Because they can.
It seems that some of you have been wondering why I haven’t commented on the one story that in my neck of the woods managed to supplant the death of Michael Jackson this past weekend. And that’s the murder of retired NFL star Steve McNair, married, father of four, by his 20 year old mistress
It’s not because I haven’t kept up with the story that I’ve haven’t brought it up on the blog. Hey, I’m a married woman. Stories of cheating husbands make you sit up and pay attention whether you want to or not. But if you’re one of the two readers who’ve wondered, the answer is simple. I’m not an ambulance chaser. If I chased down every story with tawdry details about yet another married man caught having an affair I wouldn’t be able to blog about anything else. Besides, this isn’t a gossip blog. A blogger who tries to stick with religious and moral dilemmas (mostly) has only so much moral capital to throw around. And I try to expend my limited share where it’s needed the most. Adultery speaks for itself.
But since the other blogpiece I’ve been working on isn’t coming together, and since our appetite for the salicious is still whet after a week of feasting on Michael Jackson’s remains, why not offer a comment or two on what there is to learn from McNair’s tragic end?
Permit me a disclaimer. Like the prophet Paul I write not as a prophet nor as a minister in this blogpost. Not even as a woman of faith necessarily. I write here as a thinking woman who happens to be married.
For those like me who don’t follow football, McNair retired famed NFL player was found murdered in his Nashville condo this past weekend, two shots to the head and two in the chest. His 20 year old girlfriend was sprawled out dead at his feet, one shot to the head, the gun underneath her body on the floor. Officials have all but ruled the deaths a murder-suicide.
McNair retired a year ago from professional football after 13 seasons in the NFL. He was a three times Bowl pick (whatever that means). He played nine seasons as quarterback for the Tennessean Titans before being traded in 2006 to the the Ravens in Baltimore where he retired in 2008. McNair was found dead this past weekend in his Nashville condo, Black sports fans were especially proud of the fact that McNair, a graduate of Alcorn State, was one of only three quarterbacks in NFL history who was drafted in the first round out of historically black colleges and universities. Friends remember him as a kind and generous sort of fellow. (But as we see with MJ’s death these things get redacted a lot in death.) It’s just a shame that the man died because he couldn’t keep it in his pants. It’s a shame that in addition to his accomplishments on the field he will be remembered off the field as a man who was killed by his mistress who was a high school drop-out.
Did I mention that McNair’s wife of 12 years, Mechelle, mother of the four sons he leaves behind, had no idea about her husband’s affair?
But then the wife is always the last to know. Or, so they say. Another one of those posthumous redactions, I suppose.
To the question. Why do men cheat?
Because it’s easy to do. Because it’s one of the privileges that come with patriarchy. Because men claim to need more sex than their wives are willing to put out. (As one man put it, “Men are always thinking about sex: they’re either thinking about the last time they had sex, or thinking about the next they’re gonna have sex.”) Translated: Men cheat because they can’t help themselves. Men cheat because there are women out there who don’t think twice about sleeping with married men. Men cheat because they crave the affirmation and the boost to their ego. Men cheat because of the adrenaline rush they get from sneaking around and getting away with something they’re not supposed to do. Take your pick.
Lots of men do not cheat on their wives (or significant others). Many, many, many do, or so it seems. Especially men who are public figures.
That is, butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers. And lots of politicians too. South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., Sen. David Vitter, R-La., former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., one-time Democratic presidential hopefuls John Edwards and Gary Hart, former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, ex-New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, ex-DC Mayor Marion Barry, current New York Gov. David Paterson, former President Bill Clinton.
And, oh yeah, there are the preachers.
You’re probably asking, “Do married women cheat?” Of course they do. But that’s not the question on the table.
If I were writing as a minister (which I’m not, mind you) I would probably quote Scripture to bring men to their senses. But the Bible, at least the part written by men, doesn’t say that adultery is a sin. Not when it’s men doing it. Let me be more specific. Not when it’s a married man having an affair with an unmarried woman. It’s only an affair when he’s having an affair with another man’s wife. As for what the Bible has to say about when a married woman has an affair. Stone her . Whether her lover is married or not. Stone her to death.
Lots of men cheat and never end up having to pay publicly. In times past there were politicians, presidents even, who tipped out and didn’t pay publicly, John F. Kennedy and Franklin D. Roosevelt are two that come to mind.
It’s a different world now. Ours is a public that goes into a feeding frenzy at the opportunity to download stories of marital affairs, review videos of extramarital trysts, listen in to tape conversations, read text messages and email between clandestine loves, click to examine a mistress’s dress with his DNA still on it. Technology has developed in the public an insatiable appetite for scandal, an appetite that media is only too eager to feed.
Which makes it all the more unfathomable why men, especially men who are famous, tempt fate by cheating on their wives. But they do. Despite living in a fish bowl men like Governor Sanford of South Carolina, you would think, would resist flying the coup and running off to Argentina to see his mistress. But he didn’t.
You would certainly think that adulterers would know that there is no such thing as free extra meal. Eventually the bill comes due. Somebody will pay for those text messages and hotel bills. And I promise you, it won’t be just you – and your mistress. It will be your family. Especially your wife whose every tear or stoic expression and dress size will end up being parsed by a public that’s dying to know how much she knew, when she knew, what’s wrong with her that she couldn’t keep her man at home, and why does she stay(a topic I’ve addressed before). And then there’s the children, the poor children. The greatest victims of it all. How will the way their father died impact the lives of Steve McNair’s sons as they grow up? Heaven help them.
Moreover, you would think that the fear of disease, public humiliation, losing your job ruining your family life, hurting your wife, damaging your children, and undermining your life’s work would be a deterrent to men who cheat. Not.
So, why do men cheat? Because it’s worth the risk. Or so says the part of the brain that’s responsible for the blood rushing to the penis.
What’s a wife to do? Get a life. Have a plan. And stay on speaking terms with God.
But remember, I’m blogging not as prophet here today, but as a thinking woman who happens to be married.