Chasidish Men Who Cheat
With two big stories in the news of a married man’s sexual misconduct (and worse), one can’t help but reflect on the prevalence of wealthy men of power acting with brazen impropriety. These men are distinguished by their highly public careers and the incredible chutzpah they employ in violating the trust of the women they are married to (let alone their behavior towards the women they are accused of raping, in the case of Strauss-Kahn).
As I ponder the mentality of these men, I can’t help but think about another group of men, a very different group, that “violates the trust of the women they are married to”: Chasidish men who cheat on their wives.
I know a Chasidish man with a wife and seven kids in Williamsburg, who keeps a secret girlfriend in Panama, that he spends three months of every year with. I know a Chasidish man with a wife and three kids in Boro Park, who regularly visits a prostitute. I know many many such stories, both from Chasidish men and women and from the men and women I know who have dated/had sex with them (cheating happens in other parts of the frum world as well, of course, but I’ve seen far more evidence of this happening with Chasidim, for reasons mentioned below). In New York City, it’s almost a stereotype, the Chasidish guy with the prostitute, at the strip club, with the shiksa girlfriend.
I used to judge these men harshly. I was disgusted with their betrayal of their wives, who entered their marriages in good faith and with limited options. I judged the lying, the cheating, the exposing innocent bystanders to serious disease. But the more married, cheating Chasidish men I meet, the more my judgment fades. The more I understand how little choice these men have in who (or if) they marry and the more I understand how total the cost of divorce could be to these men, the more sympathy I have.
For those of us who think cheating is wrong, do we think Chasidish men and women should be given a “free pass” because their marriages are basically forced and the cost of divorce can be astronomical in that world (far more that just financially)?Printable Version