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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Arnold and Maria

My grandmother always said that I should live my life as if everyone would know everything about me because, eventually, everyone will.

I've thought about that advice as I've watched the unfolding of the sad story of the divorce, after a 25 year marriage, of Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Rumors have long swirled about Arnold's . . .um . . . "indiscretions". Indeed, there was a rumor that he had fathered a child with a woman who worked at the couple’s Brentwood estate. That was eight years ago, when "The Terminator" was in the midst of an attempt to unseat Gray Davis, the Democratic governor.

Those rumors got sidetracked as Arnold had to deal with a barrage of seemingly more credible allegations that he had groped and molested women during his years as a movie star. Maria "stood by her man" and battled back forcefully, contributing in large part to his victory.

Turns out, the rumors were true. On Monday night, responding to an inquiry by the LA Times, Arnold issued the following statement:
“After leaving the governor’s office I told my wife about this event, which occurred over a decade ago. I understand and deserve the feelings of anger and disappointment among my friends and family. There are no excuses, and I take full responsibility for the hurt I have caused. I have apologized to Maria, my children and my family. I am truly sorry.”
I have no doubt that he is. Sorry. How could he not be?

I'm sure he's sorry for what "the event" has done to his wife and four children.

I'm convinced he's most sorry about what "the event" has done to his image and political career.

You'll excuse me if I'm just not sure he's sorry for "the event" with a member of his household staff.

His career as a movie star will go essentially untarnished. He'll still get movie deals. Hollywood is already making light of the situation by jokingly changing his name from "The Terminator" to "The Sperminator," and asking, "Who knew that Arnold was pumping more than iron?".

Ha. Ha. Ha. You'll excuse me if I don't find that funny.

Indeed, he's apparently in negotiations now for more films. Maria, on the other hand, who gave up her career as a television journalist to star in her role as The Governor's Wife, is still trying to figure out the next steps for her life.

The story is getting a lot of play in the media here in Bean Town, home of the Kennedy family. The local TV stations are, understandably, I suppose, contributing a great deal of airtime to the saga - complete with flashy "Breaking News" graphics and dramatic sound effects.

Honest to Pete! You'd think some major catastrophe had occurred and the citizenry had to be informed.

One of those "breaking news" events consisted of a brief interview with Joan Kennedy, former wife of Ted Kennedy (who died in 2009 of a brain tumor). She looked as if life had not treated her kindly over the years.  It hasn't. Once a beautiful woman, it broke my heart to see her puffy face and the vacant look in her eyes.

The "breaking news" was a brief quote from Joan who said that she was "very sad" about the news. She also mentioned that Maria was her "favorite niece" and her mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver (who died last year), was her "favorite sister in law". R. Sargent Shriver, Maria's father died in January after a long battle with Alzheimer's Disease.

Sad? Of course, she's sad. That's a great deal of loss, even for a family that has been marked by tragedy and loss - some of it of their own doing.

I know, I know. There are LOTS of other news stories which should rightly capture the better portion of our interest and attention. The flooding in the Southern parts of the United States. The economy. Unemployment. The deficit.

And, the stunning, heartbreaking news that The Donald will not be seeking the Republican nomination for President. I suppose the $50 Million dollars offered to him by NBC will allow him to pursue other important matters like his "Cirque des Phenomenes" - otherwise known as "Celebrity Apprentice" - leaving us all to wonder who will drive the Republican Clown Car now?

I grew up in the shadow of the high-voltage star power of the Kennedy's here in Massachusetts, so, you'll forgive my interest in this - especially as it pertains to the whole subject of marriage.

I'm deeply struck by the irony that the case for marriage equality in California was entitled "Perry v. Schwarzenegger" - and that it was gay and lesbian couples who were under scrutiny for "undermining the sanctity of marriage".

Sanctity of marriage.

Oh, yes. There have been so many stellar examples of that. John Edwards. Mark Sanford. Newt Gingrich - who was trumpeting Bill Clinton's indiscretions even while he was having an affair of his own.  The man is actually pursing the Republican nomination for President.

And then there's Brittany Spear's 55 hour marriage.

Irony doesn't even begin to come close to describing it.

Hypocrisy is a much better word.

If anything, that hypocrisy contributes to the surprising rise of support among increasing numbers of conservative Republicans for Marriage Equality, some of whom are,reportedly, financing the movement to make Marriage Equality a reality in New York.

Some of those involved have made what might be termed the pro-business argument for same-sex marriage, arguing that the legalization of same-sex marriage would help keep New York economically competitive.

Whatever. I suppose if you can't appeal the case on the issue of basic human and civil rights, you go directly to the 'bottom line', which always has a dollar sign in front of it.

There has also been an interesting frequency of 'big names' who are 'coming out' publicly. Just this week, Rick Weltz, President of the Phoenix Suns, joined CNN anchor Don Lemon in their escape from behind the Lavender Curtain.

Although Anderson Cooper and Shepherd Smith have yet to self-disclose, OUT Magazine recently named them among their Power Fifty list which honors extraordinary gays and lesbians.

This, despite the words from their colleague, Rachel Maddow, who recently said in an interview, "I'm sure other people in the business have considered reasons why they're doing what they're doing, but I do think that if you're gay you have a responsibility to come out".


What a quaint little word.

How ironic, for some, that a lesbian woman might have the temerity to use it.

Ultimately, that's the final word on the story of Arnold and Maria. It's all about responsibility. Oh, and integrity. You know, what you have so you don't become a hypocrite.

Yes, a hypocrite. You know. Someone who gropes and molests women like so much sausage and has affairs - and a child - with someone in your employ.

And, keeps the information about the affair and the child a secret from his wife and children and staff and electing public for fourteen years while suggesting that Queer People are a threat to the 'sanctity of marriage'.  

Maria Shriver has issued a statement that read, simply:
“As a mother, my concern is for the children. I ask for compassion, respect and privacy as my children and I try to rebuild our lives and heal. I will have no further comment.”
I can respect that, and I have enormous compassion for her and her family.

Arnold? Not so much.

And, don't expect me to have much 'compassion' for Dominique Strauss-Kahn, managing director of the International Monetary Fund in Washington since late 2007, who recently helped to engineer a $1 trillion bailout for Europe and is was considered the Socialist party’s leading candidate for president of France.

Today, he sits in a jail cell at Rikers Island in New York after his arrest on charges of attempted rape of a hotel maid in Manhattan last weekend. He's a known womanizer, but that 'little character flaw' has been accepted because of his intelligence, charm and numerous accomplishments - and probably because of the reported culture of his country of birth understands and accepts that, well, "Les hommes sont des hommes" ("Men are men").

The French! What do you expect from those notorious “chauds lapins” ("hot rabbits")?

Answer: Responsibility. Integrity. Transparency.

Because, you know, I don't care who you are or where you're from or whether you are male or female, old or young, black or white, gay or straight, rich or poor.  My grandmother was right.

Eventually, everyone will know everything about you.

Better to live your life with an acute awareness of that fact.

Ultimately, you'll not only hurt yourself, but those you love. 


kenju said...

I agree with everything you say and my favorite line is "Republican clown car".

I never did like Ahnult very much and I certainly won't start now.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

What else would you call it, kenju, with Gingrich, Paul, Bachman, Pawlenty, Palin, Huckabee, It's a Clown Car, flat out.

Turtle Woman said...

I was going nuts when Arnold was running for governor, because it was well known that he had groped dozens of women. This was all known during the campaign. Could I get a lot of women to listen to me about NOT VOTING for any man who does this? And Maria Shriver knew about these allegations too, but she still married that idiot man. As a lesbian, I don't get what a friend calls "straight women's denial." We have all known these men doing all these really bad things to their own families... Sanford, Gingrich, Edwards and on and on it goes. So I say women have really got to put our collective feet down. The personal is political! And if men behave this badly in private, it means they think women are objects to rape, fondle, cheat on or use to gain elective office. Arnold pursued Maria because he wanted the Kennedy connections to go for political gain. I knew it before they were married, and I felt for Maria way back then. She'd married a bad man from the get go, and I don't get the hetero denial. I just don't get it, or why women support well known gropers and molestors of women, and why this is all so ha ha funny. Talk about patriarchal brainwashing of the collective hetero woman's mind! Women, stand up and refuse to vote for any man who has a history of this! Just say NO! p.S. Gloria Steinem supported Bill Clinton, remember that. That was the day I knew feminism had sold out to the Democratic party.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Dear Turtle Woman - I don't understand the whole "Stand By Your Man" thing, either. Especially for serial offenders. Then again, I'm told that it's an American Puritan thang - that European women EXPECT their husbands to have "dalliances". Whatever. I don't get it.

Turtle Woman said...

Well, I guess we'll both never figure this out. But until women say NO MORE MEN ELECTED WITH ANY History of this stuff ever... well it won't end. Male institutions slow down the attrocities when they get caught, when they lose billions in law suits, when they lose elections or job status. Shut down the male status money machine, and women who are 50% of the electorate could do this tomorrow and the whole game is up for good. It's that easy women.