There are many reasons for my ever-increasing fascination with Rielle Hunter.
First, I would have taken a lie detector myself to vow that child was in fact John Edwards’ from the moment he and she got caught together at the Beverly Hilton. (I mean, what man sereptitiously meets a woman at a hotel with a baby that is not his?) Which, as someone who has always found John Edwards more than a little suspicious, was kind of gratifying.
And then the whole thing about her being the basis for a Jay McInerney character–that was just too good. I love me some Jay McInerney.
But really: who isn’t fascinated with Rielle Hunter?
So, I thought I was slow to set sights on that Norris Mailer profile from last weekend. And now I must confess that I have just, in the past two days, seen Hunter’s GQ interview. The one published, apparently, a month ago.
(People, I’m telling you: this is what happens when you move to New Mexico. If it doesn’t involve Bill Richardson, Val Kilmer or Julia Roberts, we miss it. Not an unimpressive troika, I might add, but a bit limiting.)
Anyhow, back to Rielle. I am a fairly gullible person, and at this moment am actually concerned that someone on the internet might be pulling one on me. Because that interview is just too ridiculous. Too ridiculous, in fact, for me to even know where to begin. Seriously, it’s so insane on so many levels that I don’t think I can get into it. Read it yourself.
But I wanted to comment nonetheless, because part of my fascination with her is really a larger fascination with the whole “other woman” thing.
Let’s face it: most of us probably are fascinated with Hunter, but most of us are probably a little disgusted too. We demonize these women as much as, if not more, than we demonize the cheating men.
I think we’re all guilty of that. And it, in part, comes from this oft-repeated idea that women are morally obligated not to become involved with married men out of some solidarity, some sisterhood with the spouse they’ve never met.
I don’t think that’s a completely inane idea. But I also don’t think it’s the reason that being the “other woman” is so toxic. I think it’s so toxic for a much simpler and more obvious reason: because of power.
I was an other woman all of one time. It lasted about five minutes (of course) and he wasn’t married, though he lived with his girlfriend. Who I’d never met.
I felt some guilt about it, sure. But more than that I felt profoundly disempowered. As much as he could make me feel desired and exciting (that’s the thing: as wrong as they know it is, they just can’t resist you!), there was no escaping that he always had the upper hand.
I tried various tacks of seizing power: telling him he was a bad guy, for example, and writing about him on the anonymous blog I then kept. But it didn’t change the fundamental dynamic that exists when one person is involved and the other isn’t.
I’d say that I’d never do it again, but I’m past the point of vowing never to do things. To resort to cliche for a moment (it’s Friday and I’m tired): life, and especially love, happens in strange and unpredictable ways. I feel sorry for Rielle Hunter and–especially after reading that interview–am concerned that she’s more than a little misguided.
But I’m not going to judge her. She thinks she’s in love and that she is loved back. Maybe she is, maybe she isn’t. It’s a problematic relationship, to say the least.
But it’s hers, just as much as it’s his.