Monday, February 22, 2010

Tiger Woods: More Than Just Sex

For the past six years, I have met with a group of highly analytical people every Saturday. We call ourselves the Saturday morning breakfast club. We gather to discuss a variety of topics. This past week’s talk got a little heated once the name Tiger Woods was placed on the table. Pat Hoffman suggested Woods should apologize for objectifying women. Two hours later I began to see Pat’s point.

I placed the question in my status box on Facebook. I wasn’t a bit shocked at what came back. From, “I’m tired of this topic,” to “You must be kidding” it was clear most believe Woods owes no apology for having sex with “those women.” They grown enough to know what they were getting into. They should apologize to his wife. They participated in this fiasco by coming after Tiger because of his fame and cash.

The consensus among most is the same. The responses to that question leaves me brooding the implications of a world where sex is viewed as no more than a game pitting men versus women for the sake of whatever comes their way. The humanity of the people under the sheets has been stripped and transformed into objects there to satisfy the desire of the one in need of a release.

The names of the objects don’t matter. It doesn’t matter that there is a family back home, that there is a history connected to that warm body. She or he (yes, women do it too) is reduced to a depository there to stimulate his or her need for something missing. She becomes his crack fix. He becomes her mood altering sedative. People aren’t present in that space. They are toys to be played with.

The public has spoken. They knew better. They participated in his act of play. That may be true, but there is a deeper issue to bear in this matter. If Tiger is engaged in a therapeutic process, and he is, then he must dig deeper and deal with the way he has reduced women to no more than those objects for his self-gratification. Until he does that he will remain stuck in a place where he contends he deserved to be the recipient of their offer to play due to his entitlement as a man with money and power.

Having willing participants doesn’t resolve a man or woman of a deeper obligation to consider the humanity of those they use for play. Failing to make that apology absolves responsibility for the way one views those used for sex game. Tiger was able to do it because he minimized those women. In doing so he not only disregarded the worth of those women, he did the same with his wife. He engaged in a practice that has become common within the larger society-the placement of people within boxes to be used at the discretion of the one in control.

Tiger’s wife served a purpose-take care of the children and to make him look good in public space. The women he had sex with served another role-to give him the space to engage in behavior that he felt he deserved as a man. He viewed women like the little white ball he hits on the golf course. They are there for play.

This conversation should not be relegated to a quarrel regarding Tiger’s personal business. As he so eloquently put it, he needs to be left alone to rebuild his relationship with his wife. I raise the question for reasons beyond how the King of the golf course fell in the bunker. Critical in this matter is how the humanity of the other has been detached from the act of sex.

It’s easy to get caught up in the game of sex when no person is connected to the act. To move forward, men and women like Tiger need to examine how they have used others for the sake of their self-gratification. It is true the other has willingly participated in that game, but that doesn’t absolve a person of their responsibility to consider the worth of the people used in the game of sex. Failure to make that acknowledgement creates space for the continuation of the same form of manipulation.

Sorry folks, it’s more than just sex. There’s a person connected to that climatic experience. When women and men are used for the purposes of self-gratifications, the manipulator needs to apologize for living with a screwed up concept regarding the worth of those used in their game. It’s not just Tiger’s cross to bear.

So, go apologize for the game you’ve played.