Cuckoldry, Honour, and Adultery: The Language of Infidelity
The concept of sexual infidelity is both widespread and ancient. It requires, as a precondition, the concept of sexual fidelity, and further that it has as its context a society in which there is the institution of marriage, or some similar long-term heterosexual and exclusive relationship, and in which the expectation is that there shall be conjugal fidelity, at least on the part of the wife. The language relating to infidelity reiterates patriarchal concern with the infidelity of wives rather than that of husbands. At first sight, some of the language relating to the cuckold appears to give weight to the socio-historical argument that matters of inheritance are the reason why the fault of wives appears to cause interest and concern, whereas the sexual fault of husbands that leads them from the marriage bed is taken so much for granted that it is not equally regarded as a fault.
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