Cheating on your wife? Bad. Cheating at solitaire? Well, that's just sad.

But let's take a look at what other countries are calling sex outside the marriage. According to Pamela Druckerman, author of a book called Lust in Translation, the name a society gives to the act also tends to define how that society views the act itself. For example, the term that Nigerians use for infidelity literally translates to "social networking". that like MySpace? Or Facebook? Well, I have over 100 friends on that MySpace and Facebook. So what does that make me? Actually, don't answer that.

Or in Finland, the act of sex with someone other than your promised partner translates to "parallel relationships". I kind of like that one. It's like Parallel Universes. Or dimensions. "So I have a husband in this dimension, a lover in another dimension and I'm secretly seeing someone named Captain Kirk in a dimension that I don't even want to talk about."

And Druckerman also states that the French, who have in the past been infamous for their inability to be monogamous, have coined the expression, "simultaneous multi-partnerships". Well, you would think that a society that prides themselves on fine wines, great food and beautiful lovers would find a more scintillating term than "simultaneous multi-partnerships". Will we also be signing a business merger agreement with this extramarital

So apparently, while we're equating infidelity to having an ace up your sleeve at a poker game or selling someone a used car with an odometer that's been cracked open, the rest of the world doesn't all see it that way. Are we being too harsh in our labeling? Too judgmental in our words? Or are we just staying true to our puritan roots?

After all, we did escape Europe and their laissez-faire views of the world for a reason. And I certainly don't remember seeing any red letter 'A's sewn onto clothing the last time I was in Paris. Although I guess that would explain why I got a strange look from that French accountant after I told him I was thinking of setting up a Sole Proprietorship.

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Blog Description

Jessica Brody, author of the forthcoming novel, The Fidelity Files, explores the thorny topic of infidelity in modern-day society