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How did you not know? – The worst thing to ask a Straight Spouse

Wedding Cake

It’s the one question we all cringe when we hear it.  The one thing that brings more resentment and anger than any other.  The one inquiry that if people stopped and thought about it before they said it, they might not even think to ask.

It starts with the obvious

  • How did you not know he/she was gay?
  • How could you not tell he/she was gay?

The there is the mildly accusatory

  • He/She must have given you signs.
  • Didn’t you always have a suspicion from the start?

To the downright shaming

  • I just don’t understand how a person wouldn’t know their spouse was gay.
  • Didn’t you guys have sex?  How could he/she have sex with you if they were gay?
  • You knew before you married him/her right?

Straight spouses are men and women who end up in a mixed orientation marriage.  For the vast majority of us, we had no idea that our partners were homosexual or had any gay tendencies.  There is a saying in our community.  When our spouses come out of the closet we go into one.  Many straight spouses don’t want to bring added shame and stigma to their kids.  They also don’t want the judgment for something their spouse did.  So most straight spouses don’t openly talk about what happened to them.  It’s estimated that there are about 2 million straight spouses in the United States.  It not that we were all so sexually repressed we didn’t know the difference, we just married liars.  Our sex lives started out normal, and became dysfunctional.

Would anyone think to ask these types of questions to someone who had a spouse who was a serial cheater?  Would they think it was appropriate to blame a person who married a charming and habitual liar?  Would they assume that a person somehow should have seen signs of a well orchestrated cover-up?

Another one we get is along the lines of logic

  • Well I just don’t see why logically he/she would do that
  • That just doesn’t make sense, no one would care if he/she was gay

When anyone uses logic in the same breath as human sexuality I have to laugh.  Did it make any logical sense for Arnold Schwarzenegger to cheat on his beautiful, well-connected wife with the family’s average looking housekeeper?  Did it make sense for Anthony Weiner to repeatedly send explicit text messages and images to women he didn’t know, AFTER he had to resign from congress for the same behavior?  Did it make sense for Rhianna to date Chris Brown again AFTER he brutally beat her?  When it comes to sex and relationships, people act illogically all the time.  Gay men and women who marry straight partners are absolutely desperate to live what they see as a normal and healthy life.  Deep down they hate themselves and will do anything to try to fix what they see as a major flaw.  In most cases, our spouses viewed us as little more than props for their illusion.  They might have cared for us a great deal in their own twisted way, but ultimately we were means to an end.

Sex is relatively easy for most adults to pull off.  If we felt like our lives depended on it, most of us could stomach having sex with just about anyone.  We probably wouldn’t really enjoy ourselves, but if the alternative meant losing everything we held near and dear to our hearts, we might be able to find away through it.  That is basically how a lot of our spouses compartmentalized sex in our marriages.  As harsh as it may seem, most of our partners admit to fantasy, imagery and role-playing in order to have sex with their straight spouses.  The entire time they really wished they were with a same-sex partner.  For some of us, our partners could only pull off the charade for so long until our marriages basically became celibate.  Some used excuses such as past sexual trauma, erectile dysfunction or lowered hormones.   Meanwhile most if not all of these closeted gay men and women were actually having some type of homosexual sex outside of the marriage.

What is even worse is the assumption that sexual orientation is always so obvious.  Not every gay man speaks with a lisp, swishes when he walks, or spends an inordinate time on his appearance.  Not every gay woman dresses in a masculine way, has a short mannish haircut or refuses to wear makeup.  In fact, very few gay men and women act like a two-dimensional stereotype. There are many shades in the sexual orientation rainbow.  For a lot of straight spouses, our partners would appear heterosexual to most people.

When my ex-husband officially came out of the closet, even his close friends were in a state of disbelief.  Some even thought I may have started gay rumors to slander him.  My ex was notorious for leaving our apartment in shabby clothing, cheap shoes and looking generally disheveled.  He also aggressively pursued me and had multiple ex-girlfriends.  His last was a long-term relationship with a stunningly attractive Asian woman.   I didn’t know until I was many years into the marriage that he had sexual dysfunction or lack of sex in all of his previous relationships.  I didn’t know until after our divorce that he probably had same-sex relationships or at least homosexual sex long before I met him.  My case is typical, not exceptional.  Most straight spouses really do have no sign that their partners are living a secret life.  Much like the spouse of a philanderer is often the last to know that their spouse has had multiple affairs outside the marriage.

Ultimately people want order and rules in life.  They want to believe that bad things don’t happen to people without a reason.  They also want to think that somehow if they were in a terrible situation they would figure out a way to get out of it.  Well two-year olds sometimes get cancer while a few horrible people live well in their nineties.  The wealthy are sometime the nastiest most undeserving people, while some with very little have no limits for love and compassion.  Bad things sometimes happen to good people.   A wife or husband might be betrayed by the person they most adore.  I know these concepts might seem fairly obvious but I honestly wish more would think of them before asking:

How did you not know?

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Weinergate: Can We get Real about Slut Shaming?

Slut

Slut (Photo credit: artgoeshere)

I’ve written about this topic before as I am growing increasingly frustrated by the entire concept.   To quote FinallyFeminism101

Short answer: Slutshaming, also known as slut-bashing, is the idea of shaming and/or attacking a woman or a girl for being sexual, having one or more sexual partners, acknowledging sexual feelings, and/or acting on sexual feelings. Furthermore, it’s “about the implication that if a woman has sex that traditional society disapproves of, she should feel guilty and inferior” (Alon Levy, Slut Shaming). It is damaging not only to the girls and women targeted, but to women in general an society as a whole. It should be noted that slut-shaming can occur even if the term “slut” itself is not used.

Personally I don’t agree that the term ‘slut’ is gender specific as I know plenty of men who also proudly call themselves sluts or slutty.  I do however think slut shaming is a real problem and that the media uses completely different criteria for the appropriateness of sexual behavior of men and women.  There is a very strong double standard that reinforces the notion that ‘good’ women don’t like sex, don’t have many sexual partners and don’t express themselves sexually.

Recently Think Progress tried to make the argument that the media was using the recent Anthony Weiner sex scandal as an excuse to slut shame the women involved.  Although I agree with them that they have a point, I don’t think Weiner’s sexting partner is best example.

The facts of the story as we know it is that AFTER Anthony Weiner publicly humiliated himself, resigned from congress and nearly destroyed his marriage he started yet another virtual relationship with Sydney Leathers, a 22-year-old from Indiana.  Leathers knew Weiner had a sexting problem, was a married man, and that his wife was expecting their first child.   Informed of all of this, she decided to have a virtual sexually explicit relationship with him.   According to her, Weiner promised her an apartment, political contacts and even a possible job.   After months of these exchanges she grew bored, realized any monetary gain was not forthcoming and ended the relationship.  When she discovered that Weiner was running for mayor she decided to share her story to show the world that he was not a changed man.

During her brief interview with Howard Stern, Leathers came across as flippant and completely uncaring towards Weiner’s wife Huma Abedin.  She seemed completely unrepentant of any pain or humiliation that she might have caused Abedin.   It takes two people to have an affair of course, and Weiner is more culpable for damaging his marriage than anyone.

I don’t see a victim in Ms. Leathers.  What I see instead is an opportunist who knew completely what she was doing and when she didn’t get her promised rewards of a condo or a job she figured she would cash in somehow and take revenge on her lying virtual lover.  If anything her actions have been quite regressive.  Women like her reinforce the stereotype of the shallow, heartless succubus exploiting men when they get the opportunity.

Is anything sacred anymore?  Have we completely thrown out the rule book?  Is it OK to have sex with any adult at any time and refuse to take any responsibility, regardless of the consequences?  Does marriage mean anything?  I can’t bend my morality to the point that all behavior no matter how selfish or hurtful towards others is simply written off.   If Leathers wants the notoriety for being the ‘other’ woman she has to accept the good with the bad.  Not everyone is going to champion a cheater.

Will Leathers appear in pornographic films, get her own reality show or column in the NY Post?  She didn’t accomplish anything, she merely had no  qualms about having an affair with a married man.  She also turned on him on a dime when she saw the opportunity.  Are these values that we want to promote?  Do I have to support every woman’s poor choices in life?  Both Weiner and Leathers made poor decisions and they should live with the consequences.   I’ll save my outrage for slut shaming when a person is actually being shamed inappropriately.   Such as the teacher who lost her job years after her porn past, or the 15-year-old who was harassed by a TSA worker, or when someone blames a rape victim for their own attack.   If we use the term ‘Slut shaming’ when it doesn’t apply we weaken the power of the label.

Women are not inherently victims.  We are human, and just as likely as men to make bad choices.   I seriously doubt any woman rushing to Leathers’ defense, would feel so strongly if they were in Abedin’s shoes.  It’s one thing to knowingly have an affair with a married man, it’s another entire to mock the wife on a national radio program after the fact.  Leathers will disappear into obscurity soon enough, and Weiner has destroyed his own political career.  The person shamed and humiliated is Huma Abedin.  Hopefully she will find the strength to realize she might be better off without a lying, cheating sex addict for a husband.

Anthony Weiner – Sexual Predator, Carlos Danger or Crazed Narcissist?

Official portrait of United States Congressman...

Official portrait of United States Congressman (D-NY). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anthony Weiner, disgraced congressman is like the joke that keeps on giving.  If you don’t already know the details here are the basic facts.  In 2011 Weiner sent sexually explicit photos to several adult women who were not his wife.  At first Weiner denied the allegations, going so far as to say someone hacked his twitter account.  He also made the ridiculous claim that he wasn’t sure if a photo of his erect penis inside a pair of white underwear was his or not.  I think every grown man knows his penis intimately, so well that they could pick out of a large crowd of penises.  When Weiner finally admitted that he did indeed send the photos, he eventually resigned his seat in congress and issued several public apologies.  He even appeared in People magazine with his wife and infant son, with what seemed like a heartfelt admission of guilt and a vow to stop the behavior.

Now, a short two years later Weiner is the front-runner in the New York mayoral race.  A new woman has emerged with a series of sexually explicit sex messages and a story of a virtual affair that happened in the summer of 2012.  The story almost seems like a parody with Weiner using the alias, Carlos Danger in his correspondence. He even sent her yet another photograph of his penis.  The man must truly think his genitals are something special!  I’m sure his penis has its own moniker but we aren’t privy to that information yet!  The woman involved has remained anonymous and claims she was not compensated for her story.  We have no way of knowing if she is telling the truth, we only have the text messages which are quite hilarious and graphic in nature.

What really stuck me as completely crazy was the way the site The Dirty is handling this story.  The headline by Nik Richie reads “Anthony Weiner is a Sexual Predator Luring his Victims”   Richie makes the following quote.

My source is solid. She really thought Anthony Weiner and her were in love, they spoke on the phone daily multiple times a day for 6 months. Anthony Weiner played with her emotions and mind. Most calls were phone sex. He promised her many things including a condo in Chicago (1235 S. Prairie Ave) where they were planning to meet up to have sex. Anthony Weiner has a shoe fetish, particularly heels.

Calling Weiner a sexual predator is a farce.  It actually trivializes real sexual assault, intimidation and harassment.  The woman in question is 22 years old.  She is an adult and although she is incredibly naive she is not a child.  Weiner was not her employer or teacher and had no direct control over her life.  It wasn’t as if her job or grades depended on her playing ball with his advances.  She also knew he was a married man with a then pregnant wife.  It is hard for me to view a woman who knowingly engages in this type of behavior with a married man as a victim.  The whole thing reminds me of the Tiger Woods scandal when one of his mistresses held a tear filled press conference along the lines of “I thought I was his only mistress”  I guess the sobbing woman just conveniently forgot about his wife.

At 22 years old, Weiner’s virtual mistress is probably a college graduate. Most likely she has dealt with more than one lecherous college professor, a creepy employer or faced some type of sexual intimidation.  I’m sure she had a strong crush on Weiner and found the attention he gave her exciting.   From the texts I have read there is certainly a lot of sex talk but not a lot of fondness.  We don’t know what they said over the phone and more information could come out, but I think this young woman mistook lust and sex for love.   I wish I could have a cup of coffee with her and share some of my dating horror stories or the many I have heard from readers of this blog.  She is not a victim, just a foolish woman who made a few stupid choices.  Since she is anonymous, her life will go on and she might even face much worse men in her future.  The real victim here is Weiner’s wife and young son.

Weiner’s wife will have to live this down, and his son is not only going to have to grow up with an incredibly unfortunate surname but also be subjected to teasing about his father’s behavior.   His wife will also have to question every single word that comes out of her husband’s mouth.  I also lived in denial for years in my marriage and if I could go back in time I would grab myself by both shoulders and yell – GET OUT NOW!

Again the story almost reads like a joke.  A man named Weiner, showing his weiner to the world under the name of Carlos Danger – AFTER he lost his job, damaged his career and publicly humiliated his family – engaging in the exact same behavior.  You honestly couldn’t make it up.  Will the people of New York elect him as mayor?  Who knows?  If he wins the jokes will continue and I suspect the scandals will as well. If he got caught once and kept doing it – I kind of doubt this will be the last time we hear from Carlos Danger and his mighty, mighty penis.