Could ladies be as cheating-prone as their husbands? Could this be because of "gender equality"? There's some recent research indicating that "unfaithfulness among wives may be approaching that of husbands"—that, as Anna Breslaw writes in a post on Jezebel, more married ladies may be "Turning Into Unfaithful, Aloof Donna Drapers." This research, as reported in a piece over the weekend in the Wall Street Journal, is not as new or shocking as one might find it at first glance. Over the years, going as far back as 2009 (and probably further) there have been reports that women are cheating more than they used to, or that women have always cheated—they just, maybe, didn't admit it.
There's a bad habit among some people of blaming "gender equality" for things we don't like. Take a host of other scary reports about how women are doing things more like, supposedly, men (for instance, binge drinking, violence, thefts). Running alongside that are the reports that men aren't even behaving like men are supposed to anymore (see, for instance, Kay Hymowitz's concerns that men have been turned into boys.) We're all confused and kerfuffled about this gender equality thing, huh, and there is backlash from many when men and women appear to "switch places." But is that really what's happening? Let's look at the research. From the Journal, the cheating rates among married men and women in America:
Among the most reliable studies on this issue is the General Social Survey, sponsored by the National Science Foundation, which has been asking Americans the same questions since 1972. In the 2010 survey, 19% of men said that they had been unfaithful at some point during their marriages, down from 21% in 1991. Women who reported having an affair increased from 11% in 1991 to 14% in 2010.
A 2011 study conducted by Indiana University, the Kinsey Institute and the University of Guelph found much less of a divide: 23% for men and 19% for women. Such numbers suggest the disappearance of the infidelity gender gap, but some caution is in order.
Of course, as Peggy Drexler points out in that piece, if you can't trust a husband or wife not to cheat, perhaps you can't trust them to tell the truth in a survey, either, and researchers believe that both male and female cheating numbers are probably higher than the survey numbers indicate. At the same time, surveys also find that most married people value monogamy and eschew infidelity. The majority of both men and women are not cheating.