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When will we stop looking for another woman to blame?

The seductive succubus trope is as old as it is sexist, so why does it keep coming up?

By Kate Wagner

Chris Pratt and Anna Faris announced their separation yesterday and it took approximately 7 minutes until people had found another woman to lay the blame on.

Media outlets and the Twitterverse immediately lit up with people calling for Jennifer Lawrence’s blood, claiming she was the reason behind the “shock split”.

People automatically referenced the other unfounded “rumours” of the pair having an affair while filming sci-fi flick Passengers which made Anna feel “incredibly insecure” at the time.

“Chris and I, we talk about this a lot. We grapple with a lot of the ideas of being a public couple,” she revealed in her podcast, Anna Faris Is Unqualified, in December.

“I just remember feeling so hurt in a way that bothered me, because I didn't want to think of myself as somebody who could be affected by … tabloid shit.”

WATCH: Celebrities that broke up and broke our hearts.

But that’s no admission of foul play – that’s stating the obvious fact that hearing your husband had an affair, no matter how unfounded, would make you feel awful. It’s an admission that Anna Faris is a real person with real feelings, not a green light to point the finger at another woman.

But really, the details of this particular story are unnecessary, because it’s one we’ve heard over and over again and we can easily fill in the blanks – a loving, complete family shattered by a conniving succubus.

Psychotherapist and couples therapist Melissa Ferrari says it's common for us to create a "story" as to why relationships broke down to make it less painful.

"The human brain wants be able to make sense of what is happening in their world both publicly and personally," she said.

"Creating a 'story' that the man has been lured away by another woman fits with fairy tales and bible stories - possibly like Adam and Eve and the apple that can support ideas, real or imagined, about this issue. I don't believe it's based on reality."

The concept of celebrity has long caused us as a society to develop relationships with famous people that psychologists call “parasocial interaction” – the development of an emotional bond of sorts that sees us believing we know them on a more intimate level than we do.

To us, Chris and Anna’s separation was a massive shock because they seemed so happy, so we needed a reason why they didn't work and we needed it fast – introducing the evil seductress.

When Brangelina, the delighted parents of a buzzing brood, announced their divorce, it was Marion Cotillard who copped the brunt of blame.

For some, this was the perfect comeuppance to the woman that had stolen Brad Pitt from the gorgeous, innocent Jennifer Aniston – what can you expect when you start a relationship with an affair?

WATCH: Marion talk about rumour affairs with Brad Pitt.

But that’s the cincher – no one can steal a boyfriend, husband or partner, because they’re men with brains and emotions and they are very able and capable of making their own decisions, no matter how terrible those happen to be.

The backlash was so severe, Marion was forced to post a photo to Instagram announcing she was expecting her second child with partner Guillaume Canet to quell the hostility some fans had toward her.

“Firstly, many years ago, I met the man of my life, father of our son and of the baby we are expecting. He is my love, my best friend, the only one that I need,” she wrote.

Adding: “Finally, I do very much wish that Angelina and Brad, both whom I deeply respect, will find peace in this very tumultuous moment.”

Again, we saw it after Beyoncé’s masterpiece Lemonade which appeared to be a stunning one hour and five minute take down of her husband Jay-Z’s cheating ways.

Whether there’s any truth to the claims or it was merely a stunt to sell Tidal subscriptions doesn’t matter. The public didn't shame the man who had been the sole focus of an album calling him out for cheating; no, people made it their mission to find “Becky with the good hair” and ruin her.

Designer Rachel Roy again bore the brunt of the blame and received death threats for her alleged role in the married man cheating.

“[O]nline haters have targeted me and my daughters in a hurtful and scary manner, including physical threats,” Roy wrote in a press release.
“As a mother — and I know many mothers would agree — I feel that bullying in any form is harmful and unacceptable. I would hope that the media sees the real issue here — the issue of cyberbullying — and how it should not be tolerated by anyone.”

Ms Ferrari explains that the focus shouldn't be on whose fault the affair is because mostly, infidelity means there was a weakness in the relationship already.

"Trust is not only broken through an affair. If there has been trust broken in a relationship at an early stage, be it through lying about money, not keeping promises or hiding things from your past, can, in my observation as a couple therapist, show up later as an affair," she said.

"The original 'mistrust' or 'infidelity' has not been fixed.

"The good news is that couples with this understanding can attend to and repair issues before they may result in the pain of betrayal or affair."

While this may seem like we can blame how accessible social media has made celebrities feel to the average person, that would do massive disservice to the centuries of entrenched sexism which sees women blamed at every turn – read: witches.

Monika Lewinsky soared to infamy in 1995 for her affair with Bill Clinton – perhaps in part because of how iconic his boldfaced lie became. But while he continued to be President, she became forever known as the epitome of ‘the other woman’.

Writing for Vanity Fair, she said: “With every marital indiscretion that finds its way into the public sphere — many of which involve male politicians —it always seems like the woman conveniently takes the fall.”

“Sure, the Anthony Weiners and Eliot Spitzers do what they need to do to look humiliated on cable news. They bow out of public life for a while, but they inevitably return, having put it all behind them. The women in these imbroglios return to lives that are not so easily repaired.”

But now it's 2017, so when are we getting rid of the seductive femme fatale cliché and letting men off scot-free?

We're over it.