Gordon Chaffin asserts that just because the husbands of the two women involved in the Petraeus sex scandals aren’t making a show of grief, that doesn’t mean they’re not upset.
We’ve spent quite a lot of time discussing the two women who allegedly had affairs with resigned CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus: Patreaus biographer Paula Broadwell and Tampa* socialite Jill Kelley. What we haven’t been discussing in great detail are their husbands, Dr. Scott Broadwell and Dr. Scott Kelley. Hard to believe that we’ve been overlooking the fact that both alleged mistresses were married to doctors, both named Scott. And it really is unfortunate that we’ve heard so little about the FBI agent who discovered Patreaus’s infidelity after a seemingly unrelated complaint from Mrs. Kelley, and then sent Mrs. Kelley shirtless pictures of himself.
More importantly, I’d like to point out something that the wonderful women on ABC’s The View seem to have overlooked. To their credit, they did discuss the slighted husbands, wondering how Drs. Broadwell and Kelley were dealing with the whole scandal. In what was a longer discussion, the View pundits spent a few minutes discussing men. Men handling the infidelity of their wives. Let’s focus on that.
I love the women of The View, but they were way off here. The consensus at their table was that the two men were ducking media attention and refraining from public comment because they are hoping to ride this out and parlay it into a media payoff or a reality show. They compared the “women who stand by their man” with these two doctors, and men in general, as cold and less interested in reconciling the emotional damage with their spouses than a woman would in the situation.
Women deal with an affair of their high profile husband with emotion, even when they stick around. Wives disclose that they’re working on their marriages; husbands of cheating wives shut up and go cold. Notice a pattern? Yes, this is an extension of the men-don’t-emote stereotype.
The thrust of my point here is not that the husbands should be a major media topic (I await comments with links to news stories), but that the husbands aren’t being cold, they aren’t being unfeeling. Drs. Scott and Kelley are probably emotional wrecks right now. That doesn’t mean they show it.
Men have just as much capability for communication as women and we feel emotion of the same magnitude, even when our outward expressions do not. I’m not a fan of gender stereotypes and double standards when they are anti-women, and I certainly don’t put up with them when they’re anti-men. I feel the latter is the case here. Men, though we have certain psychological and biological tendencies, are not the stoics that most of culture makes us out to be. Good men are not as the romantic comedies portray them to be: emotionally inept fools who can’t communicate feelings, much less experience them in coherent capacity.
Drs. Broadwell and Kelley are probably feeling just as much anguish, confusion, betrayal, and anger as would their wives, or wives in general in such a situation. Good men experience emotions just as women, but perhaps the majority of men choose to express them differently than women. That’s alright. We’re from “different planets” after all.
Good men can be stoic, good men can be happy warriors, good men can defend honor and good men can “stand by their woman.” Those same men can, at the same time, be scared, torn, and hurt. We’re not unfeeling creatures, we’re just different.
*Correction, originally listed as Miami.