October 1, 1996 · Cavalier Daily

Demystifying Media's Mistresses

This opinion columnist asserts that issues regarding women and adultery are often omitted from history and the media, in order to render them politically and socially acceptable. Further, she argues that women never receive a fair portrayal by the media, citing the adulterous affairs of Dick Morris and Stanford White as examples of one-sided stories.


1996-10-01 Cavalier Daily Demystifying Media's Mistresses.pdf
Kelly Geary
Cavalier Daily
Cavalier Daily
Demystifying Media's Mistresses
LEAVE it to those crazy late night Washington shenanigans to put questions of morality on the national front page. Dick Morris’ highly publicized affair with a hooker and his wife’s subsequent "calm" reaction has supplied the media enough headlines to cover my cat litter box - four times over. Why do I find so distasteful the media slant on that affair? For the same exact reason I would never be a University Guide.
Now that I have you thoroughly confused let me draw the logic line, crooked as it may be. Morris and Stanford White both are very demeaning, reprehensible people to innocent women. Who is Stanford White? He is the acclaimed architect who rebuilt the Rotunda in 1895 and added Cabell, Rouss and Cocke Halls to the University.
What the U Guides leave out on their tours is the much more intriguing story of White’s death – murdered in a New York theatre by the millionaire husband of Evelyn Nesbit, with whom he carried on an affair so shocking and sexually demented that it would send the Enquirer blushing.
I find equally distasteful the one-sided approach to truth the University Guides take regarding issues like the White Nesbit affair of 1905-06 to the national media’s condescending treatment of Eileen McGann in the Morris Adultery affair. But that dependence upon a truth that reflects only politically-correct and socially acceptable versions of real life are detectable in almost any story dealing with women and adultery.
Women, whether playing the role of the mistress or the betrayed wife, never receive a fair and just hearing in front of the media. You either are a slut or an annoying wife. You are responsible for the marriage falling apart.
But if you are the kind of woman who chooses to settle her personal problems in private, the media portrays you as a weak, dependent follower of the patriarchal system. Because McGann ashews [sic] the role of media darling, keeping fiery soundbites of anger silent, the media lambasts her for “letting down the side in the gender wars”. Perhaps the male author of this week’s Newsweek cover article on adultery does not realize ideas like the one he freely wheels above entrap women in an unbreakabl [sic] Catch 22.
How far have we come in accepting scorned women in this century? After Stanford White stole the virginity of his friend’s daughter in 1905, he set the path of ruin for his object of desire. Nesbit was 14 when White got her drunk and took her to bed for the first time. She thought that was what love was. God only knows what was going through White’s head. The affair eventually fizzled and Nesbit married millionaire Henry thaw. She confided in her husband her history with White. Thaw lost it and fired deadly shots into White’s head inside a posh theatre in a desperate attempt to redeem his wife’s past.
In 1996, White’s image, at least to unknowing University students, relates to his architectural genius alone. Seems a bit of a narrow focus now, doesn’t it? Nesbit is a long-faded memory of the vaudeville stage, where she conceded her theatrical talent to become a paid label – Mrs. Evelyn Nesbit Thaw, wife of murderer, mistress of murdered.
In the current issue of Newsweek, it becomes apparent to me that we have not come far in accepting women who are betrayed in marriage. Listen to the condescending tone writer Jerry Adler uses to describe the actions of a woman after she discovered that her husband had been sleeping with his jogging partner: (she) is actually a highly educated scientist, but whacked her husband in the chops as soon as he walked through the door, just like Roseanne would have.” And God help the woman who initiates the extramarital affair, as Adler infers that the influx of women into the workplace has created a rise in the number of female-initiated affairs. Equal employment also means equal opportunity to screw up one’s life. I guess Adler never has never [sic] heard of the timeless milkman, who frequented generations past of homemaking women.
Until women receive full, unbiased hearing when it comes to adultery – without regard to whether her role is of betrayed o betrayor [sic] – words like Adler’s will continue to line my litter box.
(Kelly Geary’s column appears Tuesdays in The Cavalier Daily.)
Date Added June 13, 2016
Date Modifed December 24, 2017
Collection Cavalier Daily: articles about gender discrimination

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