Monday, March 22, 2010

What Tiger Shoulda Said

I know this has been done before, but let me give it a shot:


I'm here to apologize. I made a huge mistake in my life. Getting married. Or, to be clear, getting married with the stipulation that I'd never offer physical affection to another human for the remainder of my life. What a crock!

Some of you may have heard that mitochondrial Eve and y-chromosome Adam were separated by almost 100,000 years. Now why is that? Without going into the math, it's because men have gotten around over the millenia. Historically, breeding males impregnate about 1.5 women. I've brought copies of Wilder, Mobasher, and Hammer's Genetic Evidence for Unequal Effective Population Sizes of Human Females and Males on the subject, for your perusal. Thoroughly peer-reviewed.

We needn't get all mathematical to see the unnaturallness of marriage, though. You might get wistful looking at the bonding that goes on between a few species of birds. I've got news for you...we're primates. Have some fun and type key words like "bonobo, chimpanzee, sex, mating" on YouTube after the press conference.

Yes, I'm aware of the naturalistic fallacy; being natural doesn't make it right. But quit the pearl-clutching. Some of you doth protest too much, I'd say.

Much has been made of my Buddhist practice. Well folks, the typical Thai Buddhist marriage ceremony says absolutely nothing about lifelong fidelity. And, of course, Thai men are world-famous as philanderers. Thai women are the world's greatest penis decapitators (about 100 per year...can you believe that?), by the way, so let's not pretend that Thai women are particularly tolerant of this behavior. The world is complex. And my wife is Swedish. Anyway, people need to quit projecting their Abrahamic values onto me. That's not my trip.

Come to think of it, doesn't the legal enforcement of monogamy violate the establishment clause? Gotta make a note of that.

Yes, Buddhism teaches balance and honesty, and I've veered off in the direction of an extreme. But it also teaches that jealousy and attachment are to be avoided. It's fair to say I'm a success in those departments. Clearly, my wife has failed here, but with 15 minutes of additional meditation per day, she can work it out.

Greed is also a failing that my wife and I are guilty of. Hey...if I'd conquered that, I wouldn't be speaking to you at this moment, now would I?

Some folks call for me to undergo therapy. Folks, I need therapy the same way you need therapy for not believing in Santa Claus.

Hopefully, I can use my celebrity status to inspire folks to reevaluate the sham that is marriage. 50% of the audience here are, or will be, divorced. Some of you have gotten divorced multiple times, and with each new marriage you felt that this was the last. Are you totally fucking unconscious? Of the remainder, a large portion will find themselves sleeping in separate beds. Or, at least, with one of those long pillow things delineating territories on the bed. Whatever. Let's not be ashamed to greet the new day with arms that are not numb, with fluid shoulder joints, as individuals, unafraid to see a movie alone.

Thank you!


After writing the above, I googled "What Tiger Should Have Said." many tracts with that title! Plenty of good humor, mostly from the "I'm Tiger Woods, and you wish you were" camp. Some racism too...white racism, black racism, nothing unexpected.

But there's also an army of condescending, judgemental Christians bloggers out there, evaluating Tiger's sincerity. He didn't go far enough, of course. His voice was too monotone. Blah, blah, blah. One blogger, an admitted ex-sex-addict minister, tallies up 10 positives and 3 negatives in Tiger's outpouring. For others, the speech didn't dwell enough on all the folks he has hurt, apparently. As far as I'm concerned, there wouldn't be nearly the hurt if Americans would loosen up their expectations of marriage.

Then there's a number of disgusting attempts to degrade Buddhism along the way. As usual, the Christian detractors begin with a straw man and proceed to disassemble it. In this case, it's the Buddhist attitude toward desire. See, us Christians are taught to desire God, but Buddhists are taught to desire nothing. This comes as a surprise to those who are taught that Buddha desired the enlightenment of all sentient beings, or who have taken the Boddhisattva vow.


speakfreely said...

Gotta totally disagree here. If marriage doesn't mean sexual fidelity, what does it mean? There needs to be an institution that signals to the other members of the tribe that a couple wants to be exclusive with each other. In our society, that institution is called marriage; call your own institution something else.

Monogamy is entirely unnatural, I agree. But consider that every single one of our social institutions involves trading off one set of benefits for another. I don't recommend monogamy to anyone who hasn't explored their sexuality enough to have some idea of what they want. If what you want isn't monogamy, don't get married! Even if two people agree they want to be polygamous and married, I reject that, because marriage is about fidelity. Maybe they can be polygamous and "partnered" or something, but the key fact about marriage is this: it is a social message that says to others "Hands off, we belong to each other.". I don't care whether the marriage is gay or straight, or even multi-partnered, but it is an EXCLUSIVE group. Those in the group rely on their spouse(s) to be faithful, which keeps STDs out, and also ensures that the group can rely on its shared resources.

KenG said...

What exactly do you disagree with?

More than anything, I just find it bizarre the way poor Tiger has been thrashed by the American media. The Thais and Europeans are also puzzled.

I'm also repulsed by his apology. Years ago, his father boasted that Tiger was going to "change the world." He had an opportunity here, but, as far as I can see, has played the spectacle with the aim of minimizing loss of money/face, kowtowing to the status quo.

As for marriage, it means different things in different cultures. In most Islamic cultures, it means no more than 4 wives. In the typical Thai marriage ceremony, the couples grasp a string (that also might be attached to holy relics or monks), so there's some sense of connection between the bride and groom...but no vow of lifelong fidelity. There's no reason to think that the American view of marriage is optimal for America, or anywhere else.

speakfreely said...

I disagree simply with those who think marriages should be "open". It's not like you can't live with a partner or partners without being married. As I said, if marriage (at least in Western culture) is about anything, it's about sexual fidelity. I would oppose a push towards making "open" marriages more acceptable, simply because it smears a definition where some of us have decided to draw the line.

As for Tiger, the only one he owes an apology to is his wife. It's none of my business. Nor was whatever President Clinton did with a cigar and Ms. Lewinsky.

KenG said...

Well, there are marriages of convenience, for tax benefits, etc. Maybe those aren't "real."

In the case of a "real" American marriage where 1:1 fidelity is vowed, I'd just say that there's an amazing gap between the ideal and the reality (% of divorces, marital unhappiness, infidelity, etc.) Something's deeply unnatural, out of sync, repressed, whatever.

If pressed to argue for marriage, I'd say it makes things fairer for women. But marriage isn't the only solution to the problems that female biology presents.

speakfreely said...

..."Something's deeply unnatural, out of sync, repressed, whatever."

Often, yes, but not necessarily. If your spouse is the only person you've ever slept with yes, that arrangement, in fact, is a recipe for infidelity. If you've had enough partners in your youth to know that the sex and intimacy you're having with your spouse is uncommonly good and not likely to be found easily, you're not really tempted to stray, or if you find yourself tempted, you know that the fulfillment of that temptation is likely to disappoint. While the underlying reason not to break vows is the love you have for your partner, good sex makes it a lot easier to stay monogamous.