Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Don't blame the wife


When the news about the Jesse James philandering started to break, I found out about it (as with many other things in life these days) from a link that one of my friends posted on Facebook. One of the first comments in response was "Well, you know, Sandy hasn't always been good at holding on to her man." Ooh, REALLY? Then came this article on Jezebel, which declared that we should think less of Sandra Bullock for being married to someone who would strike a “Heil Hitler” pose for a camera (since she obviously knew every detail about his life). And then there was this lovely Twitter post by Jim Carrey, who said with regard to the Tiger Woods situation:
No wife is blind enough to miss that much infidelity. Elin had 2 b a willing participant on the ride 4 whatever reason. kids/lifestyle ;^)
Not ready to end there, he followed it up by saying:
RT I want 2 make it CLEAR that I do not condone infidelity at all, but 2 some degree the responsibilty 4 it is shared by both people! ;^)
Let me say this in words of one syllable, so that hopefully people will understand: Don't blame the wife.

Think back, why don't you, to that last asshole that you dated. Did you know everything that there was to know about him? Did you, maybe even after you broke up, find out something about him (or her) that shocked you? For instance, that he slept with someone else the weekend before your wedding? Or maybe that he stole money out of your bank account while the two of you were on a romantic trip through Europe? Or, possibly, that though he'd been married to you for twenty five years, he'd been having an affair for the past nine, and had two children with his mistress? Because if so, you are not alone: those stories all true, and all about people that I know well, are just the first three that popped into my head, and I'm sure that I could come up with more if I thought about it harder. And let me tell you, none of the three of them had any idea what was going on. I knew (and very much liked!) two of the three above assholes, and I was stunned. So let's stop it with the "She must have known! She was stupid if she didn't know! The fact that he was doing this must mean that she agreed with him!" bullshit.

Sure, there are some wives who are guilty as charged. The wife of Phillip Garrido? Yeah, I'd say knowingly standing by while your husband kidnapped a girl and then held her hostage makes you pretty worth the blame. But those wives are few and far between, and mostly it's just a lot of women who have their lives thrown upside down when they realize that their husband has had a secret second life and in fact, is a totally different person than the husband that they knew. I'm not sure why the picture of Jesse James striking a "Heil Hitler" pose is enough to convince people that Sandra Bullock must have known that her husband was a racist; he was obviously pretty good at hiding key things about his life from her and everyone else, as we see more and more details come out by the day. No, infidelity is not the "responsibilty" of both people, unless you're counting Tiger and his little Tiger as two people.

The problem is that people love to blame the victim in order to convince themselves that they could never be a victim in that same way, and that therefore it must have been something that she did wrong, or that she already knew about. Why can't they just blame the husband? It's about what he did wrong. It's about Tiger sleeping with some girl that he's known since she was nine, and about him sleeping with someone right after Elin had their first baby. It's about Jesse James being a racist sleazeball that cheats on his wife with other racist sleazeballs. Why can't everyone just concentrate on their horrible behavior, and not try to throw some of the blame on their wives, who are the ones who are the biggest victims?

Notice, by the way, that this post is titled "Don't blame the wife" and not "Don't blame the spouse." This is not because I think that husbands are any more to blame for the criminal, abusive, or just jerky behavior of their wives. It's because I have no reason to make that post, because no one ever blames the husband. Women are supposed to be all knowing when it comes to their husbands, and to do everything that they can to keep them on the straight and narrow, but no one expects a husband to know much about his wife. It's so interesting that no one cares to blame the victim when the victim is a man.

So please, do me a favor. The next time you hear a story about some guy who goes around kicking puppies, or sleeping with all of the librarians in the Tri-State area, or wasting really good champagne, and you're about to say, with regard to his wife, "Girl, that says more about her than it does about him!" just stop, think about how it's really the fault of the puppy kicking, librarian heartbreaking, no good dirty bubbly waster, and don't do it. Instead, maybe you could bring his wife a bottle of champagne when she gets rid of him.

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