Tiger Woods has gone and disfigured his perfect image by cheating on his beautiful, white wife with another beautiful white woman. As a young black woman myself, who also prides herself on being a card-carrying feminist, I suppose I should be outraged by his infidelity on many levels—naturally, the most “important” being that yet another black man has abandoned the race and succumbed to the wanton ways of those dirty white women who lurk in the shadows trying to steal our men.
The second reason I suppose I should take a stand against Tiger and include myself in the media frenzy that has set out to dismember his already-struggling marriage is that he had the audacity to destroy his picturesque family unit in the first place. I mean, his two beautiful children now have many a glossy tabloid to prove that, alas, their father might be a god to the game of golf, but between the sheets he’s nothing more than a man.
“I don’t feel there is anything wrong with black men dating white women, but when a black man makes that his preference, it becomes an issue.”
But the truth is that I just don’t care.
Consider the reported roster of women, if you will: Cori Rist, a 31-year-old he met in a nightclub to whom he allegedly devoted a cool six months of extramarital sex. Porn star Holly Sampson, whose work includes Descent Into Bondage and Diary of a Horny Housewife. And of course, Jaimee Grubbs, the 24-year-old shot girl who took her story directly to Us Weekly, most likely making a considerable amount of cold hard cash for her “honesty.”
• Janice Min: Tiger’s Unspoken Race Issue • Tracy Quan: Harem Management 101 • Big Fat Story: Tiger’s Never-Ending Drama • The Daily Beast’s full Tiger Woods coverage Yes, they are all white. But then, Tiger himself declared that he was, “Cablinasian,” and not in fact African American in the first place, so the fact that he would clutter his little black book with blondes is hardly news. Not to mention that these women also all hold jobs that demand a particular amount of sex appeal—the more they flirt, the better they get paid. What was Tiger going to do? Moderate a debate between his wedding ring and his penis over his moral obligation to his wife, all while getting lap dances from a young, free-spirited barmaid or even greater pleasures from a woman who played a Horny Housewife? I think not. I’m not saying it’s right; I’m just not saying I’m surprised.
The controversy over black men lusting after white women has been woven into racial discourse (and spurred rant after rant) since before slavery was abolished in 1865, thus forcing the modern debate around this otherwise harmless reality into deeply sensitive and shameful territory. After all, it was only 1955 when Emmett Till was murdered for whistling at a white woman. This conversation about black men and white women is still a sore subject. All the more reason to have it.
I asked Rolake Bamgbose, an off-air reporter for ABC News who happens to be a stunning Nigerian woman, what she thinks. “Some men want things the way they want it, and for some reason think that black women strive for too much control, are too confrontational or ‘aggressive,’" she says. "But I look at my ladies of all shades of black around me and I don't see that. So then I'm led to think those men have fallen subject to their own interpretations of exaggerated stereotypes of black women that always have been and continue to be perpetuated in movies, television, and advertisements... Once I've gone there I have to let it go and think it’s them that have the problem, and for them, I feel sorry.”
For others, like Aixa Weekes, fashion editor for Giant magazine (who happens to be another black beauty herself), the root of black male desire for white women betrays shades of trophyism. “I think the root of this nature dates back to slavery. We as blacks, then Africans were stripped away from our homeland... physically, emotionally and psychologically abused, left scarred. And even after centuries of progression we are to believe that being light is better, having coarse hair is a curse, and ending up with a white woman may be a prize.” Does that make Tiger’s apparent predilection for white women wrong? “I don't feel there is anything wrong with black men dating white women, but when a black man makes that his preference, it becomes an issue.”
I tend to agree with various points made by both women, particularly that black women get a bad rap for being “aggressive” when in fact, most opinionated women of any race are unfairly considered rude. I also think much of the psychology behind black male lust for white women is based in our complicated history. Like Jim Crow taught us all, black folks were meant to mingle with their own while white folks were told to do the same, right?
Wrong. We do not live “separate but equal” anymore, and as dedicated as I am to informing the world that black history is actually American history, I will not use Emmett Till’s death against a modern black man who finds love with a white woman. Compatibility is hard enough to come by without tossing racial exclusivity into the mix.
I consider myself a modern feminist—a woman who accepts (and critiques) the world in all its tainted glory. I did not think Janet Jackson should have apologized for showing her nipple during the Super Bowl, whether it was a mistake or not. And I will not say that I won’t root for Tiger when he’s back on the golf course and another man is making headlines for cheating on his beautiful wife—black or white.
Of course Tiger could have done the “right thing” and kept his distance from the after-hours parties, bought Sampson’s DVD instead of bedding the “real deal,” and read the Bible each night before bed—in other words, he could have indulged the fantasy the world had about what he does when he hangs up his clubs. But he didn’t. He went out, met a few girls, and got caught. Textbook prophesy for a young, attractive athlete. At least he didn’t beat his wife like Mike Tyson did.
We live in a complicated world, driven by human desire. The only people who need to wag their finger in Tiger’s face live in his own home. The rest of us simply need to tuck the tabloids back on the shelf and focus on our own lives. You never know, his lovely wife could have cheated first. After all, blondes have more fun.
Elizabeth Gates is a style correspondent for The Daily Beast. She is a graduate of The New School University and a former intern at Vogue magazine.