It’s long past time to stop blaming wives for their husbands’ infidelity

Editor’s note: this post doesn’t address same-gender relationships or relationships with >2 committed parties. If you read it carefully, you’ll see that the messages I’m trying to convey can easily be translated to those.

Now, all that out-of-the-way, it’s time to address the big fat hypocritical elephant in the room: It’s not Hillary’s fault that Bill cheated on her, and it’s not Huma’s fault that Anthony lives up to his last name.

Let’s pick this apart bit by bit, since the vultures already came out to play.

A few years back, we all learned the incredibly smart, statesman-like, folksy Bill Clinton had a wandering eye and wandering hands. He slept with women other than his wife. He accepted special benefits from a White House intern that clearly weren’t part of the standard job description. In short: he cheated on Hillary. He accepted that publicly and was raked across many coals and an entire impeachment process over it. Hillary decided to stand by her man and stay married. Outwardly, she claimed it as her religious principles and her own mores that led her to believe their relationship and trust could be repaired. Cynics derided her as a fool and they claimed she was only doing that to patch up his political career so that he could follow through on quid pro quo support of her own political ambitions once he was out of the White House.

A few years after that, a New York politician running for Mayor named Anthony Weiner made national headlines by having rather private pictures of his private parts become embarrassingly public. Without shaking her head so hard it dislodged from her head, his wife Huma Abedin continued on and worked quietly behind the scenes to get her own relationship back on track. Weiner promised to be a better human, dropped out of the race, and we thought that was that until just a couple of days ago…when yet another picture of his briefs-clad bulge got sexted to some girl eagerly waiting to go public. Why was this a big deal yet again other than the fact that he was back at it? This time, their sleeping son was included in the photo–purely by accident, I’m sure–and now there’s a question as to whether Weiner should be allowed near his son. OH WAIT NO THAT’S NOT IT.

Nope, rather than everyone jumping on the fact that Weiner keeps losing his pants just as he’s about to text someone who has the New York Post on speed-dial, they’re all over Abedin’s inability to control her husband. She must have judgement issues. Oh, and worse still–she works on Clinton’s presidential campaign, so these folks are making the mental leap that obviously Weiner’s wiener has been able to get at classified material and other sensitive items that he shouldn’t be near.

While I can agree that Weiner and his wiener need to be out of the public spotlight for as long as possible–and perhaps all the major mobile carriers should revoke his access to a smartphone–it’s absolutely ludicrous that all of this is backing up on the ladies in question.

Did Bill Clinton cheat all those years ago? Yes. He admitted it.

Is it Hillary Clinton’s fault he cheated? Nope.

Did Anthony Weiner send images of his scantily clad package to women other than his wife? Yes. He admitted it.

Is it Huma Abedin’s fault he did this? Nope.

We are long since past the point where a woman should be held responsible for her man’s sexual satisfaction–and these transgressions from the monogamous relationships they supposedly committed to aren’t related to their wives. The wives in question could be having sex with their husbands multiple times in a day and it still may not be sufficient if A) the husband decides he wants more than that but fails to communicate that, or B) the husband decides he wants his wife AND another person’s attention, or C) the husband decides he just wants another person’s attention.

If we are to say that monogamy was the rule for these marriages, and that it’s a character flaw for these breaks to have occurred, let them back up on the people who actually caused them: Bill Clinton and Anthony Weiner.

It’s utterly ridiculous that the women who choose to keep their marriages together following a breach like this are at fault no matter what they do; it’s sexism and it gives the men a free pass that teaches our daughters they are ALWAYS in the wrong, that they are ALWAYS responsible, even when it’s clearly NOT their fault.

When the stones and arrows are being lobbed by someone who’s on wife #3 (when it’s well-known that the transition from wife #1 to wife #2 was caused by cheating on wife #1 with the woman who’d become wife #2), and the media is willing to eat that up with a spoon, it’s obvious that our ingrained misogyny still needs to be exorcised.

Huma shouldn’t have to take away Anthony’s phone in order to get him to stop sending dick pics, and anyone who says otherwise is admitting that men can’t control themselves. If that’s the case, then clearly a man doesn’t have the self-control to lead our country. Or, if men DO have self-control, then it’s Weiner’s fault and let’s all leave Huma and Hillary alone.

You can’t have it both ways, sexists. We won’t let you.

In defense of Taylor Swift

My first exposure to Taylor Swift was a few years ago, when dd and her BFF were captured on cameraphone video performing “Love Story” at day care. Suddenly, dd was obsessed with Taylor Swift and we HAD to have her CD’s and we HAD to have them on repeat. All. The. Time. It was around this time that I saw La Swift herself on the MTV Video Music Awards, performing “You Belong With Me” in the subway and on the streets of New York City – the year that she was famously interrupted by Kanye West as she came up to accept an award.

Over the course of the next few years, Taylor Swift became part of the heavy rotation in both our cars, since she was kid-safe alternative to dh’s favored metal and a musical alternative to my standard in the car (NPR). Our ds soon became so enamored of her singing that he memorized words and titles for his favorite songs, often throwing hideous fits in the car if we didn’t let him hear the end of a particular tune.

And so, this is their exposure to her: a pretty blonde girl with a sweet voice and an ability to make infectious pop with twang.

Our exposure to her – mine and dh’s – is far different. Of course, you can turn off the TV, ignore the magazines and newspapers, and generally try to shut yourself off from the world, but that’s unlikely to happen these days. So, what we see (in addition to the loveliness that draws in the kids like a siren’s song) is a girl who’s under fire for her penchant for high-profile serial monogamy. Apparently, it’s still fashionable to treat women (at any age) as though searching for love makes her some kind of harlot.

The public (through the media) gleefully chucks men like George Clooney on the shoulder, wink wink nod nod, about his long series of female companions, declaring him a “terminal bachelor” and always dropping hints about the low likelihood that his current flame will stay lit forever. But no one ever drags him over the coals for any of his relationships ending. It may be that he’s just that nice of a guy and his relationships just cool off over time, so it’s really nobody’s fault that he’s been in so many relationships over the years. But then why is it okay to get all over Taylor Swift for having had several high-profile relationships of her own? No one refers to her as a “terminal bachelorette”; they make jokes at her expense and warn their sons to stay away from her because she’ll write a song about their break-up.

Sure, La Swift has dated pop royalty and Hollywood stars – the “It” boys from both sides of the pond. So what is really driving all this bile? Is it because she writes her own songs? Because she plays her own music? Because she’s already dated more young, desirable men than many women can match in multiple lifetimes?

It really comes down to two things: Sexism and a Mean Girl Society.

Sexism: I can come up with more examples than Clooney to show that Swift is being targeted in a fashion that the public rarely ever targets men. The few men who get such treatment often are chastised for more than just their dating habits (like John Mayer, the singer/songwriter and former boyfriend of Swift’s, whose erratic and often self-indulgent behavior garnered more than his fair share of tabloid headlines). She gets called out when men with similar serial dating patterns are put on pedestals for their ability to acquire attractive stables of ex-girlfriends. When Kristen Stewart did whatever it was that she did with Rupert Sanders, her “Snow White and the Huntsman” director, she was put through the meat grinder for cheating on her hot actor boyfriend, Robert Pattinson, and far less grist went into the mill over Sanders cheating on his wife Liberty Ross (the mother of his child). As my 3-1/2yo ds is fond of saying: “NO FAIRS!!!”

Mean Girl Society: La Swift has racked up quite the list of ex-boyfriends, and their total hotness quotient is usually measured in fairly high numbers. [Editor’s note: I’m not attracted to 99% of them, because several of them are nearly half my age, and their mileage is just too low for my personal taste.] She seems to have too much going for her. She’s pretty, she’s talented, she seems to be a genuinely nice person…and she dates all these cute guys. To all the people crying NO FAIRS in their own right, they feel like pulverizing her spirit publicly through tabloid stories and award show zingers is fine…but there’s a point at which you just need to lay off. She hasn’t done anything wrong, and probably the overwhelming majority of those taking pot shots would far rather be in her shoes.

Frankly, I shouldn’t even need to wag a finger at people for stuff like this. It’s just that I don’t want my kids growing up thinking that it’s okay to do this to someone else, and I certainly don’t want it to happen to either of them. Taylor Swift lives a remarkable life, I’m sure. She seems to be simultaneously all over the globe, recording, performing, talking, having her picture taken…ubiquitous. I can’t imagine the pressure she’s under when trying to maintain friendships, much less romantic relationships, when the demands of her current career probably keep her in constant motion. Having been her age (seemingly too long ago) and remembering what it was like balancing a simple enough day job with friends and dating options…I don’t know how I’d handle what she deals with. She’s probably doing the best she can. And if she isn’t, that’s NOBODY’S BUSINESS BUT HERS.

So let’s stop rooting against her. Sure, she’s talented. She’s pretty. She does seem to be a really nice person. Are those reasons to take cheap shots? Nope. So let’s just STOP, because the only joke right now is how pathetically she’s being treated by the media, and it’s not a damn bit funny.

Progress? What Progress?

Yet again, Time Magazine has something interesting to read. This time out, I guess in observation of “International Womens Day” (who comes UP with these holidays?), Jessica Winter wrote a fabulously funny commentary asking that most obvious of all questions these days: “Are Women People?”

The answer is, sadly, no. We’re just about everything BUT people. Of course, according to former Massachusetts Governor and eternally animatronic GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, “Corporations are people, my friend!” Yes, dear, of course they are. And the first day that a corporation shows up asking to date dd, I will drive to BassPro and buy the biggest shotgun I can get my hands on.

I also found it quite amusing that Winter came to the same conclusion I was discussing with a co-worker just yesterday: the lack of a Y chromosome is NOT a disability. Women can do all kinds of amazing things, excepting that whole (reliably) peeing standing up thing, and yet we’re still treated as second-class citizens. Even now, it still seems highly unlikely that this country is ready to elect a woman President – although I really did think Hilary had a good shot at it. The only female brought up to the podium on the GOP debate stage this cycle was just Rick Santorum in bad drag.

I feel like women are just under attack lately. Maybe it’s not lately – maybe it’s been a lot longer than that with seemingly no end in sight – but it seems like any lull has certainly been broken by just a spate of really horrifically anti-woman statements and actions that managed to make it to the news. Whether it’s being called “sluts” for using contraception, being threatened with transvaginal ultrasounds when deciding to have an abortion (I’ve had a transvag ultrasound – NOT comfortable) or just about any of the other WTF-inducing moments, I can’t decide whether I should strap my breasts down or whip ’em out and stand in the middle of an intersection.

Part of what frustrates me is that things continue to move backwards, even as we move forward in time. I’m a statistic, many times over, whether we’re counting the times I was sexually harassed at a workplace (years ago) or when I fended off a sexual assault so that it could stay in the “attempted” category. I probably know lots of other women who are statistics, too. I would like to think that all the complete tools that are out there trying to degrade the public standing of women, like the Limbaughs and the Santorums of the world, will one day WAKE THE F*%K UP and realize that they know women. The women they know deserve better than what they’re trying to do to all the women that they don’t know.

The other part is that I can’t protect dd from all of it. When I was a little kid, Gloria Steinem was always in the news, and Ms. was a title that working women were proud to use as a symbol of their independence from a male-dominated hierarchy. Now, I wonder how many women below the age of 30 could even pick Gloria out of a lineup, would even know what she went through to help get it to the point where it could be commonplace for women to be in roles other than steno pool, waitress, or on our backs. I want things to be better for dd than they were for me, as they were better for me than they were for my mom. That’s how it’s supposed to be, right?

There’s no reason to have to accept a male-dominated dialogue that favors mean soundbites over sound reasoning. There’s no reason to have to accept being treated like a walking incubator instead of a thinking, feeling person with an ability to make rational decisions about my own health care. And there’s just never a reason to listen to a hate-filled windbag from either extreme end of the partisan scale. Extreme views may win ratings, but they rarely win arguments.

When I go into the voting booth this November, I plan to fill in the oval for the candidates I believe to be least detrimental to women. None of them are really pro-woman (excepting maybe someone like Elizabeth Warren, who seems to be fairly self-aware about her whole XX chromosome situation). See, I don’t just owe it to dd to make things better…I owe it to myself.