I have three friends that I affectionately refer to as "my geek friends."
When I call them that, I can feel like I have friends who are geeks, but that
doesn’t necessarily make me a geek. Of course, in our group of four each of
us refers to the other three as "my geek friends," so they may all be thinking
the same way. In all honesty, though, I’m the least geeky of the four. I don’t
say that to brag—it’s just a fact.
They all three have vast stores of knowledge about obscure topics
that I’ve never heard of. I know a little about comic books, fantasy, and sci-fi,
so sometimes I can converse with them intelligently, but I’m pretty much a
geek by default. As a teenager, I looked like a geek (small, bespectacled,
fashion sense and lots of books) so my peers treated me with a sort of indifference
that effectively became a mild
The only social group that welcomed me
was the D&D-playing, Star Wars-quoting,
advanced physics-studying, Hitchhiker’s Guide-carrying, spazzy-down-to-the-bone
geeks. So I became a geek by default.
All three geek friends are bloggers now. They are Rey (The
MCF (MCF’s Nexus of
Improbability), and Jerry (TheWriteJerry).
Their geek credentials are impeccable. As if to prove the point, MCF decided
to host a party…in cyberspace…for bloggers. The point of the party is to describe
"Your Top Five Villains of All Time, from Comics to Cartoons to Television
to Film." Even though I’m a geek only by default, I’m still a geek and I must
respond. In keeping with the focus of this blog, however, I’ve figured out
what may be the five worst villains in the world of matrimony.
- California Assemblyman James A. Hayes
Until 1970, only one U.S. state (Oklahoma) had a law allowing no-fault divorce.
In all other states, any person who wanted a divorce had to go to court and
provide a good reason for dissolving the marriage contract. The legislature
defined "good reason," and judges decided whether a divorce should be granted.
Divorce did exist prior to 1970, but it was relatively uncommon. In 1969,
Senator Donald Grunsky and Assemblyman James A. Hayes introduced a bill to
allow couples to divorce for any or no reason. The bill was signed into law
by Governor Ronald Reagan. Subsequently, a national group of lawyers calling
themselves the Uniform Law Commission composed the Uniform
Act—a model no-fault law based on California’s bill. By 1985, every state
in the union instituted no-fault divorce.
Hayes was certainly not the only one involved in passing the no-fault law.
Grunsky sponsored the bill in the state senate, though his stated intent
was to eliminate the "spectacle of private detectives sneaking around
gathering salacious evidence against one of the spouses for presentation
a courtroom expose." Reagan signed the bill into law, but he later regretted
it as one of the worst mistakes he made while in office. In his book Twice Adopted,
Michael Reagan says, "Notice that Dad signed the no-fault divorce law some twenty
after going through his own divorce. His wife, Jane Wyman, had divorced him on
grounds of ‘mental cruelty.’
Even though listing grounds for divorce was largely a formality, those words
were probably a bitter pill for him to swallow. He wanted to do something to
make the divorce process less acrimonious, less contentious, and less expensive."
Hayes, on the other hand, was going through an acrimonious divorce at the time
and didn’t like the rules in place. I
choose him as
no-fault villain because his motives in drafting the bill in the first place
ruinous to the institution of marriage in modern America.
- John F. Kennedy and William Jefferson Clinton
There’s a story—I don’t know how true it is—about JFK, one of the United
States’ most beloved presidents ever. The story says that before Kennedy’s
election in 1960, American men wore hats everywhere they went. The president
did not like wearing a hat, and when the country saw him on TV eschewing
headgear, men just stopped buying general-use hats because women everywhere
wanted him and men everywhere wanted to be him. His life of sexual promiscuity
and extramarital affairs is well-known though little reported. He seemed
to have little respect for his wife or his marriage, treating both as
a social and political expediency. A lot of men have followed his lead.
Clinton’s damage to marriage was similar, but his influence was more among
teens than adults. He told a group of high-school students what type of
underwear he wore, he allegedly harassed several women sexually, and he
self-admittedly received oral sex from an intern while at his desk in the
Oval Office. His initial public dismissal of his actions as harmless told
an entire generation of youth that oral sex isn’t sex. His actions demonstrated
a lack of respect for the public that elected him and for the women who
worked for him. Kennedy at least has a legacy of keeping the country safe
from foreign nuclear threats. Clinton’s legacy is one of scandal, lack
of self-restraint, and making it nearly impossible for Generation Y to
have a healthy attitude about sex and marriage.
- Elizabeth Taylor and Larry King
Americans do not always emulate their political leaders, but they have always
imitated their favorite stars of the big and small screen. Elizabeth Taylor-Rosemond-Hilton-Wilding-Todd-Fisher-Burton-Burton-Warner-Fortensky
has been married eight times to seven different men, was rumored to have
had many more love
affairs, and once said, "What do you expect me to do? Sleep alone?" Whether
she influenced or merely personified a cultural indifference for the sanctity
of wedding vows, I count her as a marriage villain. Ditto for Larry King,
who said of his seven
marriages, "I just like diversity. The girl I
liked at 20 was not the girl I liked at 30. And in the culture I grew up
you fell in love, you got married. I fell in
love when I was 20 and 30, and I got married. It didn’t work out, and I paid
what I had to pay."
- Reality Television
Has there ever been a more insidious erosion of realistic and healthy attitudes
toward relationships and marriage? Some of the worst, just off the top of
my head, are: Temptation
Island, Blind Date, Shipmates, The Bachelor, The
Bachelorette, Who Wants
to Marry a Millionaire?, and Joe Millionaire.
Pornography has destroyed more lives and marriages than anyone will ever
So those are my top five marriage villains. Check out my geek
friends’ responses on their own blogs: