Opinion

Commentary: Nothing's shocking about Schwarzenegger's 'love child'

I'm neither shocked nor bothered that former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has a "love child." I find all the lamentations and tsk, tsk, tsking about it hypocritical. Schwarzenegger comes out of Hollywood and the bodybuilding world, two of the most misogynistic and sex-saturated corners of our misogynistic and sex-saturated culture.

Any voters who paid attention knew, or should have known, that he was probably a serial groper and that he may have had sex with women other than his wife, never mind Maria Shriver's shrill, heat-of-the-campaign, stand-by-my-man defense.

We – and I use the pronoun here loosely to denote a collective California "we"; I personally never voted for the man – voted for Arnold because we liked him. We thought an action hero would painlessly and quickly fix our badly broken state just like they do in all the movies. We were lazy, delusional, seduced by celebrity and unwilling to do the hard and necessary stuff like pay more taxes, cut pay and benefits or slash services. We still are. We didn't care about his sexual escapades. I still don't.

I find the electorate's demand for sexual purity from our politicians unreasonable. We insist on fantasies – perfect little families, with adoring wives, cute kids and, above all, faithfulness. When politicians fail to meet those expectations – former Sen. John Edwards, Govs. Eliot Spitzer and Mark Sanford, President Bill Clinton, the list could go on and on – we heap scorn upon them and banish them from public life, at least for a while.

Why do we presume men are always the bad guys in these scenarios? Rich men, handsome men, powerful men – and Arnold was all those things – are sometimes pursued by rapacious women. As a young reporter in the Capitol during Jerry Brown's first term as governor, when he was young, had all his hair and was exceedingly handsome, I watched female groupies regularly descend upon him. When he ran for president the first time, I took a trip across country on his campaign plane. Aboard that plane, I saw female reporters put the make on him in ways I found frankly shocking.

Then there's this: I believe what consenting adults do in the privacy of their homes is their own business. If there was no coercion in the Schwarzenegger affair, and so far I've seen no evidence to suggest that there was, it's their concern and their spouses'.

As for infidelity, no one on the outside really knows what happens inside other people's marriages. When friends or family members get divorces, I try to withhold judgment and give them space to sort things out. I think that should go for public figures as well. Given our fascination with celebrity, that won't happen here and that's too bad.

If we were really as concerned about the children – and I mean all the children, Arnold and Maria's four and the "other woman's" son as well – as everyone claims to be, we would all back off and afford them the dignity of privacy.

Fat chance.

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