Monday, February 22, 2010

Easy Tiger

I was on BBC Five Live on Friday night talking about the wildly over-hyped story of Tiger Woods' public apology. Unfortunately the debate wasn't very interesting - other guests kept talking about "brand Tiger" and the impact on the game of golf. Big who cares!!

There is one point I was desperate to make but didn't get the chance though: Sex addiction. Apparently he's been in rehab now for "sex addiction". I am unconvinced that this is a real condition, and deeply unconvinced that Tiger Woods has ever suffered from it.
An addiction drives you to behave in ways you never would normally. If he was rushing to the bathroom during golf tournaments to frantically masturbate I would be prepared to consider it a psychological problem. Why does his condition only kick in when he meets gorgeous supermodels? Sleeping around when you're in an exclusive relationship is not a medical condition. It means you're a bad partner, a liar and a creep but it's not a diagnosis.
The notion that men "just can't help" having sex is a noxious one. No man has ever died from failure to poke his penis into something. And it's trotted out regularly as an excuse for rape and sexual assault as well as infidelity.
My friend Zoe put it best, so I shall quote: "What a knob. As if being an ignorant, self-serving prick was a disease. I think most of my ex-boyfriends have been infected with it, actually. Maybe I am a carrier!"



Zoe's comment is spot-on. How convenient to claim 'I couldn't help it I'm a sex addict.' Yes that excuse is routinely trotted out by powerful men who believe women exist solely to be men's sexual service stations.

Poor Tiggy Woods - he is only sorry he was caught out. Why didn't Woods apologise to the women he deliberately used, rather than making pseudo apologies to his family and not forgetting golf.

PS If Woods suffers from 'sex addiction' then the vast majority of males are also suffering from 'sex addiction' give prostitution is male driven.

No Zoe you are not 'a carrier' those men just believed their biological maleness gave them 24/7 right of sexual access to any woman/girl.

Ronan said...

I agree with everything you say here, but you are contradicting what you said in an earlier discussion, something along the lines of "telling people not to have sex doesn't work"? You expect sexual continence from celebrity golf players, but not from those who risk passing on AIDs?

Cruella said...

It's not the number of sexual partners he has that I think makes him a creep - it's the fact that he's lying to (at least one, probably most of) them. But also I don't think being a creep is a super-big deal. Lots of men and women cheat on partners in a wide range of circumstances. Claiming that your cheating is caused by "sex addiction" and that it's some sort of medical condition that you just can't help is what bothers me.

Ronan said...

Hmm, you've missed my point somewhat, or sidestepped it, at least. I never said anything about number of partners, I was referring to the exercise of one's will over sexual urges. Is your problem that he claims to have no willpower, or that he is a liar and broke his marriage vows?

Ronan said...

Rereading your last comment I can see your problem is with his supposed lack of willpower... I don't get this. You've indicated in the past that people just can't help themselves, and shouldn't be expected to, and used this as the main plank of your polemic against the Church. Whats the difference between that stance and so-called sex addiction?

Unknown said...


I can't speak for Kate, but imo there is no inconsistency between this post and posts about AIDS/the Church.

People *can* 'help themselves' when it comes to sex. I believe everyone can exercise willpower over their sexual urges. People generally have sex because they *want* to and *choose* to (except in the case of rape, of course). Because usually, it's nice.

This is not the same as saying people 'can't help themselves'.

Tiger Woods *chose* to have sex with all those women behind his wife's back because he *wanted* to.

In Africa, people mostly have sex for the same reason believe it or not - because they *want* to (except, again, in cases of rape). Being realistic about that, realising it is a reasonable desire to have, and asking people to protect themselves with condoms, is not the same as saying 'they can't help themselves'.

In cases of infidelity, we might believe that the sex being had is morally wrong (like Tiger's situation), because of the deception and betrayal involved, but that is a different issue. We might believe that some of the sex being had between people in Africa is of the morally wrong kind, but that doesn't mean that the people involved, and their partners, deserve to catch a deadly disease.