Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tiger, Tiger, Burning Less Bright

I wasn't thinking of it at the time, but my last post, on indiscreet women and the war between the sexes, might have been a commentary on the Tiger Woods scandal.

It might refer to the story of how Tiger's late night auto mishap became a scandal when a bevy of indiscreet beauties came forth to testify about their meaningless impersonal sexual encounters with Tiger Woods.

Some were garden-variety groupies, some were professional ladies of the evening. Most have been blissfully oblivious to their own reputations. They happily sacrificed their dignity for notoriety.

Most people have been so appalled about the bad behavior of Tiger Woods that they have not bothered to call these women out on their own indiscretion.

Among those who have we must count one Ashley Dupree, the "other" woman at the center of the Eliot Spitzer imbroglio. Thanks to Ms. Dupree we have been reminded that even prostitutes have a sense of honor, a sense of discretion, and a sacred duty not to share.

Keep in mind that those who cheer this motley assortment of trollops, strumpets, tramps, and tarts are announcing to the world that women cannot be trusted. Surely, social media sites, blogs, and a culture of celebrity have already communicated this message, to no one's benefit. The last thing we need is yet another series of indiscreet women undermining the sacred bonds that hold men and women together.

For better or for worse there is a sexual divide in the way people react to the Tiger scandal. Women sympathize with Mrs. Woods; they do not want to walk even a foot in her shoes; they want their men to know in no uncertain terms that such behavior will be met with the most stringent sanctions.

Most women want Tiger to be punished, to be shamed, to be shunned, to be treated as contemptible trash. To the point where very few men have had the courage to say anything good about a man whom they idolized as recently as last month.

Last night on television conservative columnist Jim Pinkerton and liberal columnist Ellis Henican agreed that Tiger should just tough it out, wait for the furor to subside, and then go back to doing what he does best: play golf.

After all, the PGA depends on Tiger Woods.

These men do not want Tiger to come forth and apologize. They do not want to seem him embracing abjection on Oprah. They want to see him hitting a perfect drive down the fairway or holing out from the rough.

As John Podhoretz wrote, Tiger Woods did not betray a public trust. He cannot be compared to politicians who cheat on their wives. These latter owe the public an apology because they work for the public good. Whether it is Clinton or Spitzer or Stanford they are indulging their less-than-honorable impulses on the public dime.

Tiger Woods does not fall into that category.

The male mind, dare I say, feels a certain quantity of empathy, to say nothing of suppressed envy, over the behaviors of alpha males. Those who keep saying that they want men to get in touch with their feelings, should hope that they do not get what they are wishing for.

Who among us knows the serotonin rush and testosterone rush involved with winning a major golf tournament? Or the Super Bowl or the World Series, or even a playoff game? Great athletes attract groupies. So do pashas; so do maharajahs; so do Kings.

Alpha males collect harems. It goes with the territory. To be shocked and dismayed because the greatest athlete of our time has allowed himself to be lured by sports vixens is almost naive.

As I said, women tend to empathize with Elin Nordegren Woods. Some women are willing to look away when a man whose wife is a harridan gets a little on the side, but that does not apply to Elin Woods.

One reason that women are so horrified about Tiger Woods is that when they look at Elin Woods they are asking themselves, paraphrasing the late Paul Newman: Why would a man go out for hamburger when he can have steak at home?

Whatever you think of Tiger Woods or his bevy of buxom accusers, there is something wildly unbecoming in the media's mania about bringing him down.

Some people believe that the media likes to flex its muscle, to show how important and powerful it is, by lifting obscure people to the ranks of celebrity and then destroying them.

But Tiger Woods is not a mere media fabrication. He was not silly putty in their hands. Tiger Woods was and probably still is one of the greatest golfers of all time. He became a star by competing, mano-a-mano against other great male athletes, and by coming out on top more often than anyone else.

People admired Woods for his steely determination, his competitive spirit, his focused concentration, and his ability to thrive under superhuman pressure.

Why is the media so hellbent on destroying the man? Could it be because, in the darker recesses of their collective mind, they see the tale of Elin and Tiger as an allegory for the struggle between socialism and capitalism.

So writes Lee Siegel, in an article entitled: "If Only Tiger Were a Socialist." Link here.

Siegel argues that Tiger Woods is a monument to capitalist greed. He would have been better off being a socialist. Rather than having married one.

The first time I read Siegel's article I thought it was an amusing flight of fancy, nothing to be taken too seriously. Then I reread it, saw the error of my first impression, and found something rather interesting in it.

Siegel seems to believe that Woods suffered from the sin of greed. Keep in mind that greed or avarice is one of the seven deadlies. And that his capitalist greed was inadequate to the high socialist ideals of his Swedish wife.

If Tiger were a socialist, Siegel muses, he would not have been so greedy. He would have been a man of the people and would have been a modest, unassuming husband.

According to Siegel, Elin Nordegren Woods represents "Swedish decency;" Tiger Woods represents "American rapacity."

Let's see, the multicultural, multiethnic personification of American capitalism marries the Aryan socialist princess. He is vulgar and "rapacious." (Note the resonance between rapacity and an ugly term for deviant male sexual behavior.) His wife is fine and decent and a socialist.

Siegel's allegory seems to involve a disturbing and outrageous racial subtext. We must take it with more than a grain of salt.

Anyway, one should always be careful bandying about concepts one cannot control. If you don't know what you are playing with they may come back and bite you.

Look at it from a different angle. Why did the Swedish socialist marry a rapacious capitalist? Elin Nordegren knew what she was marrying. Tiger Woods has never been a candidate for the New Socialist Man.

Tiger was king of the world; he was richer than any athlete. No sentient adult could have imagine that life with Tiger Woods was going to resemble life in that Worker's Paradise, Sweden.

Take it a step further. Tiger Woods accomplished extraordinary things. Crowds adored him. The public was avid to purchase anything that had his name attached. The world was at his feet; he was a conquering hero; he could have anything he wanted and much that he did not want.

How did his wife deal with the fame? Did Woods feel, as he confessed in a text message to mistress Rachel, that his wife did not understand him?

If so, what does that mean? Perhaps that while the world was at his feet, his wife was indifferent to his achievements. If she was not proud of his accomplishments, what effect would that have on his psyche? What if, in her egalitarian socialist mindset, Tiger Woods was just another guy, with his faults and foibles, his flaws and quirks... no better or worse than the rest?

Try out this exercise in empathy. How would you feel if the world treats you like a champion and your wife complains that you did not take out the trash or that you left the toilet seat down? And how would you react if your wife told you that you were not all that great, that you needed to tone it down, to work less, to compete less, to spend more time at home caring for the children?

You are winning the PGA or the Masters and she finds you inadequate because you did not change enough diapers.

Maybe the problem is not that Tiger was not more of a socialist, but that his fine and decent Swedish wife kept treating him like he was less of a man than her socialist compatriots.

I do not have any privileged knowledge of the inner workings of the Woods marriage, but these are, following the logic of Lee Siegel, plausible. Again, if you were in Tiger's shoes, how would you react?

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