Monday, June 6, 2011

Whose Responsibility is this Mess?

Let me begin this with the assertion that Arnold Schwarzenegger is a pompous, two-faced, lying, sleazy idiot. Not a big surprise to anyone. In fact, most people probably thought that even before the latest love-child scandal erupted. Rumors about his misogynist behavior have circled the guy since he landed on these shores, and most certainly were big news when he began his political career eight years ago.

But what has struck me about this whole discussion about Arnold's atrocious behavior, and poor, long-suffering Maria, is the dearth of conversation about "Patty," his mistress and mother of his extra-marital child. It's as if she has no responsibility for this mess. From all news reports, she's not a victim of a sexual assault, but a willing participant in a decade-plus sexual relationship. She was as complicit as he was, lying just as easily to everyone, including her own son, as he did to his family.

So while I give no pass to the Governator, when we ignore the role that mistresses play in affairs, then we infantilize women, assume that they are unable to make their own decisions about right and wrong.

About ten years ago, Katie Roiphe wrote an article for the New York Times about the double standard of adultery. "It's as if the historical oppression of women justifies all sorts of bad behavior and self-indulgence and a whole new double standard." We are appalled at the transgressions of Tiger Woods, Jesse James, John Edwards, Newt Gingrich, but ignore the women who willingly jumped into bed with these Lotharios – and eagerly sold their stories to the press. No sooner do these affairs get revealed, that many of these women "lawyer up." As soon as I see Gloria Allred is a part of the news cycle, I know that some charge of sexism is close behind and a demand for an apology (e.g., a cash settlement) is next.

Surely the most important victims in this sordid tragedy are the children, most especially a thirteen year old boy who, if he didn't know who his real father was, now discovers a man who was willing to publicly ignore him (regardless of monetary support ) – or if he did know, was asked from infancy to join in a great conspiracy of silence. UGH.

The news cycle on this unholy mess isn't over. There's still divorce settlements and movies-of-the-week to be made. There's plenty of blame to go around – but in our fight to ensure that our daughters are treated fairly and equally – then we need to also teach them to take responsibility for their decisions and actions. Bad behavior isn't limited to any one gender.

Marian, the Northern half of Evelyn David


  1. This is a powerful statement. I think the problem is also societal, as per today's news from Anthony Weiner. When did it become all right to do wrong?

  2. Bad behavior seems epidemic these days. Or maybe it's just that the news is rampant with scandals and doesn't consider good deeds worthy of reporting (or worthy of ratings points anyway). I can't believe so many folks are getting caught with their pants down. You'd think they'd learn. Yeesh.