Tom Matlock, in The Good Men Project Web site, writes that there's a double standard when it comes to adultery. Men are vilified when they cheat, he argues, pointing to Tiger Woods, Jesse James, Spitzer et al. Women, on the other hand, are pretty much let off the hook, such as Tori Spelling, Leann Rimes, Jennifer Lopez. And most notably, he says, Elizabeth Gilbert, who admits to infidelity in her blockbuster bestseller Eat, Pray, Love.
I find myself somewhat stunned.
For starters, though I read Eat, Pray, Love before it became a household name, I somehow missed the part where she admitted to cheating. Sure, her subsequent relationship came pretty quickly on the heels of her marriage breakup...but it didn't occur to me that she'd cheated. Given that I was coping with my own...ummmm...stuff at the time, perhaps I just missed a few paragraphs through my tears.
And, in a fit of total irony, the Eat, Pray, Love that I'd loved because it gave a voice to that pervasive shame that so many women feel for not fitting into the mold morphed into the Eat, Pray, Love that I hated when Julia Roberts was cast at the main character. Why? Because Julia Roberts took great delight in taking husband Danny whats-his-name from his then-wife. And then rubbing the woman's face in it.
It was nasty and low and utterly childish.
So I loved the book by the author that admitted to infidelity...but hated the actress playing the author because she committed infidelity. Yeah, I'm confused too.
So...back to the original topic of this post: Double standard? Certainly not by me. And frankly, I judge cheating men less by their cheating than by their response to getting caught. Is there remorse? Is there some intention to at least allow both parties to maintain some dignity? Is there some desire to protect their spouse from further humiliation?
Which is why (don't hate me please!!), I didn't hate Tiger Woods. I felt sorry for him. Yeah, he was a scumbag for sleeping with not only the 8,000 pancake waitresses, but his neighbor's daughter (ugh!). But I still felt his remorse was real, his shame deep...and he went out of his way to allow his wife to handle the fallout in a way that allowed her privacy and dignity. Too little, too late...maybe. But still.
Jesse James, on the other hand, has revealed himself to be a total creep...with his public engagement blah blah blah.
It's not their gender that makes their adultery so repulsive...it's them.
On the female side, we've got Tori Spelling as the poster girl for vacuous adulterers. Off the hook? I don't think so. Most people I know think she's pathetic. Same for Leann Rimes. Jennifer Lopez? Well, perhaps she's off the hook simply because it's too hard to keep track.
Seriously, though, I know far too many guys who've cheated on their wives. And far too many wives who've cheated on their husbands. And I know that marriage is complicated and tough and that none of us on the outside of another's marriage can possibly know the whole story.
But a double standard? I really don't think so.
What do you think? Do men get roasted for their transgressions more than women? Do we let famous women off the hook when they engage in extracurriculars? Or are we a group of equal-opportunity dissers?? Would love to hear your thoughts.