Thursday, December 03, 2009

Why Men People Cheat.

This is an odd sprout growing from the Tiger Woods case:

Tiger Woods is the latest celebrity caught up in a sex scandal, which makes people wonder — why do men cheat? And are the famous and powerful more prone to indiscretion, or are they just under the microscope more than your average Joe?

The rest of the article is all about why people cheat, not why men cheat. Because of that adding-up problem in heterosexual affairs: If married men cheat a lot, either there must be a group of single women who have lots and lots and lots of boyfriends or at least some married women must also cheat. Or rather:

Helfand says data from the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy suggests that 15% of wives and 25% of husbands have experienced extramarital intercourse.

A new data analysis by W. Bradford Wilcox, an associate professor of sociology who directs the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, seems to support that idea.

Wilcox reviewed data from the General Social Survey, a large social science survey of trends between the 1990s through 2000 and from 2000 to 2008. He found that 21% of men and 14% of women who had ever been married (including those who have been divorced) said they had sex at least once with someone other than the spouse while married. Of those currently married, 16% of men and 10% of women responded affirmatively.

I guess the question of why people cheat isn't as interesting as the question why men cheat, especially men who are rich and famous and can have as many girlfriends as they wish, right? That's the hook in the story, my dear reader.

But the hook only works as long as those girlfriends are viewed in the abstract, in the way we'd discuss fast cars or expensive wines, the other kinds of things rich guys can have which poor guys only dream about. Women get objectified in that view, though, and if you step away from the objectification you end up with a story about why people cheat. I guess I'm glad that the story ended up going that way. Still, the hook is a weird one.