Sunday, November 18, 2012

Women no longer 'moral paragons' as they pursue affairs

“The incidents of females being accused of affairs and being caught having affairs is increasing, but it’s nothing like the reality of what’s actually going on out there,” said David Holmes, a senior psychologist at Manchester Metropolitan University in England. “If all the husbands in the world knew what their wives had just wiped out of their text history, they’d be terrified. I honestly believe that.” (From "The new adultery: Why stepping out is no longer just a man’s game" by Kathryn Blaze Carlson, National Post, November 16, 2012, below)
Since the christian church has for centuries been the "moral guide" on matters of sexuality, presumably a status it assumed for multiple motivations, not the least of them political and  fiscal, and since the church's arguments are decalogue-based, at least in its collective mind, it is only fitting that we take a brief journey over the church's difficulties in both monitoring and protecting the sacred act of sexual relationships.
There are a large number of accompanying questions to these new facts,
First, just how long is the church going to try to maintain unsustainable control of the North American male and female expression of sexuality? It used to be, not so long ago, that churches were surprised, if not shocked, that most of the couples applying for marriage ceremonies were living together. And the churches bit their lips and conducted the ceremonies. And then there was the question of marriage of gay couples, both male and female, that caused nothing short of a tidal wave of dogmatic turbulence among the faithful, and likely will continue for some time especially in what are known as 'bible-belt' circles.
Now, everyone knows that the divorce rate is hovering around 50% in North America, but not so very long ago, anyone contemplating entering the church as a potential clergy was literally despised if divorced. "How could one even contemplate entering the christian clergy, as a divorcee?" ran the gossip-interrogation of the jealous and small minded hypocrites.
And throughout all of these developments, the church treated women as the weaker gender, the victim of any relationship with a male, whether that male was married or divorced. And the church did so, based on some phantom notion of feminist "equality" that required protection from a "abusive male population"...both within the clergy and outside those ranks.
That, in itself, is a contradiction both in terms and in practice.

If women wish to be treated as equals, with  men, then both genders in a heterosexual relationship must share equal responsibility for any relationship that is characterized as consensual. And the church's failure to recognize that truth is one of the more glaring of the society's failures to adapt to the reality of gender equality. And any attempt, and there have been too many, to characterize consensual relationships as "power-driven" by the male participant, at the expense of the female, especially when the investigations of such relationships fail to include the normal "due process" of a fair and fill investigation, fail not only the religious institution but also the many people in the circle of those relationships.
And for any "maligned partner" whose marriage has not worked for decades, to then submit him or herself as another victim of the unwanted relationship, and for church officials to accept such a pitiable plea of victimhood as legitimate, is vaccuous, spineless and morally nefarious.
Men and women are complicated; the relationships into which they enter, especially at the beginning, are fraught with unknowns: for example the unknown that one partner may be a secret alcoholic, or that one partner may be escaping from a relationship with an active alcoholic, or that one partner may be a gay still in the closet, or that one partner may be involved in more than one relationship simultaneously, or,  or, or...and the list of indecipherables is endless.
And then, when the full disclosure of the previously hidden realities emerges, there is likely to be an inevitable change or even death of the relationship and that death or change occurs whether the marriage has been "sanctified" by the church wedding or not.
Divorce, like abortion, is neither capable of being legislated, nor of being morally condemned. And the christian church must integrate both gender equality and the reality that the church institution, no matter how strict the rules nor how severe the punishments, will never achieve even the slightest modicum of "control" over human sexuality.
The fact that two "vixens" both demonstrating ravenous appetites for power, attention and narcissism have pursued two high-powered and high-ranking generals is nothing new. And the social and cultural reactions, finally, are breaking against the vixen women.
But they are not the first "vixen" women to pursue men who were considered charismatic, intelligent, articulate and compassionate, for their own personal ambitions, whether legitimate or more of their attempt to mask the truth of whatever was possessing their current circumstances. And they will not be the last.
When will the society finally agree that adult women, inside or outside a marriage contract are equally, and potentially more, likely to enter into relationships with men who may or may not be married themselves, and no pontificating by any religious "authority" will not change that fact? And to see those men, also, as victims, is neither moral nor truthful in the full context of the situation, all of the details of which no one, and that includes all members of the church and the public, has no legitimate right of access.
It is time to admonish the church, the government and the gossip social media that the world "has no business in the bedrooms (nor the dates, nor the private walks through the parks, nor the phone or e-mail messages) of the nation(s).
The new adultery: Why stepping out is no longer just a man’s game

By Kathryn Blaze Carlson, National Post, November 16, 2012
Paula Broadwell, with her toned arms and perfect ponytail, is the scandal’s “other woman.” Jill Kelley, the voluptuous raven-haired Florida socialite with a rainbow of shift-dresses, is invariably cast as the “other other woman” competing for CIA director David Petraeus’ attention and perhaps even gunning romantically for the military’s top commander in Afghanistan, too.

In a love quadrangle so twisty it borders on caricature — one complicated by the fact that both Ms. Broadwell and Ms. Kelley are married — Gen. Petraeus has handily assumed the role of a military man who served his country honourably but failed his wife miserably.
Gen. Petraeus is also something else: He is the “other man.” And there are more and more men in that position than ever before.
Researchers widely agree that the rate of female infidelity is rising — that women are increasingly willing and able to risk their marriage and step out on their husbands.

“The incidents of females being accused of affairs and being caught having affairs is increasing, but it’s nothing like the reality of what’s actually going on out there,” said David Holmes, a senior psychologist at Manchester Metropolitan University in England. “If all the husbands in the world knew what their wives had just wiped out of their text history, they’d be terrified. I honestly believe that.”
The adulteress phenomenon undoubtedly colours the private experiences of husbands, wives, the “other man” and the “other man’s wife,” but the Petraeus narrative also speaks to a wider social shift. And it is an uncomfortable one: Ms. Broadwell’s transgression forces us to examine the roles that love, sex and intimacy play in the hearts and minds of today’s men and women — and, significantly, to question the virtue of monogamy at a time when traditional marriage is on the wane.
“Women in our society have been held up as the moral paragons, so the increase in female infidelity causes us to consider whether infidelity is as immoral as we believe,” said David Ley, a New Mexico psychologist and author of Insatiable Wives: Women Who Stray and the Men Who Love Them, a recently released book that documents female infidelity. “What needs to happen as a result of this scandal and every future scandal, is increased conversations — within marriages and society generally — about our expectations for sexual monogamy. … I think things are very clearly changing.”
As more and more people are touched by adultery — whether as adulterers themselves, as victims or as the “other” — the act will inevitably lose its power to surprise. And when sin loses its power to surprise, it might well lose its stigma and become normalized.
“Adultery, I think, is the new divorce — remember when divorce carried stigma?” said self-described “infidelity analyst” Sarah Symonds, a former serial mistress who once claimed restaurateur Gordon Ramsay among her Little Black Book of married men. “Nobody’s ever shocked anymore. It’s not ‘Wow,’ it’s ‘What does she look like?’”
Since the 1990s, the number of women who reported ever having an affair has risen to 19% from about 12%, compared with a stable 23% among men, according to a recent study by researchers at the Kinsey Institute, Indiana University and the University of Guelph. The study noted, too, that when romantic transgressions other than sex (kissing, for example) were taken into account, women were just as likely as men to stray.

Just as the gender divide in every other corner of society has narrowed — from the workforce, to Hollywood, to religion, to sports and education — so has the adultery gap. And some feminists are claiming victory.
“We’re finally seeing — through the last incontrovertible boundary, at least for women, that of the marriage bond — a society that is more equal than ever before,” Peggy Drexler, a psychologist and gender expert, wrote last month in a Huffington Post column titled The Scarlet Manifesto: The Rise of the Adulterous Woman. “Is this a good thing? It sure is. … She is claiming her right to feel fulfilled in relationships and sex, regardless of what society might expect of her.”
On a superficial level, Ms. Broadwell, as the attractive, younger “other woman,” is precisely what society expects. But she shatters just about every other stereotype. She is not the meek, innocent, far-younger unmarried subordinate intoxicated by a far-more powerful man; she is not intern Monica Lewinsky to charismatic former president Bill Clinton.
Far from it. Ms. Broadwell is a married woman, a published author and a respected soldier who was in August promoted to lieutenant colonel. She is very much a modern adulteress.
Once upon time, women were resigned to housewifedom. Other than the milkman or the pool boy, housewives had no opportunity to meet and mate with the “other man.” It was their husbands who worked late, travelled for business and fell into bed with their secretaries. As of three years ago, though, more Canadian women were in the workforce than men.
“They’re not stuck at home with the kids — they’re actually out, with the men, ringing home and saying they’re going to be late, just like the men could and would,” Mr. Holmes said.
With a job comes financial independence, and research shows that the more money people make, the more likely they are to cheat. In the Kinsey Institute study, 16% of impoverished or lower-income people said they had been unfaithful, compared with 24% among higher earners. As women’s economic independence rises, so does her propensity to take risks and seek out “the other man.”
“Years ago, women weren’t in the workforce and felt more tethered to their marriage than they do today,” said psychotherapist Gary Neuman, author of The New York Times best-seller The Truth About Cheating. “Women don’t feel trapped anymore. … They’ve caught up on acting based on how they feel, not what they fear.”

No comments:

Post a Comment