The media maelstrom surrounding Tiger Woods has been a pathetic circus of Victorian “judgementalism”, a sad commentary on our culture’s need to utilize the private (or not so private in Tiger’s case) lives of public figures to sharpen the fangs of our self-righteousness. I’m not saying this in any sort of defense of Wood’s behavior. The pain his all too public indiscretions brought upon his spouse, children, family and friends, as well as to his business relationships, cannot be ignored. What I take issue with is a cultural false piety that demands that he somehow owes “us”, the public, any sort of apology. He does not. His trespass was against his relationships, in not keeping the promises that he made in the aforementioned committed relationships, not to anyone or anything else.
What equally astounds me is this feigned incredulity that a man of his ego, power, and practically inexhaustible means would do what he did. Men screw around. Many men screw around, and let us not forget, they screw around with women. So, I’ll revise this, people screw around. Monogamy, as we project it in its utterly sanctified state does not exist. We are not, in our behavior primarily monogamous. This is not to suggest that our sexual predilections are beyond our control, they are not. Millions of couples exist in relationships where in they maintain the physical monogamy of their marriages. Millions do not. Again, why are we astounded, in this age of pornification? It’s no small wonder to me that many of the women that Tiger had dalliances with were porn stars, or escorts, or simply “regular” women possessive of the mentality of porn stars or escorts. In short, they are willing to trade sexual favors for money, goods, associative power, or opportunity. This is not a judgment. I in fact believe that there maybe a legitimate context for this type of exchange, if it can be done with honesty, transparency, and outside the context of addiction, laziness, and exploitation….that is to say a very limited context.
Again the problem with this incredulity and judgment is that it creates a vacuum of discussion. We are continually engaged in a cultural/sexual dialogue about what we should do vs. what our actual behaviors are, and what the impact on intimacy, longevity, and ultimately satisfaction in relationships is. This is often why when there is discussion of alternative ways of being in relationship with others, such as polyamorous arrangements, the immediate response is often a moral one, often instantly oriented towards why this is impossible, why it is a compromise, why it is of necessity a morally inferior choice.
It is quite possible that in the majority of these liaisons Woods had, he had convinced himself that the possible impact on his family would be limited, because he was securing the “services” of professionals. But, he did not behave, strangely enough as it may sound, “professionally” within the sub cultural code of these types of arrangements. He made it personal. And by making some of these relationships personal, he changed the rules in the whore-client dyad. I mean no offense to whores of any type with my use of the word. It is simply descriptive. We are all whores in certain contexts. If it’s personal, the whore reserves the right to react personally, as a citizen as it were. If it stays business, lips are sealed, deals are kept, and all is “right” with the world. Tiger did not play by the rules in the land of sexual pay for play. For Tiger, the chickens have truly come home to roost. As for the rest of us, when are we going to have an honest, solution-focused, morally balanced discussion concerning why human beings stray outside the confines of committed relationships?