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Politicians' Wives Need to Stop the "Stand By Your Man" Routine

I’m not suggesting that the cheated-upon wives should leave their husbands—but this politically calculated cliché needs to be abandoned.
 
 
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This article in the San Francisco Chronicle about why political wives allow themselves to be put through the humiliating “stand by your man” routine, wherein you literally stand by your man while he admits (or issues a semi-admission/semi-denial) to fucking a mistress, another man, or a prostitute to the press, is pretty interesting. Of course, to hear Dr. Laura speak it, the women being put through this humiliation at the behest of their beloveds (or at least sources of prestige and income) are being let off easy. They probably should be the ones apologizing, since they the reason men cheat, and if they were more submissive, this wouldn’t happen. But I suppose standing silently with pain written all over your face while your husband tells the press about his extra-marital dalliances is the first step on the long road to proper wifely submission.

All joking aside, it’s more painful when it’s a Democrat, isn’t it? Republican wives are a little easier to understand, aren’t they? Being a political wife is their career, and so standing by your man is basically just shoving through a major issue at your job, with the hopes that things will continue as normal soon. But the Democratic men are another story altogether—the high power, professional wife with a life of her own has become the standard. As the Chronicle states, Silda Wall Spitzer fits into this mold, with her history of being a handsomely paid Wall Street attorney. Same story with Hillary Clinton clutching Bill’s hand in 1992 to wave away his infidelities. These are women you can imagine just packing their things and walking straight into a brand new life without him.

I will say that one thing does go unmentioned in this story, a glaring omission that points to some of the issues here.

Silda Spitzer was following roughly the same script used by the spouse of Louisiana Sen. David Vitter after his name was found on a madam’s list last year; by the wife of Idaho Sen. Larry Craig after he was arrested for disorderly conduct for allegedly trying to pick up an undercover police officer in an airport bathroom last year; and by the wife of New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey who stood by when he announced he had a gay lover who also was a state employee.

And, perhaps most famously, Silda Spitzer followed the model used in 1992 by Hillary Clinton in a joint “60 Minutes” interview with her husband, Bill, then a presidential candidate. Responding to allegations that Bill Clinton had had an extramarital affair, Hillary Clinton created a media template for spousal behavior in times of scandal.

Amanda Marcotte co-writes the popular blog Pandagon.

 
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