Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Are Men Really Pigs or Does It Just Seem That Way?

by Katherine Scardino

I have consciously made a sincere effort to ignore all the media attention to the latest in a long line of powerful men acting like whore dogs. I thought this subject may be improper for Women in Crime, but then we had another news flash about the French presidential hopeful, Dominique Strauss-Kahn actually getting arrested and accused of raping a maid in his glitzy hotel room in New York. This accusation caused a buzz in the United States as well as all over the world.

The French people got angry at us because our system allows the accused to do the famous “perp walk.” The French believe that doing the “head down, handcuffed” walk into the courtroom creates a sense of guilt in the minds of people who watch it. In this case, most of the citizens of planet Earth saw the haggard, unshaven, unkempt man in an expensive business suit walk handcuffed and led by several police officers. The New York City mayor made a comment, like “don’t do the crime and you won’t have to do the walk” or something to that effect - which just reassured the French that the American system of justice is screwed up. But, why would he risk losing his marriage, political career and friendships over one impulsive urge?

Now Mr. Strauss-Kahn is in serious trouble. But, his trouble is more seriously psychological and mental than the other men we have read and heard about in the media. Take John Edwards, for example. What a true pig. While he was running for the vice-presidency, he was having an affair - and at the same time his wife of several decades was dying of breast cancer. Oh, and then to top this off, as if that was not bad enough, we learned that he had fathered a child by his mistress while married to his dying wife. Prior to the “honorable” Mr. Edwards, we heard all about Newt Gingrich having not one, but two affairs in two different marriages. One affair was going on at the same time he was standing on the floor in Congress berating Bill Clinton for getting it on with Monica Lewinsky, an aide in the White House. At least Eliot Spitzer just had flings with prostitutes--nothing serious there--while married to his very elegant, rich wife. The one I really liked was the governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford, who disappeared from his political staff, and I suppose his wife, for several days. He told everyone he was going to hike the Appalachian Trail, but he was really enjoying the sun in South America with his latest squeeze. For heaven’s sake, Mark! At least come up with an excuse that sounds better than that.

And, last but certainly not least, here comes the Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger. We learned this week that not only was he having an affair in his home with a household staff member (at least she is female...) but that he had fathered a son, now 14 years old, by this woman. And, this is the same politico who twice vetoed marriage equality in California, while lying to his wife and family. It is always insulting to be the wife of a man who cannot seem to keep his pants zipped, but it is the pinnacle of insulting to learn that he had sex with the mistress in the marital home. A couple of divorce attorneys in California will probably send their children to a ritzy college with their fees in this case.

So, what is going on here? Well, I did some reading on why men cheat and frankly, got a bit gaggy! There are all sorts of excuses--the one I like the best is that men in olden times believed they had to “spread their seed” to promulgate our planet. Seriously? It is not like our men have to pick up their clubs every morning and go out and hunt for our dinner, right?  Some people think that monogamy is not part of our species, and that we are in fact a polygamous species. Doesn’t millions of years of morals, changing cultures, education, or evolution count for anything? Sorry, but that is an excuse that is unacceptable. We are living in a now era. I want something, so I can have it - now. 

I would think that it has got to be difficult to really produce statistics on who does all this cheating, because if I fell in that category, I would just lie. But, it appears that men, and, yes, some women, are more susceptible to cheating when they make money and have power. Why? Because men who are powerful are narcissistic and believe that the world revolves around them and any bad conduct can be ignored and forgiven. The “I can get away with anything” syndrome--isn’t that true? They are self-confident, demanding, and if they see something they want--for example, a woman they can go after (in the case of Strauss-Kahn, forcefully and illegally, perhaps).

The urge to stray from spouses or partners is not insurmountable, guys. Just because you have a penis does not mean you get to use it every time you want to. There is such a thing as self-control. As a woman who has gone through a few men in my lifetime, I appreciate the urge to have sex. But, it would appear that women have more control--or maybe ethics--than men. Women really do believe that they are supposed to remain true to their spouses. It looks to me like men think they should keep their belts tightened and zippers zipped only when they want to, not when the urge is overwhelming. When is the need to have sex overwhelming to the point of ruining marriages and hurting other people? Is it only when you are powerful and in control of the lives of many people? Obviously, that is not always the case, but statistically, that appears to be the way it is with people in these situations.

Political men have an even tougher time. They get voted in to office by people who like them for one reason or another. This leads to narcissism to the nth degree. Look at John F. Kennedy. He was young and handsome, with a beautiful, educated, cultured wife. Was he less of a president because he cheated on Jackie? He actually cheated on her in the White House with the girlfriend of a mob boss from Florida. How much worse can it get? But he was not banned from society nor was he ousted from office. When he was assassinated, the world mourned his death. The media protected him during that era. Not so today. With the Internet, it is difficult to keep a secret. What I cannot figure out is why Schwarzenegger made public a secret that he had obviously successfully kept from the general public for many years. I am sure we will hear more soon.

There is an answer to why men cheat, but it is not one we like. The answer lies in our backgrounds, temperament, psychological makeup, education, finances, and whether he can place his family values over his need to be satisfied “now.” Stay tuned. I’m sure there’s more!


Katy England said...

Of course, there is going to be a skew, but it really seems to me like it's men in power that cheat. Something happens to these men's brains (or maybe it's the same thing that makes them good at being "in power"). There does seem to be a certain level of douche-baggery you need to have to be in these positions of power, and cheating seems to go hand in hand with it.

I'm married and not even a little worried about my husband cheating. I'm friends with some really upstanding men who would never cheat on their spouses or significant others. I don't think all men are pigs, I truly don't. However, it is looking like most men in power are.

I'd be curious to explore how many women in power cheat. There's obviously going to be a difference because there are more men than women in power.

Katy England said...

Obviously, it isn't ONLY men in power that cheat, but "power" is also a subjective term. Upper management, someone's boss is also "in power" but might not be as high profile as the DBs you mentioned. :)

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"What I cannot figure out is why Schwarzenegger made public a secret that he had obviously successfully kept from the general public for many years."

The Governator's wife found out earlier this year and they separated, it just took a few months for the press to catch on.

When my daughter hit her teens - already buxom as a well-endowed 20 year old - my aunt told me once that raising girls is harder than raising boys, because "with a boy you only have to worry about one penis, and with a girl you have to worry about every penis in town."

That said, though it may be true, as you say, that for biological reasons women have more "control," I don't buy for a second they inherently have more "ethics." If so, it doesn't translate into other aspects of life. After all, even you admit you'd just lie if asked about real marital indiscretions. If the difference between you and the men criticized were really a difference in "ethics," why wouldn't you embrace truth telling under such circumstances?

I think as it relates to politicians, movie stars, etc., it's much simpler than you portray. Money and power are aphrodisiacs and men tend to have more of both. The issue is not so much their attitudes of entitlement as others' attitudes toward them: They have a lot more opportunities than the rest of us.

For those lower on the socioeconomic scale, while some of the things you mention may be a factor, I'd add one to the list: My observation from several friends I can think of whose marriages ended is that the reported motivation for infidelity was relative (or total) inactivity in the marital bed compared to earlier in the relationship. One may have a "beautiful, educated, cultured wife," but those factors only exacerbate the situation if 15 years in she'll rarely have sex anymore. For all its faults, porn has arguably saved many a marriage.

A Voice of Sanity said...

Women are as bad as men. Women are just smarter at getting away with it. Even Einstein got caught in adultery (I hear). Men haven't got a chance.

Anonymous said...

Don't hold back Kathy! :) Just kidding, your article is 'right on'. Just nobody else has the b**** to say it! Thanks!

cheryl said...

This is so true. My ex husband wasn't a politically powerful man,(thank God) but he was a very good looking man. In his little world, he WAS powerful. He would cash his paycheck on a Friday night and be the hot looking rich guy at the bar that night.

Men who really are rich can get away with cheating for longer periods of time because they pacify people with their wealth. And because the wives of public figures are loathe to admit that their husbands may have been cheating on them.

Common folks, in my opinion, commit adultery just as often if not more than famous people. But men do most of the cheating.