Tiger's Tale.

by Leslie Morgan Steiner

 

Unless you’ve been in a tree house for the past two weeks, you know that uber-golfer and sports idol Tiger Woods has confessed to cheating on his beautiful blond Swedish wife regularly throughout their five year marriage, during which time his wife gave birth to their two young children. The infidelity seems to have occurred with an indeterminate number of Manhattan, Los Angeles and Las Vegas cocktail hostesses and event planners Tiger met during his frequent golf and promotion-related travel, including times that wife Elin Nordegren was pregnant and about to give birth. Over Thanksgiving weekend – never a good time for family confrontations, it seems – Tiger and his wife got into an emotional fight which resulted in Tiger leaving his Florida home at 2:30 am barefoot and bruised, pursued by his wife, who carried a golf club and broke the back window of Tiger’s black Cadillac Escalade.

 

Perhaps predictably, late night comedians and email jokesters have had a field day with the permutations of exactly what Elin Nordegren was doing with the golf club. Now, no one ever deserves to be physically attacked by a loved one, no matter the provocation. Whether you’re pursued with a golf club, a gun or someone’s fists, violence is unacceptable. And it’s certainly true that men can be victims of domestic violence. In fact, roughly 15% of reported victims are male.

 

However, an isolated incident of rage such as Elin Nordegren apparently experienced does NOT constitute domestic violence. One transgression cannot compare to years of systematic degradation, humiliation, emotional manipulation and physical abuse. It's unfair to the millions of victims (men and women) to describe what happened between the couple as domestic violence.

 

This domestic battery accusation, whether a joke or serious, seems to me to be a cover for the real sin here, one that millions have experienced: male infidelity and society's judgment (or lack of judgment) towards men who commit it, plus what society considers acceptable reactions by a wife.

 

Society preaches spousal forgiveness in situations like this. Especially when the perpetrator is male, wealthy, and admired by the community. He’s only human, he’s a good provider, what do you expect of a man exposed to such unlimited temptation? The message to the betrayed wife: practice absolution and move on for the family’s sake. An eerily similar message used to be handed to victims of domestic violence: He was angry, he’s a good person at heart, take pity on him, give him another chance.

 

I have a different message to deliver.

 

Infidelity -- especially repeat incidents when the victim is pregnant and recovering from childbirth -- IS a form of abuse. When I was pregnant, I needed my husband’s fidelity more than anyone could have ever imagined or I could have put into words. I don't condone Elin Nordegren’s alleged attack on Tiger or destruction of his car, but I have tremendous sympathy for her emotional, furious reaction to having been lied to and betrayed by her husband. I suspect a lot of women share my empathy for how angry she must have been and must still be.

 

leslie morgan s...
12.16.09

Leslie Morgan Steiner

Finally, finally people are coming out against Tiger. But it's taken a VERY long time! And so much of the criticism has been about his choice of partners (as if having more sophisticated, racially diverse adulterous partners would make his betrayal of his wife more palatable) and his bungling of a public relations situation. In my mind, Tiger Woods deserves heat not for these transgressions but for being a predatory, serial adulterer who treated his wife and young children with great cruelty.

tsquire
12.15.09

I agree with most of your points, however, I think that society is speaking out against his behaviour (despite the jokes) as is the case now with his sponsors dropping him as spokesperson for products formerly endorsed by himself.

I believe that to be a testament to the reaction that society has towards infidelity. They do look to him as a representative nor see him as a strong spokesperson who holds much credibility any longer.

leslie morgan s...
12.11.09

Leslie Morgan Steiner

Intentional, predatory, serial adultery like this is abuse. No matter your (or your partner's) skin color, degree of beauty, height, weight, income level, sexual preference, nationality...etc. If you are human, this kind of betrayal is excruciating.

jacinda
12.11.09

Moreover, I'd rather be cheated on ten million times than hit once. As someone who's been there (boy did I WISH he would have found another woman), scared out of her mind of the violence and afraid to even get out of the situation, it kind of enrages me that the two are even being compared.

jacinda
12.11.09

No, DebD, not racially sidetracking the family travesty. Merely pointing out the way the news media--and this author--have chosen to cover it. Elin is painstakingly described here (and in other news stories) as a beautiful, blond Swede, as though that somehow makes it worse that he cheated on her. And if you don't believe that this wouln't be as much of a news story if Tiger was married to a Black woman, you are either insanely naive or not living in this country. Yes, it's a travesty. A major news story that trumps just about everything else? Not really. Okay, so now that I'm not distracted, I also don't agree that ONE act of physical violence doesn't constitute domestic violence (and how do we know that she tried to kill him only once?) My ex-husband (who, just FYI and tangentially--haha, is White) beat me up once. Just the one time made me afraid of him forever. Like a prison cellmate, some partners need only beat their spouses once to get the message across, that you need tiptoe on eggshells around them for the rest of the time you're living together. Sorry, but one act is most definitely domestic violence. And she did this in front of her kids? Over some tramp? Ugh.

vlarson
12.11.09

Actually, DebD, I totally understand the "far-ranging consequences of marital infidelity, and the serious and permanent damage it inflicts on all those in its wake" — because my former husband cheated on me.

Yes it is the "quintessential form of dishonesty." "Severe psychological problems"? No. "Serious character issues"? You bet!

I was not "abused," but I certainly was not respected.

In any event, as understandable as Elin's golf-club-wielding response may be given the horrific sense of betrayal it just doesn't justify or excuse violence.

And unless you personally know the "circumstances" that are indeed germane to the "Woods family scenario" (from personal experience, not from what we are being told/shown in the media), you — and all of us — are merely speculating.

Maybe we should all be focusing on our own "family scenarios."

DebD
12.10.09

Deb,SF/HI

I totally agree with marinmama71, on ALL points.

I disagree with both jacinda (racially sidetracking this family travesty is completely inappropriate) and vlarson (circumstances described not germane to Woods family scenario).

Infidelity IS domestic abuse, whether discovered or undiscovered by the spouse suffering the abuse. To say otherwise is to not understand the far-ranging consequences of marital infidelity, and the serious and permanent damage it inflicts on all those in its wake. It is, quite possibly, the quintessential form of dishonesty. It most certainly is evidence of severe psychological problems, and serious character issues.

marinmama71
12.09.09

Thank you for this posting. I could not agree more. The bottom line is he treated her reprehensively, and the media got caught up in the cover up story. Folks should take a step back and picture the scenario of a new mom at home with a newborn while her husband is out romancing another. It's wrong and sad, no matter what your race or income level. Leslie, I love that you are brave enough to address subjects others are too afraid to touch. In terms of Elin, my heart goes out to her.

jacinda
12.08.09

I'm so distracted from the point you are trying to make because of your choice to describe Elin Nordgren as Tiger's "beautiful blond Swedish wife." Huh? Let's not pretend there aren't racial undertones to this as a major news story. Flip it. Would you have taken such pains to describe a Black woman married to a White golfer?

vlarson
12.08.09

While I think you bring up a lot of good points, you're off on a few.

Wasn't it Oprah who advised Rhianna this spring that "if a man hits you once, he will hit you again." That's the advice many women get, so saying that "an isolated incident of rage such as Elin Nordegren apparently experienced does NOT constitute domestic violence" is a double standard. And, how does anyone know it was an isolated incident? Men don't report violence by women against them, and you can probably guess why. How many battered men's shelters do you know about?

Anyone who has been cheated on probably knows how Elin feels. But as devastating as infidelity is, I don't see it as abuse — it's the ultimate deception and violation of trust, but if the spouse doesn't know about it (meaning the partner is able to hide it well), it doesn't seem to be emotional abuse, and if he/she does know and continues to stay for whatever reason (young kids, prenup, etc.) then he/she is a willing partner in the deception.

In any event, violence is never OK, not for a man, not for a woman. No matter who started it,