Thursday, March 12, 2009

True Confessions

Today is the one-year anniversary of the day then-governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer, gave his terse resignation speech, having been identified as “Client 9” at the same type of prostitution ring that he had prosecuted when the state’s Attorney General. And there was his wife, Silda, at his side, another victim of the public humiliation reserved for the wives of very public figures. Though she looks here as if she’d struggled through many sleepless nights, she looks like a lovely person. No one knows what goes on behind the closed doors of any home, let alone a governor’s mansion, or even, looking back to Bill Clinton, the White House. One has to wonder, what would make a man of this kind feel he needs to pay a prostitute $4,000 for a 4-hour session?

If you go back to True Confessions, October 1955, Dr. George Crane, Ph.D, M.D, says, “The wife, not the other woman, is to blame when a marriage starts to fail.” And he elaborates, “Yes, women have always been frigid as compared to the masculine standard. For woman was not designed anatomically to be a passionate creature.” His advice? “A good wife must adopt Shakespeare’s adage that all the world’s a stage and we are but actors thereon. A topnotch wife must be a talented actress in her own boudoir! She must train herself to show ardor and delight on many occasions when she really isn’t hungry for intense affection.” In other words, behave like a prostitute, albeit an unpaid one.

Thank goodness that advice-giving “Doctors” like Crane are dead and buried! Whew! Oops—not so fast. Following the Spitzer debacle, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, the syndicated right-wing advice-giver, went on the Today Show and said this about the issue, “When the wife does not focus in on the needs and the feelings, sexually, personally, to make him feel like a man, to make him feel like a success, to make him feel like her hero, he’s very susceptible to the charm of some other woman making him feel what he needs.” This statement blazed around the print and electronic media, as variations of “Dr. Laura: It’s Silda’s fault,” and “Dr. Laura blames Spitzer’s wife.” This may be a bit overstating, but the message is still, if we don’t act the ego-stroking slut in our relationship, our man will seek someone who will.

No, men “cheat” because, as anthropologist Margaret Mead noted, monogamy is the most challenging of all marital models. Humans, like other mammals, are not naturally monogamous—throughout most of human history, societies have been polygynous. And in many cases, women were not expected to remain faithful to the same partner for life, either. I love her quote that “Humanity rests upon a series of learned behaviors, woven together into patterns that are infinitely fragile and never directly inherited.” Many of us, especially women, love the ideal of being mated for life, like swans (supposedly) are; but in this we’ve chosen a most daunting task. So, what’s the answer? Apparently, no one knows—not Dr. Crane, not Dr. Laura, and apparently, not even the brilliant, thrice-married Dr. Mead.


Anonymous said...

Is there an answer to the question? I think there are many answers and perhaps, it rests only between those involved.

I sense the public scandals of recent times are so much in the realm of watercooler discussion because of the immediate access to info as well as discussion via the internet. As a former, NY'er, I come from the school of learning that gossip lasts for a short time and it is on to the next - this is no manner of speaking diminishes the effect it has on those involved.

I see a poor sense of judgement with those such as Spitzer, John Edwards or Gary Hart to name a few that may have gone on - rather than toss it for a few moments of ____ what? Fill in a blank.

I have deep caring for Mrs. Spitzer as I did for Dina McGreevy (after watching all those family ads for NJ tourism) to stand in front of "the world" and stand by your man until the dust settles. Truly, I think we need more decorum in matters of this and respect for the wives privacy. One has to question the motives of the mistress or "other woman" and her lack of empathy. I know women who really don't care beyond their own domain and interests when it comes to a man - rule of thumb for them is any man will do. Why? we ask - Why? each situation will bear a different reason.

I truly do not think there is a blanket reason or statement to cover it.

George Clooney comes to mind as does Simon Cowell. Simon who was in a long term relationship but has no desire to be married - who knows why - it is not our business to know why - only that he and George Clooney seem to be upfront about this and at least the women know where they are in the relationship for however long it may last.

I know I've rambled because as I type situations come to mind - some in the public, some that are personal and of private friends. Each has had its own circumstances - each its own pain and lessons to be learned.

In closing, I sense it is fair to say it is a private matter and as such should remain out of the public debate as to why a woman stands next to her husband as well as why a friend does. Perhaps, it is only due to numbness which wears off in time - we see clearly and move forward in what "we" sense is best for us.

Anonymous said...

Oh, my! Dr. George Crane--a decided misogynist risen from the mists of time. What an ass!
As a young and impressionable teen, I used to read him in our local newspaper. I remember several columns stating that women were half adult, half children and could never reach full maturity because their feeble minds weren't quite up to it. The quote you dug up does not surprise me. It makes me think of all the humiliating and degrading drivel our moms put up with from the so called sages of the 1950s.
Now we have Dr. Laura. But, thankfully, she's spitting her sniping snippets of unworthy "wisdom" against the wind. Women's lib be praised!!!

Anonymous said...

I can speak to my own experience. I'm a female and "cheated". I didn't think of it that way and didn't see myself as immoral. I was totally dis-engaged in my marriage and had little feelings for my husband. To this day I don't know why I didn't divorce first. I had no attachment to the marriage. I also had little feelings for the person I "cheated" with. It was rather a feelingless experience rather than a emotional finger-pointing fiasco. I since have been in a 25 year relationship that basically is the most wonderful, sensual, sublime experience of my life. So maybe it is arrested development and wrong partnerships that cause "cheating".