If any good has come from feminism it is a dawning appreciation of female sexual desire and its potential to destroy. The monogamous instincts of women have been vastly exaggerated in the popular imagination, even by Darwinian realists who pride themselves on their clear-eyed appraisals of human nature. Sexual liberation has revealed the full extent of feminine waywardness and disloyalty.
At least two-thirds of divorces in this country are initiated by women. Women are more eager than men to get married; once married they are more eager to get out of marriage. In many of these divorces, women act as if their husbands have disappointed or offended them when the truth is these women desire another man or the possibility of new romance. Economic power for women and divorce laws that guarantee maternal custody or joint custody have unmasked the truth about female sex drives: Women are not innately faithful nor do all women naturally put the interests of their children above their own. They express their sexual restlessness in entirely different ways than men and in often confusing forms.
For centuries, women have consoled themselves when their husbands were unfaithful with the thought that men are naturally promiscuous. This commonly reinforced idea has allowed a woman to feel that a husband’s adulteries are not necessarily a reflection upon her. The same is not true with feminine betrayal. Women are viewed as naturally monogamous and so their infidelities cause more despair and may lead women themselves to give more weight to passing infatuations.
When I was 14 years old, my family lived across the street from a handsome couple and their five children. I used to babysit for them, sitting up late at night in their living room listening to the clock tick. I remember seeing Mr. Minder one spring night mowing his lawn. I was struck by something strange in his expression. It was one of complete detachment, as if the mower was pulling him on a leash.
Two days later, my father woke me early in the morning. “Get up, get up,” he said. “Something terrible has happened.” Mr. Minder was dead. He had gone the night before into his garage, sealed the doors and turned on the car. It was a devastating event. He was a kind and gentle man. I cannot help but think that he was a victim of his own innocence. For when he learned that his wife was having an affair with a neighbor, he was overcome by hopelessness. He was entirely unprepared for such a thing.
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