Why are we so obsessed with the alleged homewrecker? | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Ariana Grande
Photo by Emma McIntyre for Getty Images/AFP

Far too often people solely blame women for “ruining” relationships involving men because it’s easier to be misogynistic than objective



One of the easiest things to do on the internet is to take sides. There’s plenty of discussion in deciding who is wrong or right—especially online. Everyone is constantly on the lookout for reasons and people to hate—and the type that’s easy to hate is the homewrecker.

The word “homewrecker” can grind people’s gears instantly. Some Filipinos seem to have this hatred for infidelity due to teleseryes regurgitating the same narratives of happy relationships being wrecked by a prime antagonist—often a younger or “hotter” woman compared with the wife or girlfriend.

Naturally, the same narratives elicit the same reaction cycle: sympathy for the victim and hatred for the homewrecker. While negative feelings come from a place of offense towards a third party ruining a relationship, people tend to forget that a homewrecker cannot exist without a man permitting her to do so. 

This line of thinking is not exclusive to primetime villains. This is backed by the cultivation analysis theory in media studies, which states that consuming too much of the same media enables people to consume real life the same way. If theories don’t suffice to explain this, these examples from recent times might.

A timeline of recent “affairs”

In February, actress and influencer Ivana Alawi was accused of having an affair with Bacolod mayor Albee Benitez. Netizens feasted on the gossip and placed Alawi on the receiving end of sexually discriminatory remarks. Even though both parties categorically denied the allegations, rumors continued to spread.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Ivana Alawi (@ivanaalawi)


A similar hate train had actress Andrea Brillantes at the center when Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla confirmed their breakup in November 2023. Given KathNiel’s massive popularity, people scrambled to find the perfect fall guy (in this case, girl) to take the blame. Thus, the 20-year-old actress became the perfect villain for scorned fans.

Outside the Philippine entertainment industry, K-drama fans also had their dose of reel-to-real drama with the public announcement of Han Sohee and Ryu Junyeol’s relationship—one that started a mere few months after the end of Ryu Junyeol’s eight-year relationship with actress and former idol Hyeri. 

The two actresses posted Instagram Stories seen as slights against one another by netizens, which culminated in separate statements from both.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Andrea Brillantes (@blythe)


Unlike Alawi and Brillantes, who seemed unanimously declared as public enemies by Filipino netizens, onlookers were more divided on who to side with between Hyeri and Sohee. One of the most common debates involved determining who between Hyeri and Sohee was more of a “girl’s girl.”

Stereotypes of “girl’s girls” and the “other” girls

The term “girl’s girl” refers to a woman who celebrates the wins of all women and renounces competition between fellow women. In the context of relationships with men, a girl’s girl is expected to look out for other girls by warning them about certain men or respecting the “girl code” by refusing to date men their female friends have been with in the past.

Being a girl’s girl idealizes girlhood, but it also serves as a limitation on the lived experiences of girls that can be considered right. 

While the term is meant to uplift women, it has inadvertently turned into yet another way of pitting them against each other—enacted by both society at large and fellow women as well. By identifying the “girl’s girl,” one is also unwittingly pointing out who isn’t—the one who isn’t looking out for their fellow girls, the one who’s disrespecting the girl code.

Arguably, the “girl’s girl” is the antithesis to the “pick-me girl,” a derogatory label for girls who seem to do everything for male validation. The divide between these women becomes extra apparent when discussing third parties in relationships.

Still from “The World of the Married”
Still from “The World of the Married” from JTBC

When people argued about who was more of a “girl’s girl” between the Korean actresses, Sohee’s past role as a mistress in the hit K-drama “The World of the Married” was used as ammunition to declare her as not a “girl’s girl.” Similarly, Brillantes’ personal life was used as “evidence” to call her a “pick-me girl” at the height of KathNiel’s breakup.


The once-promising concept of the “girl’s girl” has rapidly devolved into another manifestation of the Madonna-whore complex: the male logic that segregates women into innocent, saintly “Madonnas” or promiscuous, tempting “whores.” 

Public opinion subconsciously increases the victimhood of women who get cheated on by perceiving them as Madonna-adjacent in terms of physical attributes and behaviors while finding more ways to tear down other women they place into the “whore” category. 

The waves of homewrecker fever paint the third party as the only villain, minimizing the role of the men who sought out affairs in the first place. Studies show that this can be attributed to the Philippine law’s leniency on married men’s infidelity as well as the lingering expectation that men “naturally” seek out extramarital affairs.

All press is good press for the girls

Men involved in affairs often stay silent to avoid having the media circus pinned on them. While they get a rather fair share of hatred in online spaces, their silence allows the blame to solely be placed on the supposed homewrecker.

Women, regardless of how true their homewrecker rumors may be, are then left to pick up the pieces of their damaged reputations. Oftentimes, their fame and recognition only ever work against them since it is easier to hate someone in the public eye over someone who retreats into privacy.

For better or worse, though, homewrecker allegations get people talking. This proves to be useful attention, especially when public figures are about to or are in the middle of releasing a project.

Ariana Grande, who came back with “eternal sunshine” after a three-year break from music, was accused of being a homewrecker for her relationship with “Wicked” co-star Ethan Slater. His ex-wife Lilly Jay called the pop star “not a girl’s girl” due to the “collateral damage” caused. Grande’s main response to the criticism seemed to come in the form of her newest album’s lead single, “Yes, and?” 

The upbeat, disco-esque track was a carefree anthem, with the pop star asking why people “cared so much about whose d*ck she rides.” While her unapologetic lyrics drew additional backlash, the single hit the top of the Billboard Global 200, and songs from the album went on to chart on the Billboard Hot 100, proving that Grande’s commercial success was unaffected by the rumors.

Grande is neither the first nor last artist to emerge successful in spite of a slew of homewrecker allegations. Prior to the “girl’s girl” craze, Sabrina Carpenter was also subject to a hate train. For a good chunk of 2021, Carpenter was accused of being the reason for Olivia Rodrigo and Joshua Bassett’s breakup, which spawned Rodrigo’s hit debut single “Driver’s License.” 

“Skin,” Carpenter’s first single after the allegations, was criticized for its provocative and vengeful tone. However, the buzz from the love triangle led people to tune in for “emails i can’t send,” which ended up being her most commercially successful album yet.

The lead single “Because I Liked a Boy” encapsulates the backlash quite well, with the songstress crooning, “Now I’m a homewrecker, I’m a slut / I got death threats filling up semi-trucks.”

Sabrina Carpenter
Photo from @sabrinacarpenter/Instagram

These proud and unapologetic responses on one hand attract more backlash and buzz, but these direct counterattacks also come across as questioning statements to fans and netizens: Why do people care so much about what these celebrities do in their private lives? Since people are already in their business, these artists see fulfillment in refusing to cower to netizens’ demands and harassment. They go on to be seen as shameless by some but in their eyes, there’s nothing to be ashamed of anyway.

Curing homewrecker fever

By no means do any of these intend to glorify homewreckers. Cheating, affairs, and third parties greatly damage relationships and the trust they were built on. However, far too often people solely blame women for “ruining” relationships involving men because it’s easier to be misogynistic than objective. 

What becomes more alarming about these hate trains is that they come under the guise of protecting women when all they do is categorize them. Valid conversations on the sanctity of relationships turn into excuses to let out one’s misogyny. The “girl’s girl” becomes a perfect victim—solely under the hands of a woman who is othered and villainized, conveniently glossing over any faults a man may have. 

Ultimately, relationships fall largely into private lives. Bringing them into the court of public opinion becomes not only unfair but also dangerous, especially when anyone can baselessly accuse a woman of being a homewrecker to ruin their reputation—oftentimes successfully.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.