What do I think about the Ashley Madison come Josh Duggar (a name I first heard yesterday) “scandal”? Not too much. Surprising coming from someone whose blog is themed on the mistress in that word’s narrowest and broadest sense. But I have written a lot on the subject of infidelity from all sides, and much boils down to the same recurring ideas:
People get hurt–are hurt–and that saddens me. Luckily, counseling resources for the infidelity-wounded exist. Some have called those hurt by infidelity, victims, like the wife of this Duggar, publicly humiliated by someone who apparently spoke out in defense of “family values.” A shame, but the story often unfolds as more complicated than good guys and bad guys, abusers and victims.
People are not honest. Relationships survive on honesty, an ongoing practice that most are not dedicated to but expect from others.
America’s hypocrisy and sexual dysfunction fosters dysfunctional relationships. It is no secret that what we say what we want is not what we want–or do. I featured this article from The Daily Beast before, but it reports the unsurprising facts and bears repeating:
As Pew reports, extramarital affairs are generally condemned worldwide but the U.S. still seems to be uniquely moralistic about them. In fact, most major developed nations in the world are more accepting of infidelity than the U.S., including Australia, Britain, Canada, Germany, Spain, and Japan.
In France, a mere 47 percent of adults find extramarital affairs unacceptable, which is less an endorsement of their practice and more a reflection of a widespread refusal to think of it as “a moral issue.” In America, sex is a moral language by default; abroad, less so…
All this being said, Americans’ sexual words do match up with their sexual actions in some special cases. Fifty-seven percent of men and 65 percent of women approve of having babies outside of marriage, although CDC estimates show that only 40 percent of all births are to unmarried women. Divorce rates appear to be on their way down in the 21st century while acceptance of divorce has been steadily increasing.
But these are some of the only realistic moral attitudes in a country where sexual attitudes and sexual behavior tend to be dissonant. And although this mismatch might be mystifying in and of itself, the probable reasons behind it are not: the United States has the largest population of Christians of any country and is one of the only deeply religious wealthy nations in the world. That math—like most Americans—does itself.
Ashley Madison? Only in America.