Famous Mistresses: Sex, Power and Blame

What happens when young, beautiful women tangle with very powerful men?
4:57 | 11/19/12

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Transcript for Famous Mistresses: Sex, Power and Blame
Tonight, sex, power and who ultimately takes the blame when it comes to extramarital affairs, no doubt it takes two to tango but in the aftermath of the sex scandal that brought down david petraeus, the head of the cia, many claim his mist rest, paula broadwell is taking the brunt of the ridicule. To women pay the price when it comes to high-profile affairs? David wright takes a look. Reporter: The general and biography, juicy enough to take down america's spy master, obvious fodder for "saturday night live." Next, author paula broadwell -- Reporter: Opening this weekend with a parody of a paula broadwell book reading. Lock the door, said the general, with my skirt hiked up above my waist -- Reporter: Her david petraeus biography as "50 shades of grey." Pull my hard and spank me. Reporter: The humor and criticism came mainly at the woman's expense. I think it's very clear from the media treatment of the personalities involved that this is a form of theater and that it is a sexist form of theater. In which whoever the woman is, she's always mocked, derided, and you know, that kind of mo mockery is not really aimed at the man. Reporter: Powerful men do pay a e for their sex scandals n petraeus' case it cost his job and quite possibly a bright political future, though it's not entirely clear. Powerful men can hope for redemption. I did not have sexual relations with that woman. Reporter: Bill clinton's scandal may have wrecked his presidency but eventually he got to become the elder statesman, whe whe wheremonica lewinsky will always be "that woman." I understand she has a $12 million book deal to write about that, but nonetheless that's the brand she now has, she's been branded. Reporter: The attorney gloria allred, specializes on helping women cash in on rich and powerful cheaters, tiger woods and herman cain, saying the men can restore their good names by, in part, accepting financial responsibility. The american people are sx treatmently forgiving as long as high level person steps up and takes responsibility. Ask for forgiveness. Reporter: Except for john edwards. John edwards is always the glaring exception because that was so egregious. Reporter: John edwards not only cheated on his wife, he fared a baby and a time when his beloved wife was dying of cancer, so for him redemption may be tricker. As society do we reserve special contempt for a woman perceived as a homewrecker, especially when a powerful man is involved? The very question has some sexist language in it. To suggest that a woman who is having an affair with a powerful man is a homewrecker is to lay blame 100% at the foot of the woman who is involved in the affair. Reporter: Sarah stars in a new canadian reality show called the mistress. Used to be a mistress -- Reporter: Which does interventions for women involved in married men. The man always fares better and eludes me to be honest, he chose to step out on his way, betray her, break his vows. Reporter: Broadwell is married with children, feminist naomi wolf who published a new wolf on women and sexuality says she doesn't condone adultery. It's not up to me to give anybody a scarlet letter but if we sit around shaming people for going outside their marriages, let it at least be a single standard for god's sake. I would rather we didn't shame anybody. Reporter: Interestingly, allred suggesting paula broadwell may not have taken enough heat for this scandal which recently expanded to include jill kelley and her twin sister. Paula broadwell was doing with jill kelley, was it warranted, not warranted, did she go about it in the right way, did she not? There are many questions. Reporter: Sounds like would you rather have the kelleys as your clients than paula bro broadwell. I don't have any comment about that. Reporter: Just today, one day after our intereview, allred, announced that natalie, jill kelley's sister is her newest client. I'm david wright. Thank you, david. Tonight a family friend of

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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