Just as the popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey would make you think that the world had never heard of a slapped backside before, so too does the feverish coverage of Kristen Stewart's extra-curricular activities prompt a similar question.
Have most of us never heard of a girl cheating on her boyfriend before?
It would certainly explain why we are being kept abreast of Stewart's relationship with director Rupert Sanders as though it were a matter of national importance. Maybe it's because Stewart cheated on her Twilight co-pilot Robert Pattinson, a man so eye-wateringly hot that playing away from home seems against the laws of nature. Perhaps it's because she is sullying the behemoth that is the megabucks Twilight franchise.
Anyway, as bystanders, we mere mortals are being treated to a blow-by-blow account of this private matter. By now, it has become a media circus: Rob is moving out, Rob has moved in with Reese Witherspoon, Kristen turns to Jodie Foster for advice, and so on. Make no mistake; Kristen's momentary fling has the world hooked ... and the spike in hatred towards the normally popular starlet has really been something to behold.
And, as the post-mortems continue, Hollywood commentators are already focusing on how the scandal might hurt -- or even help -- Stewart's public image.
"Going forward, she may well seem less innocent as a person, but I think that just helps her look more fascinating as an actress... more adult," opines Owen Glieberman of Entertainment Weekly.
Was such scrutiny or judgement ever levelled at serial womanisers like Mick Jagger? Was it heck. Where Mick was painted as a sort of terminally endearingly randy Jack-the-lad, cheating Kristen has quite a road ahead of her getting back into the good graces of fans.
A woman cheating on her partner gets attention for a number of reasons. Where the tabloids are packed with tales of male love-rats and philanderers -- carrying a dispiriting 'boys will be boys' subtext -- women who cheat move relatively under the radar. And as a result, when women are caught cheating, it appears to cause more of a furore. Women are meant to be the romantic ones, the rose-tinted love idealists ... not crafty, clever cheaters.
More recently, US statistics hint that 68pc of women would have an affair if they knew they would never get caught, compared to 74pc of men.
Meanwhile, 54pc of women have admitted to cheating while in relationships, compared with 57pc of men. Yet because women are much more adept at not getting caught, that figure could well be higher. One US poll showed that 67pc of respondents believed that men cheated more than women, but the fact remains ... women are just as likely to cheat, but are more likely to lie about it and less likely to get caught in the act.
According to Dr David Holmes, a psychologist at Manchester Metropolitan University, women are having more affairs than ever, but they behave very differently from men when they cheat.
"The biggest difference is that women are much better at keeping their affairs secret," he says.
"If you look at the studies into paternity, even conservative figures show that between eight and 15pc of children haven't been fathered by the man who thinks he's the biological parent."
There's a deep-seated belief that women are the more wily, psychologically sophisticated species, which means they are less likely to be caught while cheating.
Yet far from being simply cunning, there is another, kinder, motivation behind women's subterfuge.
Lisa O'Hara, of Relationships Ireland (www.relationshipsireland.com), said: "More women are having affairs than we think, but they're hardwired to consider other feelings.
"They're social masters and want to protect their partners and families, so their cover up is more elaborate and they're better at masking lies.
"Plus, we are culturally conditioned to not advocate women cheating, so women are worried about being judged by others if they are found out."
As to the idea that men and women cheat for different reasons, Lisa adds: "There is a clear difference that comes up between men and women who cheat.
"What we've found is that women who have affairs do it because they are unhappy in their relationship and seek emotional fulfillment. Sometimes they do it as a means of conflict avoidance (in their existing relationship).
"Women are more likely to consider the consequences of their actions before it all happens, but a relationship that they have with someone else can be very intense. Often, the woman confuses this intensity with intimacy.
"Some people want to brush an affair under the carpet but the trust that was there has been replaced by anxiety so that will eventually trip the couple up. If they do decide to talk it out, they need to understand what helped the affair to happen."
As we go to press, the future of R-Patz and K-Stew hangs in the balance, as the drama continues. Happily, all is not lost for most couples in this scenario.
"Over the course of a relationship, everyone's needs change," explains Lisa. "But you're based in a new reality now. You can never really know anyone for certain, and ultimately you are both separate people.
"The good news is that an affair is often a wake-up call for couples. If you are willing to put in an effort to fix things, the rewards really are huge."