Thursday, March 13, 2008

How Could He Ask Her?

I had decided that I was not going to write about the Eliot Spitzer resignation. With seemingly everyone else writing or talking about only a handful of themes, it is hard to think of anything unique that I could say. In addition, I find distasteful the circus that routinely occurs around these sexual downfalls due to the voyeuristic enjoyment that much of the public seems to find in them. Undoubtedly, Mr. Spitzer deserves the approbation that he is receiving. However, the people involved, both the guilty and the innocent, are real human beings and real families with real emotions. It is a tragedy, but much of the public treats them like actors in a soap opera.

That being said, I did think of one angle to this that I have not seen addressed elsewhere. In this story, as in all the others, people have wondered about the wives: why does she "stand by her man?" I have a somewhat different question: how could he ask her to?

Of course, we all know the reasons for asking her. The public relations ploy involved is the calculation that people will reason that if the aggrieved wife forgives him, then perhaps the rest of us can do so, too. This is the calculation in what is now being offensively referred to as a "repentance ritual." Actually, the point is not repentance: it is the saving of one's own backside.

But knowing the calculation, one might still wonder: how could he ask her to do that? At the point when a wife, who he presumably once loved, and perhaps loves now, is grieving a fundamental betrayal of trust and trying to stop the world from spinning around her, how can he ask her to reduce herself to the status of a prop in this drama that needs to be played out and walk out there to become a spectacle before the whole world.

It is often said in a sexual sense that men objectify women, but isn't this use of women as props nothing more than reducing them to objects in a different sense?

Having to confess sexual unfaithfulness to a partner in a monogamous relationship involves a swirl of emotions created by shame and guilt in both the objective and subjective senses. Asking a wife to play this role adds another element of objective guilt to the mix. It should bring forth feelings of guilt, as well.

The public relations experts seem to consider this to be good public relations. Public reaction should tell them a different story.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home