Paula Broadwell: One of the 15 Most Dangerous People in the World

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.

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  • Mike Cobb

    Dear Ms. Collazo – Regarding your article of Dec 19, 2012 naming Paula Broadwell as one of the 15 most dangerous people in the world:

    You took the position that there is a double standard; one for each of the sexes. Hogwash! If there is such a thing as a double standard … it was created by women, for women. I am now retired, after having spent my entire working life under the supervision of women managers. Even as I worked my way up through the ranks of supervision, I always had a woman department head. Down through the years I worked for a number of different women, and you know what they all had in common? ….. a male neurosis that usually took one of two possible turns.

    First, they all hated having men under their supervision. It made them self-conscious of their own gender. They resented the fact that men have nowhere near the difficulty making emotionally difficult and unpopular decisions. It made them insecure. They believed they were constantly being compared to the men under their authority, as well as to their male peers in other departments. They were paranoid, competing with the men under them as well as to the men equal to them. To simply be competent, they believed they had to be the wicked witch of the North. And without a doubt, they were the poorest leaders I have ever encountered.

    Secondly, they could not balance being female with being feminine. They wanted to be the professional boss at the office; and the romantic tender female that evening. And they wanted to be pampered and treated appropriately and differently in each setting. And they all wondered why they had no social life to speak of.

    Then you said, (quote) “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.” (end quote) Again … Hogwash. The only correct comment you made was the last sentence … Men are insulted by your typically feminist attitude.

    Now let’s talk about David Petraeus and Paula Broadwell —

    Let’s stop playing semantics in support of feminist causes; and stop to trying to say Paula Broadwell was the victim of a double standard for men and women; or that she is being unfairly treated by the media. It is reported that the actual sexual chapter of the affair did not begin until after David Petraeus retired from the Army. This means she was not submitting to him as her superior officer. She was not under his command or authority. They were both civilians and she could have said “NO!” or cried “RAPE!” any time she chose.

    Further, if she is being unjustly treated by the media, it is her right and responsibility to come forward and defend herself. Indeed, it is her duty to correct any errors
    that have been committed in describing her role in this adventure. Her silence is an admission of guilt and an approval that everything being said about her is accurate.

    Broadwell and Petraeus were both aware they were violating the military, intelligence and national security ethics codes by having an illicit personal relationship. Neither of them did anything to stop the affair; indeed they both encouraged, facilitated and participated in the affair. His motive was probably only sex, while she was in it for both sex and career advancement. But the bottom line is they are both equally guilty; neither of them took unfair advantage of the other. One thing is certain; he proved the old cliché, “There’s no fool like an old fool.” Broadwell helped him do it and laughed all the way to the bank.

    Politicians and members of the news media are inherently corrupt. We expect misconduct from them. But our professional men and women in uniform are different; indeed … Special. We hold them to a higher standard. David Petraeus and Paula Broadwell are both graduates of the United States Military Academy at West Point, one of our oldest and most revered institutions. Its alumni include two US Presidents, numerous Generals, and Seventy-four holders of the Medal of Honor. The motto there is “Duty – Honor – Country.” Their word is their honor. Patraeus and Broadwell each took two oaths: (1) An oath of service to the country, and (2) An oath of fidelity to their spouse; the marriage vows. They have both failed to live by the code. They have both violated their word, and viz they have no honor. They have disgraced the uniform, and they both deserve everything they get.

    Petraeus has taken the correct first step to salvage his reputation. He has done the right thing to voluntarily come forward and publicly admit his misconduct and to resign as CIA chief. It is now up to his wife Holly to make a decision about the future of their marriage. If she forgives him … MAYBE the country will, and he will have a chance to rehabilitate his career.

    Now it is Paula Broadwell’s turn to “Man Up” and follow Petraeus’ example, and take that same “correct first step.” It is her turn to publicly admit she’s an adulteress who cheated on her husband and her children, and take her medicine. She owes it to the country. And her husband needs to make a statement as well. She can hire every PR firm in the United States; but until these conditions are met … and as long as she remains in hiding, avoiding her just due … she has no chance to restore her reputation.

    And to repeat, if she is being unjustly treated by the media, it is her right and responsibility to come forward and PUBLICLY defend herself. Her continued silence serves only to make her that much dirtier.

    Point for point and fact for fact … this business is a carbon copy of the 2007, Navy Captain Lisa Nowak case. You remember the astronaut who wore a diaper a thousand miles to confront her “other woman.” In 2009, she copped a plea to the civilian charges against her; and in 2010, the Navy stripped her of rank and kicked her out of the service under “Other Than Honorable” conditions. Having 22-years service, she was allowed to quietly retire. Her husband divorced her in 2008, and is believed to have custody of their three children.

    At the very least, Paula Broadwell is no better, and deserves the same fate as Lisa Nowak.

    But a public confession of guilt is apparently not Broadwell’s plan. She has retained a public relations firm to rehabilitate her reputation. It is reported she has hopes of reviving her career. Just what career that may be remains a mystery… maybe Consultant Terrorist, Pulp Fiction Writer, Professional Fraud, or Courtesan. The more we learn about her, the less qualified she appears to be for any other line of work.

    The fact she apparently plans to deny any culpability in this sad chapter in our national History only serves to compound her guilt, and draw attention to the serious flaws in her character. It is now obvious Broadwell is completely amoral. One has to wonder if David Petraeus was her first extramarital encounter, or if he will be her last. It seems safe to say she will do whatever is necessary to get what she wants.

    • Lawrence David Blake

      Hey Mike,

      I think you missed the point a wee bit. What Abigail is pointing out is a cultural norm that both implicitly and explicitly blames women for the misbehavior of men. Furthermore, the issue of Paula Broadwell ‘coming clean’ about her adultery is, and never should be, a matter of public record or civic concern – it is a private matter. The fact that her partner was a General may be an issue of ‘National Security’, but it stops being an issue when it is proven that no sensitive information was transferred from Petraeus to Broadwell.

      Also, the fact that you identify that men are insulted by Abigail’s ‘feminist attitude’ identifies, quite clearly, the impetus for this particular piece. You, being offended by Abigail speaking her mind, is part and parcel to a social construct that oppresses women and relegates them to a social space of ‘femininity’. That social space is what Abigail takes concern with; to position someone within a space makes them an object of control.

      Finally, men have just as much trouble making ‘emotionally difficult and unpopular decisions’. Mike, it is part of being human to worry about how people under your charge are going to view your decisions. It has nothing to do with whether or not someone has ovaries. Again, you compartmentalize women into a social role that is both restrictively bounded and oppressively situated. Both men and women experience traits that are ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine’ – to even label traits as belonging to a gender dehumanizes the object of your concern. Such language delegitimizes not just the female you are so concerned about, but also yourself and the male.

      The process of dehumanization is a two way street, Mike. If you want women to occupy a role that means you are also relegated to the opposite role within that dialectic you create. I don’t know about you, but I kind of like being able to occupy many different roles. I mean, Christ.

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