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karla carter

I believe college should be free for everyone that wants to attend. And really cares about being better in life and following a career. I don’t believe that we should waste education on people that don’t care to learn or just go to school to waste time. I believe both federal and state should split the cost of how tuition is paid for at least up until a bachelor and then everything for higher education should be based on grades.

Taylor Wilson

As I read this article, I kept thinking of all the other articles that were written about the scandal itself. I kept thinking of the way sentences were formed with the intent to minimize the blame and negativity readers would feel towards General Petraeus and reserve it for Ms. Broadwell. This astonished me because they had done the same exact thing but Petraeus was described as an innocent child who made a mistake while Ms. Broadwell was seen as a woman with no boundaries or respect.
Let me remind you that General Petraeus wasn’t a child when everything took place, he was 59, not to mention the director of the CIA. You can’t honestly think that he shouldn’t be held accountable for his actions just because a strong and intelligent woman was working by his side. I personally believe that patriarchal views are so deeply rooted in our American brains that readers, of that time, were already holding attitudes that men were superior and women only tried to steal those positions away.
I think a part of patriarchy is not only men being in positions of power but intensely excluding women to reiterate the thought that they are less than men. Beliefs like this make it so easy to degrade and blame women without even thinking about it. Beliefs like this leave no room for fairness or the truth.
So, I’m tired. I’m tired of these stories about women with claws and fangs. I’m tired of men wanting to be men until they want to be forgiven like boys. I’ve been tired since Anne Boleyn got decapitated for being falsely accused of cheating while Henry VIII was sleeping with half of England. It’s been over four hundred years and we still aren’t better. Maybe Ms. Broadwell’s head wasn’t cut off but, she could hardly leave her house because the paparazzi swarmed her lawn and her name will never be her own. We should be better by now.

J Francis

Jessica Bennett argues that the word 'mistress' is outdated and also unnecessary. She emphazies how quick the media will latch on to people such as Paula Broadwell and Monica Lewinsky, and tear them to shreds. Bennett believes that language and actions like this need to be more equal towards each party. We forget that it takes two to have an affair, and it may not always be the fault of one person but the other. In this case the general isn't ripped to shreds but pitied.

I agree with Bennett's stand on this issue. As I said before, people tend to forget that it takes two and are so quick to attack the woman rather than the man. I believe that if another big scandal comes out both sides should be investigated fairly before a blame is set. As Bennett said, it's unnecessary and overstayed its welcome.

Emily East

The news coverage should have definitley not have referred to Paula Broadwell as the "mistress". This term is down right degrading to not only her but all women that may have been in a situation like Broadwell. David Petraeus was still treated respectfully in the article, introduced by his decorations and leadership positions, while Paula Broadwell had just as much right to be mentioned the same. It takes two to have an affair, one may have seduced the other but they had a chance to stop. Gender inequality is a big problem in today's society, women are always seen as the initiate, while men just can't help themselves. I believe Paula Broadwell made a mistake but so did David Petraeus and they should both get treated equally.

Cameron Bailey

The media latches onto females easily by using demeaning words like mistress. For many people these words are only used against females. This is a big problem for many people as the male should also be held accountable not just the female. There is always two parts to the story and this was only told by one side which is why she took most of the blame and not him. Not having the general take some of the blame has made it seem very bad for her while leaving the general feeling "disgraced." Both reputations have been tarnished but Paula Broadwell's reputation is worse off since she took most of the blame.

Joanna Whitener

Jessica Bennett argues that the word "Mistress" means that it is outdated and also unnecessary. She emphazies how quick the media will latch on to people such as Paula Broadwell and Monica Lewinsky, and then will tear them to shreds. While the media is only focusing on her, I believe more than just Jessica have been in some sort of situation like this before. It does not take just one person to have an affair, it takes two to complete the dirty work. As i said before, it takes two people and people jump so quick to attack women and not the man in the situation, i believe one day both sides of the story will come out and then see the man plays a role in the scandel as well.

Carla Moore

Jessica Bennett argues about the sexist labels placed upon women. In her article Bennett utilizes the "they say" technique in her argument to support the double standards that women inherited. There are not many adjectives that describe male sexual infidelity. Unfortunately the word or title "mistress" is one of the many labels specific to women.
Broadwell's achievements and status were barely mentioned to describe her professional career in mainstream media. Until I read Bennet's article, I had a very vague idea about Broadwell credentials. I had no idea that she has an accomplished career. Gen. David Petraeus, who shares the guilt, is described as a hard working military man through some media outlets. Broadwell is described as "the mistress who managed to get her hooks in him." I agree that history generally neglects a woman's positive moments but never forgets her scandal. Bennett's article reflects the harsh reality that women face in society.
I do believe there is equal shame on both sides. Neither party is more guilty than the other and I like to believe that both Broadwell and Petraeus understand the gravity of their mistakes. There is also a lesson to learn for others how could find themselves in a similar situation. The outcome is never worth the risk.

Alba Xhaho

In her New York Times article, writer Jessica Bennett describes her interactions with Paula Broadwell, whom she first did not know. After a quick search, she discovered that Paula, a writer and counter terrorism expert, was involved in a sex scandal with the famous ex director of the CIA, General David Petraeus. During their communication, Broadwell made the writer realize that the media has a gender bias when describing women. Women who are involved in such scandals are often scrutinized by the media as having malicious intentions of ruining families and careers, while the men are described by their achievements and as victims to these unscrupulous women’s lures. In Broadwell’s case, she was often described as “the mistress”, while Gen. Petraeus was described as a war hero and military legend who, though married, had simply made a mistake.
However; even though Bennett describes herself as a feminist, I believe that she also fell victim to language bias while writing this article. At the beginning of the fourth paragraph, when introducing Paula Broadwell to her audience, she starts by describing her as the former lover of General Petraeus, before she lists her professional and scholastic achievements. Perhaps she intended to do this for shock value, or perhaps it was a subconscious gaffe, however, by doing so she is creating a first impression of Broadwell to her reader. Unfortunately words like "mistress" and "affair" invoke strong emotions in many people and though they learn about her achievements afterwards, they may have already formed a negative opinion of her by that point. Furthermore, Broadwell did not become famous because of her elite education or athletic prowess, she unfortunately became famous because of the sex scandal with Petraeus.
On the other hand, Bennett displays how the gender bias becomes obvious when the same language is not used to describe the General. Even though he and Broadwell were partners in the same crime, the media treats him gingerly and the language used towards him is far kinder. Unfortunately, we see this biased treatment of women far too often in our patriarchal society. Because language shapes our thoughts it is the most efficient tool to push that misogynistic agenda through. However, it is through shaping the language we use by taking out certain target words, that we can bring some equality to the way women are described.


I agree with Jessica Bennett that a small tweak of the word mistress could cause a different reaction. Having a mistress sounds classier compared to I am a cheater. Explaining your a cheater would be owning what you did. A mistress can be perceived as the guilty one sounding as if being a kept women. All accountability being shifted from the man who broke their vows made to another person.

Dylan G

The article “Why Do People Still Use the Word ‘Mistress’? A Reporter Reflects” is a female reporter’s commentary on the overall questions about gender bias in the media. It begins as a recounting of a famous scandal between a famous general and his ‘mistress.’ The author, Jessica Bennett, begins her commentary by calling to light all of the positive topics that the media could have used to describe Paula Broadwell, the ‘mistress’. Bennett brings forward how she could have been called such as a Harvard trained counter terrorism expert, accomplished athlete, or army reservist, however all she was referred to as was a mistress. Bennett refers to the example of Ms. Broadwell to show how differently she and the general involved in the scandal were referenced in stories. The general was referred to as “honorable” or “the consummate family man” while she was referred to as “shameless” or a “self-promoter”. The stark contrast between the two is what Bennett is trying to call attention to and ultimately end.
In my opinion, I agree with Bennett that there is a problem in the media regarding the way women and men are treated. It is blatantly obvious in situations such as the story of Ms. Broadwell and the general. Broadwell was demeaned in the media while the general had his image saved by the media. All of the blame for the scandal was seemingly placed on the woman while the general simply “let his guard down.” I agree with all of the points the author made in her article as there is a stark gender bias that needs to be addressed in the media. She calls attention to the many different ways that the bias is shown and even asserts that “sometimes it takes a story to give outdated language a necessary kick out the door” which I agree with. Once attention is correctly called to a problem. In final, the author called attention to a wide spread media problem that I agree needs to be fixed as soon as possible.

Bradley Fayonsky

In the article, I do understand how the word mistress could have an unfair social stigma only associated with women. But from personal experience, the mistress is never blamed or the wrong doer in the situation. Instead the man who commits the adultery against his wife is shamed for his actions. Bill Clinton or Donald Trump both rightfully have a skewed perception in society because they cheated on their wives. I can also agree that the word mistress might be too soft and can hide the connotation of cheating on your husband or wife. Affairs break the most important bond in our society and should never be treated lightly. I do not buy the idea of open relationships or mistreating your spouse because a person who cheats can never be trusted.

ever collette

While I agree with Bradley in saying that cheating in a relationship is always wrong, I must disagree with his notion that the man is usually the one who gets a bad reputation after the fact. It seems as though it is extremely easy for society today to pin the female in the situation as being the seducer and the one who is at fault. Bennett proves this point in her writing when she talks about the articles that described the affair between Petraus and Braodwell. Each article perceived the male as being a “gentleman” and a “decorated officer,” while Broadwell was depicted using degrading terms like “mistress” and “shameless.” Language in an article can very effortlessly change the perspective of a reader, in this case making a woman with just as many achievements as her male counterpart seem less qualified and almost trashy. I think it is extremely disrespectful that people still use the word “mistress,” especially since many do not take the time to dig deeper into the matter and look at the situation from both perspectives. We should not use language to degrade others who do not deserve it.


When it comes to the topic of cheating, affairs, and unfaithfulness in marriage most will readily agree that such actions are wrong. Where this agreement usually ends, however, is in the rhetoric used by the media to describe the parties involved and the inevitable sexism that lies in the language used by reporters to describe such a story. In her piece “Why Do People Still Use the Word Mistress?” reporter Jessica Bennett reflects on the use of the word in the media and delves into the case of Paula Broadwell to discuss deeper lying sexism in the media. I agree with commenter Ever Collette’s point that the language used in an article can easily manipulate a readers perception of the persons involved, a point that needs emphasizing since so often in the media stories are written using language to paint a guilty party in a positive light. Take the example of the headlines following rapist Brock Turner’s trial that called him the “Stanford Swimmer” and “Hopeful Olympian.” Similarly, stories following the scandal of Gen. David Petraeus and Paula Broadwell were prefaced with Petraeus’ numerous successes and failed to mention the equally impressive resume of Broadwell. If Collette is right, as I think she is, in that sexism is rampant in the media’s coverage of women and the language used by reporters can truly shape a readers opinion then we need to reassess the popular assumption that using words such as “mistress” and asking powerful women what they’re wearing is acceptable.

Jacob Oberle

There are a couple words that come to mind when describing women who are very sexually promiscuous. Loose, immoral, whore, harlot or wanton are just a few. Men, on the other hand, who have sex with a lot of women, are considered players, wild or uninhibited. There are derogatory words for both men and women who are considered to be too free with their sexuality. Some women call men dogs and compare them to animals because they assume men are always thinking about sex. Women who are called “mistress” for being involved with married men are perceived to be the cause of the infidelity. The man is not often portrayed as the one who has done wrong, but the one who has been led astray. I agree with Bradley that affairs break the most important bond in our society and should not be treated lightly as it relates to either the man or woman involved. The lists above tell me that it is frowned upon for women to have more than one sexual partner, but men having sex with more than one woman is a sign of virility. Just let people do what they are going to do is my opinion.

Caroline Scobee

In the article, “Why do people still use the word ‘mistress’?” Jessica Bennett argues that the media uses derogatory terms to address women associated with affairs, but not men who have also been associated. I agree with the commenter Jfonse when he argues that media can use very specific language in order to manipulate readers. With his example of the Brock Turner headlines, Jfonse highlights the difference between the medias coverage of men and women. I agree with both Jfonse and Bennett that the term mistress is both derogatory and demeaning, while being a word in which, “there’s no male equivalent.” Moreover, I agree with Jfonse statement that the media is sexist in its coverage of women and that reporters should be ashamed of the terms that they associate women


Bennett’s article explores the use of the word “mistress” and the sexist culture that it promotes. Essentially every person that responded to this article agree with Bennett in the idea that the language used to describe Paula Broadwell and her affair with General David Petraeus deflects the responsibility away from the man and puts the woman at fault. As commenter Carla admits, there is fault on both sides, but there seems to be more shame put on the woman in the situation, even though an affair requires the actions of two people. We see this in the relationship between Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. While Bill Clinton of course faced backlash simply due to his position of power, Monica Lewinsky was the one that faced life-altering shame and had to pretty much create a new identity, as everyone knew her as the “mistress.”

Another commenter questioned why there is no male equivalent for the word mistress. Women are referred to as homewreckers all the time, but where do the men come into play? What about when a wife cheats on her husband with another man? What do we call the other man in that situation? The media fails to portray men with the same responsibilities for their actions as women. I thought the importance of this language was also exemplified in one commenter’s critique of the Brock Turner case. In the headlines, Turner was described as a “Hopeful Olympian” and referred to by his academic and athletic excellence, rather than by his crime- rape. Language plays a huge role on how the public shapes the individuals image, and if we are going to shame women, we should at least shame men in the same way.

Sara Beth Sears

2. I agree with Bennett that the word “mistress” is outdated and should not be used in the media. Labeling women with the word “mistress” is degrading and ultimately not a correct statement to describe the woman in an affair. I agree with Emily that it take two people to have an affair so one person should not be spoken about in a more negative way than the other. Regardless of what their status in society is, one person should not be blamed more than the other one. What is said about a person in the media can change their life. Every time a woman who has been labeled a “mistress” introduced herself, the first thing most people will think about is the affair she was a part of. It is not fair for something a person did to haunt them for the rest of their lives, especially if the male in the affair has no problems. The media should be more considerate when speaking about an affair. The affair itself will already impact both people and their families. The media will just make it even harder for them to move past it in the future


I completely agree with Taylor’s opinion. General Petraeus made a mistake, one that he is just as accountable for as Paula Broadwell. The blame for the affair should not be placed completely on Ms. Broadwell because he knew exactly what he was doing when he began the affair. This woman deserves as much respect as Petraeus because she is just as intelligent and a member of the US Army. He is still treated with respect while her name is dragged through the mud. As a fellow female in the Army, it upsets me to see another female soldier treated with such disrespect for a mistake while a man gets to keep his reputation in tact. This belief just continues the extremely outdated idea that it is acceptable for men to have affairs but is the worst thing in the world for a woman to do. As the author of the article points out, there is no male version of the word mistress because it’s ok for a man so they don't get a degrading term. A man should not get preferential treatment when it comes to issues like this. This is why there is no equality between men and women today, and there won’t be until the patriarchal ideas of past societies are replaced with the reality that women are just as good as men and that men need to be held just as accountable for their actions.

Anna S

Although I agree with Bradley Fayonsky in his comment up to a point, I cannot accept his overall conclusion that it is not the mistress who is blamed, but the person who committed adultery who is shamed the most. Bradley acknowledges that the word mistress could have an “unfair social stigma associated with women”, however, he is quick to turn around and say that the women are not the ones who suffer the most from these affairs. He states that both Bill Clinton and Donald Trump have skewed perceptions in society because they cheated on their wives, but I would contend that their mistresses have suffered more than they have. Monika Lewinsky continues to be the victim of many vicious jokes, while people do not frequently make jokes about Bill Clinton’s affair that would be considered attacks. In her article, Bennett addresses many different names that women have been called or labeled as when they have been involved in an affair while addressing the point that the men involved in the affair often have their achievements listed. Her point is that women are boiled down to a one-word description such as “mistress”, whereas men are described as having accomplished many things in life before this “mistress” came along and destroyed their lives as if the “mistress” has not also been affected. Ultimately the issue is that both people involved in the affair are to blame, but only one of them is demeaned to a point where their identity is lost and they just become another “mistress” in the eyes of the public.

Katherine Silva

The General David Petraeus is a man with a family and wife he promised he would stay true to. He is also the same person who chose to get involved an extra-marital affair when he knew full-well of how his actions would affect his family. Instead of pointing fingers and shoving the blame on Paula Broadwell why are we not addressing the elephant in the room? This same situation happens time and time again and yet the media still is so steadfast on blaming the woman for everything. The men receive a slap on the wrist while the woman are given an emblazoned title that remain with them for life. Media is so quick to list all the wrong the women have done without ever mentioning their accomplishments. We continue to paint the men out to be victims of an incredibly wicked scheme. These “mistresses” have stolen so much from these men and have ruined their lives. We forget to remember there are two to play at this game but it is so easy for us to slap a big red ‘A’ on her and call it a year. It took Monica Lewinsky years to try to clear her name and shake the title that was given to her when Bill Clinton chose to cheat and lie. When confronted with it, he blatantly lied to the entire world yet we still see him as someone to look up to. Monica Lewinsky will forever be the “mistress” and all of her accomplishments looked past because of this. It is an unfortunate crime that the majority of journalist are guilty of committing. Stop pointing fingers and realize there are more than just one person who made a bad judgement call.

Isabella Villagomez

I agree with the author’s point, the male gender should not be overriding the female population when referring to entrepreneur type of jobs and other powerful roles. In her article, Bennet recognizes that the media lashes out at women, degrading them with words like “mistress.” This word has negative connotations that degrade the self-worth of women. What Ms. Broadwell should have been known for was her description as a former research associate at Harvard, Olympic triathlete and a military captain for the first class of women at West Point. Instead, all she was known for was the bright, bold, A across her chest. Why should the media be flourishing with Broadwell and Petraeus’s love life? What need is there for the entire world to know? Today, our media is filled with relationship status of the latest celebrities and runway models. It is advertised most on the app, Snapchat. I, myself, have become almost a little too obsessed with Kendall Jenner and the Hadid girls’ love life because of the daily articles, along with photos, that Snapchat hosts on the homepage. I think it has all come by too fast that people have forgotten why we started to get involved with other’s personal relationships and life issues. Not only does this take place in the media, but also in our personal life. It is way past time to question ourselves and why we feel the need to take an interest in lives other than our own. One of the reasons people do this, and myself included, is that it is easily accessible to us being posted on various social media cites and apps, magazine covers, radio and also television. E! News, a show on E! Entertainment, is possibly one of my most watched channels on television. This television network broadcasts shows, movies, documentaries and even has their own celebrity news show just like TMZ. It is definitely television networks like E!, who have railed in all the eager and nosey viewers who continuously ask for the latest updated celebrity news.

Cynthia V

Why do people still use the word ‘Mistress’? A reporter reflects, an article written for the New York Times by Jessica Bennett. This article was written about the language used in the media and just how influential it can be; how much it can impact someone’s personal image. Jessica says toward the end of her article, “ language is a diagnostic, the linguist Robin Lakoff once told me- it reflects the beliefs of a particular moment in time.” That summed her article very well because it helped piece the motives behind her beliefs in word choices, and why others should be more considerate of that aswell. Stories released in the media are not put out and forgotten, when a particular topic arises later in time, many media publishing's are referenced again; and more things are published with even bigger twists of the originals.
Throughout her article she uses the example of Paula Broadwell, a woman known for being the “mistress” of the ex-director of the C.I.A, Gen. David Petraeus. Both were heavily involved in the missions with Afghanistan and Iraq, but only Gen. Petraeus was still credited for his accomplishments in the media. Broadwell was also a highly intellectual woman and trained in counterterrorism at harvard, but much like many other women who were involved in scandals, she is stripped of her accomplishments in the media for the title of a “mistress”. Broadwell was compared to Monica Lewinsky, because both women were widely defamed and have to continue to fight against the image that was placed upon them.
In her article, Bennett makes for a good argument about the usage of language. She talks about the difference there is when words like “mistress” and “homewrecker” are left out of published profiles in the media. There can be reportings of such incidents without needing the follow a gender bias of placing the blame of an affair on the woman. Bennett is aware of the influence her word choices have on the opinions people will hold after reading her work. It is almost encouraging for other writers to see the affect their writings have as well. I agree with the proposal Bennett makes to make the small, yet significant, change in word choices for published pieces. The public is brutal, and writers have such a strong impact on the image of people who need to keep facing that after a scandal as big as an affair.
As someone who chooses to use a specific set of vocabulary on a day-to-day basis, I think word choices are extremely important to consider. I choose my words wisely for fear of being too offensive, for not knowing who I will encounter in my day, to potentially affect someone’s day. My language, apart from physical appearance, sculpts my image to others. It impacts the way I will continue to be seen. Writer’s should be especially more considerate of their language because it is not only their image their going to define now, it is someone else's. Whoever or whatever they write about, they are now shaping the image others will hold.

Jesi Cobetto

In regards to the language used to describe Broadwell, I don't think the word mistress was really necessary. With that being said, I don't think it's an overly offensive term that should never be used. I just think that an upstanding news outlet like the New York Times should choose to describe Broadwell by listing her job and her accomplishments. They simply could have explained how Broadwwell and Petraeus new each other and then stated that they had an affair. Calling Broadwell a mistress repeatedly gives the false impression that what happened is all her fault and Petraeus was somehow a helpless man who couldn't stop himself.

I like the that New York Times posted Bennett's article and then posted a blog with the opinions of the staffers. This shows that the newspaper is willing to show it's flaws and accepts opinions that are conflicting with it's practices. This also shows a level of transparency that people like to see in a company these days. I think I would definitely subscribe to a local paper that did the same.

Mia Lyczek

I agree with J. Francis that the term ‘mistress’ is an incorrect title to place on a woman who has been in an affair, a point that still needs emphasizing since so many people still place the blame of an affair solely on the woman. Francis argues that people quickly attack the woman of an affair before evaluating the situation. Francis’ argument reveals a deeper issue concerning patriarchy. Men are still being given the upper hand in situations where both man and woman should be equal. They maintain the honorary titles they have been decorated with, while the woman associated with the affair is automatically demoted to the mistress. This issue goes further than affairs and shows how the language we use in reporting is still centuries behind women’s equality. I believe that women have proven long ago that we can accomplish the same things men can, thus capable earning the same recognition that men receive. However, using demeaning titles, given to women by the media, we automatically lose our credibility and years of advocating for women’s’ rights. Though I concede that a woman may sometimes be more at fault for starting an affair, I still insist that only giving her the title of ‘mistress’ is unfair and demeaning.

Alana Arriba

Jacob Oberle's theory on the use of the word "mistress" is extremely useful because it sheds light on the difficult problem of how this word completely shifts the blame on the woman. The word mistress is used whenever a married man has an affair. When scandals like these come out, the other woman is always referred to as the mistress, but what is the man referred to as? Maybe people will call him a cheater, but in reality in headlines and articles, you will see the word "mistress" more than any name-calling of the man. While I argue the word "mistress" wrongfully shifts all the blame onto the woman, I do not argue that the woman does not hold any of the blame, she just does not hold all of it.

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