When considering the “Adulterous Dads of Brooklyn” be wary of soft data and hard ambitions.
AshleyMadison.com®. God in heaven, to be a fly on the wall when they were dreaming up the name for that website. I took a little tour of it this evening after Hugo Schwyzer brought it to my attention in a recent article for Jezebel entitled, “The Cheating Dads of Brooklyn”. As you may know, AshleyMadison.com is a site that helps married people find partners to cheat on their spouses.
AshleyMadison.com’s tag line is Life is short. Have an affair®. It’s registered. So, have an affair, but don’t have that sentence. It belongs to Ashley. Or Madison.
Hugo and the New York Post both ran articles on some new infidelity data provided by AshleyMadison.com. And the data was extra NAUGHTY. Hugo writes: “Park Slope is already infamous for its anxiety-ridden, helicoptering parents. It appears that all of that obsessiveness isn’t just bad for the kids growing up around Prospect Park. It’s also wreaking havoc on their parents’ marriages. According to Ashley Madison –- the website devoted to enabling adultery — Brooklyn’s most desirable community is home to more cheating spouses than any other neighborhood in New York City.”
Which got me doing a little hard hitting investigative journalism of my own. Because this story raised some big questions for me. For instance: How did they ever narrow it down to those two names? Ashley and Madison? What about the other top cheerleader names? What about Brittany, Jennifer, Jessica, Cindy, Megan or Kristen? What about Randi? Randi could have worked, right?
Anyway, let me save you a trip over to AshleyMadison.com. I logged on, so you don’t have to. Imagine lots of pouting men and women with screen names like Candygrrrl, NightAngel or ManPower. Per Hugo, the site’s CEO Noel Biderman”…notes that men and women cheat for different reasons. ‘For women, the more successful they are, the more likely they are to cheat. For men, we’ve found that infidelity usually comes into play when children come on to the scene.’”
And there you have it. The hard science. The statistical data. The facts.
Although, I have to say, when I signed up at AshleyMadison.com to have a look see, they didn’t even ask my real name. There wasn’t anywhere to post pictures of my kids or even say whether I had any. There wasn’t even a place to link to my Facebook page. HELLO! Social networking! Which leads me to ask a pretty obvious question: How did Biderman determine which of his members have kids?
But never mind all that stuff, what’s even more startling to me is this amazing fact: my research has turned up an additional treasure trove of names that Biderman and his crack team must have turned to in order to name his site. Although cheerleader name sites were no doubt a rich vein to mine, it wasn’t until he turned to websites devoted to “preppy names” that he hit infidelity marketing pay dirt. Madison. Madison is a preppy name.
I tear up a little when I imagine that amazing moment when the AshleyMadison.com brand was born. Talk about your new life! Sniff.
To sum up Biderman’s conclusions, women give birth and (ding!) men go hop in bed with other women. Why? Because men are big spoiled babies who don’t want to share the boobie with any grabby little suckerfish of a kid. So they go and hook up with NightAngel and, man, is that some terrific unnibbled boobie. And that, as they say in academic circles, is all she wrote.
Which leaves us with the following question: does AshleyMadison.com CEO Noel Biderman’s conclusions about his customers really tell us anything useful about new fathers and infidelity? Or does it simply enlighten us about AshleyMadison.com’s marketing priorities? If the internet has done anything, it has taught us to be wary of soft data and hard ambitions.
The fact is, Biderman doesn’t know which of his anonymous members even have kids; making AshleyMadison.com’s CEO the last guy in the world who should be holding forth to the press about new fathers and infidelity. New Dads and Moms have enough challenges without this damaging narrative about new fathers being promoted.
By the way, a better and far more reliable source on issues surrounding infidelity would be psychologist Esther Perel. Her international bestseller Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence speaks to the vast range of challenges couples face in keeping the romance in their marriages. And Perel has a much more nuanced view on the roles of both men and women in the causes and cures for infidelity.
Photo courtesy of wife finding husband cheating courtesy of Shutterstock.