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It's kinda funny... when I posted that post over the weekend titled "Quote Thyself!" I used, as my example:

"I think it's pretty clear that men and women don't use their brains in the same way, and in fact may not even have the exact same equipment up there, as they don't down below."

Now, I don't want to say I'm a psychic, but this turned out to be remarkably prophetic, as a couple of days later the world found out that NY Governor Eliot Spitzer was having relations with prostitutes down in old DC.

Actually, I began thinking about this whole concept because TCM ran a couple of films: "The Apartment" from 1960, which starred Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine, and "How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying," from 1967, starring Robert Morse and Michelle Lee a few days ago.

Now, I guess it's easy to think that material from the 1960s is "ancient history," and that it has no real bearing on our lives in the 21st Century. But I'm not so sure. Both of these films have a kind of "beloved" status. "The Apartment" won the Best Picture Oscar that year. Eventually, it became the Burt Bacharach/Hal David musical "Promises, Promises," where it achieved even more accolades. And "How To Succeed" was a smash Broadway show before coming to the big screen where it succeeded again, and was then revived with Matthew Broderick in the lead role in the 1990s.

"Apartment" and "Succeed" are entertaining films, for certain, but they are both filled with sexism. In "Apartment," An elevator operator, played by MacLaine, is constantly "hit on" (today we would use the term "sexually harassed") by the executives in the Insurance firm, and has an affair with one of the top men in the company (played with the appropriately purile disgust and callousness by Fred MacMurray). Of course, the guy is married with kids, but this is the way of the world in 1960. The Old Boys in the Office have their way... they're the breadwinners, so they have their say.

Similarly, in "Succeed," there is a song titled "A Secretary Is Not A Toy," where the men in the office are cautioned:

Her pad is to write in
And not to spend the night in


among other sound advice about the work dynamic.

1967. Really, that's not that long ago.

So that brings me to Spitzer and his resignation. And isn't this just more of the same? Here's a guy who used his power to get things done as Attorney General, to squelch illegal activity on Wall Street and, ironically enough, in areas like prostitution rings. But, when it came to his personal choices, it was all about getting his jollies and family be damned.

As it turns out, career be damned too, but I'm sure he thought he would never be found out. When you have a reputation, no one will suspect that you're doing the very thing that you claim to be railing against. Unless, of course, they look.

I guess the bigger question is what has changed in the world of men and women these past 50 or so years?

In the greater scheme, women set the standard, and have always. Going back to the wild west, the womenfolk needed protection from the creatures of the frontier, be they animal or native. The men had to be strong and/or smart to defend their brides, since ladies were in no position to shoot a rifle or negotiate a treaty. The benevolence of "good men" was what kept the distaff set protected.

But all men have needs, even the "not so good" ones. And that's where the trouble begins. Men who are stronger, more powerful, richer, more wily, always want to have their way, and it's up to women to agree to go along or not. Well, that's oversimplifying it. Many women had no real choice in the matter and had to go along with whatever fate they were handed because they were simply trying to survive.

The compromise of life is one way we might describe it. And isn't this what Mrs. Spitzer demonstrated by standing by her man during these press conferences?

I suppose the other element is that not all guys get away with certain behavior. Some have developed a smoother style that charm women. "Incorrigible" might be an adjective used to describe those guys. Some are just hunks that look so good, anything would be ok. I'm reminded of the joke that Chris Rock made about Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas. He said, "It's all about looks, you know? Because if Clarence Thomas looked like Denzel Washington, this would have never happened!"

Clearly Eliot Spitzer was no Brad Pitt. But this still begs the question... has anything changed when it comes to these issues? We can legislate laws and punish those that break them, but there is still a pull for some men to behave in certain ways with certain people at specific times and even with the risk of being found out, having their lives exposed and ruined and potentially destroying their families and careers, it still happens. It. Still. Happens.

I have the feeling this won't be the last such scandal we will hear about, and it certainly won't be the last such scandal. It happens all the time, with men of every income and job level. Most of them we'll never know, but that doesn't make what happens any less heartbreaking for their families and maybe for themselves.

Ultimately, the issue is with understanding. The commitment of marriage, and what that means to the two participants in that ceremony. I think we're discovering now that many people have different views of what marriage can and should be, and if both are in agreement, then there are definitely different interpretations of how a marriage can go. But if one decides to go off and do something on his or her own before consulting their partner, that's a breach of trust.

But, for some, the thrill is in the sneaking. "Getting away" with the action could be as much of an adrenalin rush as sticking it in is. That's a problem that really can't be addressed without some therapy.

Finally, almost as a footnote to everything above: This is how New York gets its first ever African-American Governor?!

Comments

( 30 comments — Leave a comment )
wurmwyd
Mar. 12th, 2008 07:40 pm (UTC)
Hi there!

I have SO MUCH TO SAY about gender relations and just about [looks at watch] no time to say it. :(

Although I will say this: A lot of people keep asking things like: "Didn't he KNOW that he'd get caught!?" and "How did he ever think that he wouldn't get found out!?". It all seems pathetically predictable. High-profile politician has an affair, and ... whoops! He gets caught. How difficult is it to just keep it in your pants.

I have a new pet theory that many politicians slowly start to realize that people are willing to look the other way over a LOT of things. A cop comes into a donut shop and the shopkeeper lets him have a half-dozen and a cup of coffee. Hey, the cop is protecting his livelihood, it's the least he can do. You see some guy lighting up a fat cigar in a no-smoking area and you realize: "Ooh hey, it's good old Mayor Wilson!", so you let him finish his smoke.

I imagine that once you get to be GOVERNOR, you can square that and add 12. "Excuse me sir, I clocked you doing 75 in a ... Governor Williams!? I'm sorry sir, didn't recognize you. Nice new Ferrari, by the way". I'm sure most high-profile politicians get to the point where they imagine they could MURDER someone, and John Law would be: "I'm sorry, Governor, did you need some help digging? I have a shovel in my truck ...".

Especially since you figure the BIG NAME heroes of American government got away with that stuff all the time! Kennedy, Roosevelt, Washington, even goddamn Huey Long all had mistresses on the side. It's practically in the job description!

Of course, if *I* were governor, I'd start working on the abolition of monogamy, but that's just me. :)
penpusher
Mar. 12th, 2008 08:31 pm (UTC)
Thanks for taking any time to say anything about it.

You are right. The prestige of the position affords a lot of these politicians free reign to do what they want, whenever and with whomever they want.

There was another movie very much like what you're describing called "A Shock To The System" (1990) where Michael Caine plays one of these guys, Swoozie Kurtz plays his long suffering wife and Elizabeth McGovern is the chippie that has Caine's attention. I think it fails as a film in certain ways, but it is the fantasy of every guy like Spitzer.

Maybe it's just that the guys who lead come complete with great libido!
bronxelf_ag001
Mar. 13th, 2008 09:59 am (UTC)
Full disclosure:

I grew up with a parent who is a politician in New York State.

I am convinced that politicians, particularly those who seek high ranking elected office, are all laboring under the delusion that it is still 1962, and the Kennedy rules still apply where it comes to the press (they KNOW, but they won't tell.)

penpusher
Mar. 13th, 2008 05:33 pm (UTC)
It may be that some standard reporters will abide by this, but now, with the internet, EVERYONE is a reporter and the competition to get content for websites is insane. Nobody is going to sit on a story when they could be beating thesmokinggun to the punch. Really, internet sites are breaking more stories faster than any "standard" media outlet ever could. Things I hear about today on ET, I read about on ohnotheydidnt two days ago.

These politicians better get used to the New World Order.
(no subject) - bronxelf_ag001 - Mar. 13th, 2008 05:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
istar
Mar. 12th, 2008 09:33 pm (UTC)
I think the idea that women are the arbiters of morality, who set the "standard" for fidelity, monogamy, good behavior... is an outdated notion that seriously needs to go away. Like men are these wild beasts whose desires must be tamed by a good and virtuous female? It's a demeaning role for either man or woman to play.

Amanda from Pandagon covers this in far better detail than I can, and she really touches on the reason I think this idea is so insidious (and the conservative scolds love it)... If women are the standard-bearers, then a sex scandal like this is really her fault! How dare she have a career and ambitions of her own, leaving her poor husband to roam around? If she'd been a proper submissive wife, serving up a hot dinner to her man every night with a side of steaming sexy sex, he wouldn't have had to seek out the companionship of prostitutes!
stacymckenna
Mar. 12th, 2008 09:42 pm (UTC)
One of the other sides of the "women are the standard-bearers" issues is that if women are *imposing* these standards, men are just browbeaten henpecked followers without ability to make their own decisions or direct the moral course of their lives.

Morality is made by BOTH sides of the gender line, and I know a lot of men who are just as appalled by infidelity of either gender as the stereotype says women are, and many women just as prone to cat around as the stereotyped male.
penpusher
Mar. 12th, 2008 10:05 pm (UTC)
Yes. Morality does come down on both sides of the gender line. The question is about the choices people make. People just don't know what they're getting into when they get married, and maybe they don't really know the person they're marrying!

The drive to have a sex partner is one reason why people get hitched. But, when the loins are sated, what then? This is just one of a laundry list of things that can be examined when people want to get married. Really, most people get married far too young, aren't fully grown into the people they will eventually become, and because of that are still changing.

Ultimately what should be examined is the elements of marriage like this, and maybe some sort of counseling before people enter it, since it's clear that the biggest problems exist there...
stacymckenna
Mar. 12th, 2008 10:22 pm (UTC)
Lack of self awareness pefore such decisions, I agree, is the root of the problem with infidelity issues.
(no subject) - bronxelf_ag001 - Mar. 13th, 2008 10:02 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - penpusher - Mar. 13th, 2008 05:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bronxelf_ag001 - Mar. 13th, 2008 05:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - penpusher - Mar. 13th, 2008 06:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
penpusher
Mar. 12th, 2008 09:55 pm (UTC)
I can't disagree that it "should" go away, but how will it?

I wouldn't say that a sex scandal is the wife's "fault," even in the worst of cases. What is happening is the man is deciding to meet his needs in whatever way he sees fit. If he is not discovered, he is free to do whatever he wants. If he is, then he'll have to make more decisions on the fly, like leave the wife, maybe kill her so he can keep his possessions, or some other fanciful idea.

But this really speaks to marriage, why people get married, and what that motivation is drawn from in order to do it. People marry the wrong people for themselves... they change once they get married. They have different priorities. They have various needs. People don't always know all the facts before making that commitment. And it's that knowledge gap that causes most of the problems after the honeymoon is over.

I don't mean to say that women are the only standard bearers, but there is a lot more going on here that isn't being said, a lot more issues that lead up to a mess like this that need to be examined and it's a lot more complicated and sticky than the affair itself.
twopiearr
Mar. 12th, 2008 10:33 pm (UTC)
I can't disagree that it "should" go away, but how will it?

Legalize prostitution, for starters.
(no subject) - penpusher - Mar. 12th, 2008 10:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - twopiearr - Mar. 12th, 2008 10:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - penpusher - Mar. 12th, 2008 10:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - twopiearr - Mar. 12th, 2008 10:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - penpusher - Mar. 12th, 2008 11:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - twopiearr - Mar. 13th, 2008 12:21 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - penpusher - Mar. 13th, 2008 01:12 am (UTC) - Expand
istar
Mar. 12th, 2008 11:01 pm (UTC)
For starters, relaxing on the popular myth that marriage is the one and only way to have a happy, fulfilled, socially-accepted life. Legalize and promote alternate relationship models. Give happily-single people time in the spotlight.

I think culture is beginning to change radically (in ways that would have scandalized prior decades) but we're not done yet. I'm in the middle of Bella DePaulo's Singled Out right now, which brings up a number of interesting thinking-points on how popular culture treats married vs. single people.
(no subject) - penpusher - Mar. 12th, 2008 11:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - istar - Mar. 13th, 2008 04:23 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bronxelf_ag001 - Mar. 13th, 2008 10:06 am (UTC) - Expand
nysidra
Mar. 13th, 2008 01:19 pm (UTC)
I think the idea that women are the arbiters of morality, who set the "standard" for fidelity, monogamy, good behavior... is an outdated notion that seriously needs to go away.

Amen.

I just LOVE how in these debates prostitutes and escorts are not even considered women clearly those women don't feel the same way about any ridiculous 'virtuous' standard. And it's not like all men would even consider a prostitute. Some Males actually have some lofty virtues as well, all by themselves!

I was actually hoping his wife had sent him to the prostitute, but oh well.

Fucking men vs women argument pisses me off. It's got nothing to do with that.
penpusher
Mar. 13th, 2008 05:59 pm (UTC)
Well... it doesn't and it does have to do with men and women and their differences. It is about the way men and women think, and that's what I was referring with the title of this post. Clearly men and women do think differently about a lot of things. I don't know if this grows or shrinks as we get older, but it seems that it is an issue that is ongoing.

You raise an important point that really speaks to the dynamic. If there were no women to serve as prostitutes, there could be no situation like this one. But there are, and those women are doing what they want, what they like, what they need to do in order to live the lives they want. See, everyone just wants to live their life their way. Or people compromise one thing so they can have something they want. That is the way of our lives.

I fear the opportunity to actually discuss these issues in an open forum and to really crack open this egg (if you will excuse the metaphor) of the elements of marriage, sex, monogamy, partnership, leadership and how we live our lives in this country is quickly evaporating with the Spitzer resignation. Opening a dialog instead of sweeping it all under the carpet is what is desperately needed right now. It's not happening, and for that, the Status Quo stays put.
podling
Mar. 13th, 2008 05:51 pm (UTC)
I'll admit, I haven't read the comments, so I may just be rehashing, but for me, I personally don't care that he cheated on his wife. Whatever they agree to, are okay with, etc, is fine, and even if they haven't, it's not really for anyone but them to decide the fate of their relationship. I think relationships need to be defined by the people in them and not society as a whole. I realize that's not the opinion of the majority, but so be it.

And I have questioned why prostitution is illegal. However I DO sort of object to lawmakers breaking multiple laws, even in so noble a cause as getting some. Frankly, if he wasn't governor and was just a thrill-seeking dork, I wouldn't care either. I only cared about it as a breach of the public trust. If he's breaking these laws, who's to say he's not breaking other more consequential laws?
penpusher
Mar. 13th, 2008 06:07 pm (UTC)
I think a lot of people feel the same way about the "cheating" element of the case. However, the "money" element makes it different. Here he is, spending tens of thousands of dollars to engage in unsafe sex. It just makes him look like a thoughtless idiot.

Ultimately, people's private lives should remain private. But, the question of time, money, judgment and the fact that this guy constantly went after prostitution rings in his role as NY Attorney General meant that he couldn't stay in office. The hypocrisy alone would have forced him to step down!

The question really is, can you do the job after getting whatever "job" you got from your hired friend. In this guy's case, the answer is a resounding no.
( 30 comments — Leave a comment )

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