Amanda Marcotte notes how the Ashley Madison leaks have shown us all over again what conservative Christians mean when they talk about "traditional marriage": Ronnie Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, informs us that sexual license (think: gays, divorcees, cohabitants) is ruining marriage, and men who stray often do so because their spouses are not submitting to them adequately and serving their sexual needs satisfactorily. Anna Duggar is expected to absorb blame for Josh's infidelity (and, it goes without saying, to forgive him). And Nia Rader sits behind Sam Rader as he confesses to the world that he was a less than admirable exemplar of traditional marital values while he was on the internet extolling the beauty of his marriage even as he maintained an Ashley Madison account.
When Christian conservatives talk about "traditional" marriage, they often don't just mean a man-woman marriage, but one in which each spouse has different and supposedly complementary roles. "Male and female were created by God as equal in dignity, value, essence and human nature," explains the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, "but also distinct in role whereby the male was given the responsibility of loving authority over the female, and the female was to offer willing, glad-hearted and submissive assistance to the man." In exchange for the wives' submission, husbands take responsibility as moral leaders who look out for and protect their wives, a role commonly called "headship" in Christian-right circles.
The leak of user data for millions of subscribers to the cheating site Ashley Madison shows us what this call to male responsibility and protection can look like in practice.
Women make them do it, you understand. Women made these fellows who opened Ashley Madison accounts open them up. Women who wouldn't fulfill traditional submissive, adoring women's roles, and who failed to service their men sexually . . . .
And the gays, who are, along with louche, uppity women, at the bottom of the moral rot of our society that straight men have a special charge to clean up. When they're not busy opening Ashley Madison accounts, that is to say . . . .
The photo of Amanda Marcotte, by B.D. Engler, has been uploaded to Wikimedia Commons for sharing.