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Guest column| Mary Partington

Wronged wives deserve privacy in scandals



"You've come a long way, baby," refers to the changes there have been in women's lives. Yes, we have come a long way. Women are heads of state, and in America we have a woman running for president. But there is a long way to go.

The recent media circus around the now former governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer, has shown his wife standing next to him as he spoke about getting caught in a scandal. Mrs. Spitzer looked like she was waiting for a pie in the face. How many times have we seen the wives of disgraced public officials standing ramrod straight with dry eyes? Mayors, governors and even a U.S. president have had to stand before the cameras to admit to wrongdoing and the dutiful wives stand beside them.

Why should the wife be expected to stand there in a most humiliating manner to show support? Why can't she be given the respect to deal with the embarrassment in her own way in the privacy of her home? Certainly her husband did not consider her when he behaved badly.

We all watch the 24-hour electronic media pulverize the facts around the egregious behavior of the public official. One of the female pundits said that the wife of a political figure is trained to behave this way and that she lives her life through her husband. The female pundit also stated that the wife made a vow when she married her politically involved husband to "stand by her man." Hogwash!

I have never called myself a feminist and the National Organization for Women has never spoken for me. Zora Neale Hurston, a prominent author, always considered herself a "Womanist." I, too, consider myself a womanist.

As a womanist, I always have believed that women should have all the rights men have and should be treated equally in employment and in all other matters. Where I differ with the feminists is that I believe the role of a woman as a mother is our unique role and that it should be the primary focus of our life if we are blessed with children.

The role of creator, nurturer, leader of another life is a supreme gift that belongs to women. Men can share in this role, but bringing life into the world is given to women. Most people are eternally connected to their mother long after the umbilical cord is cut.

What a beautiful and wondrous role we play in this world.

Most of the women who are caught in these high-profile disgraces are mothers, and the concern for their children is paramount. What we need to give to these women is the right to deal with their agony in private. These women are victims of their husbands' bad behavior and they should not be required to humiliate themselves further by ostensibly showing support for the wrong-doer.

Sadly, this won't be the last incident of misbehavior by a public official. When it happens again I hope that the wronged wife will not stand next to her husband. But, if she does, I implore her to pick up that glass of water on the lectern and pour it over his head.

Remember we are called women, and that is pronounced with a long "O."

Mary Partington lives in New Port Richey. Guest columnists write their own views on subjects they choose, which do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.

Wronged wives deserve privacy in scandals 03/15/08 [Last modified: Thursday, March 20, 2008 9:06am]
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