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It's easy to judge his actions and ignore what led to them
December 26, 2009 7:10 AM   Subscribe

I am Tiger Woods
posted by Potomac Avenue (169 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
...and so is my wife.
posted by Joey Michaels at 7:18 AM on December 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


Sweet, someone has an opinion of the Tiger Woods drama. Best of the web.
posted by uaudio at 7:21 AM on December 26, 2009 [5 favorites]


Nothing can beat the scent of a woman? Yeah, women are an addiction, man. Women are like alcohol; women are like drugs.

No, women are, like, people, you asshat.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:26 AM on December 26, 2009 [55 favorites]


This was actually interesting, but what I found distressingly absent from it was the motivation of the other women; Mike Wise goes on and on about how women are like booze and heroin and it takes help to kick the habit, but nowhere do I get the idea that he has come to regard them as human beings who might have had their own motivations for hooking up with a married man. Which makes me wonder in turn (or perhaps not wonder so much) what he thinks of his wife.
posted by localroger at 7:26 AM on December 26, 2009 [13 favorites]


Worst post ever. The shame and humiliation due by posting this should easily eclipse that felt by Woods. You've done a bad, bad thing.
posted by xmutex at 7:27 AM on December 26, 2009 [6 favorites]


When married billionaires bring breakfast waitresses to the family home in the middle of the day after they've already hooked up in a parking lot, that's not sex; that's real affliction.

That is an amazing sentence.
posted by hawthorne at 7:27 AM on December 26, 2009 [6 favorites]


I am Spartacus.
posted by twoleftfeet at 7:28 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Goo-goo ga joob
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:28 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


When married billionaires bring breakfast waitresses to the family home in the middle of the day after they've already hooked up in a parking lot, that's not sex; that's real affliction.

Affliction.... a new scent by Calvin Klein...
posted by Joey Michaels at 7:29 AM on December 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


Unless the author is an immeasurably rich global celebrity with throngs of women ready to throw themselves at him: No, he is not Tiger Woods.

Maybe Woods does have a huge emotional emptiness inside. Or maybe he just likes fucking a lot of women.

I don't know and neither does a sports columnist fulfilling his contracted word count with a Very Special tribute to culturally endorsed bourgeois ethics.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:30 AM on December 26, 2009 [17 favorites]


The best of overwritten purple prose. And in sportswriting, that's saying something.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 7:31 AM on December 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


Best anagram for TIGER WOODS is GOT SO WEIRD.
posted by twoleftfeet at 7:31 AM on December 26, 2009 [8 favorites]


I am not Tiger Woods. I golf poorly and would rather cut off my hands than cheat on my wife. That said, the guy has a problem, and I doubt the media attention helps. It may be hard to feel sorry for a guy with that much cash, especially when he dug his own hole like that, but I do feel bad for him. He needed help a long time ago.
posted by caution live frogs at 7:33 AM on December 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


On further reflection on Mike's IT'S ALL ABOUT ME column, I realize I should have some sympathy for the plight of fabulously wealthy and famous people whose only real problems are self-control related. Really, I should. But I seem to have misplaced it.
posted by localroger at 7:36 AM on December 26, 2009 [9 favorites]


Localroger: I was under the impression the Mr Wise's point was that the macho culture that engenders this addiction dehumanizes women, particularly in regard to respecting your wife. If he's talking about a woman like she's a drug, it's because that's the mindset shared by chronic philanderers, not an accurate assessment of the cause of the problem.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:36 AM on December 26, 2009 [11 favorites]


Ugh, I can't believe anyone cares about this.

The only thing more boring then golf is caring about the personal lives of golfers.

(Okay I admit the details are kind of salacious. Plus we're all bombarded with details no matter where you turn. But having an opinion beyond "that's kind of interesting" is kind of ridiculous)
posted by delmoi at 7:37 AM on December 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


I Am the Walrus
posted by killdevil at 7:37 AM on December 26, 2009


This writer should have just made a tearfull YouTube video crying "Leave tiger alone! !".
posted by octothorpe at 7:38 AM on December 26, 2009 [8 favorites]


caution live frogs: ...would rather cut off my hands than cheat on my wife

YOU ARE DOING THAT WRONG. Just sayin'.
posted by localroger at 7:38 AM on December 26, 2009


The best of overwritten purple prose. And in sportswriting, that's saying something.

Portentousness is like a drug that permeates the turgid sphere of sports writing. They need help, but there is nowhere to turn!
posted by delmoi at 7:40 AM on December 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


Best anagram for TIGER WOODS is GOT SO WEIRD.

Ow, got sired?
posted by fire&wings at 7:40 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


IIRC, it was Ozzy Osborne who said that at some point he realized that the groupies were exploiting him.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:43 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Dear Penthouse, I am Tiger Woods! Just the other day I met this 22 year old that had to be someone's daughter....
posted by cjorgensen at 7:43 AM on December 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


I am Spartacus.

Trailer for next summer's Starz TV series: 'Spartacus: Blood and Sand.'
posted by ericb at 7:45 AM on December 26, 2009


Balls as Big as Tiger Woods'
posted by odinsdream at 7:53 AM on December 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


Sports writer discovers empathy. See, I thought sports were about winning and losing. Well, maybe losing like Mr. Woods did is really a form of winning so it's OK to empathize. Everyone needs a hug, but especially the rich and famous on a bad day. And when we hug them, we're special too!
posted by Obscure Reference at 7:57 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I AM THE GOD OF HELLFIRE
posted by Meatbomb at 8:04 AM on December 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


No, women are, like, people, you asshat.

Who is the asshat? You're the one implying the two are mutually exclusive. He's the one writing openly about how his feelings, about which he's obviously conflicted- you know, like a human being. With flaws.
posted by xmutex at 8:09 AM on December 26, 2009 [14 favorites]


I love it when shallow fools get all deep and introspective. It's like watching a cartoon character play with a loaded shotgun.
posted by R. Mutt at 8:15 AM on December 26, 2009


WON'T SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?!
posted by Joe Beese at 8:22 AM on December 26, 2009


Potomac: it's because that's the mindset shared by chronic philanderers

Well, I am also interested in the mindset of the other person. To take Wise's charming example, when the billionaire schleps off with the breakfast waitress, what is the waitress thinking? She's probably not like one of Ozzy's groupies if she's bonking a hedge fund manager instead of a rock star. Is it as the thief in Gorky Park complains to Arkady, that it's like travel and there are nice gifts and she gets to ride in the Lambourghini? Does she naively think he will give her entry into the world of wealth or coldly hope to displace the wife eventually? You see, I am very curious about this.

And what strikes me most about Mike Wise's article is that even now, he isn't. I find this fascinating. Although he has discovered empathy for another person just like him going through a painful self-created public humiliation, he still doesn't pause to wonder just what the women he slept with thought about it all. He knows he has hurt his family and shamed himself but he remains completely incurious about the people he took trouble to seduce. Do they feel guilty for helping to break up his family, are they sad the party's over, are they happy they got to put a Mike Wise notch on their list of sexual conquests, did they think it was a fair trade for the ride in the Lambourghini? It doesn't even seem to occur to him to ask that question, and I find that perfectly incomprehensible.
posted by localroger at 8:23 AM on December 26, 2009 [6 favorites]


I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.
posted by punkfloyd at 8:25 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


What a dreadful piece of writing.
posted by thinkpiece at 8:25 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


FelliniBlank: Women are like alcohol; women are like drugs.

No, women are, like, people, you asshat.


I think you're misunderstanding the analogy. The author's saying that infidelity is like alcohol or drugs. Women in this case are like bartenders or drug dealers, both of whom have their own motivations for continuing to cater to addicts (and while I completely understand that women frequently don't know that the man they're seeing is married, if it happens to be blatantly obvious - like, say, if he's a world-famous celebrity whose marriage was covered widely in the world media - you have moral responsibility as well).

Look at the married millionaire language again, and substitute alcohol. Plenty of normal, healthy people enjoy a moderate amount of alcohol and are satisfied. Some may go on to consume a little too much once in a while, but ultimately stay within reason. The desire to drink constantly (or, in Tiger's case, to juggle 15 girlfriends), suggests an inability to remain satisfied. Textbook addiction.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 8:28 AM on December 26, 2009 [5 favorites]


Women in this case are like bartenders or drug dealers,

No, they are still people. It's the constantly comparing women to commodities (alcohol, drugs, possessions) that is being critiqued here; suggesting that the commodity is what's in their pants, and the women are vendors of that commodity, isn't an analogy that works any better.
posted by Forktine at 8:33 AM on December 26, 2009 [8 favorites]


love is like oxycontin
posted by pyramid termite at 8:36 AM on December 26, 2009


Jesus God I swear this is one of the worst written things I have ever seen disgrace the pages of an American newspaper, the home of Woodstein nonetheless. What is his damned point? I got laid? We're all human with human faults.? Look I'm just as cool as Tiger? Does anyone really run to the sports page for a solid lesson on morality and how to be a better man? His wife should get equal space to explain his indiscretions, and how she felt.

First off, its golf, a sport -- if you can even call it that -- that has more to do with being able to afford the clubs, the guy to carry them, and the greens fees, than any kind of ability. When I see a guy whack one down the fairway 300 yds and it rolls gently into a cup, I figure thats neat, but its about the same as the 7th grader who gets hit in the back of the head with a basketball and somehow it drops into the net. Plain dumb luck. Doesn't happen very often, but always fun to see.

Second, he's Tiger Woods. Name one other thing he has done anyone should admire. I'm guessing his lawyers set up some sort of foundation where he gives much-needed Nike products to underpriveleged kids, but other than that?

The guy basically bought himself a supermodel wife (wonder if he kept the receipt?), and his first impulse on getting busted for cheating on her is to try to throw money at the situation to make it go away, so he can rack up sopme more endorsements. That's the sign of a true cad, and not anything I would want any child to grow up and aspire to be.

If he was something of a role model for multi-racial kids, I hope that did some good, but he sure wiped his ass with that image.

Let him join OJ, and Jordan and Vick, and every other jagoff billionaire athlete out there in sentient Americans' hall of shame. Good riddance.
posted by timsteil at 8:37 AM on December 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Forktine:No, they are still people. It's the constantly comparing women to commodities (alcohol, drugs, possessions) that is being critiqued here; suggesting that the commodity is what's in their pants, and the women are vendors of that commodity, isn't an analogy that works any better.

But isn't that pretty much the mindset of the sex addict, even a recovering one? I think that's part of what Wise is trying to communicat here.
posted by magstheaxe at 8:38 AM on December 26, 2009


Another Christmas gone by, another Christmas in which I failed to find a breakfast waitress under the tree.

Will this deprivation go on forever?
posted by Danf at 8:39 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Luke, I am your...FATHER
posted by KokuRyu at 8:41 AM on December 26, 2009


Can you point out where Wise himself objectified women in his column rather than portraying the objectification that occurs in the addicts mind? To my reading that "scent of a woman" line is pointing to the larger cultural tradition of idealizing Pachinos who can use their fame or guile to "score" chicks, while their buddies cheer them on. As you're pointing out, this behavior totally ignores all female perspectives on the game. How is Wise not agreeing with you?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:44 AM on December 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


Luke, I am your...FATHER

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO...
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:48 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Tiger Woods Foundation... Achieving goals and reaching dreams is the focus of our nationwide character development program...
posted by R. Mutt at 8:50 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


l33tpolicywonk: "while I completely understand that women frequently don't know that the man they're seeing is married, if it happens to be blatantly obvious - like, say, if he's a world-famous celebrity whose marriage was covered widely in the world media - you have moral responsibility as well"

I disagree that anyone has a moral responsibility to preserve someone else's marital vows. However, it is good manners.

"I ask you as a gentleman and a former friend to ask my forgiveness for taking my wife away from me." - Jim Harrison, Revenge
posted by Joe Beese at 8:54 AM on December 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Potomac, the striking thing isn't what is in the article (though there is plenty of objectifying language); one can chalk that up to bad old habits and describing the problem. But what strikes me is what isn't in the article -- not a single thought, speculation, concern, or care about the mindset of the women he cheated with. He doesn't bother to mention them in the list of people he hurt, doesn't speculate that they were getting something out of it, he frankly doesn't seem to care, even now, what they were thinking. And that absence suggests to me two things: One, he did regard his conquests as pills rather than pushers, and Two, he still thinks of them that way to this day.

He thinks his problem is that he had an addiction it took strength to beat. I think his problem is that he thinks of women as objects to be used to satisfy himself, whose lives outside the context of penis insertion are completely unimportant.
posted by localroger at 8:59 AM on December 26, 2009


Maybe my different perspective stems from the fact that this is the first article I've read about Tiger Woods (a person who doesn't interest me). Or, perhaps, it's the fact that I'm cynical enough to not be surprised that people have affairs. The moral implications bore me to tears. Yup, it's wrong to have affairs. Duh. (I am not saying I don't care. I would be devastated if my wife had an affair. But I don't need a writer to tell me that affairs are devastating. Again: duh.) My only interest is in the emotions involved. On that front, Wise's piece is eloquent.

Some of the criticism here strike me as very strange: of course Wise doesn't know what's really going on inside Woods's head. "I am Tiger Woods" is a metaphor, no? The article isn't about Woods, it's about Wise. (I'd never heard of Wise before reading this piece, but he managed to interest me in himself via his prose.)

The article doesn't talk about women as is they are people. Agreed. If it did, it would be a less honest picture of how people like Wise feel. He is too wrapped up in himself to view others as people. That's too bad, I guess, but, again, my understanding of human nature sees it as obvious and inevitable. If he saw women (including his wife) as people, he wouldn't have had all those affairs in the first place. Or he would have been even more tortured -- unable to stop himself from sinning while being constantly aware of the hurt he was causing.

To me, good writing isn't good because the writer is free of prejudice. (If it was, there'd be hardly any good writing in the world.) Good writing is good because it sensually evokes some nook or cranny of the human condition. Many times, good writing is good BECAUSE of the writer's warped, personal view of the world. What mattes to me is how well he evokes his viewpoint -- not whether or not that viewpoint maps onto reality.

The writer excuses rather than condemns? So what? Why should writers be moralists. Writers CAN be moralists, and plenty of them are, but if they were all moralists, we'd have no writing that explores those corners of the psyche that aren't about right and wrong.

"Maybe Tiger Woods just likes to fuck women." That's like saying "maybe the Earth just revolves around the sun." You may not be interested in WHY Woods -- or someone in a similar predicament -- fucks lots of women. That's fine. Look at the world through as fine or coarse a lens as your please. Just because you don't care to look under the rug, that doesn't mean there's nothing under there.

Purple prose? I guess you can call it whatever you want. I thought it was clear and evocative. Here are some sentences that stood out to me. I'd give them A plusses if I were a teacher in a composition course and Wise was my student.

"And weeks after the personal life of the world's most recognizable athlete crumbled, I still cringe every time I hear a voice mail of a desperate man trying to hide the truth from his significant other."

Great use of strong, simple verbs (crumbled, cringe, hide). Nice, subtle alliteration with crumbled and cringe. I especially love the image of an athlete crumbling.

"most of these people turned out to be enablers from the fraternity of arrested development, where boys must be boys because authentic men aren't allowed to join."

Nice simple extension of a metaphor. Had he just mentioned fraternity, it would have been so-so, but I like how he loaded it further with an image of who is allowed to pledge and who isn't.

"I have poked fun at his travails because I use humor as camouflage, because if I were to deal with the truth, if the world were to know the details of my sad, pathetic electronic communication with other women at one time in my life, the horrific embarrassment would not just send me into seclusion; it would send me off the ledge."

This is a brave sentence. It makes me feel guilty to read it, even though I've never had an affair. That's what good writing should do. It should make me feel.
posted by grumblebee at 9:04 AM on December 26, 2009 [31 favorites]


So we're supposed to pity Tiger Woods now? Sorry, I have more pitiful people to pity than than a billionaire with a self-control problem. Dude didn't have to get married and have two kids if he wanted to live a promiscuous lifestyle. That was either his choice or his business decision that he thought would boost his image and make him more money.
posted by ishotjr at 9:06 AM on December 26, 2009


This is only the beginning. Because when the press starts going after famous females who are having affairs there's gonna be some yelling and screaming.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that there's some serious denial on the part of these men. There can't be that many single women out there that are having sex with these serial philanderers. Some percentage of these women are married or have boyfriends to whom they have promised to be monogamous. At the core of this male philandering is a huge stinking pile of denial--that while guys are looking for something on the side, their women are tucked away, secure in their caves. I bet you every one of these guys fully expects their significant others to uphold the wedding vows they are breaking. It is a huge double standard.

But denial is what addiction is all about, isn't it?

Now I don't mean to impunge the virtue of America's women. But I think if these guys were a little more realistic, they'd stop chasing and tend to the home fires a bit more.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:10 AM on December 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


This was such a dumb article. I would actually apologize for posting something so stupid. I suppose you thought that because this was published in the Washington Post, this somehow belong on MetaFilter. There's such better sportswriting out there.
posted by phaedon at 9:10 AM on December 26, 2009


Sports writer encourages athletes to deal with their issues instead of filling it with sex, and criticizes sports culture in the process.

I think that's a good thing.
posted by yeloson at 9:16 AM on December 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


grumblebee: ""I have poked fun at his travails because I use humor as camouflage, because if I were to deal with the truth, if the world were to know the details of my sad, pathetic electronic communication with other women at one time in my life, the horrific embarrassment would not just send me into seclusion; it would send me off the ledge."

This is a brave sentence.
"

So now that the world does know of his cyber-adultery - thanks to his having written a column to apprise it of that fact - I take it that we will soon read of his ashamed suicide?

No? You mean he was just using hyperbole to trumpet his late-found but apparently excruciating moral sensitivity?
posted by Joe Beese at 9:16 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Dude didn't have to get married and have two kids if he wanted to live a promiscuous lifestyle.

He got married at a young age so he could have kids at a young age. It's not like he's in the NBA or the NFL, where you can have kids in every city and no one says a word about it. He plays professional golf. And he happens to be the greatest professional golfer in the world. He had to maintain an image.


As for this piece: uh, who cares.
posted by Zambrano at 9:23 AM on December 26, 2009


I don't get the criticism of this article. The piece was honest, for better or worse. The writer lays his soul bare, as morally imperfect as it is. To even admit this much in such a public article is a hard thing to do. I haven't read many other such pieces from the perspective of someone who cheats.

Cheating is so unfortunately common that, statistically, I'm sure we've encountered MeFites (maybe in this thread) who have done so but will never admit it. Otherwise, like in threads on every other subject, we'd hear "Oh, I cheated a few times, and [my perspective differs in these ways]."

Think about that for a second, and then ask yourself again whether this Mike Wise guy should be criticized for sharing his viewpoint on this touchy but important subject.

As for this piece: uh, who cares.

I do. A few others in this thread do. I don't think he's aiming for it to be a crowd-pleaser.
posted by naju at 9:28 AM on December 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


I am angry, I am ill & I'm as ugly as sin.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:31 AM on December 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


I don't see any obvious hyperbole in that bit. (And if I did, so what? Hyperbole is bad writing? Not in my book.)

"I have poked fun at his travails because I use humor as camouflage..."

I find it easy to believe that he has poked fun at Woods. I also find it easy to believe he uses humor as camouflage. I've certainly done that. I've also thrown stones, even though I am not without sin.

"...if the world were to know the details of my sad, pathetic electronic communication with other women at one time in my life..."

In my view, the communications, if they happened, WERE sad and pathetic.

"...the horrific embarrassment would not just send me into seclusion; it would send me off the ledge."

It WOULD be horrifically embarrassing, at least for me, so I can understand how he feels. And if you assume that, via this writing, he has dealt with the truth, then the last bit, about the ledge, is at least not hyperbolic in an emotional sense. I might write something like that and not end up killing myself, but I would probably feel like killing myself at the moment of writing it. And as a reader, that's all I care to know. How does the writer feel in the moment? I don't want him to realistically predict how he's likely to act in the future. That will dampen the ardor of his connection with the present.

But via his use of "if" in "if I were to deal with the truth," I take it that he HASN'T dealt with the truth, which is why he's still standing on the ledge and not tumbling down the cliff. Instead of dealing with the truth, he uses humor as camouflage and writes articles like this, where, as many people have pointed out, he doesn't see the women as people.

There's a bit of bullshit pop-psychology that says that if one understands one's motivations, one is dealing with them. This bullshit is bullshit. I understand a lot of my motivations but that doesn't stop me from acting badly. Understanding is not the same as not being in denial. You stop being in denial when you CONTINUALLY confront the emotional core of the problem.
posted by grumblebee at 9:36 AM on December 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Tough crowd this morning. Too many hangovers? Not enough presents? How dare this guy view the Tiger as a messed up, immature, ADDICTED man with problems that he can relate to, while not at the same time, showing a deep and nuanced grasp of all the issues inherent in infidelity, selfishness, objectification of women, the toxicity of fame, etc? The guy's a sportswriter, for f***'s sake.

From the article:

"Tiger Woods has an emotional void in his life. This void must be huge."

How I'd love to see that on a Nike ad next to the Tiger's cute, smiling face.
posted by philip-random at 9:43 AM on December 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Mike Wise knows his audience and they're primarily made up of guys who think if they were Tiger Woods they'd be getting more ass than a toilet seat married or not.

Also, for anyone in this thread saying Tiger deserves no sympathy remember everything is relative.
posted by photoslob at 9:46 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Agree here that the grinding gears of metahate seem to have gone into automatic overdrive on this post for whatever reason. Sure, the guy's piece isn't Roger Angell. That, I would submit, is not what it was intended to be.

Sports writer encourages athletes to deal with their issues instead of filling it with sex, and criticizes sports culture in the process.

I think that's a good thing.


Yes. He is tilting at windmills, to be sure. But yes.
posted by blucevalo at 9:52 AM on December 26, 2009


How I'd love to see that on a Nike ad next to the Tiger's cute, smiling face.

Or they could just re-jig this ad.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:53 AM on December 26, 2009


Two observations.

1. Even by admitting it's his fault, he's escaping blame. "It's a sickness."

2. Many have observed he doesn't see the women as people. That's true, but even more important is he doesn't even consider that the women _want_ to sleep with him/them. He/Tiger "got" them, as if through hypnosis. Note how very little they consider _why_ the women want them. "It's because I'm Tiger woods." So you're admitting that if you weren't Tiger Woods, she wouldn't like you at all? If you can sleep with a woman who doesn't really like you, just for sex, awesome; but obviously Tiger can't do that, or else he wouldn't be trying to have mini-relationships with them.

The real problem with this pattern of cheating is it's constant denial of reality: you know you got her because you're "someone", but that's unsatisfying, so you try to convince her that you're worth it even if you weren't that someone. That always fails, 100% of the time: how can a person who cheats so frequently ever be worth it?
posted by TheLastPsychiatrist at 9:53 AM on December 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


I thought love was like oxygen... you get too much you get too high, not enough and you're gonna die.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 9:55 AM on December 26, 2009


Anagram:
TIGER WOODS, GOLF PLAYER= GROPED GIRL, YET WAS FOOL
posted by swell at 10:10 AM on December 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


MIDGET WOOS AIR
O' GREAT SWIM, I DO
GET A ROOM, WIDSI
posted by swift at 10:25 AM on December 26, 2009


"The guy basically bought himself a supermodel wife (wonder if he kept the receipt?)"

What? That's extremely condescending, and does exactly what it seems may men are objecting to in this thread, treating women as a commodity.
posted by HopperFan at 10:27 AM on December 26, 2009 [5 favorites]


As one who really can't get enough of the Tiger Woods story (I mean , no hyperbole, he is the biggest sports star on the GLOBE) I found the article interesting. As for why the dude didn't write about the women's motivations, I can't really understand the criticism. I learned in my twenties to not guess at women's motivations. He's writing what he knows and feels. Given enough time, there will be PLENTY written about Tiger's harem.
posted by vito90 at 10:27 AM on December 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


I learned in my twenties to not guess at women's motivations.

Yeah, those things are so mysterious. Unlike men, who are easier to understand and predict.
posted by swift at 10:34 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sex addiction sure has become a convenient scapegoat for just plain being a self-absorbed asshole.
posted by so_gracefully at 10:40 AM on December 26, 2009


I wonder if Mike Wise, like Tiger Woods, dealt with his 'problem' by taking a break from golf.
posted by grounded at 10:47 AM on December 26, 2009


he thinks he's tiger woods, tiger woods thought he was don draper...
posted by fuzzypantalones at 10:58 AM on December 26, 2009


Yeah, those things are so mysterious. Unlike men, who are easier to understand and predict.
posted by swift


I was set to reply one way, then realized you weren't being sarcastic.
posted by vito90 at 11:02 AM on December 26, 2009


I'll admit, I'm slightly disappointed by the tone of comments in this thread. Especially things like

"...nowhere do I get the idea that he has come to regard them as human beings who might have had their own reasons etc..."

This doesn't really wash. It's an article about Woods, not the people he became involved with. And rather than endorsing the idea of treating women as commodities, Wise points out that they are real people, with real emotions, and that there are very real consequences for using them like this. Why else does he bring up Joe "They're all somebody's daughter' Dimaggio? Do you think he is endorsing those words?

Nor is this an attempt to excuse Woods' actions: "I can neither excoriate the guy nor exonerate him."

Rather, this is the only article I have read about the Woods saga that attempts to deal with the messy complexities of real people and explain sensibly, not hysterically, Woods' behaviour in the context of being a sporting superstar.
posted by marmaduke_yaverland at 11:05 AM on December 26, 2009 [9 favorites]


He had to maintain an image.

He didn't have to. What you mean is that it was very much in his interest to do so.

This could have been easily cured with an agreement for an open marriage, assuming they didn't have one. If they did, he broke the rules of that, I guess.

It isn't the sex, its the breaking of the promise. Don't promise what you cannot fufill. Seriously, we need to move away from a cultural-norm system to a negotiation system. Ask for what you want. It can be straight monogamy. But the "nobody can really be monogamous crowd" needs to acknowledge that this isn't about sex, its about breaking promises. That's taking advantage of someone you care about. Unless you think its ok to take advantage, the behavior isn't right.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:11 AM on December 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


I learned in my twenties to not guess at women's motivations.

Yeah, those things are so mysterious. Unlike men, who are easier to understand and predict.


So men aren't allowed to say they understand a female perspective, and they aren't allowed to say that they don't understand a female perspective?
posted by hermitosis at 11:29 AM on December 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


Sex addiction sure has become a convenient scapegoat for just plain being a self-absorbed asshole.

Fortunately, part of the treatment for sex-addiction involves having to confront the ways in which you are a self-absorbed asshole. It's not a cop-out to plead illness, if anything it expresses a desire to be rehabilitated.
posted by hermitosis at 11:31 AM on December 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sex addiction sure has become a convenient scapegoat for just plain being a self-absorbed asshole.

Ever dealt with a heroin addict, an alcoholic, a speed freak? In my experience, assholism is a defining symptom of pretty much all addicted behaviour. If you want to just keep on with the HATING, that's your privilege, I guess, but if the desire is to have a less sick society, then please show a little compassion.
posted by philip-random at 11:37 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


please show a little compassion

Whatever is up with Tiger -- and like a lot of people, I'm truly disappointed to find out what has been happening behind the curtains of his public image -- I have to say the ones I feel most compassion for in this situation are his soon to be ex-wife and children. And I was also struck by the absence of any interest in them in this article . . . if Wise really has engaged in similar behavior himself, I'd hope by now he has some insight into the impact of it on the people who trusted and loved him.
posted by bearwife at 11:49 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


So men aren't allowed to say they understand a female perspective, and they aren't allowed to say that they don't understand a female perspective?
Well, you know how men can be.
posted by verb at 11:52 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've been a Mefite for about two months. I became a member because I was so impressed with the dialogue that I witnessed on most FPPs - how every angle is considered, including many new ones that hadn't occurred to me before, and how people here are generally loathe to judge...and those that do are quickly taken to task for it.

I'm glad I didn't see this comment thread back then.
posted by mreleganza at 11:53 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


mreleganza, there are a lot of threads where that is the case. For me, part of the fun of MeFi is figuring out just what it is that makes the collective lost its shit on specific hot-button topics. Not trolling, just... observatino of what qualities press the giant psychological red button for MeFi. Twitter? Palin? High Fructose Corn Syrup? Confessional-style op-ed pieces? There has to be a pattern.
posted by verb at 11:59 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Bearwife I agree. What I liked about this article is his call for an understanding of the larger culture that encourages men to cheat on their wives. I don't think Wise or Tiger need compassion, they need insight, which will happen once people stop their wimpy judgementalim and/or dismissive yukking and start examining their own attidtudes.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:04 PM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Tiger Woods was wiling to endorse products based on the illusion generated from his persona as a wunderkind. In the process, he cashed numerous checks to maintain a double life style.

Tiger, will not be the first public figure nor the last to have self control problems. I bet if Tiger, comes back to the golf course and win the PGA, the news about his infidelity will be stale news. I love Tiger for his golf skills. Golf as a sport needs Tiger Woods to generate publicity for the game.

The lesson from the Tiger Woods scandal is that we are all Tiger Woods(human beings) with different temptation.
posted by Yiba at 12:15 PM on December 26, 2009


To take Wise's charming example, when the billionaire schleps off with the breakfast waitress, what is the waitress thinking? She's probably not like one of Ozzy's groupies if she's bonking a hedge fund manager instead of a rock star.

I can hazard a guess or two: They're thinking about money. They're thinking about a temporary fling into a more expensive life. They're thinking about getting somewhere other than where they are. They're thinking about leveraging this encounter into something better. They're thinking about adventure. They're thinking about novelty. They're thinking about bragging rights. They're thinking about a diversion. They're thinking about having a better week than last week, which was boring. They're thinking that maybe this is what they've been waiting for. They're thinking about having sex without attachment. They're thinking about getting laid by a man who at least seems to be appreciating them and wooing them a little bit, unlike their boyfriend. They're thinking about a quickie on the side. They're thinking about an orgasm on clean, fine, hotel bedsheets.

I'm acquainted with a woman who had a one-night stand last year with a very famous musician (and not one who has a philandering reputation) while he was on tour. I can say with a certain degree of confidence that she was thinking about the biggest notch in her bedpost ever.
posted by jokeefe at 12:29 PM on December 26, 2009 [16 favorites]


This article is sort of silly, but so is all the coverage of Tiger Woods lately. Americans (like everyone on earth, though in their own way) are so obsessed with sex and "marital fidelity" that all they can talk about is whether Tiger Woods had sex with people. Everyone has sex with people, and I would have thought that having sex with people ought to be a mundane enough activity that people would quit rubbernecking about it all the time.

But Tiger is a different case from most. Tiger Woods' case is sort of a tragedy because Tiger Woods himself is an immoral and dishonest sports figure who deserves much more scrutiny than he actually gets. I don't care who he has sex with, but the sponsorships and business deals he's entered into have often been nothing short of despicable; but, apparently because political corruption and support of dictatorships are grand old American traditions, people seem to care more about whether Tiger Woods stuck his penis into somebody than about the fact, admitted by everybody and scrutinized by nobody, that during the brief week when Tiger was smiling for the cameras and lending his person image to the brutal regime of Fidel Ramos in the Phillipines in 1999, laughing, playing golf and shaking hands, three farmer-peasants who protested the government's theft of their land were murdered, and dozens more died before and after the event. Tiger Woods is big enough and closely affiliated enough with Chevron that he's found himself in situations like this, and yet the fact that Chevron, a multinational with very questionable operations in many countries, is a pretty awful company to be in bed with doesn't really occur to anybody. Tiger Woods clearly knows this, and of necessity must know that he's made himself a part of some really unfortunate injustice in the world; but he's never seemed to care.

A few people have been looking closer at Tiger for a number of years, but nobody ever cared. But leave it to the US media and their constituents - the moment there's sex, they're there in a heartbeat. Yet even now nobody seems to care that he's had such questionable business dealings with his corporate sponsors. I mean, think about this: Tiger designed a golf course in Dubai that was obviously built by slave labor - he knew that it would be built by slave labor - and yet his neat business trick of ignoring the ethical and political implications of his actions allowed him

I encourage everyone to watch the very informative 2002 documentary The Golf War, which very thoughtfully deals with the hard issues surrounding golf, environmental encroachment, and political repression in the Phillipines. There's also a good article summarizing these issues by C. L. Cole entitled "The Place of Golf in U.S. Imperialism."
posted by koeselitz at 12:55 PM on December 26, 2009 [20 favorites]


Forktine: No, they are still people. It's the constantly comparing women to commodities (alcohol, drugs, possessions) that is being critiqued here; suggesting that the commodity is what's in their pants, and the women are vendors of that commodity, isn't an analogy that works any better.

Without doubt, those concerns are fair, and I wish I could come up with a better way of putting things. Still, to suggest that chronic adultery is an addition is not to suggest that by his actions Tiger didn't hurt people - after all, people get hurt by addicts all the time. The author doesn't seem particularly proud of what he did, either. It is to suggest, however, that people who enable addiction for their own ends (money, fame, sex with a famous person, whatever) bear some responsibility. To me, it's far more objectifying to suggest Tiger's mistresses were so allured by his charms that they couldn't help participating in the activities which hurt his family.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 12:58 PM on December 26, 2009


Short version: Tiger Woods is a dishonest, immoral jerk. The sex thing doesn't matter at all, and it's obnoxious that everybody's focusing on it. What matters is that he's politically tied to despicable corporations and regimes in a way that an ethical person should be very uncomfortable with.
posted by koeselitz at 12:59 PM on December 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


When I saw this posted to the FP, I was sure that the bulk of the comments would be to excoriate Wise, and that most of those would be written by people who did not seem to have read the piece very closely.

I was not disappointed.
posted by lodurr at 1:10 PM on December 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


And, having read completely through that article, I have to say that it's just the standard version of the morally-confused bullshit constantly propagated by the US sports establishment. Whenever there's 'unfaithfulness,' we get all this obnoxious hand-wringing about oh gosh! the problem of SEX in sports! and whatever will we do about this chronic problem - athletes won't stop having SEX! - as though that were a problem at all. Here in the US, we can't seem to get over this and realize: there is nothing wrong with sex. So people at the peak of physical condition want to have sex with lots of people - so what? So people who are married want to have sex with lots of people - so what? All this pseudo-moral panic about "broken homes" and such is just evidence of the ridiculous assumption that sex is bad, and that if you're having sex you're probably hurting someone. And as a result, the people who are actually doing something wrong - the players who, say, lie to their wives (lying is wrong - having sex isn't wrong - so why does everybody seem to believe the opposite?) about whether they're having sex with lots of people, or players who can't seem to keep from committing crimes - as a result, the real injustices in sport don't get noticed.

And, of course, in this case, Tiger Woods, who is more than a little immoral in his choices with regards to his sponsorships, gets a lot of flack for sleeping with several women, something that really isn't at all wrong in and of itself. People write hand-wringing articles like this one about how brazen! and shameless! his sexual activities were - as though sex is something that a good person feels really ashamed about.

I guess it's a kind of justice when a truly guilty man gets hanged for a crime he didn't commit. An ironic sort of justice. But the injustice is, no one actually confronts the guilty man for his true crimes - and the sort of people who might commit those crimes in the future aren't taught that it's wrong to support brutal dictatorships, even if you're doing it through a sports sponsorship.
posted by koeselitz at 1:17 PM on December 26, 2009 [5 favorites]


Nothing can beat the scent of a woman? Yeah, women are an addiction, man. Women are like alcohol; women are like drugs.

No, women are, like, people, you asshat.
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:26 AM on December 26 [34 favorites +] [!]



Why this intolerance for a metaphorical flourish?
posted by Skygazer at 1:20 PM on December 26, 2009


first off, its golf, a sport -- if you can even call it that -- that has more to do with being able to afford the clubs, the guy to carry them, and the greens fees, than any kind of ability.

You can also buy a basketball and find a goal and have a shoot-a-round, or find a batting cage and take a few swings. The fact that you will suck doesn't mean it isn't a sport. If you believe that green fees and expensive clubs makes a golfer, you should probably leave 'sports' as a topic you're too ignorant to discuss.

Let him join OJ, and Jordan and Vick, and every other jagoff billionaire athlete out there in sentient Americans' hall of shame. Good riddance.

You seem nice.

Agree here that the grinding gears of metahate seem to have gone into automatic overdrive on this post for whatever reason.

Metafilter hates sports. I have no idea why. Maybe a lifetime of being picked last? Regardless, anything dealing with sports on metafilter will be picked apart with great glee. But reading comments by members that never watch/play/understand sports except when brought up on metafilter is great entertainment. It's like listening to my grandmother explain a football play (see, he took this leather covered thing, and he ran one way, and...)
posted by Dennis Murphy at 1:20 PM on December 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


I mean it's cheesy and cliched and macho sounding. Is that it?

And if it is, so what, I'd never use such a corny term, but I will fight to the death to allow this guy to sound as cheesy and corny and macho as he'd like. It tells the reader a lot.

*Grabs a helmet*
posted by Skygazer at 1:23 PM on December 26, 2009


the turgid sphere of sports writing.

What delmoi said. Sometime, somewhere, there was a sportswriter who was a great writer. Maybe it was Ring Lardner? Ever since, there has been this myth that sports writing is great writing. Sports writers seem to be the biggest proponents of this myth.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 1:25 PM on December 26, 2009


Metafilter hates sports. I have no idea why. Maybe a lifetime of being picked last?

Or maybe it's just confirmation bias?

There are heaps of sports-related posts, which are happily discussed. These are just the ones tagged with "sports"; there are more.

However, in a "your favourite pastime sucks" mode, amongst the discussion there will invariably be a proportion of people who think that all sports suck, or that all media attention to sports sucks, as well as a few who feel compelled to point out that the particular sport under discussion sucks.

So, I'd suggest that your confirmation bias picks up on these negative responses, and extrapolates them to a general level of hatred for sports.

(personally, i happen to think that golf is the most boring (pseudo-) sport in the world, even more stultifyingly mind-numbing than tennis. hell, i'd rather watch curling. but that total lack of interest in golf or tennis doesn't prevent me from looking forward to the second day of the boxing day cricket test match between australia & pakistan today...)
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:39 PM on December 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Maybe it was Ring Lardner?

wow, how did a porn star make the transition to sports writing?
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:39 PM on December 26, 2009


Yeah, those things are so mysterious. Unlike men, who are easier to understand and predict.
posted by swift

I was set to reply one way, then realized you weren't being sarcastic.
posted by vito90
Yep, I honestly think women are inscrutable objects. Thanks for catching my drift, man.
So men aren't allowed to say they understand a female perspective, and they aren't allowed to say that they don't understand a female perspective?
Men are allowed to do whatever they want, apparently.
posted by swift at 2:14 PM on December 26, 2009


What matters is that he's politically tied to despicable corporations and regimes in a way that an ethical person should be very uncomfortable with.

This I can HATE. Not the man himself (he's just a kid that's never been allowed to mature or think clearly about any of the issues surrounding his great and inimitable "TigerNess", except perhaps until now) but the great and loathsome hype machine that has repeatedly shoved him in my face to sell me crap I have no need for and which is not just bad for humanity, it's bad for all creation.
posted by philip-random at 2:17 PM on December 26, 2009


It's like listening to my grandmother explain a football play (see, he took this leather covered thing, and he ran one way, and...)
posted by timsteil at 2:28 PM on December 26, 2009


I Am Tiger Woods (And So Can You!)
posted by Evilspork at 2:37 PM on December 26, 2009


The man is a cheetah.
posted by buzzman at 2:44 PM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Nothing can beat the scent of a woman? Yeah, women are an addiction, man. Women are like alcohol; women are like drugs.

No, women are, like, people, you asshat.
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:26 AM on December 26 [34 favorites +] [!]


Why this intolerance for a metaphorical flourish?


Because it's a metaphorical flourish which objectifies women and blames them for being used. I doubt any of the women Tiger cheated with had to hold a gun to his head to get them to sleep with him. Heck, he actually paid for some them. WTF?

I don't begrudge Tiger's wanting to be player and indulge his apparently insatiable sexual appetite. I begrudge his engaging in player behavior while being married to a woman to whom he seemingly had given some expectation of monogamy and fidelity. I begrudge his constructing an utter and complete facade of being an honest husband and family man, whose word could be trusted in consideration of whether to buy the products he endorsed.

Granted, Tiger may have some chemical imbalance which he's been attempting to self-medicate by throwing his penis into a lot of women who aren't his wife. But he knew he didn't have to engage in this behavior, and he knows he chose to keep doing it at significant risk to the health and well-fare of both himself and his wife (and any other of the women who were having unprotected sex with him).

Tiger--at the moment anyway--is yet another pathetic human being who thought his particular non-essential but financially lucrative skill made him above rules of common decency and respect. I imagine all the adults involved in this mess will get through it relatively unscathed, after all, it's only sex. One can only hope his innocent children (who will likely lack for nothing except perhaps an honorable father) will have the same fate.

The man is a cheetah.
I see what you did there. But come on, let's not denigrate the lovely cheetahs.
posted by fuse theorem at 2:50 PM on December 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


And rather than endorsing the idea of treating women as commodities, Wise points out that they are real people, with real emotions, and that there are very real consequences for using them like this. Why else does he bring up Joe "They're all somebody's daughter' Dimaggio? Do you think he is endorsing those words?

The "you can't have sex with that woman because she's someone's daughter" sentiment is just another version of the same pious hand-wringing madonna-whore nonsense that seeks to infantilize grown women and deny them their own selfhood and agency. Joe Dimaggio was right: all women are daughters; so fucking what? Why shouldn't a 20 year old woman have had sex with Joe Dimaggio if that's what she wanted to do? Why shouldn't Tiger Woods have sexual encounters with any number of consenting adults for whatever reasons? Why does that necessarily constitute "using" them?

It's an addiction; it's an illness; it's an affliction; it's a lack of self-control; it's a betrayal; it's a sin; blah blah blah. Maybe it's a set of choices for which the participants bear responsibility for the risks, rewards, benefits, and consequences that ensue.

In short, what koeselitz said.
posted by FelliniBlank at 3:03 PM on December 26, 2009 [7 favorites]


another pathetic human being who thought his particular non-essential but financially lucrative skill made him above rules of common decency and respect

No, he's another guy that married the wrong someone, and is paying the price. She is paying the price, and the children are paying the price. This happens all the time to non-billionaires and non-sports writers.

It's not news and GYOB Mike.
posted by Frasermoo at 3:09 PM on December 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Dennis Murphy: “Metafilter hates sports. I have no idea why. Maybe a lifetime of being picked last? Regardless, anything dealing with sports on metafilter will be picked apart with great glee. But reading comments by members that never watch/play/understand sports except when brought up on metafilter is great entertainment. It's like listening to my grandmother explain a football play (see, he took this leather covered thing, and he ran one way, and...)”

That's unequivocally not true. Metafilter has had a whole bunch of really great sports threads. In particular, soccer threads are almost always interesting and engaging, and I can remember a number of cricket and rugby threads that were great. Even the baseball threads go great here, so it's not just a bias against American sport.

I think it's the fact that there's a lot of awful crap associated with American football and basketball right now, and a lot of unhealthy attitudes within a lot of other American sports. This article is a good example of those attitudes: it's amazingly negative about sex, and repeats all kinds of ridiculous old myths I would've thought we'd gotten past about sex being a shameful, evil thing.

lodurr: “When I saw this posted to the FP, I was sure that the bulk of the comments would be to excoriate Wise, and that most of those would be written by people who did not seem to have read the piece very closely.

I was not disappointed.”


That article is badly written; I don't know what hidden message we were supposed to see that we're missing. That "we're all sinners, victims of this awful impulse called SEX?" That "adultery is an addiction" or "adultery is a disease" or "adultery is an affliction plaguing our children, and we should all feel lucky if it hasn't struck us?" This is all just part of the mythology that says that adultery is some mysterious, horrific, mind-numbing terror, at the core of which is SEX. The truth is that adultery is harmful only insofar as it (sometimes) means LYING TO YOUR PARTNER. And that's the real danger - not an addiction to sex or a fall into a licentious lifestyle, but simple lying.

That article is full of this kind of crap. Look at this particularly egregious example, one that really, really pissed me off:

from article: “When I hear people say, ‘Look, it's not like he's an alcoholic or a drug addict; sleeping around is not going to kill Tiger,’ I cringe again. And think of the most extreme case of infidelity imaginable in sports, in which a beloved, church-going man [that is, Steve McNair] winds up with a bullet in his head, lying next to the woman who shot him before she took her own life last summer.”

I'm sorry, but this parallel is beneath despicable. The message Mike Wise is sending here is clear, so please don't gloss over it: he's saying that, when people try to point out that sex is just sex, that having sexual intercourse is clearly not as self- or other-destructive as becoming a drug addict or an alcoholic, his response is: no, enjoying sex with more that one person is more dangerous than drugs or alcohol - in fact, having sex can kill you. He says, in essence, that the desire for multiple sexual partners is what held a gun to Steve McNair's head and pulled the trigger. It is this kind of puritanical, holier-than-thou bullshit that keeps people in America from being honest with their partners. And frankly, this is the kind of thing that drives people like Steve McNair to consort secretly with people who might have violent tendencies; in a healthy world, Steve McNair would have had friends and family who knew where he was, who knew who he was with, and who had an interest in keeping him safe. It's people like Mike Wise who scare people like Steve McNair into keeping everything a secret.
posted by koeselitz at 3:31 PM on December 26, 2009 [8 favorites]


What's funny to me is that there's a possibility here, and in every "celebrity adultery scandal," that never occurs to anyone - and, amazingly, given the fact that women (even women who marry celebrities) aren't on the whole completely stupid, it's probably the most likely possibility. But there's so much shame involved that the careful PR machines these people have prevent them from telling the truth. Even so, I have to say that it would satisfy me very, very, very deeply if Tiger Woods' wife, say, or Ted Haggard's wife, or whoever else is the next "ADULTERER UNVEILED!" ... it would really, really be gratifying to me if that person's wife would hold a press conference the day after the story broke and said:

“Thank you for your concern about the recent allegations concerning my husband's sexual activities. I would like to make it clear that I know exactly where he is and what he's doing, and I don't really mind; he's my husband, and I love him. And he doesn't demand that I stay at home all alone when he's out of town, either, because he cares about me just as much. So I'd like it if everyone would please get their noses out of our sex lives; that's our business, thank you very much, and we're very happy the way we are.”

Unfortunately, in America, which still seems to be a Puritan country, that probably wouldn't play very well. Everyone columnist in the country would have their thesaurae open to "slut" before the press conference ended.

Do we really believe that all those wives of football and basketball players have no idea what's going on? And do we really believe that all of them are trapped in marriages, so that even if they know what's going on they could never leave? The likely conclusion seems to be that at least a large chunk of them don't mind. Why do we?
posted by koeselitz at 3:44 PM on December 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


koeselitz, I suspect you'll disagree, but to me it seems like in an attempt to counter hypocritical attitudes towards sex, you've gone way to far in the other direction -- assuming that sex is an activity that's completely cut off from all other aspects of being humon. Or that, if it isn't, then that's just due to unhealthy socializing. (Sorry if I've missed your point or miscategorized you. That's also possible.)

Yes, many people are Victorian about sex. And I sort of agree with you that the problem with adultery is lying, not sex. I've known many people in "open" and non-traditional relationships (and I've toyed with such stuff myself). I have no problem with any sort of sex people choose to have.

But even amongst open-minded people, free love often gets messy. I've seen it time and again. Why? Because most people are incapable of putting sex in a compartment by it self where it's just a fun activity. And what are the chances that this is just because they were brought up to think of sex as metaphorically loaded?

Sex is BOUND to be loaded. It's the key activity that human's engage in. It's what we're "built for" by our "selfish genes." Some people can have sex without messy feelings getting all mixed up with the act, but not many people, at least not in my experience.

For most of us, sex is not just sex. It is a fun AND a fraught activity. And because of that (because of the fraught part), it's dangerous. It's dangerous because it's often impossible to disentangle it from passion. In fact, many of us like it because it's linked to passion. But once any human activity gets linked to passion, it necessarily gets linked to danger. Sex has lead to real danger -- of the life and death kind -- throughout history in all cultures.

Being "Victorian" is a specific cultural response to a very real danger. There will always be some sort of Victorianism. There's no point in waiting around for people's thinking to get more advanced. The level of prudery and fear will wax and wane, and the way it expresses itself will differ from time to time. But as long as the plots of Italian Operas and Shakespeare plays are relevant, sex will be both exhilarating and scary.

In an attempt to keep the beast at bay, people will make promises. They will also break those promises. That is the human condition. Yes, it's about lying not sex. But it's also about sex. It's not just about run-of-the-mill lying. Adultery isn't the same as lying about spending the vacation money on power tools. It's special BECAUSE it's lying about sex.

There will always be some truly free people who will think everyone else is prudishly making a fuss about nothing. I've been in that camp. But that camp is based on some sort of utopian dream. It's based in denial of a simple, biological fact: people are animals. Watch two bucks fighting over a female deer some time. THAT'S what animals do.
posted by grumblebee at 3:59 PM on December 26, 2009 [7 favorites]


THIS ... IS ... SPARTA!
sorry

... deeper than bored, rich alpha males on the road for 270 days a year.

If he was so bored why didn't he visit sick children at a cancer ward or do some charity work?

And lastly ...

CO-ON-ON-QUEST!

he was out to make a conquest
didn't care what harm was done
just as long as he won
the prize

conquest!

she was just another conquest
didn't care whose heart was broke
love to him was a joke
until he looked into her eyes

and then in the strange way things happen
their roles were reversed from that day
the hunted became the huntress
the hunter became the prey

conquest!
posted by bwg at 4:20 PM on December 26, 2009


koeslitz you may be president of metatalk but yr the pope of crazytown here. This isn't about sex or Puritanism or free love. This is about _winning_. Men in sports and other manly cultures are celebrated, idolized, by their friends and peers for getting laid, married or not. That's what this is about-- the chase and the public display of masculinity and the adoration of a stranger. Sex addicts consume porn and prostitutes, men like Woods and Wise consume that secret feeling of triumph when their lips touch a new woman's--they could be eunuchs and still have a problem.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:26 PM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


There are waitresses who specialize in serving breakfast only? What a time to be alive.

Also: Belgian waffle, please.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:08 PM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Metafilter hates sports.

No, Metafilter hates dumb, and thus 99% of sportswriting.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:13 PM on December 26, 2009


politically tied to despicable corporations and regimes

"Regimes?" Tiger Woods support Myanmar? Sudan? I am genuinely curious what on Earth this could possibly mean.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:15 PM on December 26, 2009


Wait, this thread survived? Do you know how hard it was for me not to snark out of the gate? I've been reloading deletedthreads all day!
posted by cjorgensen at 5:34 PM on December 26, 2009


Another Christmas gone by, another Christmas in which I failed to find a breakfast waitress under the tree.

Will this deprivation go on forever?


Uh, Waffle House is open on Christmas morning. They're all at work.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:38 PM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I wrote:

"...nowhere do I get the idea that he has come to regard them as human beings who might have had their own reasons etc..."

And then marmaduke_yaverland quoted me, and followed up:

This doesn't really wash. It's an article about Woods, not the people he became involved with.

I would just like to clarify that my comment wasn't about Tiger Woods at all. My comment was about Mike Wise, the author of the linked article, based on the content of the article.
posted by localroger at 5:43 PM on December 26, 2009


drjimmy11: “‘Regimes?’ Tiger Woods support Myanmar? Sudan? I am genuinely curious what on Earth this could possibly mean.”

The principality of Dubai and the corrupt administration in the Philippines. In both situations, Tiger was not only a "friend of the government" invited on unofficial business but an active supporter of the very things which made those governments unjust. We're not talking about a guy who just let them use his face - we're talking about a guy who stood there at the very events that were occasions for the enslavement and repression of human beings, and said not a word about it.

It's one thing to have an extraneous deal with Shell, even though you know they're a fairly corrupt multinational. It's something entirely different to travel at the behest of Chevron and play PR buddies with questionable governments engaged in outright injustice in ways that are pretty much tied directly to that injustice.

I'm serious - please go find a copy of The Golf War. At one point at a press conference, an intrepid reporter actually asked Tiger how he felt about the fact that the golf course he was playing on in the Philippines had been built at the expense of several murdered peasants. His chilling dismissal was: "This is just golf... It's not a matter of life and death." Actually, it demonstrably was a matter of life and death, and it's more than a little unethical to be so involved on the death end. Tiger Woods knew exactly what he was doing there - and the fact that he went on to directly support the use of slave labor in Dubai by designing a slave-built golf course there demonstrates that he really didn't care.
posted by koeselitz at 5:57 PM on December 26, 2009


Being "Victorian" is a specific cultural response to a very real danger. ...

Which brings to mind a question: where did those Victorian mores come from? The church? Darwin? A response to various and virulent venereal infections?

Historical experts, please weigh in.
posted by philip-random at 5:57 PM on December 26, 2009


That's a good question, philip-random. I'm not historian enough to answer it. But assuming you're talking about American "Victorianism," I do know that part of 20th-Century American history is a pendulum swinging back and forth between liberal and conservative attitudes towards sex. Both are reacting against each other, and it would be hard to tease out cause and effect.

The 1920s were famously naughty. The 50s and 60s were conservative. The late 60s rebelled with the free-love movement. The religious right rose in power partly in response to that. Now we're debating and legalizing gay marriage. (Random forces, such as World Wars and the AIDS epidemic, also have an effect.)

People, living in their own time, enmeshed in their own time's myopia, tend to see permanent forward or backward momentum.

My guess is that there are people now who feel that if we legalize gay marriage, that will further us down a path that can only go in one direction. (Some people it's a bad direction; other people think it's good.) I doubt that's true. Attitudes will change but not forever in one direction.

Bottom line: at any given moment in history, liberalism or conservatism will be on top of the hill, but both attitudes are with us to stay.

There's some compelling research that points towards two (of several) inborn ethics being devotion to fairness and devotion to bodily purity. For some people, the passion for one outweighs passion for the other. (Conservatives care more about purity; liberals care more about fairness.) The human condition is a tug between the two. Saying one will win out over the other is like saying that optimists will win out over pessimists or vice versa.
posted by grumblebee at 6:51 PM on December 26, 2009


koeselitz: Thanks for catching the bit about Steve McNair. That paragraph stood out for me also, for different reasons: In the rest of the article, Wise seems to suggest that you shouldn't cheat on your wife because it's wrong (whether because of the sex or the lying); this paragraph makes it sound like you shouldn't cheat because it's just so dangerous - which (a) is a much more selfish motivation, (b) promotes the nasty Fatal Attraction myth that women are just so crazy, and (c) is about as plausible as reefer madness.
posted by anshuman at 6:57 PM on December 26, 2009


The "you can't have sex with that woman because she's someone's daughter" sentiment is just another version of the same pious hand-wringing madonna-whore nonsense that seeks to infantilize grown women and deny them their own selfhood and agency.

That never means "you can't have sex with that woman because she's some mother's daughter," though. Whenever I've heard someone quoting it, they're referring to how upset the father might hypothetically be.

Being "Victorian" is a specific cultural response to a very real danger.

Being "Victorian" meant that middle-class and upper-middle class women were denied any sexual agency, while working-class and poor women were treated as prostitutes whether or not they intended to participate in sex work. Being "Victorian" meant nearly 1/3 of the British Army being treated for syphilis and/or gonorrhea during their service. Being "Victorian" meant participating in a constant cognitive dissonance around women as either angels or whores.

Read Steven Marcus's The Other Victorians as an intro to what "Victorian" ideas of sexuality were really about. They were about economic class stratification and treating women as property, on the whole. Someone like Gladstone, who had a strong interest in offering poor and working-class women alternatives to sex work, was seen as a crank.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:01 PM on December 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


Being "Victorian" meant nearly 1/3 of the British Army being treated for syphilis and/or gonorrhea during their service.

Sorry about the confusion, but I meant contemporary "Victorian" attitudes (in America), not the ones that were in practice during the reign of Queen Victoria.
posted by grumblebee at 7:14 PM on December 26, 2009


Sorry about the confusion, but I meant contemporary "Victorian" attitudes (in America), not the ones that were in practice during the reign of Queen Victoria.
Like Sidhedevil said...
posted by verb at 7:27 PM on December 26, 2009


Like Sidhedevil said...

So in contemporary America, middle-class and upper-middle class women are denied ANY sexual agency?
posted by grumblebee at 7:32 PM on December 26, 2009


This was awfully written, trite and completely lacking in insight. Not all adultery or infidelity or just plain "sleeping around" is sex addiction. The difference between sex addictions and most other addictions is that sex addictions are basically what our pleasure systems were designed to get us to do. It may not be "nice" to sleep with as many people as possible and cheat on your wife-- but it sure is a good strategy to make sure lots of your genes get passed on to the next generation.

Given this, there's no need to look for "he must've been abused as a child" "he must be self medicating some deep hurt" or any other hidden motivation: plain old evolutionary psychology 101 will answer why successful men sleep around better than anything else.

Evolutionary explanations may not always be helpful-- but in this case, I think Occam's razor applies: why do we need to explain why successful men do this? It's what the highest status members of any species do. What we really need to explain is why some men (and high status women under different circumstances) *don't*.

It's really lame for this guy to argue that any successful guy who sleeps around must be in great psychic pain that makes him like an out of control dope fiend-- how the hell does he know? Just because that's how he chooses to explain his own misbehavior doesn't make it universally true. The fact that addicts often take drugs to self-medicate pain doesn't obviate the fact that a far greater number of drug users take drugs because they are fun.

He doesn't make an argument-- he just states as fact a great deal of groundless projection and speculation.
posted by Maias at 7:33 PM on December 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


Sorry about the confusion, but I meant contemporary "Victorian" attitudes (in America), not the ones that were in practice during the reign of Queen Victoria.

Why would you use that term for that meaning? I've often heard it referred to as as "puritanism" but Victorianism goes much farther then that.
Which brings to mind a question: where did those Victorian mores come from? The church? Darwin? A response to various and virulent venereal infections?
I think there was a post the other day about some research into pre-Victorian sex clubs, which were all the rage apparently.
posted by delmoi at 7:38 PM on December 26, 2009


So in contemporary America, middle-class and upper-middle class women are denied ANY sexual agency?
I mean the contemporary, generally accepted meaning of 'agency.'

[/snark]
posted by verb at 7:42 PM on December 26, 2009


Even so, I have to say that it would satisfy me very, very, very deeply if Tiger Woods' wife, say, or Ted Haggard's wife, or whoever else is the next "ADULTERER UNVEILED!" ... it would really, really be gratifying to me if that person's wife would hold a press conference the day after the story broke and said:

“Thank you for your concern about the recent allegations concerning my husband's sexual activities. I would like to make it clear that I know exactly where he is and what he's doing, and I don't really mind; he's my husband, and I love him. And he doesn't demand that I stay at home all alone when he's out of town, either, because he cares about me just as much. So I'd like it if everyone would please get their noses out of our sex lives; that's our business, thank you very much, and we're very happy the way we are.”

Unfortunately, in America, which still seems to be a Puritan country, that probably wouldn't play very well. Everyone columnist in the country would have their thesaurae open to "slut" before the press conference ended.
If she really felt that way, would she have chased him down the drive way with a golf club?
posted by delmoi at 7:48 PM on December 26, 2009


Why would you use that term for that meaning? I've often heard it referred to as as "puritanism" but Victorianism goes much farther then that.

I didn't make it up. I don't know who did. I've heard many people use "Victorian" in this way -- as a metaphor for prudery. I've been hearing it used that way for at least 30 years. I thought putting the word in quotes was enough to make my usage clear. I was wrong.

I suspect that the reason people use "Victorian" for contemporary prudery is because the common attitude is the freer 20th-Century mores are a reaction against Victorian mores. But, perhaps, we've escaped fewer of them than we think we have.
posted by grumblebee at 7:55 PM on December 26, 2009


By the way: Not that I'm following this story, but it's kind of impossible to ignore. But it really seems like Tiger wasn't so much a sex addict as he was a Love addict. It really seems like he wanted these women to be in love with him, not just enjoy sleeping with him. He was always telling them things like that he was going to leave his wife, some of them felt betrayed, and so on.

Like this article "Tiger pounced on my hot girlfriend", makes it seem like he was jealous of her boyfriend, for example.
posted by delmoi at 7:57 PM on December 26, 2009


I think there was a post the other day about some research into pre-Victorian sex clubs, which were all the rage apparently.

What fascinates me is that this would surprise anybody. I would be really surprised if there was any time in history when there weren't sex clubs.

I can't get worked up when someone like Woods gets caught with his pants down, because it's part of my world view that, of course, people will always cheat and engage in deviant sex (while at the same time have prudish attitudes towards many sexual practices).

I'm not saying that all people cheat. I'm saying that no period in time is free from people who cheat. And no section of society, including famous athletes, is going to be a cheating-free segment of society. Expecting our icons not to cheat is expecting them not to be human.

Obama cheats on his wife. Sam Waterston is attracted to little boys. Venus Williams is a furry.

I don't know if any of the above claims are true, but you shouldn't be surprised if they turn out to be true. People are people.
posted by grumblebee at 8:07 PM on December 26, 2009


People sure are classy, aren't they? From the "hot girlfriend" link above:

"She was 20, and I said, 'You've got to get a condo out of this,' " the mother said, "and she said, 'Oh, no, I can't do that to Tiger.' "
posted by Forktine at 8:29 PM on December 26, 2009


This has been an interesting thread.

And I've mostly been trying to avoid any news about Tiger's shenanigans, because every time I've heard more news, I get the mental image of the repeated use of "Who's your caddy?"
posted by lilywing13 at 8:47 PM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


So in contemporary America, middle-class and upper-middle class women are denied ANY sexual agency?

No. But there's still a strong angel/whore doublethink, and the more "Victorian" people are, the more they deny women's sexual agency, at least from where I sit.

The other point I was making is that this question of philip-random's--A response to various and virulent venereal infections?--interestingly exposes the counterproductiveness of Victorian and "Victorian" mores. Sexually transmitted disease rates were incredibly high in Victorian England, and the reason is that sexual repression and doublethink fosters the transmission of disease and hinders its treatment.

Also, I was confused by the scare quotes in this instance, g'bee--I thought you were using them to indicate that 19th century America wasn't ruled by Queen Victoria, not that you were talking about modern-day prudery that was based on popular misconceptions about Victorian England.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:52 PM on December 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


As for "Puritan" morality around sex, a look at the Massachusetts Bay Colony marriage and birth records shows that 10% to 20% of women had children within five months of marriage, which would suggest that at least 20% to 40% of women had premarital sex, even assuming that zero women were infertile and zero couples used contraception.

O felix nimium prior aetas, or not.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:57 PM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Venus Williams is a furry ... you shouldn't be surprised if [it] turn out to be true.

THIS WOULD SURPRISE ME.
posted by delmoi at 9:12 PM on December 26, 2009


Unfortunately, in America, which still seems to be a Puritan country, that probably wouldn't play very well.

One's sexual mores are a personal decision. Telling someone their sexual mores are "wrong" is like telling them that they are "wrong" for preferring hamburgers or hot dogs. Literally, there isn't an inch of difference between you condeming "puritans" and those same "puritans" from condemning Tiger Woods. As I like to say, is there some sort of gigantic stone tablet circling Jupiter which gives the "rules" of what we are objectively supposed to believe about sex? No. Their "puritan" mores are no better and no worse than your so-called "liberated" mores. Condemning people for what they believe about sex cuts both ways.

As for Tiger and Elin, this is really their business. But a larger discussion is really needed about all this. I read a lot of AskMe and I see a lot of people asking "am I crazy for wanting X from my partner?" and vice-versa. There are no fucking rules other than don't fuck the unwilling or children. People are free to establish whatever relationships they want. That's why a new paradigm of negotiation is needed. Asking for what you want may "spoil the magic" of some sexual relations, but it sure saves a whole lot of heartbreak later on. If somebody agrees not to do something and then does it, then you know that person is less likely to be able to really give you what you want.

The real problem isn't that we aren't hard-wired for monogamy, the problem is we are hard-wired for "monogamy for you and I fuck who I want." There are two main ways to rationally deal with this--a deal where both parties agree not to have sex with others in order to spare the feelings of the partner whose lizard brain becomes upset at the thought of their mate with another (and to limit who could get pregnant by whom), or an agreement whereby the parties agree to allow one another to have sex with others, with the parties coping with the emotional fallout. One emphasizes limiting the emotional fallout of the painful reaction, the other emphasizes sexual freedom over the painful experience of being aware that another has had sexual relations with someone that our lizard brain wants to limit sexual access to. In both models, cheating is breaking the ground rules.

Applying this to Mr. Woods and Ms. Nordgren, it appears, according to Mr. Woods, that he broke the sexual rules they had as a couple, whatever those rules might be.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:10 PM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


is there some sort of gigantic stone tablet circling Jupiter which gives the "rules" of what we are objectively supposed to believe about sex...There are no fucking rules other than don't fuck the unwilling or children.

Does not compute: seems that the tablet says "do not fuck the unwilling or children", and that by this standard there are indeed objectively "wrong" cultures both today and historically.

You can't have it both ways.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:44 PM on December 26, 2009


Wrong or just different? Celebrate the differences or educate the savages?

Child brides, bride kidnapping.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:51 PM on December 26, 2009


man i am really getting tired of all the nitpicking of language for hidden sexism and whiteknighting
posted by tehloki at 10:51 PM on December 26, 2009


Ironmouth: “One's sexual mores are a personal decision. Telling someone their sexual mores are "wrong" is like telling them that they are "wrong" for preferring hamburgers or hot dogs. Literally, there isn't an inch of difference between you condeming "puritans" and those same "puritans" from condemning Tiger Woods. As I like to say, is there some sort of gigantic stone tablet circling Jupiter which gives the "rules" of what we are objectively supposed to believe about sex? No. Their "puritan" mores are no better and no worse than your so-called "liberated" mores. Condemning people for what they believe about sex cuts both ways.”

I think we're actually of the same mind on most points here. However:

Sexual predilections and sexual mores are two very separate things. Both may be the result of a choice of the individual, but mores affect more than just the individual and her or his intimate partners' inner life. Mores demand that we judge others - they demand that we say "what that person is doing is right" and "what that person is doing is wrong." And, yes, I am criticizing the mores which a lot of people seem to hold, mores which lead them to stand in judgment over the sexual predilections of others. I think that does a tremendous amount of damage, and yes, it angers me.

To put it more concretely: this article doesn't offer any solutions or human explanations. It only demands that we feel some sympathy for men, public figures, who have "fallen from grace." And I should say that I feel some kinship toward that project, that project of trying to see men in high places who "fall from grace" not as sick bastards or immoral creeps or as filthy louts but as actual human beings, people who deserve some fellow-feeling. My problem with it is that I think that Mike Wise's essay aiming to elicit sympathy for these men who certainly don't deserve the scorn they're treated to right now is that I think it's really half-formed; it attempts to ease the condemnation somewhat, but in doing so proceeds to damn these men with faint condemnation, with a sort of sappy after-school-special attitude of forlorn pity that such secure, well-thinking middle-class sops usually reserve for "the poor wayward drug dealer" or "Suzie the sad, misguided prostitute."

I know it's well-meaning, but it does real, lasting damage. Encouraging people to pity men who "fall from grace" only drives the very cult which worships the very image of falling from grace even further. In America, this is a kind of mythology; we seem to have this quasi-religious veneration of the icon of the wayward husband which is driven by a whole host of heartily malignant lies that our hands fervidly clutch to our breasts. The two principle lies are: first, that sex is a tragic force pulling us downward; and second, that this tragic sexual force is particularly a male power of which females are utterly aloof. Think about this for a moment: despite the fact that women seem to "cheat" on their spouses just as often as men do [cite] can you remember the last time you heard about a high-profile woman, a woman in a public position, who "fell from grace" when it was discovered that she'd been sleeping with someone else? It's amazing - I can't even think of a single example of a woman whom the "fall from grace" trope has been applied to, who has been forced to apologize publicly to her husband and children for letting them down, who has been excoriated and virtually pilloried in the press through implications of perversion. This is something our society doesn't do to women, and while I'm not suggesting that we should do it to anybody I do think that it's pretty obviously indicative of sexism and injustice when things are so one-sided in this way.

And, in case we need to be reminded of this fact, sexism never hurts just one sex; it hurts both. The fantastic damage this kind of propaganda does to men is, I think, very difficult to even begin to comprehend. Young men grow up in our society taught to believe that sex is something they want, but that women distinctly do not want, not if they're 'normal' women; that sex is in all of us men a borderline addiction, a habit we need to keep in careful check if we want to have healthy partnerships and marriages and so on; that the greatest sin of all, a sin which is a betrayal of our partners, our families, our friends, and in a sense everyone who knows us, is the sin of having sex with the wrong person at the wrong time. And maybe the most painful part of that, interestingly enough, is the fact that, in the midst of the burgeoning self-doubt and even self-loathing that all this has inspired in them, our society whispers in the ears of young men that women are better than all that stuff, that women are above wanting sex, that sex is a lower desire which they, radiant creatures that they are, don't feel any urges about naturally. Unless they have so-called "daddy issues;" see? - even in the rare cases when a female wants sex, it's always the fault of a male somewhere. I say that's the most painful part because, even if they believed all that other stuff about sex being bad, if young men could only see the reality - that women want to have sex just as often, do foolish things for sex just as often, and cheat on their spouses just as often - I think they could gain a measure of comfort that would really help them, and the sexes would be brought closer together. But as it is, instead of seeing women as fellows, mates, and partners, equally sexual, equally set in the thick of life hoping to wade through it, young men are raised to have an inborne paranoia which prevents them from ever being honest with a woman about their inner lives, and especially their sexual lives.

And after all this - when men are flat-out afraid to express their sexual inner lives to women - is it really so odd that we've become used to the story of these all-too-common men who frantically seeks to hide their searches for sexual satisfaction?

Maybe I'm seeing this in entirely too particular and individual a light, and maybe seeing my family and childhood home and thinking about growing up over this weekend has made this all too personal for me, but I can't help but see it this way: we have to change the way we talk about these things. We have to forcibly change our reaction to "wayward males;" hand-wringing only damages us further. In short, when we hear about a guy who goes out of his way to have a big, secret sex live that is vivid and imaginative, we have to stop being judgmental and cruel. Our reaction has to be: "oh, you want to do that kind of thing? That's cool - whatever you want, it's your life. Just be honest to the people around you and stay safe, and whatever you do is all right." I know it's not likely for the media to start responding to celebrities that way, but men, especially young men, ought to hear this message from somewhere, because it's not something they hear much if they ever hear it at all.
posted by koeselitz at 12:48 AM on December 27, 2009 [10 favorites]


For those who just checked in, I'll summarize: 'oh noes! puritans!'
posted by lodurr at 7:40 AM on December 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


And I should say that I feel some kinship toward that project, that project of trying to see men in high places who "fall from grace" not as sick bastards or immoral creeps or as filthy louts but as actual human beings, people who deserve some fellow-feeling.

There are two great, ongoing human projects which help us deal with "sin." One of them is called melodrama and the other, unfortunately, doesn't have a name (to the best of my knowledge). For the sake of shorthand, I'll call it psychological drama (though I'm unhappy with that name).

When someone hurts us (e.g. cheats on us or assaults us), we can either see the "bad guy" as a force of nature or a fully-endowed human. Psychological drama, which delves deeply into background and motivation, encourages the former; Melodrama, in which bad guys are simply evil assholes, encourages the latter.

To me, it's silly to consider one of these forms superior to the other. Their longevity and co-existence implies that they are both necessary. And there are amazing literary examples of both.

What's interesting to me is that they are, in a sense, mutually exclusive. When someone needs melodrama, he (usually) must bar psychological drama. When someone needs psychological drama, he (generally) finds melodrama childishly simplistic and worthless.

In discussions like this, whenever anyone brings up the psychology, others (ones in a melodramatic frame of mind) get offended. "Why did Hitler murder all those people?" they ask. "Because he was an evil bastard. That's why!" They don't want to hear any psychological explanation, because, to one who needs melodrama, motivational thinking and humanizing is a form of EXCUSING.

Quite a few people here have accused Wise of EXCUSING Woods, even though Wise claims to not be doing this. If you need melodrama, you are probably going to see ANY attempt to excusing in any attempt to psychologically probe a bad guy.

I love both forms, but I'm more of a Chekovian than a Dickensian. I think of everyone as having reasons for what they're doing -- reasons rooted in genetics or post-birth history/biography. To me, learning about those reasons has nothing (necessarily) to do with excusing, though I am more apt to sympathize with the bad guy if I know what makes him tick than if I don't.

(For reasons I can't explain, humanizing bad guys is cathartic to me even when I'm the victim of their crimes. This is apt to be utterly baffling to someone who needs melodrama, and I admit that I can't explain it myself, but I find it comforting to humanize the Nazis who killed many members of my family. Maybe it's because I'm scared of living in a world filled with monsters, and humanizing allows me to live, instead, in a world filled with -- well -- humans.)

Reading the article, I sympathize with Wise. However, I don't excuse what he did. I do the same thing with myself. I'm fond of navel gazing, and so I have theories about almost all of my own motivations. I've done plenty of bad things in my life. And I think I understand why I did them. However, I don't excuse myself for doing them. Does understanding my own psychology make me less of a shit? No. It just makes me know what I am a shit.

To me -- a guy who likes psychological drama -- Wise's essay doesn't seem like he's excusing himself. It seems like he's saying "I'm a shit and here's why." To someone who prefers (needs) melodrama, the very act of saying "why" is necessarily making an excuse. It's claiming that the bad guy is not fully responsible for his actions. How could he help being a shit when his mother was so cold to him as a child?

A fascinating example of the tug between melodrama and psychological drama is "A Clockwork Orange." The genesis of that book is a real-life incident. Anthony Burgess and his wife were assaulted in their home by thugs. He set out to write a melodrama about it, one told from the point of view of the victims in which the assailants were evil forces. But his novelist instincts lead him to explore the psychology of the bad guys, and at some point he flipped his thinking and wrote the whole book from the villain's perspective. (I suspect, but can't prove, that something similar happened to Shakespeare when he wrote "The Merchant of Venice.")

I am afraid that we're stuck in a world in which there will always be both melodrama and psychological drama -- and I hope it's clear that I'm not just talking about fiction; I'm also talking about the way we talk and think about criminals and sinners. And we're also stuck in a world in which those two forms, or at least the mental states of the people who are consuming them, are incompatible.

If you insist that Hitler was a person (which you may need to do), know that you'll anger a large number of people who NEED to seem him as a monster; if you insist that he's monster (which you may need to do), be sure that you'll frustrate those of us who don't believe in monsters.
posted by grumblebee at 9:06 AM on December 27, 2009 [19 favorites]


Nicely put, grumblebee.

You reference Shakespeare. I think what you're getting at when you say "psychological drama" is Tragedy (ie: potentially great men/women brought down not by external forces but their own inner failings such as greed, envy, pride, selfishness, lust etc).

As for those who NEED Hitler to be a monster, I'm much less charitable than you. This need for melodramatic explanations for real people and their real "inhuman" actions is immature at best and thus deeply unwise. Because if there's any hope for us (humanity) we need to understand the root of human evil. Please note that this does not mean we need to condone it.

So, to take things back to the Tiger. It's good, I think, to take the time to NOT see him as some smirking, hypocritical, lying monster. But rather, he's a sad and foolish and deeply immature boy-man whose admittedly private actions have caused nothing but hurt and frustration to those who know him. Be f**ing angry at him and the culture that encouraged his assholism. Just don't hate him.
posted by philip-random at 10:21 AM on December 27, 2009


man i am really getting tired of all the nitpicking of language for hidden sexism and whiteknighting

Well, I'm getting tired of sexism. And it's not hiding from me very well, either.

Also sick of the dudebro attitude that sexism's no big deal.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:39 AM on December 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


Literally, there isn't an inch of difference between you condeming "puritans" and those same "puritans" from condemning Tiger Woods.

So you're condemning people for condemning people for condemning people.

How many iterations does it take before it's OK? I'm assuming three is good for you.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 10:56 AM on December 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


condemnation is judgment. judgment is boring. no number of iterations will change this.
posted by philip-random at 11:07 AM on December 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


One's sexual mores are a personal decision. Telling someone their sexual mores are "wrong" is like telling them that they are "wrong" for preferring hamburgers or hot dogs. Literally, there isn't an inch of difference between you condeming "puritans" and those same "puritans" from condemning Tiger Woods.

Only if you focus on the condemnation aspect, and not on the purpose of the condemnation.

Puritans condemning Tiger are doing so in order to control, to assert that he - and others - should follow their particular subjective mores.

Condemning puritans is a reminder that our sexual mores are a personal decision, and that they should get their rosaries off our ovaries, their bells off our balls.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:12 AM on December 27, 2009


You reference Shakespeare. I think what you're getting at when you say "psychological drama" is Tragedy (ie: potentially great men/women brought down not by external forces but their own inner failings such as greed, envy, pride, selfishness, lust etc).

I can't possibly prove this, but I believe that the "atomic units" of narrative are melodrama and X -- X being what I've (unfortunately) called "psychological drama." (Unfortunately because it wrongly implies that psychology is absent from melodrama. In fact, it's generally present but in a simple, cartoon-like form.)

By "atomic units" I mean three things:

1. The forms don't mix well. They are not totally atomic in this sense. I have seen a few interesting hybrids (e.g. "Merchant of Venice"), but it's pretty hard to make a story in which the bad guy is both a pure evil force-of-nature and a nuanced, psychologically deep character at the same time.

2. They are both well-honed forms. Both have existed at least since the time of the ancient Greeks.

3. They contain all other genres, e.g. a Mystery or a Sci-fi novel is in a sub-genre of melodrama or psychological drama (or an attempt to sit in both camps).

I would also claim (without proof), as I did above, that the two forms give us the two things we most need from narrative: belonging and independence: "we are all in this together" vs. "it's me against the world."

I would call tragedy a sub-category (though definitely a sub-category of psychological drama). "Midsummer Night's Dream" is, to my mind, a psychological drama (it's definitely not a melodrama), even though it's a comedy.
posted by grumblebee at 11:56 AM on December 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


As for those who NEED Hitler to be a monster, I'm much less charitable than you. This need for melodramatic explanations for real people and their real "inhuman" actions is immature at best and thus deeply unwise.

Yes, but how far do you take this? Do you expect (or hope) someone who has just been raped to think of the rapist as a fully-nuanced person? That strikes me as unhealthy. I suggest we allow victim to cling to melodrama but keep them from making policy.

If someone murders my wife, sorry, but I'm going to think of him as an evil monster -- maybe not forever but for quite some time. It's something I NEED to do. But if the murderer is caught, I shouldn't be the one responsible for deciding his fate.
posted by grumblebee at 11:59 AM on December 27, 2009


George Gilder was a prophet.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:32 PM on December 27, 2009


if the murderer is caught, I shouldn't be the one responsible for deciding his fate.

That's exactly the principle behind impersonal justice. Experiments have shown that people discount the pain of others against their own, so revenge always results in a cycle of escalation. Taking justice out of the hands of the injured party, and putting it into the hands of a disinterested third party was one of the major advances of human society.

Unfortunately, we seem to be drifting away from it in this country.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 12:51 PM on December 27, 2009


George Gilder was a prophet.
Huh. Really? IMO he was just another apologist for the systems people are talking about in this thread. But that's another topic, I'm guessing...
posted by verb at 1:22 PM on December 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I suggest we allow victim to cling to melodrama but keep them from making policy.

Yup, clinging to a given melodrama disqualifies one from partaking in policy on that particular issue. I could vote for that. This, of course, would disqualify me from dealing out justice to certain music-biz big wigs when their time comes.
posted by philip-random at 1:58 PM on December 27, 2009


The majority of people (at least the majority of people I meet) cling to melodrama when they think about folks opposite them on the political spectrum.

Conservatives tend to think of Liberals as forces of evil; Liberals tend to think of Conservatives the same way. (Or they think of each other as stupid, which is just another way of not allowing a person full person-hood.) Basically, Liberals are baby killers and Conservatives want poor people to starve.

I've written on MeFi before about how I stay away from politics (and how I wrestle with the ethics of keeping my head in the sand). I've realized lately that the main reason I'm apolitical is because I don't view politics as melodrama. Worse, I can't tolerate the melodramatic view (which I'll admit is a prejudice, but I don't know how to overcome it.) I turn off as soon as I hear one side making a villain of the other. And the fact that I refuse to participate in the melodrama of either side makes me a friend of no one.

I learned the hard way that it's pointless (or worse) to try to explain (excuse!) the Conservative view point to Liberals in a way that pushes the philosophy that Conservatives are people. And the same is true the other way around. Almost no one wants to hear it. Melodrama IS the official story.

I don't mean to wax on about myself, but it's an illustration of how one way of seeing the world (melodramatically or the opposite) blocks the other way. I'm as blocked as my political friends. We're just on opposite sides of the block.
posted by grumblebee at 2:34 PM on December 27, 2009


Wow, I had never ever heard of George Gilder until this thread. His Wikipedia entry is just jawdropping... it starts off pretty low-key, with the blue-blood upbringing and the speechwriting and the supply-side standard-bearing... I was starting to wonder what tangential relationship he could possibly have to this thread...

But then things kick into a full IMAX 3D Cinerama blockbuster, as he models himself after Joan Didion, fights daycare legislation, writes a book sponsored by FedEx and reviewed by David Foster Wallace, buys The American Spectator from that scientist dude from Blade Runner (or the police chief, can't recall now) and then sells it right back, and coins Arbeit Macht Frei for a new generation.

The only thing that has blown my mind this hard in the last year was the bit in last month's Harper's about Bernard von NotHaus.

Between these guys and Michael Savage, it's hard to tell what really happened in the Sixties. I'm beginning to think the Moon Landing was real and Woodstock was faked. There can't possibly be any topic that's not related to George Gilder!
posted by Rat Spatula at 8:15 PM on December 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow, is this just a Rorschach test of a story for many people? I don't care about Tiger Woods and IMHO his personal life should be his business, but as far as this column goes.. I agree that writing (poorly) about women like they aren't even people is kind of gross.

I wonder if Wise is doing Woods a favor by classifying his behavior as an addiction, which carries with it the implication that Woods doesn't want to behave this way but simply can't stop himself and gives him a familiar path to redemption in the public eye - eg, go to rehab or whatever. Whereas if Woods just wants to sleep around a lot and only cares about this becoming public insofar as it stops him from making money... I don't care, but I guess his sponsors aren't going to keep him on board unless he pretends to be all contrite and not do it anymore.

Metafilter hates sports. I have no idea why. Maybe a lifetime of being picked last?

lol. I love sports. But sports are sports. It seems to me that bad sportswriting spends time whipping up melodrama that doesn't have much to do with what happens on the field/green/track/etc. If I was big on melodrama I'd follow "sports entertainment," isn't that what Vince McMahon calls it?
posted by citron at 12:18 AM on December 28, 2009


I AM IRON MAN.

He needs to go on Tool Academy. It worked for Jamie Grubbs.
posted by stormpooper at 7:09 AM on December 28, 2009


Another spoiled brat with no self control, whining about poor pitiful him. As if he is the victim. Yeah, you're the victim, because you chose not to think of anyone but yourself. You're the victim - of your own immaturity and selfishness.

I think not.

I like chocolate. If I eat too much chocolate, I will get fat. It's not the chocolate's fault, it's not a sickness, it's because I have no self discipline and no self control, and no one should pity me, they should look at me with disgust, because I'm a loser who refuses to take any kind of personal responsibility.

Why do people even give these idiots time and space to wallow in self pity in public? At least Tiger has had the decency to be embarrassed, and not try to justify what he did by calling it a sickness. Lack of self control isn't a sickness, it's a character flaw. There, I said it. And I don't care what anyone says by way of excuse, it's still not going to change the fact that it's a character flaw, not an illness. You don't catch infidelity by not washing your hands.

Next up, let's all complain about how it's the TV's fault that we sit on our butts watching it when we should be doing other things.
posted by fairywench at 8:18 AM on December 28, 2009


And for the record, I really don't care what happened to him in the past, that "caused" him to do this. We all have things in our past. Some people become determined to overcome their past, and some people wallow in it. I have no patience for wallowers. And I'll put my crappy childhood up against anyone's. It included regular physical and mental abuse. I never saw that as an excuse to hurt others. Wallowers use their past as an excuse to do whatever they want, regardless of who they hurt.

I'm sure I sound cold and heartless, with no empathy for what other people might be going through. But as the saying goes, *everyone* is fighting some kind of battle. I'm tired of dealing with people who think that they are the only one fighting a battle, and that it justifies their bad behavior. Get over yourself - you're just not that interesting.
posted by fairywench at 8:31 AM on December 28, 2009


There, I said it. And I don't care what anyone says by way of excuse

Thanks for sharing.
posted by philip-random at 8:56 AM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


So, to figure out what George Gilder has to do with this topic I looked at his wikipedia entry, and found this:
Gilder moved to New Orleans and worked in the mornings for Ben C. Toledano, Republican candidate for the United States Senate in 1972. The rest of the time he wrote Sexual Suicide (1973, revised and reissued as Men and Marriage (1986)). He argued that welfare and feminism broke the "sexual constitution" that had weaned men off their predatory instinct for sex, war, and the hunt and had subordinated them to women as fathers and providers. The book achieved a succès de scandale and Time made Gilder "Male Chauvinist Pig of the Year".[6]

Gilder also wrote Visible Man: A True Story of Post-Racist America (1978, reissued in 1995), which the New York Times described in 1981 as "the account of a talented young black spoiled by the too-ready indolence of America's welfare system."[7]
... which is all very interesting and rather icky, but I remain at a loss to see what relation this has to the Wise essay that's the subject of this discussion -- unless, of course, a reader projects a metric shitload of baggage into the space between Wise's lines.
posted by lodurr at 10:38 AM on December 28, 2009


fairywench, as i read Wise's critique, the point is not that either Tiger or Wise are excused for "having a disease" -- it's that they're empowered by the metaphor to fix themselves.
posted by lodurr at 10:40 AM on December 28, 2009


Men and Marriage
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:12 PM on December 28, 2009


Yes, I've just been reading it (p. 184):
The male group treats women exclusively as sexual objects. Pornographic movies near military centers reek with attacks on women, and one of the favorite stories told on return to the base from liberty is of the violent abuse of a whore. Mass rape has been frequent throughout the history of war. The alternative to the system of men and marriage is usually the system of men and misogyny. The men are freed to pursue their own sexual cycles in uncivilized groups of hunters.
So far, that's a relatively pedestrian (if icky-to-lodurr) restatement of "Boys will be boys, so women had better watch out."

But then it gets weirder:
This is the ultimate pattern that might unfold if the new bioengineering technology is devoted heavily to the agenda of "women's liberation." The women might be released from pregnancy, but the men would be released from marriage, and thus from the influence of female sexuality. The male physique, far inferior to the woman's in a sexual society, would become superior in a sexual-suicide society in which the state manages reproduction. The women's breasts and womb would lose their uses. The male body would become the physical ideal and lend symbolic authority to the male command of other instruments of power. The technocracy, a dominantly male creation in the first place, would remain in the hands of a male minority.
Gilder uses the phrase "Sexual Suicide" as a catchy shorthand for the transfer of reproduction to state control via technology. But this is really Cold-War thinking (not surprising given the publication date). The state no longer has control of technology, private industry does, and the number one use to which reproduction-related technology has been put is the widespread availability of fertility treatments enabling more people to bear children in the way Gilder approves.

His predictions about technology are generally correct, but then those are easier than the really interesting predictions about what will happen. What universe is he living in, where there's a danger that superiority will fall disproportionately into the hands of men?
posted by Rat Spatula at 12:30 PM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


fairywench: “Lack of self control isn't a sickness, it's a character flaw. There, I said it. And I don't care what anyone says by way of excuse, it's still not going to change the fact that it's a character flaw, not an illness. You don't catch infidelity by not washing your hands.”

Wow. You must be just the most perfect, wonderful person. I'll bet you're so good that you've never even thought about sex.
posted by koeselitz at 2:21 PM on December 28, 2009


Lack of self control isn't a sickness, it's a character flaw.

This is demonstratively false. It's not a matter of opinion. It's just wrong. There are brain regions that regulate self control. If those regions are damaged, people are unable to control themselves or have a much harder timer controlling themselves than healthy people. Read ANY psych 101 text if you don't believe me.

I'm not saying that all people who have trouble controlling themselves are brain damaged, but you're simply wrong when you imply that lack of self control can't be caused by illness.

It's fine for you to say, "I don't care why someone can't control himself -- whether it's brain damage or bad upbringing or laziness or whatever. I EXPECT people to control themselves, and I will judge them harshly if they don't." But you're not doing that. You're making a claim about the physical world that is rooted in prejudice, anger, politics, rhetoric or ignorance instead of science.

Finally, I'd like to hear clear definitions of "illness" and "character flaw." Are you SURE they're mutually exclusive? Can't character flaws be caused by illness sometimes? If not, what DOES cause a character flaw?

Is a character flaw something anyone can easily correct? Is it something that's hard to correct? If so, how hard? Can it ever be impossible to correct?

When people say "character flaw," I often suspect they mean "a negative trait for which I have no interest in its cause, because if I know the cause, I'll feel less righteous blaming people for it."

Personally, I have no time for people who have affairs. It's lying to the person to whom you should be most truthful. Fuck people who do that! Quite a few of those people are probably ill and have a hard (or impossible time) controlling their actions. Well, it sucks to be them. Fuck them anyway.

I'm going to judge people, because judging is part of what humans do. But I'm not going to pretend that I always judge from a place of perfect fairness. That would be arrogant and false.
posted by grumblebee at 2:41 PM on December 28, 2009


You're right, grumblebee.

I don't want to pile on fairywench too much, so I'll only say this: I think there are very, very dire consequences when one conflates "lacking self-control" with "being unfaithful." Thankfully, fidelity and self-control are completely different things. If it were, then very few humans would be capable of real fidelity.

Not to mention the fact that Tiger Woods (along with nearly every other "man fallen from grace" that our media obsesses over) was guilty of one of those things, but not the other. I don't think any of us would dispute that he was unfaithful to his wife. But I also don't see how you can claim that a man who plans sex with other women months in advance can be characterized as "lacking self-control."
posted by koeselitz at 2:52 PM on December 28, 2009


Lo, that we might only understand the terrible pain these noble men feel at using women like fucking gym socks. Fuck this misogynistic piece of shit. He's sick in a lot more ways than he realizes.
posted by DecemberBoy at 10:29 PM on December 28, 2009


Gilder also wrote Visible Man: A True Story of Post-Racist America (1978, reissued in 1995), which the New York Times described in 1981 as "the account of a talented young black spoiled by the too-ready indolence of America's welfare system."

I wonder if anyone has told Gilder that he's white. No doubt that's the only way he would know.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 11:10 PM on December 28, 2009


koeselitz: But I also don't see how you can claim that a man who plans sex with other women months in advance can be characterized as "lacking self-control."

That's an interesting point, and it reminds me of several things: So, yeah: Self-control is somehow not at all the issue, here.
posted by lodurr at 6:46 AM on December 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


Great post, lodurr.

Many of us (all of us) NEED to judge people. Perhaps "need" is the wrong word. We WILL judge people. If you think I'm over-generalizing, then take "we" as "I." Fair enough. I WILL judge people.

When I write it that starkly, it's ugly. We're taught that it's wrong to judge others. But we all do it anyway, don't we? I don't think we can escape it. We might be able to stop ourselves from talking about it or acting on it (can we even do that?), but at the very least we'll judge in our hearts.

We also have a deep need to be fair -- to not be prejudiced and to only judge people harshly who deserve to be judged harshly. If we judge someone harshly for doing something he can't help doing, then our need to judge conflicts with our need to be fair. I don't think that's a minor conflict. Both needs are basic and primal (and some research backs me up on that point). (And, tying this to my earlier post, this conflict perhaps gave rise to melodrama and psychological drama, the former of which invites us to judge; the latter of which invites us to be fair and understanding -- and the two forms are notoriously hard to mix.)

My claim is that it's impossible to stop the conflict from existing. But since it's so intolerable, our best option is to pretend it doesn't exist and to set up mental constructs that help us deny its existence.

The main one is a belief in free will. I am not going to open that can of worms here, other than to say that no one has proved or disproved free will -- and it's possible that no one ever will. But if you take free will on faith -- if you cling to it tooth and nail -- then it's possible to judge without feeling like a bad person.

I've met people who have a very strong scientific world view. They are skeptics and atheists. And yet their single "religion" is a belief in free will. I didn't understand this discrepancy for years, but I now see it as a coping mechanism for dealing with a profound internal conflict. I feel the pull within myself, even though on a purely intellectual level, I don't believe free will exists.

If we 100% accepted free will, I don't think there would be a problem. In a universe where all actions stem from free choice, everyone SHOULD be accountable for everything they do. (I've met a few people who do seem to have a completely unflappable believe in free will, and they are confident and untroubled when they judge.) But most people I've met -- even those who have strong beliefs in free will -- don't think ALL choices are free. Some are and some aren't. And some are partly free.

Which leaves us in the sticky, dangerous predicament of having to analyze each action to determine if it's caused by free will or determined. Does Dexter kill because he chooses to or because he's a sociopath and can't help it?

We make claims like "if someone has months to plan something, it must be done freely."

We debate this stuff endlessly, but most of these debates aren't supported by evidence (what evidence could we use?). They are supported by gut feelings about what we think WE could make ourselves do -- or what we could keep ourselves from doing. We apply our own psyches to other people, with no idea of whether such analogies are appropriate or not. In the end, these debates are just sophisticated versions of "is so!" "is not!"

I've identified three instances where I'm apt to insist that someone else chose freely to act badly:

1) When, even though I've never committed the act myself (e.g. I've never had an affair), I feel that I could resist the temptation. My logic is: if I could do it, they could too!

2) When I have -- sometimes with great difficulty -- resisted a temptation. "If I did it, they can, too!"

3) When I've failed to resist a temptation. This is, of course, a form of hypocrisy. "I am going to be extremely righteous about this act, because by doing so, I distance myself from my own sins."

I have reached a point where, for whatever reason, I can no longer hide from the inner conflict between my need to be fair and my need to judge. So I just face it dead on. At times, I have no option but to say, "You may not have had free will, but I'm going to judge as if you did anyway." That may sound terrible, and I guess it is, but it's merely a description of how I AM going to act.
posted by grumblebee at 8:26 AM on December 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Some people become determined to overcome their past, and some
people wallow in it.


So what you're saying is you're addicted to being without empathy or compassion.
posted by nomisxid at 2:22 PM on December 29, 2009


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