The Top Five Media Stereotypes Of Betrayed Wives

Illustration for article titled The Top Five Media Stereotypes Of Betrayed Wives

Former Gawkerette turned Radarite Maggie Shnayerson tipped us onto this AP story about how people are criticizing Elizabeth Edwards for John's affair. "I think she's complicit," Brad Crone, a Raleigh-based Democratic consultant told the AP. "Obviously, she knew. While she's the victim, she clearly didn't stand in the way of the cover-up." Sigh. This old meme again, one I'd thought had been retired after it had been used against Hillary Clinton so frequently. We've covered a lot of cheating husbands in the public eye this year — from politicians like Bill Clinton, John Edwards, and our favorite whoremonger Eliot Spitzer to personal-narrative spinners like Elle's Philip Nobel and New York's Philip Weiss - and what strikes me is that in every instance, the betrayed wife is blamed in some way, either by her husband or by pundits.There's another story about John Edwards in yesterday's Daily News, about how he's been calling former staffers and asking for forgiveness for his tawdry business with Rielle Hunter. When we asked Philip Nobel about his research assistant fucking ways, he asked to be "to be treated as an individual case." And here's the thing with both Edwards and Nobel and many other cheating spouses: they've taken for granted the rights and feelings of another individual, with their public philandering... their wives. Their actions did not take place in a vacuum. And even if I could muster some sympathy for a man trapped in a bad marriage or a marriage that made him unhappy, I can never ever feel bad for someone who has forced another person, willing or not, to deal with it in public. And as the following five stereotypes of cuckolded wives show, the fucked-over wifey will be judged by that public, no matter what she does. 1. The Ball Buster: Of course Bill cheated on Hillary, many said, she was a feminazi who never let the poor man have his way. And anyway, like Elizabeth Edwards, Hillary "allowed" the affair to continue and participated in a cover-up because all she wanted was power in the first place. 2. The Doormat:: Silda Spitzer got a lot of this, especially from other women, who were disgusted that she stood behind Eliot at the press conference after he was caught frequenting prostitutes. They called her "nauseating . . . phony and awful." 3. The Nag: Nobel said that his piece in Elle was about "the burden of being a lightning rod for the fears of women and the resentments of burdened men." The implication there is that all married men, even the ones who are happily married, are burdened by the responsibility placed on them by their nagging harpy wives. Who wouldn't want to ditch all that and run off with a twenty-something! Which brings us to… 4. The Crone: Nobel's preference for firm young flesh is shared by another political philandering John: McCain. McCain left first wife Carol for current wife Cindy, because, as Carol said, "John McCain didn't want to be 40, he wanted to be 25. You know that just does." Even Carol herself has bought into this piece of media claptrap! 5. The Martyr: Those who don't see Silda Spitzer as a doormat probably see her as a martyr — someone's who's keeping the family's life as private as possible so that her three teenage daughters can have some semblance of normalcy in their lives. While this stereotype isn't necessarily negative, I'm sure Spitzer — and the rest of these wives — would much rather not walk down the street and have everyone feeling sorry for them. As Erica Jong said in an impassioned defense of Hillary in the Washington Post earlier this year, "She cannot have enjoyed her husband's playing around. She certainly never condoned it. But he was clever enough for her, he supported her dreams, and they both loved their smart and beautiful daughter. Besides, what does anyone know about anyone else's marriage?" In Which People Are Atrocious To Elizabeth Edwards And Not Nearly Atrocious Enough To Her Idiot Husband [Radar] Edwards' Wife Criticized For Silence On Affair [AP via WRAL] Hillary Vs.The Patriarchy [Washington Post] John Edwards Calling Former Staffers Asking For Forgiveness [NYDN] Earlier: Elle Writer "Didn't Plan To Be The Poster Boy For Male Recklessness" Women On Silda Wall: "I'd Have Paraded In Front Of A Microphone With A Knife" Oh, About That First Wife



I was cheated on by my first husband AGES ago. When I got over the hurt and indignation, I did a bunch of soul-searching about ME and MY role in the whole thing. Ultimately, he bears the blame for his decision, but I understand what lead up to his piss-poor choice.

This need to put spurned spouses into categories makes sense. It's the same as any talisman we put up against an evil we don't want. OK, so I don't want my man to cheat on me... so don't do what they did! Only it's totally not that simple. My current hubs divorced his harpy shrew of a wife after 12 years of marriage. After we met, later on, some of his kids' friends' parents wouldn't let them come to our house. Why? THE DIVORCE. IT MIGHT BE CONTAGIOUS. What he did caused people to look at their own perhaps unhappy situations and think wow, it could happen to me.