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The Tiger’s tale

When it comes to cheating, men and women are equal opportunity offenders, says Seema Goswami.

india Updated: Dec 12, 2009 18:57 IST
Seema Goswami

So, Tiger Woods turned out to be just another lying, cheating philanderer who played around on his wife. Over the years, as is now revealed, he has had a string of affairs, of the no-strings-attached variety, with a succession of bar hostesses, models and party girls. As of now, the (very voluptuous) body count stands at six but by the time you read this it may well have gone into double figures. So far, so sports star.

Yes, by now it is a truth universally celebrated by the tabloid press that men cheat. Rich, famous and powerful men cheat even more than others. And rich, famous, powerful sports stars are in a league of their own when it comes to cheating on their (mostly) blonde and beautiful wives.

And yet, no sooner had news of Tiger’s car colliding into a fire hydrant – and of his lovely wife, Elin, breaking the car windows with his golf club (now that must have hurt) ostensibly to rescue him – hit the press, than the usual articles spouting the same old platitudes about cheating men began sprouting all over the media.

How could Tiger do this to his elegant wife, the beautiful blonde who had given him two lovely children, the younger only a few months old? Wasn’t he supposed to be the Nice Guy who was boring as hell, the Original Mr Goodie Two-Shoes who had built up a sporting and endorsement-related fortune on the basis of his squeaky-clean reputation?

But as a succession of hard-faced floozies with identikit pumped-up lips and silicone breasts began pole-dancing – I exaggerate of course, but only a little – out of the woodwork, that reputation lay in tatters at the accident site outside Tiger’s expensive Florida estate house.

Cue a thousand columns and editorials about how this proved that you never could trust men after all. No matter how perfect their public image may be, behind it lay a sordid mess of one-night stands, raunchy phone messages, rough sex, and drug-fuelled romps with a series of mistresses in hotel suites across the world – and sometimes (shock! horror!) in the marital bed as well. Okay, we get it. Tiger Woods is now officially a Bad Guy. But you know what? He didn’t get up to all that extra-marital sex on his own. He was aided and abetted in his cheating by a line of sultry sirens who knew full well that he was married and a father of two. None of these women was under the illusion that this was some grand passion, or that the golfing genius was madly in love with her, or even that this was an affair that would last. Both parties knew exactly what they were getting into. So, why target Woods alone for letting his libido run riot? Why not point a finger at all those women who were clearly in it for a good time, a few first class trips, maybe an expensive present or two? Not to mention, the chance to sell their stories, complete with every sleazy detail, somewhere down the line, get their 15 seconds of fame and make a million or two while they are at it? Nobody saves 300 sex-texts, like the appropriately-named Jamie Grubbs did, unless they intend to use them at some future point. And yet, only Tiger Woods gets pilloried in the press, while his partners in crime get away with becoming C-grade celebrities who can now safely launch a career in show business (remember Rebecca Loos of David Beckham fame?). Am I the only person who thinks there is something wrong with this scenario?

Or let’s take another rabidly promiscuous man who is never out of the headlines: the astonishingly priapic Prime Minister of Italy Silvio Berlusconi. If he’s not hosting orgies at his country estate – with world leaders in attendance, no less – he is buying expensive birthday presents for an 18-year-old lingerie model. His Minister for Equal Opportunities (yes, seriously), Mara Carfagna, is a former topless model whom he deputed to look after the spouses of world leaders during the recent G8 summit in Rome. (I can only imagine the delighted whoops of joy from the wives when they found out.)

If anyone has any doubts about how the business of state is conducted by Silvio, they have only to listen to a mobile phone recording an enterprising call girl named Patrizia D’Addario made while in bed with him (and no, they were not playing chess). It was released after the Prime Minister failed to help her build a hotel in her home town, as he had promised before they did the dirty.

When Berlusconi was faced with the tapes and the incontrovertible evidence that he had slept with an escort, he famously declared that he never ever paid for sex. If he had to pay for it, he asked indignantly, where was the joy of conquest? Well, that’s all right then.

But at least Berlusconi was honest in his own twisted way. The truth is that most men treat sex as a perk of power. But as we deride them for it, let’s not lose sight of the fact that these men couldn’t possibly do so without the active connivance of women, who use sex as an aid to advancement. When it comes to cheating, men may get most of the flak. But the truth is that in this matter – as in so many others – men and women are equal opportunity offenders.