Monday, February 14, 2011

The Politics of Public Shame

The lesson is if you’re going to do dirt, do it anonymously. People cheat everyday, but only dumb people get caught.
~Anonymous woman on Craigslist who revealed Christopher Lee to

Not exactly the advice I would give my children. 
The above quote came from this interview here in which the woman who posted on Craigslist, was contacted by Congressman Christopher Lee and then told shared her thoughts on what transpired...and offered up a few nuggets of wisdom on cheating men. Except her nuggets weren't particularly wise. Cynical, yes, which sometimes masquerades as wise. But ultimately bitter and judgemental (see above quote for evidence).
Lest you think I'm going soft on cheaters, let me assure you I'm not. There's just something so...vicious...about exposing people publicly. 
Admittedly, public figures leave themselves vulnerable to public humiliation when they commit such transgressions.
But what are your thoughts? Did he get his just desserts? What about his wife? Does she deserve any consideration from this OW? Or his child? Or does considering them instead of outing public figures give the cheater a free pass he doesn't deserve?
This whole situation leaves me blech. And a bit confused.
Share your thoughts...and help me clarify my own.


  1. I struggle with this daily!! While my husband is not a public figure, his former affair partner is a nationally known figure. I'm about 2 years from D-day and I still despise her with every fiber of my being! I am working on letting go of this hatred, but at least I have gotten past hating my husband. The main motivation that kept me from "outing" the affair and (hopefully) ruining her career and reputation is that my children would then know and I don't want to hurt them. I suppose a small part of me has kept quiet because it would also hurt my husband's career and I enjoy my lifestyle, so it has been for selfish reasons that I have kept quiet, but in my opinion, if you don't want to be publically known as a "no self confidence, home-wrecking whore of a tramp" don't act like one!!

  2. As much as I feel like I want the world to know how my husband screwed up and that he isn't the guy they think he is, I believe that our personal lives are our personal lives and should not be made public. I've read all the stories about the public figures having affairs for curiousity and reassurance that what I'm going through but the bottom line it isn't my business and maybe the world would be better off not knowing unless it directly affected the work the public figure was doing.

  3. Anonymous #1,
    It's tough to NOT want to "out" someone who's wronged us – to make the world see what pigs they are. I'm often aware, however, that what we perceive as a horrible injustice, others just see as gossip. They don't always share our outrage and fury...and that can feel disempowering in itself.
    I recall telling a friend about another friend I had who had said some things behind my back. The friend I was confiding in simply brushed it off with a "oh well, maybe she didn't realize it would hurt you" or something like that. I felt doubly wounded -- first by my back-stabbling friend, then again by the friend who just didn't see the situation the same way I did.
    And protecting your kids is as valuable a reason as I know to take the high road.

    Anonymous #2,
    Yeah, I think you're right. I did take some comfort in knowing that this could happen to anyone. It went a long way toward moving me from a place of "what's wrong with me?" to "this is about him, not me". And I do think our 24/7 gossip mill can also spin a lot of pain. We have to remember these are real people. Being NOT famous is a good thing, I think. :)

  4. I outed my husband. He felt no shame or remorse so I told my close nit mums group and his family.
    It worked fairly well.
    However there is the lingering aftermath of having his family know just enough to gossip about us which is not so great when I have to front up to family gatherings.
    I'm glad of my mums group support though. You do need someone to talk to in the end.

  5. Marti,

    Absolutely you need support. I think there's a difference between confiding in people you trust...and letting the world know. Frankly I think some guys need the public humiliation...except that the betrayed often gets equally blamed.

  6. Your right. If your expecting anyone else to feel your pain or horror, forget it. Most likely they just think that you haven't been giving them enough sex or something was wrong in your relationship or with you that "made" them do it.



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