I’m JJ, Kitty’s husband. I’m oft-mentioned but rarely seen in the wild, kind of like Big Foot, or the Incredible Hulk (though sadly without all the bulgy muscles. On the other hand, I don’t have the green complexion either, so let’s call it a wash.)
Up to now I’ve mostly hung out in the background for professional reasons. Much as I would love to be “out and proud” I’ve got one of those jobs where guys with no sense of humor, bad dandruff and a combover sit around in polyester shirts and laminated ID badges, frowning on people who don’t vote Republican.
I’ve wanted to “guest post” for quite awhile on any number of topics, but my amazing wife has so much great stuff to say I’ve always kind of said, “Maybe next month.” However, the past couple of weeks, I finally thought, “Yeah, now’s the time! I just gotta weigh in on this one…”
Why’s that? First, I saw a magazine sitting on the desk of the accounting clerk in my company finance office. It was Time Magazine. Time-fucking-Magazine. Bastion of staid, century old media. And on the cover? “Is Monogamy Over?”
The “piece” if you can even call it that (except as precursor to “piece-of-crap”) wasn’t even a story as such, just a couple of blathering personal opinions from no one in particular. What a waste of a great opportunity to actually have a conversation about that very question. And Time wonders why their business is going down the tubes…
Anyway the piece itself wasn’t so important, at least to my point, as the fact that this was the cover-page issue for a mainstream news publication. Hooray! This on top of several stories (here and here, for example) on CNN in the last year, and you’d almost think people were beginning to catch on to the eminent sense and logic of not expecting that lifelong exclusivity is not ideal (let alone realistic or fun) for every couple.
I’m not trying to convert anyone for whom non-monogamy isn’t right or interesting of course, but clearly there’s a grotesque mismatch between what is said and what is done. Why not stop being liars, cheaters and (worse than both in my worldview) hypocrites and have an honest conversation about the option of non-monogamy as a legitimate choice for some people?
Oh, and that mismatch I talked about between what’s said and what’s done? We can now quantify that much better than ever before, thanks in part to – among many other things – the Ashley Madison hack.
See what I actually do in aforementioned stuffy-job-in-beige-cublicle is analyze data. And I’ve had a hoot of a time the past week or so with the Ashley Madison thing. Wanna know what it says?! I did too. So here’s (at least a little of) what it says, and what I think that says about monogamy in America.
Let’s start with some basic facts:
What is Ashley Madison? Well that’s about to be “what was”, since they’re effed as a company. The firm will be dead in months though the lawsuits will last years. Anyway it was a “dating” website that explicitly marketed to married people who wanted to cheat. Their tag line was “Life’s short. Have an affair.” Classy.
What happened? Someone hacked into their system and downloaded their customer database. I don’t mean just names and credit cards either. I mean the WHOLE thing. Then they emailed the company as a big “F U” and told them they had done it and would post it all on the Internet. Then they waited, letting management freak out and stew about it in anticipation of the train wreck, which is so much more fun than just posting the stuff right out of the gate. Then they went ahead and posted the whole enchilada.
Who did it? No one knows the individuals involved, though the data was posted by a known hacker group. They may have wanted to grab the data just for fun (hackers do that) or for extortion purposes (someone, though not necessarily the people who stole it, is already busily doing that) or maybe they just pissed somebody off.
So what does the data actually say? Well, here’s the first fun fact – This site, which was as recently as this spring valued at half a billion dollars+ and discussing an IPO, turns out to have been a huge freaking joke at the expense of its overwhelmingly-male customers.
That’s not because the dudes outnumbered the ladies, which is hardly surprising. (And that’s not because married women don’t dream of an affair or an exciting new lover – studies consistently show that they do, and do more than dream about it quite regularly. I personally think it’s just that women don’t need to go pay a website to find that if they want it.) But even so, the M/F ratio of nearly 7-to-1 was still a bit shocking.
That’s not the fun part, though. Oh no! To quote one researcher who actually examined not just the data, but the source code of the site itself:
What I have learned from examining the site’s source code is that Ashley Madison’s army of fembots appears to have been a sophisticated, deliberate, and lucrative fraud… The code tells the story of a company trying to weave the illusion that women on the site are plentiful and eager… Though partly corrupted, [the data] did hold hundreds of readable company emails that revealed the company was paying people to create fake women’s profiles and to chat with men on the site.
Some estimates of the number of actual, real and active women on the site numbered in the tens of thousands. Remember, that’s to balance 28 million men. The rest? Bots, scripts and paid fakes.
Awesome. All I could think of is the old chestnut that “A fool and his money are easily parted.” Whether the bigger fool here is the investors or the users, I’m still not sure, but I find it hysterical in both cases. As an aside, I hope management loses everything they own and ends up shamed, unhireable, and divorced by their spouses (not for infidelity of course, but for being lying, cheating, scam artists and scumbags. (Included in the “outed” users by the way were a bunch of truly epic hypocrites like “family values crusader” Josh Duggar. I hope he shares that special room in hell with management when his day comes.)
Now we could leave the story there, and I’d mostly chuckle myself to sleep at the expense of both the investors and the users as a bunch of suckers, except this has real and sometimes tragic consequences. There have already been cases of blackmail, divorce and even suicide because of the people who feared the shame, the humiliation or other consequences of being outed by the hack. Which is actually my point.
Let me say this again: People are living in fear, or being extorted, or getting served with divorce papers, or killing themselves because they chose to – or thought they had to – sneak around on the Web to have a sexual partner other than their spouse. And now the proverbial cat is out of the bag.
Now I’ll add to that just one little tiny piece of the analysis I did myself. If you include a discount “I’m calling bullshit” factor for the 40% of men on Ashley Madison who claimed to be single, my conservative estimate is that there were at least 6 million married American men on the site between the ages of 18-44. (The site groups “North American” but I’ve included a discount estimator for the Canucks. You can do your own math if you like, there’s lots of good charts here.)
Based on some crunching of data I pulled from the US Census Bureau, (age ranges and things don’t line up perfectly, but directionally you’ll get the point) this would imply that… wait for it… it’s possible that something like ONE IN SIX married American men in this age range was trying to cheat on their wife on a single site, never mind all the other ways and websites where that can happen.
Think about that for a second…
There’s lots more interesting stuff in those numbers, trust me. But for now, my overarching single thought was simply this – people’s lives and marriages are being ruined. Hypocrisy about monogamy and values and morality is absolutely rampant. And none of it is necessary. If that isn’t motivation for a larger conversation about monogamy and the stresses, pressures and challenges of maintaining it long-term, I don’t know what is.
Thanks for “guest blog posting”, baby! You rock! I know it was getting super annoying that I would ask you where this post was on your busy “to do” list every single freaking day for two weeks. But I am so proud of you for getting it done! I think the information that you shared is SO IMPORTANT and SO VERY REAL, and we all need to know! Sooo what do you peeps think about anything written here? Did anyone read the Time article? It was such a joke! I mean… they had a quote from Miss Piggy there. MISS PIGGY! What the fuck does a pink pig puppet know about monogamy being over or not! Come on, guys! Really?!?! I will “Hiiiiiiii-yah” karate chop you! 🙂 On that note…
Wishing you peace, love and happiness,
(and thrilling, fun sex too)