The men who were caught cheating in the great Ashley Madison reveal are not receiving too much sympathy.
This morning Naomi Schaeffer Riley suggests that they deserve our contempt, not so much for using their real email addresses, but for imagining that the world is filled with horny housewives who are just dying to cheat on their husbands.
As feminists have been telling us for lo these many years, women want sex just as much as men. It’s one of the principles that has led young women to the hookup culture.
Riley suggests that any man who bought the idea is a sucker, and not in the good sense of the word:
But the Ashley Madison service itself proves men are suckers.
Not simply because millions of men who were trying hide from their wives decided to use their real names and e-mail addresses in signing up for an adultery website — though that wasn’t exactly the mark of genius. It’s because they thought that there were millions of halfway attractive, married women out there just waiting for a hot proposition from a married man so they could be unfaithful.
There aren’t. And chances are there won’t ever be. It’s hard to know how many people were users of the site are real (it sounds as if some were signed up by friends or enemies as practical jokes). But even taking the numbers at face value, the ratio is abysmal. There were about 28 million men and 5 million women in the account list, while the credit-card information belongs almost entirely to men.
Ashley Madison confirms what we already know about infidelity. Men are much more likely to engage in it than women. And men are much more interested in casual sex than women.
To suggest otherwise is either a male fantasy or a feminist one.
In all fairness, there’s another side to the male or feminist fantasy, one that deserves some emphasis. Namely, Ashley Madison promised that men who want to cheat can do so on the cheap… without paying very much of a price. In principle, a married woman brings is less likely to expect a relationship. It used to be called free love and perhaps it still should be.
Riley emphasizes the point:
But in article after article and book after book in which women who engage in casual sex are interviewed — take the Vanity Fair article about Tinder earlier this month — the women are not happy. They don’t like the lack of relationship, and they don’t even like the sex. They are always desperately hoping that casual sex or even drunken sex will turn into something more.
While we are offering an in depth examination of cheating husbands, we turn our eyes to Liz Jones, writing in the Daily Mail. Jones is a quirky writer, in a rather droll British style. Fair enough.
One finds it difficult to imagine an American writer blaming women when their husbands cheat. But, as a wife who has been betrayed by a cheating husband, Jones has a right to her viewpoint:
That’s all very well. But what no one really examined was that maybe men are cheating for one very good reason. Us. Women in long-term relationships.
We are just awful! We are only appreciative of and loving towards men when forced: due to financial dependency, children who need supporting, functions that need attending.
Behind the scenes, though, men know we are sniping at their shortcomings.
I only know one woman who has a good word to say about her partner, and even she told me over dinner that her husband, when instructed to book a mini break, got the dates mixed up – so when they arrived at the hotel it was fully booked and they had to decamp to a B&B.
I don’t know one woman who isn’t in charge. There is even one of us in the new Jonathan Franzen novel: a feminist who insists that her husband urinates sitting down.
All of which doesn’t make for great sex, which is why women escape to books like Fifty Shades Of Grey, and men cheat.
It gets worse. Jones continues, apparently describing some of her own behaviors:
But, really, what man would want to have wild sex with a woman who, when he pours non-organic milk on her muesli, yells at him from the garden.
Or who tells him not to use the shower for 24 hours after the cleaner has been, as ‘I paid her good money to get rid of your water marks’.
Or steals his sperm. Or fills the fridge with so much food he becomes fat. Or writes in the national press about his ‘male-pattern cellulite’.
I am not sure that I want to offer an opinion about whether feminists make good wives. If it is true, as it might be, that certain women feel nothing but contempt for their pathetic excuses for husbands, perhaps it makes sense that so many married men are cheating.
Of course, Jones has a special kind of expertise in this area. Her ex-husband cheated on her. She divorced him and threw him out. The most amazing part, she opines, was that such a pathetic excuse for a man could have found a woman to cheat with.
She showers her ex-husband with withering contempt:
When my husband cheated on me, I blamed him entirely. I wasn’t jealous, exactly: I felt a frustrating lack of control, and incredulity that anyone else would find him (penniless, lazy) attractive. I threw him out of the house, divorced him, and didn’t give him a penny.
He had to slope off to a basement bedsit in Camden with rats. I think he’s now back living with his parents.
His career didn’t do too well after we split up, not because he wasn’t clever and talented, but because I was a colossus, straddling the media. When he wrote a piece about me in the Evening Standard, I phoned the editor who commissioned him and yelled: ‘Just back off, OK! Back right off!’
Ah yes! Somehow or other modern men and modern women have found themselves at war. It’s not just another version of the old war between the sexes. It’s a new, ideologically driven war, driven by feminist contempt for men.
Of course, men were cheating before feminism. If feminism, by some miracle, were to disappear tomorrow, men would still cheat. Perhaps fewer of them would do so and perhaps they would be more discreet about it, less like Bill Clinton, Anthony Weiner and their avatars,. Have you asked yourself why such men would take such great risks, if not to humiliate their wives.
Jones suggests that men are avenging themselves on their insufferable wives. Clearly, their indiscretion, the near-guarantee that they would be caught, makes it more like an act of revenge. If you really want revenge, you wife has to find out.