Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Aggrieved Wives Syndrome

With all the Schwarzegger gabble about why powerful men cheat, their wives are dismissed with clucking sympathy and respectful silence.

Maria Shriver says, “This is a painful and heartbreaking time. As a mother, my concern is for the children. I ask for compassion, respect and privacy as my children and I try to rebuild our lives and heal. I will have no further comment."

Understandable, but her retreat into silence should be seen in context of what other political wives such as Hillary Clinton and the late Elizabeth Edwards said and did not say when their husbands were seeking power—-and their complicity in deceiving voters.

Eight years ago, when he was running for governor of California, Ms. Shriver dismissed reports by 11 women of her husband’s groping as rumors, even though she must have known about the illegitimate child by then.

Coming from a family of tomcatting Kennedy men, such forbearance may have come naturally but, in an era when “the public’s right to know” about private lives of public people has escalated, questions arise.

Her protective behavior has to be seen against a background of Hillary Clinton, who also knew better, dismissing charges that led to an impeachment trial, as “a vast right-wing conspiracy.” It may well have been that, but Bill Clinton’s behavior was not.

Flash forward to Elizabeth Edwards, who allowed her sleazy husband to use her terminal illness in his campaigning, defending him against charges of infidelity and finally admitting in her last book that she knew about his “love child” a year earlier than she had said.

There is no denying the unspeakable treatment of Shriver, Clinton and Edwards in their marriages, but to acknowledge their enablement of public deception in their husbands’ careers is not “blaming the victim.”

Far from it. It is to raise the question of why society puts estimable women in the position of having to be involved in such behavior.

In the days of Maria Shriver’s uncles, there was much philandering but her aunts did not have to be complicit in covering it up.

1 comment:

Carrie said...

Good point raised. I definitely remember a few Kennedy wives "not taking" it, as the saying goes.