In John T. Bristow’s What Paul Really Said About Women, the Seattle Pastor sheds light on much of what the Judeo-Christian religions have interpreted to be the will of God when it comes to women’s roles. One of the most enlightening sections addresses the idea that women should cover their heads while in public, particularly while in prayer. Why is this? Bristow writes:
Jewish women were required to wear their hair bound up whenever they left their homes. Unbound, flowing hair was regarded as sensual and almost a form of nudity. If a woman let her hair down in public she was seen as tempting men to sin.
Women who wore their hair uncovered were thought to be either prostitues or Pagan worshippers. While in prayer, Christian women of certain faiths are supposed to cover their heads not just because it would be temping to the men, but also to the angels who look down upon them.
And so this idea that women’s sexuality is a temptation that no man can withstand against goes back far in our culture. It is, I believe, one reason why we constantly judge what women wear when they are being raped. Or what a woman did to entrap a highly respected man in her web of sexual misconduct.
It is why, when Wired Magazine put together a list of the 15 Most Dangerous People in the World, they decided to include Paula Broadwell.
Because let’s be honest, this temptress – who couldn’t know her place and at least be gracious enough to have kept her desire to ruin a man’s career to herself – is a threat to one and all of us.
Now, don’t get me wrong. While I’m the last person in the world to claim that what someone does in the privacy of their own bedroom should be subject to the judgment of the public, there is a caveat there – and that is to those lives who are given up to the public. General Patraeus was a public servant, and of the highest-rank. It wasn’t just his commitment to serve the public, which I believe demands a level of moral leadership, but also his specific case that made this affair so troublesome and so dangerous, exposing the CIA to blackmail, among other potential landmines.
But in looking at Paula Broadwell – the biographer behind a bestselling book about the General, and a self-described National Security Analyst – one has to wonder if a certain point hasn’t escaped the writers over at Wired Magazine. Paula Broadwell is not a public servant. Nor is she a four star General. Nor is she a member of the President’s cabinet. Nor is she entrusted with the safety and security of the nation. She’s a woman who pursued an affair with a married man.
Surely, I have as little love for a woman who commits adultery as anyone else, but is she really the dangerous one? Wired Magazine admits that “she didn’t mean to wreck any careers.” But her actions – daring to become involved with one of the most respected military men of his generation – put the entire country at risk.
And yet, here’s what I’m missing: Where was General Petraeus in all this? When we look at cases of sexual misconduct – from adultery to assault – we are always looking for where to place the blame. Whose fault was it? Who can we tar and feather in a public forum to show our moral outrage and indignation?
And it seems to me that the person to blame is always the woman, and the person to sympathize with is always the man. Our society is rampant with this idea that men are all sexually aggressive little boys who can’t control themselves in the presence of a woman, and anything a man does with said woman is her fault. Women shouldn’t wear short skirts because it is tempting to men. Women shouldn’t leave the house with their faces uncovered because it is tempting to men. Women shouldn’t flirt with men because they won’t be able to help themselves.
Personally, I wonder that even men aren’t insulted by this. Paula Broadwell did no one any favors here, but to put her on a list of the 15 Most Dangerous People in the World implies that her sexual wiliness is far too much to expect any normal man to handle. It was she who lured General Petraeus into her den and entrapped him in her secret web of treachery and deceit.
After all, what is General Petraeus, but a man? A highly decorated 4-star General who then served as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (let’s leave that irony for another time) and a member of President Obama’s cabinet. And we expect a simple, plain-spoken man such as this to avoid the overpowering sexuality of a woman? Nonsense.
And so we’ve acknowledged that Paula Broadwell – the only woman on this list of the 15 Most Dangerous People in the World – is a serious threat. Let’s take a quick look at just two others who made the list:
Joaquim “El Chapo” Guzman – a notorious billionaire Mexican drug lord who runs the Sinaloa Cartel and is responsible for much of the bloodshed, murders, and violence related to the narco-trafficking trade.
Bashar al-Assad – Current President of Syria, originally hoped to bring change and reform to his country, but instead who has continued human rights abuses and brutal government crackdowns in a civil war that has claimed between 40,000 and 55,000 thousand lives.
Let’s be honest, when it comes to luring a man into behavior that is not only sexually inappropriate but also a threat to national security, funding the drug war and brutally cracking down on civilians don’t really seem all that bad, right?
General Petraeus has resigned from his position as Director of the CIA and publicly apologized to his family and the public at large. Ostensibly, he used “poor judgement.”
But I have to wonder when the public will start to be as outraged at him as we are at Paula Broadwell. When we will start to hold him responsible for his actions, instead of blaming them on a woman who surely could not have had more to do with the affair than he did?
If Wired Magazine is going to put together a list of the 15 Most Dangerous People in the World, and is determined to mention the Broadwell-Petraeus affair as wrecking havoc on the globe, perhaps the author and editors should have considered General Petraeus, the man who betrayed his country and exposed us to such risk, instead of a woman who had pledged neither her life nor her career to the American people.
Photo Credits: NRC Online, ISAF via Getty Images.