New commenter Tab Spangler linked to a blog post by Glenn Greenwald on a woman who fears being outed for her infidelity because of the Ashley Madison hack.
I am female, hold a job with a lot of responsibility, have three kids, one with special needs, and a husband with whom I have not been intimate for several years due to his cancer treatments.
I also used to write about marriage law policy, encouraging traditional marriage for the good of children. My institution has a morality clause in all contracts.
Mine is a loveless, sexless, parenting marriage. I will care for my husband if his cancer spreads, we manage good will for the sake of the children, but we cannot talk about my emotional or sexual needs without him fixating on his death and crying.
Greenwald chose this woman’s example in order to argue for sympathy for the people who are being exposed by the hackers:
As I argued last week, even for the most simplistic, worst-case-scenario, cartoon-villain depictions of the Ashley Madison user — a spouse who selfishly seeks hedonistic pleasure with indifference toward his or her own marital vows and by deceiving the spouse — that’s nobody’s business other than those who are parties to that marriage or, perhaps, their family members and close friends. But as the fallout begins from this leak, as people’s careers and reputations begin to be ruined, as unconfirmed reports emerge that some users have committed suicide, it’s worth remembering that the reality is often far more complex than the smug moralizers suggest.
Certainly anyone with a dying spouse is in an incredibly difficult situation, and by focusing on a woman Greenwald made a sympathetic reaction much more likely by his readers. However, the woman’s profound lack of repentance for her infidelity and empathy for her dying husband are astounding. Her only repentance is for previously holding marriage vows as sacred:
My experiences have led me to soften my views of marriage as my own marriage is a deeply humbling, painful longterm commitment.
I expect to be ridiculed by colleagues, to lose my job, and to be publicly shamed, especially as a hypocrite…
When my outing happens, I suppose I might as well take a stand for those who are trapped in bad marriages. Many of us are doing the best we can, trying in our own imperfect way to cope with alienation, lovelessness, and physical deprivation.
She and Greenwald are on the same page here; the only sin is calling out sin (unless you are calling out the sin of calling out sin, which is of course righteous).
She is also very open about seeing her husband as a villain for not offering her a free pass to whore around while he is sick (and she suggests dying). For what else could she mean when she complains that she can’t “talk about my emotional or sexual needs without him fixating on his death and crying”? If he is unable to perform sexually, no amount of discussion will change that. What she clearly wants is his blessing to do what she did, but he is too selfish to give her this.
Greenwald frames his post as fighting for kindness for the cheating wife, but what he has done to her is anything but kindness. This woman is so self centered she can’t see her own wickedness; Greenwald fails her* by taking the easy path of coddling her and encouraging her to see herself as the victim. Greenwald gets to feel good for protecting a woman, even though he is in reality only harming her. Nothing Greenwald writes will change whether this woman is ultimately outed and loses her job (she has a morals clause in her contract), but he has encouraged her to see her wickedness as not wicked at all. Even worse, she claims she is making a martyr of herself (by remaining married and cheating) “for the children”, but by encouraging her view of herself as the victim it is very likely the children will have the burden of not just a dying father, but of a moral message that their father was cruel for not giving their mother license to cheat while he was dying.
*Greenwald is writing from a secular perspective, but fails her in the same way Christian men are failing Christian women.