I have to say -- I really don't think that I am easy to shock, especially when it comes to sexuality. I thought I had really "seen it all," so to speak. For the past five years, I have had the privilege of being a vagipreneur, a person in the business of female sexual health. I have spoken about female body parts, sexuality, satisfaction, intimate topics everywhere -- on TV, on the news, in print, online, at conferences, at universities, dinner parties -- you name it. And I thought I could handle it.
Of course, I have often expressed my dismay at the double standards that govern the communication and discussion around male and female sexuality. For instance, no one yet has sufficiently answered why four-hour erections are appropriate fare on TV ads during any time of the day, while bathtub-free ads talking about female sexual satisfaction are considered taboo.
And I have ranted about the over-sexualized depictions of women (and girls) in movies and ads for everything from sneakers to drain cleaners. I have struggled to understand why Warner Brothers' TMZ told me that a professional discussion about female satisfaction was inappropriate during the early evening time slot, but stories about humans having sex with animals and a special "TMZ Apocalypse Sex Party" were fine.
But the other day in my inbox, I had an e-mail with the title, "Life is Short -- Have an Affair." And I have to admit, it threw me for a loop. The content of the e-mail was even more disturbing. It read:
The number one rule if you are considering having an affair is never to do so with a single woman. Instead, date a married woman who has just as much reason to keep your affair a secret as you do. At Ashley Madison you will literally meet MILLIONS of married women who are stuck in sexless marriages and are searching for someone to have a discreet affair with.
Listen, I am not in charge of anybody else's marriage. The only marriage I need to concentrate on is my own -- 23 years and counting. I know couples make all kinds of choices and compromises to make their marriages and relationships work. But really... having an affair with another married person? Is that the best option available to unhappy couples? And let's say I even believed that cheating spouses are taking precautions to avoid sexually-transmitted diseases (even though the data say otherwise). The website goes even further:
Ashley Madison is the most successful website for finding an affair and cheating partners. Have an affair today on Ashley Madison. Thousands of cheating wives and cheating husbands signup everyday looking for an affair.
I don't know what the 22,150,000 members of Ashley Madison referred to on the site are thinking. Let's say they don't ever get caught and nobody gets a disease. What message are they sending to their children, nieces, nephews, whomever.
One thing I know for sure, I will be able to tell my children with a straight face that marriage requires commitment, acceptance, an ability to forgive, common interests -- a sense of humor does not hurt either. It is sometimes spectacular, sometimes hard, sometimes confusing, sometimes a whole lot of things. At no point, however, will I mention Ashley Madison was a key tool for our successful marriage.
But really, how can 22,150,000 all be wrong? Maybe I am the one who doesn't get it. Maybe this is the new world of relationships, marriage, connections and I am just out of touch. Well if this is the new normal, I think I will stay in Kansas with Toto, my husband and children.