After my post on the Adam Levine/Sumner Stroh TikTok cheating scandal, there have been trickles of new information.
Other women are claiming that Adam has slid into their DMs, though like with Sumner Stroh, there are no clear-cut allegations that the cheating is physical. Daily Mail had the first photos that I have seen of Adam and Behati since Sumner put him on blast. And Behati is smiling for the camera. It’s all very The Good Wife. I mean, there’s a reason that cliché exists. We’ve seen many women grit their teeth and endure the humiliation, from Huma Abedin to Catherine FitzGerald to Eniko Hart. We’ve also seen women go through the heartbreak and healing publicly through their art (like Beyoncé’s Lemonade) or express their shock on social media (most recently, Michelle Branch). No one has any idea of the stress Behati is going through or if she was tipped off, if she caught him beforehand, or if maybe the DM’ing isn’t that big of a deal to their marriage. What we are being led to believe though, through outlets like PEOPLE, is that she’s “very upset” (understandable) and he is “very understanding of her feelings.” Oh is he. Is he understanding. How emotionally adept of him to understand that his wife is upset he DM’d a woman about naming their baby after her.
So far, there are no dick pics or any physical evidence of cheating and taking a look at cheating scandals, if not for the baby naming detail (which I will not get over! I will never get over it!!!!), this is all relatively tame. Is he a creep, to quote Bridget Jones, a big knob head with no knob? Yes, yes and yes. But Behati right now is choosing to stay together and if that’s what she wants, that’s her choice. Being pregnant also complicates things I’m sure, and maybe a marriage ceasefire is a temporary solution to a long-term problem.
This story is revealing a lot of people’s passionately held opinions about who is to blame when cheating happens. (And if Reddit’s relationship advice forum is any indication, people are out there raw-dogging with their side-pieces behind their partner’s back on the regular. It’s rampant!) There’s cheating and we must blame someone, right? The cheater, obviously, but what about Sumner? There are two schools of thought on this that have bubbled over on TikTok. Let’s start with Sara Foster, someone who is not wildly famous but does have a solid social media presence and a big circle of very famous friends.
She’s pretty clear in her position that Sumner, and people like her who go public about these types of affairs, are assholes. Sara mentions that she has been personally affected by cheating (her dad is David Foster) but that women hold some responsibility for aiding these sh-tty men. She calls Adam a pig and gross. Sara contends that Sumner could have messaged Behati privately, ignored Adam’s message, or not taken the story to TikTok. Her main point is clear: “We don’t feel sorry for you” (you meaning Sumner).
It might be a knee-jerk reaction to be like ‘typical influencer looking for clout’ especially because Sumner’s apology video isn’t great and she mentions “being new to LA” as a reason for her vulnerability several times. But is it fair to blame her a little or a lot? As I mentioned yesterday, there are power dynamics at play. Sumner doesn’t have the power and protection of a team, money (lots of it – Adam is loaded), and mainstream fame.
Another point Sara makes is that men can’t control themselves so it’s up to women to deny them. First off, people of all genders cheat. It’s not a man thing. And it’s ridiculous to say that the women they cheat with should be held to the same or a higher standard. He is the one who is married. I imagine people like Sara think of themselves as realists when they spout that reasoning, but that’s the same line of thinking that gets us school dress codes for girls so as not to “tempt” the boys.
Emily Ratajkowski, who herself is going through a divorce with an alleged cheater and has never made it about the women, posted a thoughtful counter-argument and included a snippet of Sara’s video to debunk her points. (This kind of hand-on-hand celebrity combat is so rare these days.)
She points out the power dynamics at play, the age difference, and how the “men are always gonna be dogs” line of thinking is a tool to remove accountability from men and place it on women like Sumner.
#stitch with @sarasadmomfosterâ™¬ original sound - Emrata
#stitch with @sarasadmomfoster maybe we just hold men accountable instead of just accepting them as terrible, asking them to do 0 work, and then blaming other women? ok gn.â™¬ original sound - Emrata
It’s interesting to see this played out on TikTok the way it does in a group chat or the emails I get from readers, as both of these sides have been presented to me. Is there nuance and misogyny, like Emily Ratajkowski points out, or is it black-and-white and Sumner is an influencer looking for her 15 minutes any way she can get it and Adam provided that, per Sara’s thesis.
As I wrote yesterday, empathy doesn’t come easy for Sumner. But even if we don’t care for her tactics and think what she did was wrong from a moral standpoint, is she equally to blame? Should she eat sh-t for a vow he broke?
To continue with Sara’s argument, is public shaming a risk you take when you air it out on social media? Or is it unfair that she is being publicly shamed while he gets to hide in Montecito and arrange fluffy PEOPLE magazine coverage?
As Emily points out, this is the misogyny of it, effectively leaving women to tear into each other and debate these questions while he waits for the news cycle to turn over. The collective “us” doesn’t need to cheer Sumner on, but we don’t need to collectively seek to destroy her, either.
At the time of writing this, the top comment on her apology video is:
“I’m not the victim.”
“Here’s why I’m the victim.”
It has close to 85k likes.
The next most popular comment is “VULERNABLE POSITION OF BEING NEW TO LA” LMAOOOOOOO” with close to 82k likes
Shooting the messenger (or the receipt provider) is a well-worn tactic people in power use. The more Sumner becomes the object of people’s ire (whether it be for her looks, her choice of work or her taste in men), the better it is for Adam.
Many people are already coming from a position that Sumner is an attention-seeking opportunist who did this for clout. But let’s say Sumner did this for attention and fame – why does that take away from his responsibility to his family? Her motivation does not change his actions. Two people can be sh-tty but only one person is a baby naming menace.