If you have been watching E! News over the past few days, you have seen the most recent Hollywood marriage disaster splashed across the headlines. Within one week after winning an Oscar, we learned that Sandra Bullock's husband cheated on her with a tattooed stripper. Seriously, will this parade of philandering men never end?
You would think after all of the break ups, sex scandals and infidelity that has been in the news lately, the audience would somehow become immune to it by now. But watching this most recent situation unfold, I found myself feeling more outraged than ever.
I think the reason it bothers me so much is that everyone gave this guy the benefit of the doubt. Based on appearances, you would never expect Sandra Bullock and Jesse James to end up together. He displays the classic bad-boy image, with his body covered in tattoos. While she is the quintessential girl next door. Yet, the unlikely couple appeared to be genuinely happy together, even as recently as a few weeks ago. And because she trusted this person so deeply, the rest of the world just assumed there was something special about the guy. I guess he had all of us fooled.
What I also find interesting is that the media coverage of this scandal has extended beyond Sandra Bullock's current situation to talk about the "Oscar Curse" in which a successful female actress inevitably files for divorce from her husband within a short time after winning an Oscar. It happened to Halle Berry (2001), Hilary Swank (2004), Reese Witherspoon (2005), Kate Winslet (2008) and now potentially, Sandra Bullock (2009).
Of course, every one of these situations is different and none of us could begin to speculate as to all of the factors that led to the demise of these relationships. Yet, it is hard to ignore the common theme of a successful woman reaching what could be considered the pinnacle of her career only to find that her trusted partner has strayed from her side, whether emotionally, physically or both.
Personally, I think it all boils down to one thing: the male ego. Which makes me wonder how far we have really come from the 1950's where women were expected to cater to their man's every need? Arguably, women are closer than ever to attaining true equality, both at home and at work. But it seems to me that while women get to earn more, it doesn't require us to do any less.
Before I climb up onto my soap box, let me first offer full disclosure. I have never been married, nor do I have kids. But I have sisters, co-workers, friends and even friends of friends who I am able to observe on a daily basis. Most if not all of them are career women who happen to out-earn their husbands by a substantial amount. So apparently that means they get to bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan. And do the dishes. And put the kids to bed. And the list goes on.
The other thing I have noticed is that these women seem to go out of their way to minimize their overall income and their substantially larger contribution to the household bank account, as compared to their husbands. Part of that is probably the whole marriage philosophy. What's mine is yours, what's yours is mine, etc. Which I have never really subscribed to. If I ever get married I have two rules: 1. I get to keep my own name. 2. Separate bank accounts.
But even setting the entire marriage component aside, it is so frustrating to watch these very accomplished women walking on eggshells to avoid stomping on their husband's already bruised ego. And then to think that there are men out there who feel the need to validate their own self-worth by screwing another woman. All because the woman they have chosen to spend their life with is too successful, intelligent and stable. To me, this is absolute insanity.
It is so tempting to turn the rest of this blog into a rant about men. But I can't do that. The problem is that I like men. Some of my very best friends are men, not to mention my amazing brother and my sweet nephews who will someday grow up to be kind and honorable men. So instead I might offer some constructive suggestions to all of us, but especially to those few men out there who are giving all men a bad name.
1. If you want to be married, then get married. If you want to be single and free, then don't get married. Unless you have found a woman who is into the open marriage concept, you can't have it both ways.
2. Enough with the strippers and the hookers. The Madonna/Whore complex is so over. Women cannot be classified as one or the other. We all have many sides to our personalities and a healthy relationship will inevitably bring out the best in both people.
3. If find yourself in a marriage or committed relationship and you are not happy, just tell the other person. Sometimes people grow apart over time and want to explore other options. Before you act on your desires, you should at least give your partner the opportunity to do the same.
I have never been cheated on. Well, at least not that I know of. But I have been told many times that the lying is as much of a betrayal as the cheating. While it may seem like you are hurting the other person by being honest, in the end you are really saving the both of you from much more pain down the road.
As for Sandra Bullock and all of the other wives who are dealing with the betrayal of infidelity, let's give them some privacy so they can sort things out in peace. I think they have suffered enough.