The Metro ran an editorial by Jonathan Alpert entitled “Powerful Philanderers,” reproduced below in its entirety, comparing the news of Schwarzenegger’s illegitimate child with the news of Strass-Kahn’s alleged rape of a maid. I found it offensive and illogical. My reaction appears underneath.

The news of Arnold Schwarzenegger having a love child and of the alleged rape by Dominique Strauss-Kahn has me wondering: Is there a connection between people in positions of power and committing such acts?

People sometimes believe that celebrities, politicians and others in a position of power and influence aren’t susceptible to the same problems that plague the average Joe — when in fact, the famous are not immune from the ills of society. Given certain personality traits and circumstances, they might be even more likely to commit such acts.

Think about the traits that drive someone like the Governator and Dominique Strauss-Kahn to their positions. In the case of politicians, you often have people who are risk-takers, thrill-seekers and adrenaline junkies who thrive on the rush and excitement of being the center of attention. The larger-than-life ego, grand sense of entitlement and narcissism that run amok are fertile grounds for trouble. Throw into the mix the strain that being in the political spotlight can have on the marriage and you have trouble waiting to happen.

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the powerful aphrodisiac that comes from being in a high political position or being a celebrity. Stardom is seductive, and people might gravitate towards such figures; they might feel that to be with someone wealthy and successful provides security. In the case of Monica and Bill — and perhaps Arnold’s housekeeper — there was probably a level of attraction based purely on the superstar status. Groupies abound and aren’t limited to just the music scene.

My response, which they chose not to print:

Comparing Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dominique Strauss-Kahn is dangerous territory to begin with (one had a consensual extramarital relationship with someone he had known for many years while the other is awaiting trial on charges of sexual assault for raping a stranger and holding her hostage for several hours).

On top of that, to suggest that these two cases were the result of “the powerful aphrodisiac that comes from being in a high political position” and to say that “Groupies abound” is what really made this article offensive to me.

As a student at Brandeis University who recently completed an internship with a domestic violence transitional living program, I cannot accept treating rape the same as having a consensual affair, and I think for you to suggest that these two news pieces are in any way similar because of their “sex” appeal demonstrates just how misunderstood sex crimes are in our society, and why they keep occurring.

The only way to stop this cycle of violence is to recognize the difference between the cheaters (Schwarzenegger), whose affairs should remain between the people who are married, and the rapists (Strauss-Kahn), whose crimes we must condemn publicly. But we must never blame the victim, as you seem to want to do.

3 comments on “Metro Newspaper Equates Adultery with Sexual Abuse”

  1. Esther Brandon Says:

    Go Elly! Tell them girl!

  2. Longino Says:

    “you often have people who are risk-takers, thrill-seekers and adrenaline junkies who thrive on the rush and excitement of being the center of attention. The larger-than-life ego, grand sense of entitlement and narcissism that run amok are fertile grounds for trouble. Throw into the mix the strain that being in the political spotlight can have on the marriage and you have trouble waiting to happen.”

    The characteristics described by Albert in this passage are true of most sociopaths who rape: http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/ccp/65/5/848/

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/1097-4679(197804)34:23.0.CO;2-R/abstract

    http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=qObabPbmEgIC&oi=fnd&pg=PR10&dq=profiles+of+rapists&ots=vhQ0sMnjeS&sig=I9ypxB43TmYHdGqGctsFoi0TSHk#v=onepage&q=profiles%20of%20rapists&f=false

    The link between sociopathy, risk taking, and deception has also been established quite well in a recent study comparing politicians to sociopaths: http://www.examiner.com/law-enforcement-in-national/serial-killers-and-politicians-share-traits

    So it seems then that Jon Alpert’s professional experience as a psychiatrist has served him will here in explaining the reasons for adulterous activity and rape amongst famous people.

    “On top of that, to suggest that these two cases were the result of “the powerful aphrodisiac that comes from being in a high political position” and to say that “Groupies abound” is what really made this article offensive to me.”

    Perhaps you should have paid more attention to the context in which the statement that “groupies abound” was made: IN THE CASE OF MONICA AND BILL — and PERHAPS Arnold’s housekeeper — there was probably a level of attraction based purely on the superstar status. Groupies abound and aren’t limited to just the music scene.

    So in other words, if it’s not already clear from my emphasis with capital letters, neither agent here was directly referred to when “groupies abound” was uttered, and one of them, Schwarzenegger, was referenced as a *possible* case in which allure from fame caused his adultery.

    “As a student at Brandeis University who recently completed an internship with a domestic violence transitional living program, I cannot accept treating rape the same as having a consensual affair”

    Since nobody has suggested that rape and adultery are morally equivalent, this seems to be a rather strange statement. That is of course unless you think a professional psychiatrist views both of them as equally reprehensible. If that should be the case, which I doubt it is, it would seem very difficult to deduce from this passage (which was a psychological analysis of the causes of adultery and rape, and a rather cogent one given the literature I have just referenced).

    “I think for you to suggest that these two news pieces are in any way similar because of their “sex” appeal demonstrates just how misunderstood sex crimes are in our society”

    I think it’s advisable to not criticize professional psychiatrists on their psychiatric argumentation unless you have some pretty good data to back up your sentiments.

    “the cheaters (Schwarzenegger), whose affairs should remain between the people who are married, and the rapists (Strauss-Kahn), whose crimes we must condemn publicly.”

    See this statement makes a lot of sense. Marriage shouldn’t be in the legal sphere at all.

    “But we must never blame the victim, as you seem to want to do.”

    Now this one definitely doesn’t. Seems even the most obscurantist literary critic would be unable to somehow shoehorn victim blaming into any interpretation of Albert’s column. But I suppose dispositions effect the charitability of our interpretations a lot.

  3. user29 Says:

    http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2011/0628/At-colleges-plagued-with-date-rape-why-no-still-means-yes is also relevant to this debate.