this month's feature

Adultery * Worknotes * What? * Healthnotes * Just The Facts
motel*no vacancy


Outside The Box

BY Blanche McCrary Boyd
Sexual Republican
BY Jennifer Belle
Sleeping Arrangements
BY Jaishri Abichandani
Subversive Desire
BY bell hooks



What's going on? For more than a year this country was caught up--willingly or not--in vitriolic debate about sex, lies, adultery, and audiotape. Adultery has always been considered as much a public as a private matter, and it has always involved a double standard that springs from patriarchal assumptions about marriage, women's place, and the need for assured paternity. In the past, courts have debated whether a married man could be charged with the big "A" at all (especially if the woman was his slave or servant). Even today, a woman accused of it is still subject to summary divorce in some cultures, stoning to death in others, or murder by her husband as a justifiable crime of "passion" or "honor." No wonder so many women see a certain irony in the maelstrom about the president and the intern. Clinton may be the first man in history who got in more trouble than the woman.

But adultery or just plain cheating also has a personal side: it provokes powerful reactions from people regardless of whether they're married or single, straight, gay, or bi. When people talk about adultery they often use words like "honesty," "freedom," "trust," "betrayal." Some will tell you that the freedom to explore is central to their relationship; others, that monogamy is the solid foundation on which their life is built. Either way, adultery affects one of the most intimate relationships we will ever have in our lives.

With both the public and private aspects of this loaded issue in mind, Ms. asked a number of provocative thinkers to share their opinions with us. We hope that after reading this, you will too. Honesty could be the only good outcome of that saga in Washington.

-The Editors