Adultery is no big deal. Home wreckers are heroes. There is nothing wrong with breaking up families, it just happens. This is the type of sentiment that emanates from commentary covering the death of Cecil Parkinson.
I was two when this story broke so I don’t have first hand memories of it. But supposedly we live in much better times now when no judgement should attach to the conduct of a married man, who carries on a 12-year affair resulting in a child born out of wedlock. And anyone who does attach judgement to it should themselves be judged and condemned. It is a funny flip.
It is true that Hugo Rifkind of The Times says we should be entitled to judge a politician’s character, which includes his private life. However, Rifkind also believes the idea of resigning over an adulterous affair is ‘mad’ and could not happen again.
I don’t think it is terrible thing if a politician has to resign over such behaviour, and I am not too sure that if a high ranking Cabinet Minister did the same today, we (the plebs) would just look the other way.
The commentary on Parkinson’s mistress, Sara Keays, was really something. Ms Keays was (according to Alice Thomson also in The Times) pretty much a hero. All single mothers are heroes now but shamefully, in Thomson’s opinion, they are ‘ignored.’
They are ignored, if you are willing to ignore the vast amounts of welfare spent on this economically unviable family form. On this definition I wish the traditional family was ignored a bit more.
But it is the idea that women who knowingly set out to have affairs with married men should be entirely without judgement that I find peculiar.
Women who have affairs with married men are not heroes. This behaviour is not morally neutral. It has consequences, very real consequences that impact on children and on society.
I wonder if the commentators who are compassion-signalling over the plight of Parkinson and Keays, ever stop to think about what impact this affair had on Parkinson’s wife. This was not just a fling, but a 12-year affair. It must have been devastating and humiliating when she found out.
Let’s explore this further. What did Keays (and all the other women out there who conduct affairs with married men) hope to achieve? In essence she wanted him to leave his wife and children for her. She wanted that family to break up, so she could start her own, only with someone else’s husband and father.
We should never forget the devastation that family breakup causes to children and the impact on wider society. It is bad enough if marriages fail by themselves, because of irreconcilable differences. But when adults set out to deliberately wreck families – that is a special kind of nastiness.
Do they consider that perhaps the family home will have to be sold, that the kids will have to pack up their things and move house, and even move schools? Do they care that the children are told that they will only see their father when suitable arrangements can be made? Do they care if the family has to rely upon the welfare state (i.e. the taxpayer) to survive? I doubt it.
I wonder if women who conduct affairs ever think about this. Are they willing to look these children in the eye and say, I don’t care about your family, I only care about me. I want your father and you are going to have to deal with it. (How anyone could find such a disloyal man attractive is beyond me, but that is a blog for another day.)
This is the reality of adultery, and this is the reality of hunting for other women’s husbands; you are destroying families and childhoods. The impact on these children lasts well into their teens if not beyond. In a previous study we are told, “divorce has a devastating impact on the children of divided couples, leading to poor examination results and driving them to abuse alcohol or drugs.”
So no, home wrecking is not a morally neutral decision and it certainly is not something we should be celebrating.
But what of the married men, I hear you ask? Sure, they should know better and deserve the shame they bring on themselves but I always hold women to higher standards of behaviour than I do men. Stealing other women’s husbands is a betrayal of the sisterhood, pure and simple. And it deserves condemnation.