“From Here to Epiphany …”: Power and Identity in the Narrative of an Affair
This chapter suggests how the sociological analysis of affairs may be extended to include the emotional and symbolic dimensions, and sheer drama, currently missing from much academic discussion. It explores how some individuals may find the emotional experience of an affair so powerful that they feel it has brought about changes in their identity by using the concepts of "power", "identity", and "self-awareness",. In modern marriage men's formal authority has diminished but their power tends to remain in the form of an unarticulated "contract" covering fidelity, sexual access, and the prioritizing of male sexual pleasure. However husbands' power tends to be masked by ideologies that portray gender inequality and male authority as "natural". These ideologies serve to "set the agenda" for wives and to "manage their consent", making it difficult for them to challenge or even recognize their husbands' "hidden power".