Saturday, February 20, 2010

SAY IT'S SO, TIGER

Why does Tiger Woods owe us an apology?

by Ted Rall

Let's assume that all the accusations of serial philandering are true. That no waitress was safe from his charms. What right do we, the public, have to be upset?

Woods never presented himself as a pillar of moral virtue. He marketed himself as a great golfer. His job was to knock balls into holes--which he did. He didn't cheat at golf.

Nowhere in America lives a kid who looked up to Tiger because he thought he was faithful to his wife.

Woods wasn't some right-wing hypocrite. He didn't preach. His church was the Chapel of Sports Excellence.

Apologize? What for?

I'm not even sure he owes his wife an apology. According to various reports (although I fathom not how said accounts were sourced), Woods' wife lost interest in sex after having kids. If she turned colder, oh well. Things happen. Tiger didn't have the right to demand that she put out. But he had every right--the duty, even, if there was to be any chance of his keeping his family intact from divorce--to have some fun on the side.

If Mrs. Woods wanted it ten times a day, on the other hand, he owes her an apology. Her. Not us.

Yet the media is tearing Tiger a new one. "The fact that he isn't allowing questions and is positioning his friends and handpicked reporters as props [at his tele-apology] is the height of arrogance," publicist Nick Ragone told The New York Post. "At some point, he'll be shamed into doing a true mea culpa." Another PR flack said: "He didn't think enough of his fans back then [three months ago, when the scandal broke] to do the right thing."

"Mea culpa"? What for? "Think enough of his fans"? How is Tiger's sex life the business of his fans? Although, personally, I was surprised to find out he was straight. But I digress.

More than 150 years ago, Nathaniel Hawthorne posited that America's original sin was its Puritan heritage. Isn't it time we grew up?

Several years ago a book appeared with a provocative title: Against Love. Who could be against love, I wondered, and why? Not the author, Laura Kipnis. "Clearly no one can be against love," she writes. It turned out that she was actually against monogamy. Monogamy, Kipnis argued, stifles passion.

"Adultery is basically a referendum on the sustainability of monogamy, which means a referendum on the basic premises of modern coupled life, namely that desire will persist throughout a decades-long relationship, " writes Kipnis. "If it doesn't apparently you're supposed to either give up sex, or 'work harder' at it. Adultery is the collective--if secretive--rebellion against these strictures, but also a backdoor way of experimenting with possibilities for more gratification than what we're officially allowed, a workshop for wanting "more" that what current social institutions provide."

So why did she choose that title? I don't know for sure, but I bet the fact that opposing love is less controversial than opposing monogamous relationships had something to do with it.

What's surprising is that people act so shocked when you speak out against monogamy. If a make of car failed as often as monogamy does, if it burst into flames half the time you took it out for a ride--that's the divorce rate--it would be recalled. Monogamous marriage is so widely recognized as a lemon that it has spawned countless pop culture parodies ("The Lockhorns" comic strip, the "Married with Children" TV show).

People talk about elderly married couples who are still happy and in love in the hushed, reverential tones used while standing in front of the "Mona Lisa" the first time or witnessing a UFO landing in front of the White House. If a car almost never worked, its manufacturers would be thrown in prison.

Tiger Woods, in other words, is merely the latest of billions of human beings who have been victimized by a crummy, worthless system that has only been around less than one percent of human history, one that everyone hates but is afraid to admit. He hates it, his wife hates it, most of us hate it. Yet we all pay it lip service.

Truth be told, the Tiger Woods "scandal" exists mainly in the minds of media gatekeepers. The topic was discussed in bars and break rooms and cafes, but nary a "what a pig!" has been heard. The reason is obvious: most Americans have cheated. Some have as many lovers as Tiger.

Against logic and reason, the fidelity hoax goes on. Tiger Woods isn't a sex addict--he's a human being who likes to have sex. Lots and lots of sex.

Tiger Woods shouldn't apologize--he should teach classes.

(Ted Rall is the author, with Pablo G. Callejo, of the graphic memoir "The Year of Loving Dangerously.")

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