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Newsweek's war on fidelity

By Bernard Chapin
web posted July 12, 2004

NewsweekIn what has to be one of the most flagrant examples of cultural decline, Newsweek's recent cover story is called "The Secret Lives of Wives" and not only does it degrade the publication's integrity, it also casts aspersions on a sizable number of married women in the United States. The gist of the expose is that more and more married women are cheating on their husbands than ever before. What makes the piece most offensive is its cheerleader tone. You can almost hear the writers screaming "You go girl!" to one another as they type it out. Frankly, we should perhaps be grateful that the reporters, Lorraine Ali and Lisa Miller, under authority celestially granted them by Oprah, did not think to label female infidelity as being a major epidemic in order to sensationalize their claims all the more.

Overall, in this issue, Newsweek has produced one of the most shameful bits of journalism that I have ever stumbled across. The authors' anti-marriage and anti-woman emphasis is yet one more example of the way in which the media cloaks its activism as news. Luckily, the writers are a couple of intellectual featherweights so we can now all experience the joy of my tearing apart their bubble gum logic in the paragraphs that follow.

Trouble begins with the subtitle as it states: "Why they stray: With the work place and the Internet, overscheduled lives and inattentive husbands -- it's no wonder more American women are looking for comfort in the arms of another man." The key words here are "it's no wonder." Certainly to Newsweek the real wonder is why even more married women are not cheating on their spouses, but a case could also be made as to why any women get married in the first place because if they didn't they wouldn't have to put up with inattentive husbands or overscheduled lives. Let's consider the word "inattentive" for a moment. Reader, I ask you, how grave a crime is inattentiveness? Does it automatically justify the nullification of marital vows? Perhaps these writers would be wise to remember the old and golden saying, "If you're bored; you're probably boring." Maybe a hobby rather than a destructive affair might be a better suggestion to offer modern women.

The reporters the assert that where ever groups of married women come together one finds that: "…the conversation is usually the same. They talk about the kids and work -- how stressed they are, how busy and bone tired. They gripe about their husbands and, if they're being perfectly honest and the wine kicks in, they talk about the disappointments in their marriages." The assumption of this article is that all married women have disappointments in their marriages and complain about their husbands. There is no evidence that is offered for such a bizarre and far reaching assumption and all they offer is a conversation that they overheard in Los Angeles among some wayward females. That's hardly a foundation for implying that all married women are disappointed, at some level, with their marriages and their husbands. This is completely absurd and it's a wonder why anyone would open Newsweek at all.i

A new book, Taking Sex Differences Seriously, by Steven E. Rhoads, devastates many of the opinions presented in this Newsweek article. He points out that, "Ninety percent of married women say their marriage makes them happy all or most of the time; only 60 percent say the same about their job." [p.122] Forsooth! Let's move on.

The reporters, in lieu of any proof, proffer up a handful or two of examples to illustrate a supposedly widespread phenomenon. Erin is one of them. After her child goes to preschool she decides to start playing the field. Party on Wayne; party on Garth. Yet, does every mother do this? Not that I've ever seen. Most mothers of toddlers or infants are obsessed with their offspring's welfare as, if they were not, our species would have never made it to the birth of Athens let alone the twenty-first century. Erin is obviously more the exception than the norm.

Then we are introduced to chaste Veronica who starts cheating on her husband because "[h]er lover gave her everything her husband didn't: compliments, Tiffany jewelry, flowers and love notes. It was, in fact, the flowers that did her in." No, I think it was the need to deny herself something or show any kind of restraint that did Veronica's marriage in. It is amazing that a major "news" source could publish this kind of self-indulged rubbish. Flowers? Jewelry? Were those elements inherent to the vows the couple made? Perhaps Newsweek would like to add an addendum to all marriage ceremonies: "For richer or poorer unless some high status male comes along who wants to save money on a prostitute by exchanging some trinkets and flora for a few months of illicit sex." Any woman who abandons her husband over gifts wasn't worthy of being married, or having anyone express formal concern about their welfare, in the first place. Spouses like that should automatically be passed along to one-eyed carnival freaks after being shown adulterated versions of Donald Trump's W2 forms, which will disguised their new "love's" earnings.

Ali and Miller, just in case any of their married female readers are not completely corrupt offer up a handy service by suggesting, "Wives who want extramarital sex -- or are just dreaming about it -- can find what they seek on Yahoo!, MSN or AOL." Thanks for the advice, I'll be sure to forward that information to my sister.

At this point their advocacy for adultery becomes more overt. The reporters argue that adultery used to be considered a serious offense but they assert, without any evidence whatsoever, that nowadays women are more likely to suffer through marriage counseling than divorce by their husbands. Here the writers are purely committing fantasy to paper as the number of submissive cuckolds is always a minority of any male population.

As for divorce, Ali and Miller claim that women do quite well with it and then they cite a Brown psychiatrist who says that in this age women can get away with adultery and by doing so they meet the parameters of an acceptable social role. It's no social role than anybody I know would support but such common sense observations have no application to this article apparently.

What is the prevalence of female infidelity? Our crack journalists are ready to tell us. They claim it's 30 to 40 percent according to the feelings of many "couples therapists," but then they cite questionnaire data that puts the numbers between 10 to 15 percent. Ali and Miller believe that the male rate is 22 percent. From all this, we as readers must surmise that Newsweek has been obtaining their recent hires from the Jayson Blair School of Journalysm because all of this is followed by a therapist claiming that the rate for both men and women is 50 percent. She justifies this by making the wild conclusion that, "‘Women have suddenly begun to give themselves the same permission to step over the boundary the way that men have.'" But no number they presented earlier is anywhere near 50 percent so if the therapist is right then her conclusions should be qualified as, "…over the boundary the way John Kennedy did." Besides, 50 percent is a outrageous figure and there is no theoretical or empirical basis for it.

Most comically, Ali and Miller then debunk their own thesis with, "At the same time, Americans developed a lower tolerance for infidelity: 80 percent of Americans say infidelity is "always wrong," according to the NORC, up from 70 percent in 1970." Ah, if 80 percent think that it's always wrong then there can't be too much chic to female infidelity in the eyes of the general population–however, I do not question that the sources they reference hold that cheating on their men is all the rage. Yet, when these contradictory statistics are all jumbled together it yields…a muddle. One wonders if there are any editors at all on the clock of this newsweekly because there is so much statistical incongruence in the opening paragraphs that it's a wonder this article ever got published at all (as opposed to being passed around by militant feministas on the streets of Berkeley).

Rhoads educates us that their conclusions are fallacious as females do not desire uncommitted sex in the same way that males do:

"In all nations men wanted more partners, on average just under three times more (5.95 vs. 2.17) over the thirty-year period. Over the thirty-day period, 25 percent of men on average wanted more than one sexual partner, compared with between 3 and 7 percent of women. Among those who said they were strongly seeking a short-term sex partner over the next thirty days, a majority of the men desired more than one in that period, whereas fewer than 20 percent of women did." [pp.48-49]

It is also improbable that a quick adulterous romp is valued as much by wives as it would be by husbands:

"For example, for men more than for women, good and frequent sex is closely associated with marital happiness. In marriage, women often get more pleasure out of kissing and cuddling than out of intercourse. In and out of marriage, women say they engage in sex to share emotions and love." [p.49]

I saved the most persuasive quote from Rhoads for last as it annihilates what is left of the exposé's claims:

"And a 2002 study of two thousand British women reports that two-thirds think that the best sex they ever had was within marriage. It seems that for women, the ‘prospect of a lifetime commitment" is what really boosts sexual satisfaction." [p.112]

That's the end right? Sorry, it's not. The reporters want this to be not only a story but a "how to" guide as well. They inform us that the best place for women to begin affairs is at work. Another therapist is cited and she gives us the news that women cheating on men could be a good thing,

"‘…many people spend more time out in the world than with their families. I think sometimes people have the idea that [an affair] will protect the marriage.'" They get a self-esteem boost during work hours and don't rock the boat at home. "‘In some paradoxical sense this may be a respite, a little break from the marriage.'"

Well, it's a break until their husbands discover that they're scandalous tramps and then the lawyers are called and the restraining orders are issued. Yet really, perhaps it's wrong for men to complain about these affairs as shouldn't their wives' self-esteem be worth more to them than their own personal mental stability, honor, and integrity? Only in a thoroughly corrupt, politically correct world could such a proposition even be made.

As far as red flags go, the name "Gloria Steinem" appearing in text makes those of us who wish to see the country degraded no more than it has been gag uncontrollably, but this is the only time I remember reading a quote by her and thinking that she's more sensible than those who cite her:

"The feminist Gloria Steinem once said, ‘Most women are one man away from welfare,' but she recently amplified her views to NEWSWEEK: ‘Being able to support oneself allows one to choose a marriage out of love and not just economic dependence. It also allows one to risk that marriage.' In other words, as women grow more powerful, they're more likely to feel, as men traditionally have, that they deserve a little bit of nooky at the end (or in the middle) of a long, busy day."

Did you catch that leap? Unbelievably, these two misquoted Steinem. The aging icon wasn't incendiary enough so Ali and Miller felt the need to play with her words. Steinem never implied women "deserve a little bit of nooky" outside of marriage as a reward for their maintaining full-time employment. Steinem merely said that if women were economically independent then they could risk terminating their marriages as they presumably wouldn't starve. I am familiar with the motto, "No enemies on the left" but if I were Steinem I'd take these two out behind the woodshed. Anyway, why can't these women get their kicks out of their own husbands? Our reporters don't feel like even addressing this possibility.

Then they turn to yet another family therapist who says that now women have the luxury to cheat with men who are younger or lack their social status [!]. With glee he tells this appalling story:

"It seems that a group of 6-year-old girls from an elite private school were at a birthday party, and the conversation turned to their mommies' trainers. As the proud mothers listened nearby, one youngster piped up: ‘My mommy has a trainer, and every time he comes over, they take a nap.' The wicked laughter this story elicits illustrates at least what is dreamed of, if not actually consummated."

Wicked is an appropriate term for when one flaunts their lack of character before very young children. What vile mothers are these who could laugh about such behavior and what kind of repulsive reporters would intentionally celebrate such acts?

Next they turn their attentions to a less controversial topic, the degradation of men, which is always popular and fashionable in journalistic circles:

"And (this is practically unmentionable) therapists say they're seeing more cases of depressed male libido. It turns out he's too tired and stressed to have sex. An affair is a logical outcome of this scenario, therapists say: women think they should be having great sex and romantic dates decades into their marriage, and at the same time, they're pragmatic enough to see how impossible that is."

Contrary to all known facts and testimony, we discover here that Viagra really doesn't work even though countless married men buy it by the attaché full. What's so completely contemptible in these sentences are the words "a logical outcome." An affair is never a logical outcome. Adultery is steeped in irrational passion and only the most mutated of thrill-seeking personalities expect cheating to be an inherent part of their marriages.

Within the article's last section, which is aimed at informed adulterers how to best protect their children, Ali and Miller share yet more rationalizations for female infidelity. This may be my favorite of the piece:

"In retrospect, Nadine understands what pushed her mother to be unfaithful. Beautiful and intelligent, her mother was stifled by her life's low horizons, and her father, a stand-up guy, was probably a little bit boring. The new man promised travel, wealth and adventure; her father was the kind of guy who'd say, ‘Why go around the world? You'll get plane-sick.'"

If you're a man who's a little bit boring then take cover because Newsweek has just armed your wife with a skank stick. The message from this passage is, if the guy is low stimulus seeking in personality you should drop him. The same goes if he doesn't make good on his desires to become rich which, of course, indicts 90 percent of the existent male population. I wonder if these reporters would say the same thing if they were asked to write about male infidelity. Would they condone adultery in the case of wives complaining too much or gaining fifty pounds per annum? My guess is that the article's tone would be radically different.

At the end, we are issued a final bit of obscene relativism that is blended with a healthy scoop of distortion:

"Who said being married and raising kids was easy? The good news is that the wounds inflicted on a family by a woman's infidelity are not always critical."

I realize that this is an old argument of mine but I need to repeat it again here. Why do none of these radical women ever, for one moment, stop to consider what a man might want out of a relationship? In their minds we are the designated whipping boys to be manipulated like dominos on a table. We must accept what they offer even if its maggot infested meat in exchange for gold bullion.

Ever since the dawn of time men have rejected promiscuous women as mates and until we get new genes this will always be the case (in the majority of situations). I do not deny that infidelity is not always terminal to marriage just as I do not deny that there are metrosexual males who are more interested in the brand name adorning a woman's pants than what their pants actually contain. Yet these men, along with those who make yearly IRA sized contributions to dominatrixes, are not the norm. For most of us, sexual infidelity is a nuclear weapon from which no relationship can survive. In the words of Jim Morrison, "That's the end, beautiful friend."

I have written in the past about the fact that nowadays men should have a "presumption" against marriage (and got beaten severely for it), but I must ask, is such a position really that controversial in light of our most popular cultural organs actively promoting the erosion of marital bonds? Newsweek is clearly suggesting that deceit and dishonor are perfectly acceptable lifestyle choices for women in this new millennium. Call me an old fashioned romantic, but I hope that the married women who read this issue realize that feminists in no way give a damn about them and never have. Radical feminists are jealous of everything married women possess and will try any trick or maneuver to get their sisters to destroy their own futures just so they can have more partners joining them on lifespan length rides of self-pity and hate. Married women should come away from this article understanding that the relationship they share with their husbands is far more threatening to the feminist establishment that a warehouse full of Bibles or even a libertarian in the White House.

Bernard Chapin is a writer living in Chicago. He can be reached at bchapafl@hotmail.com.

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