Every few weeks, some celebrity, politician, or pastor is caught cheating on their spouses. Every single time, this stirs up a shit storm of stunned gasps, loud proclamations of virtue, and blame laying aplenty. It’s like we’re all a society of Puritans who are still living out modern variations of The Scarlet Letter
Given my history, you’d think I’d hate infidelity. I’ve been cheated on so often, it wasn’t even funny. But taking that mindset is assuming that I was completely blameless, and that just isn’t true. As a partner, I had to come off as aloof, or as emotionally distant. The alternative was being more open, and then women left me, “for real men.” This too makes them seem petty in a snap judgment, but hey, if you aren’t a lesbian, dating a chick with a penis isn’t going to work no matter how much you try to convince yourself that having a dick equals being a dude.
But my point here is, the women who cheated on me were only one part of a complex equation, one which can be summed up as “human emotions are fickle.” We fall in and out of love. We develop obsessions and fast burning attractions for other people. This is human nature. It is what we are: flawed and imperfect creatures whose insecurities sometimes lead us to temptations that we cannot say no to.
Now, if it were just the far religious right making a big deal out of infidelity, that would be one thing. But I see a lot of supposedly moderate and liberal people who also jump in on “cheaters” with equal vitriol. We as a society pin scarlet letters on men and women, and we browbeat people for being human.
Why? What good does this accomplish, this public shaming cycle? Why are we still so eager to call women sluts, ho’s, or homewreckers? Why are we so quick to call cheating men scumbags or low-lifes? Does it make our own marriages stronger to wag our collective fingers at “bad people?” Does calling out cheaters really do anything for the “sanctity” of marriage? I don’t think it does, and I think any argument claiming it does is probably just a hollow moral judgment.
My husband and I have an open relationship. This is because I’m bisexual, and I never really got the chance to try lesbian sex before getting married. So far, there hasn’t really been any “candidates” showing up that captured my interest. That’s because I need more than lust to start a relationship. Looks alone won’t get me wet. You have to lube my brain with intellectual stimulation before I’ll let you slip even one finger in my pants. In this way, I’m truly incapable of a one-night stand.
But if I am asking for that door to be left open for me to explore my sexuality, it would be extremely hypocritical of me to demand that my hubby remain faithful only to me. Yet I’ve seen this stance from other bisexuals, and it’s never made sense to me. Why should bi’s be allowed to play the field, but their straight partners must remain devoted and loyal?
So hubby and I have an agreement. If I’m allowed to have a mistress, he is too. There isn’t a catch here. If he finds a mistress first, it’s okay. It won’t mean the end of our relationship, because we’ve already discussed this.
I’ve had five wonderful years with my husband, and not once has anyone, man or woman, made me think of hopping in bed for some quick sex. There have been women who hubby and I both looked at and said, “I wouldn’t mind playing with her.” Yes, we both can say it out loud without starting a fight. There’s no jealousy with us. There’s no fear of betrayal. What we have is the best thing we’ve ever known. We don’t hold the same views about everything, but we understand each other, and we make each other happy.
If it came to light that he had a woman on the side, I’d have to ask if I should let that ruin my life with my fella. In the end, what would I do? Return to Texas? Try to find some other guy willing to put up with my quirks? Why? Why should I quit the relationship just because my husband took an interest in another woman? Especially when I stand an equal chance of finding another woman attractive? If I leave over that, I’m a hypocrite.
By the same token, I’m not willing to hang a scarlet letter on anyone else. It doesn’t matter to me if people took vows and swore on the Bible. Politicians swear on the Bible all the time and lie, cheat, and steal. People swear to God all the time and don’t mean what they say. We lie a lot. It’s human nature, and we’ve got to forgive people and move on.
I’m willing to apply this equally. If a conservative Republican or a liberal Democrat cheats on his wife and gets caught, I don’t want to bust his chops and demand he leave office. I might ask that they stop spouting bullshit about “family values,” but that’s probably asking for too much. (from either side. And seriously, just what the fuck does “family values” mean?)
If someone cheats and leaves their spouse, that’s a legal matter, one that will result in alimony for one side or the other. But while it is a legal matter, it should not be a matter of public discourse.
In spite of undergoing a sexual revolution, sex is still defined largely as a collection of immoral acts in our modern societies. To me, that says we’re still far too judgmental of our neighbors. We have so many important issues to deal with, like equality, adequate work and working wages, education standards, race, gender and personal freedoms. Yet rather than discuss these much more important issues, I see people talk about Tiger Woods, or about Jessie James. I see people talking about the mistress of John Edwards using terms like “dirty hippie” or “trashy ho.” I see people draping scarlet letters over celebrities before declaring that they would never ever do such filthy things.
Get a grip, people. Tiger didn’t beat his wife with a golf club. Jessie James didn’t murder his wife to get a free pass to tap more ass. And Rielle Hunter had more than a little help in having an affair with John Edwards. Don’t bullshit yourselves, and don’t cast stones at other people just because their actions offend your sensibilities. There’s so much more important stuff to be discussing in the 21st century than who is fucking whom.