We need to rethink the way we talk about ‘the other woman’ in stories of infidelity

Even in our so-called progressive modern world, it’s much easier to blame a man’s bad behaviour on a woman

Olivia Petter
Monday 06 November 2023 11:00 GMT
Rebecca Loos breaks silence after David and Victoria Beckham speak on alleged affair

What is the first thing you think of when you hear the name Rebecca Loos? I’ll bet you £1m I know the answer.

The former personal assistant turned yoga teacher is best known for having allegedly had an affair with David Beckham. And that’s still true today, 20 years after said affair. The story is a key one in the pop culture canon, but for those who need reminding, allow me to explain. 

Take yourself back to 2004. Maroon 5 have just released their first album. The Notebook is making people teary in cinemas. And Jude Law is going out with Sienna Miller. Enter Loos, an unknown 27-year-old personal assistant who claims to have had a four-month affair with David in 2003, while he was playing for Real Madrid (and very much still married to Victoria). The world goes bananas.

At the time, Loos claimed that the chemistry between her and David was “so strong that everyone was aware” at a particular group dinner before the affair began. David, meanwhile, dismissed her claims as “ludicrous”. Loos went on to suffer an inordinate amount of sl**-shaming as she tried to rehabilitate her image through a series of high-profile interviews and reality TV show appearances.

Today, she works as a yoga and meditation teacher in Norway, where she lives with her husband, Sven Christjar Skaiaa, and their two sons. For a while, the affair with David might have seemed like a different lifetime ago. And it was. Until he decided to do a documentary with Netflix.

Through a mix of incredible media training and PR wizardry, both David and Victoria are able to talk about the affair without actually confirming that it happened. “It was the hardest period because it felt like the world was against us,” said Victoria. “Here’s the thing – we were against each other, if I’m being completely honest. I can’t even begin to tell you how hard it was and how it affected me. It was a nightmare.”

As for David, he’s even more vague. “There were some horrible stories which were difficult to deal with,” he says. “It was the first time that me and Victoria had been put under that kind of pressure in our marriage ... I don’t know how we got through it, in all honesty. Victoria is everything to me; to see her hurt was incredibly difficult, but we’re fighters, and at that time we needed to fight for each other, we needed to fight for our family, and what we had was worth fighting for. But ultimately, it’s our private life.”

Quite remarkable, isn’t it? Nowhere does he admit to the affair, nor does he even mention Loos. But crucially, he doesn’t deny it, either. What he also doesn’t do is take any responsibility for the fact that any trouble he experienced in his marriage at that time was because of his own alleged behaviour. There is no sign that he regrets anything he’s done, or how it impacted Loos. And while he does seem to be remorseful about how it affected Victoria, he still doesn’t seem to realise that it was his fault.

All this is a sad indictment of the way we treat “the other woman” in stories of infidelity. When it’s a married man having an affair, the blame is almost always placed on the woman he’s having it with as opposed to the man himself. Loos is the one who bore the brunt of reputational damage, not Beckham. She is the one who was torn apart in the tabloids, and to this day will only ever be known to some because of her sex life. How is that not misogyny?

It’s a shame because, in 2023, I expected more accountability from David. After all, all this happened so long ago. Surely this was an opportunity for him to rewrite a narrative and apologise for what happened back then? To set an example to his fanbase, so many of whom will be young, impressionable men, who could really do with seeing a few more of their role models taking accountability for when they’ve screwed up, and righting sexist wrongs.

But no. Instead all we got was a watered-down, somewhat nonsensical monologue in which the viewer came away feeling like the Beckhams had been victimised by Loos. Because yes, even in our so-called progressive modern world, it’s much easier to blame a man’s bad behaviour on a woman. Sigh.

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