After two days of relentless focus and attention on the now-resigned New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, the news agencies have set their sights on the problem of prostitution, and, of course, on his now-suffering wife, Silda. Her "charmed life slips away," reads an AP headline. "Brainy, beautiful, betrayed," reports CBS News. "Many wonder, 'why does she stay with him?'" writes a reporter for the L.A. Times. (The NY Post's Cindy Adams is all "so what?"). By all accounts, Silda Wall Spitzer was one of those smart, over-achieving women who awe and inspire. She had a strong maternal figure (her mom insisted she list her profession as "home administrator" rather than "housewife", on her college applications), a successful and lucrative law career (she out-earned her husband as a mergers and acquisitions specialist at a top New York firm) and, in addition to raising three daughters, she founded a philanthropic community service organization. And then the news broke about her husband.
Standing by her husband's side during his press conference was her decision to make, and probably a tough one. But was it the right one? How would you deal with a life-shattering betrayal — when everyone is watching?
Silda (named after a Teutonic goddess) grew up in Concord, NC, attended Meredith, women's college in Raleigh, and went from there to Harvard Law. She met — and married — a fellow Harvard student named Peter Stamos; the marriage lasted 29 days. Later she joined prestigious NYC law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, billing 3,300 hours a year — more than nine hours a day, including weekends. She married Spitzer in 1987 and put her career on hold in 1994. They had two children by then (they currently have three daughters, 17, 15 and 13), which impacted her decision: "I felt very conflicted and emotional about leaving my job," she told Vogue last year. "It was not something I wanted to do, but I have never once doubted that it was the right decision for us. You don't want to give up your dreams, but you also have to confront the reality of your life. Ultimately, it was more important for me to have my family work."
Somewhere along the way, her focus shifted from career achievement to domestic accomplishment. Add that to standing next to her husband as he admits a breach of trust and you've got a recipe that leaves a bad taste in the mouths of many women. Writers from the L.A. Times interviewed females from different cities, and of different ages and walks of life. The reaction is the same: Women are ashamed of Silda. "I find it nauseating . . . phony and awful," Leah Schanzer, 38, tells the paper. Her friend Leslie Heller, 47, agrees. "It makes it seem like she's Susie Homemaker. She shouldn't be standing there, next to him." Says Linda Walters, 61: "She should've said, 'This is your fight. This is your battle. You stand there and get yourself out of it.'" "I'd have paraded in front of the microphone with a knife," says Cassandra Horton, 43.
Should a woman who has given up her career for her family stand by that family — including her husband — no matter what? It might make Silda look bad to face the press while holding her husband's hand, but would it look worse if she didn't? Is there bravery in standing by your man, as it were? Or, should Silda, as Dina Matos McGreevy — whose husband announced he was a "Gay American" — writes in today's New York Times, have made the decision to stand by herself and let the man in question face the cameras on his own?
NY First Lady's Charmed Life Slips Away [Breitbart]
Silda Spitzer, The Wife Who Gave Up Career To Back Politics And Ambition [Times]
Stand By Yourself [New York Times]
Gov.'s Wife: Brainy, Beautiful, Betrayed [CBS News]
Wife Puts Troubling Face On The Spitzer Scandal [L.A. Times]
Stay With Shpritzer, Smart Lady [NY Post]
Related: Poll: Would You Have Approved If Silda Spitzer Had Punched Eliot When They Were On That Stage? [Say Anything]