There is nothing shocking or new when we hear or read about actors, actresses or others in the entertainment world “sleeping around”. Affairs, multiple marriages, and divorces seem to be the norm. Society does not seem to fault them and, indeed, is entertained reading and hearing about their affairs.
In the nineties we started reading more and more about professional athletes, although married, having children out of wedlock. Indeed, one legendary basketball player claimed in his autobiography to have slept with over a thousand women. Despite the pain and hurt these affairs among athletes caused them in their personal lives, the public does not appear to be surprised or critical. The only consequence has been the loss of endorsement contracts where the endorsed products are marketed to “families”. Of course, the definition of “family” has changed over the years, but that is another story.
About 15 years ago we became more and more aware of leaders in government having extramarital affairs. The President of the United States was almost removed from office because of such a liaison. A U.S. senator and governor have resigned as a consequence of getting caught. Now we see that the Director of the CIA, our country’s most trusted secret agency, that depends on integrity and secrecy, has had one recent extramarital affair if not more. His resignation was unavoidable despite his incredible career accomplishments and outstanding qualifications for the job.
A number of CEOs of major corporate America have been discharged or resigned in disgrace because of extramarital affairs with subordinates. The electorate and public shareholders still seem to hold their leaders – the politians and corporate leaders – accountable for their infidelities, in contrast to entertainers and athletes who continue to be stars in their chosen fields. For corporate and political leaders, perhaps the reason is as simple as this: if you will cheat on your spouse you will cheat on your shareholders or the electorate. Nevertheless, year after year, there are always examples of cheating. Only the few catch the public eye, the ones that the media believes will sell newspapers or gain TV viewers and radio listeners—- exposing people known to the public. The affairs of a greater number of business and governmental leaders are below the radar, and their infidelities are generally fodder for gossip, but not news.
In thinking about the infidelities of entertainers, athletes, political leaders and corporate leaders, two questions come to mind: Is there an epidemic now going on? Is it only men who cheat?
I doubt very much that there is an epidemic. More likely, with the 24/7 news cycle, the advent of GPS, the advent of tiny cameras and microphones, and the proliferation of interceptible e-mails and text messages, more people are getting caught. As a divorce lawyer for over 40 years, I do not hear much more about infidelity now than I did in the early years of my practice. The reality is no one has the privacy that they formerly had. We have all compromised privacy by accepting the wonderful benefits of the computer and electronic world.
As to whether only men cheat, the answer is no. Look who our CEOs and elected officials have been – by far many more men. Political leaders and CEOs now have the same kind of groupies that entertainers and sport figures have always had chasing after them. Devoted employees and admiring voters put them on pedestals and compete for their attention. Lines between friendships with employees and supporters get blurred and temptations are enhanced. As more and more women become leaders in business and government they will be more susceptible to these temptations. We will in time likely read and hear more about the infidelities of women in industry and government. After all, women are human. Most of the time the infidelities that the men are committing are with women.
I do not want to leave the impression that I think most athletes, CEOs and governmental leaders cheat on their spouses. That is not the case at all. Certainly the great majority do not. As a matter of fact, if cheating was the norm, it wouldn’t be news.