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Adultery is no longer a taboo but a  career opportunity.

I watched the Jesse James interview on Nightline and was struck by the fact that he negated his role by pointing a finger at his mistress. Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon called out her agent husband Mike. Shaunie O’Neal produces a show a show that openly talks about sports groupies and calls them out on camera. Mistresses have always held a certain fascination in American life, especially when it comes to famous and powerful men. Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt (Lucy Mercer), Dwight Eisenhower (Kay Summersby) and John F. Kennedy (Judith Exner, Marilyn Monroe) were alleged to have strayed outside the boundaries of their marital vows. Many other men who lead public lives have been outed as cheaters, including Michael Jordan, Ethan Hawke, Rudy Giuliani, Bill Clinton, John Edwards, John Ensign and David Vitter.

But in recent weeks, the parade of cheaters has picked up momentum with the news that Tiger Woods and Jesse James engaged in extramarital affairs. While the bedroom exploits of a golfer and a biker may not change the course of history, they certainly have triggered a bombardment of tabloid headlines. Because there are so many media outlets that will pay for the scandalous texts, emails and photos we have all become well versed in the tawdry stories.

What about the women? Were the mistresses truly in love? Were they looking for their 15 minutes of fame and whatever income they could generate as the result of their involvement? Did they give any thought to the possible fallout, or did they give a lot of thought to it? And do their actions create the possibility that other women may emulate their behavior and look upon being a mistress as a career path? Much of the time these women are not happy.

If you look at them in a broad context and examine their personality traits and their psychological baggage for lack of a better term, what’s common with these women is that they’re typically not happy women. They have an ax to grind for something that their father did to their mother, or they were abandoned, or they hold no regard for the value of a family. Selfishness and narcissism are common qualities.

There are also issues of entitlement and narcissism when a famous woman feels that it is appropriate to pursue a relationship with a married man. They go about justifying it by telling themselves that “She is not on the same level that we are. You can do better.” When it comes to these high-profile mistresses, the spotlight cast on them rarely results in apologies or regret. She negates the sisterhood of women that once honored the belief that “if he had a band he was someone else’s man”.

Like most human behavior, people don’t always realize or understand why they do the things they do. But one common belief about mistresses is that they gravitate toward men who have power because they’re held back by society from getting any of their own. That belief has been tempered somewhat in modern times by the shattering of glass ceilings in many segments of society. And while Woods clearly is in more of a position of power than the women he cheated with, Sandra Bullock is an A-list star while her husband is at least a few letters below her.  The young lady that Tiger cheated with has garnered, layouts and a hosting job.

Fame and influence are the end result of what is driving our society.   It doesn’t matter what they look like. If they have achieved something, they’ll find groupies to follow them around. A lot of women still feel their only chance to get close to power is for power to put his arm around them. And that’s what we need to change. The mentality that  improper actions do not equal an instant payday. Those things are against common decency.

{For more from Oretha Winston follow her on Twitter}

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