Letter to Elin Nordegren

Photo public domain, courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Dear Elin Nordegren,

We just heard that Tiger will be back on the golf course for the Masters in early April. You know, the tournament held at that club in Augusta, Ga., that doesn’t allow women members.

How do you feel about your husband’s return to work? We were happy that you weren’t standing by your man on the day of his 12-step atonement press conference. We imagine you have been taking care of yourself and your children instead. While we have heard so much about Tiger, we mostly wondered how you are doing. We know you have plenty of money, that Alice Walker has written you and your children a letter and that you have family that supports you. But still.

While the media has let us know that the people making money off of Tiger felt betrayed, and that the women he had affairs with felt betrayed,  there has been little space to attend to your betrayal–which should have been private but now cannot be. The particularity of your pain is not honored. Somehow, the corporate betrayal has trumped yours, and since we all “know” your husband from his famous public persona, our voyeuristic culture has somehow equated your sadness with our own.

Meanwhile, at your husband’s press conference, he looked so sad, so lost, so repentant–one might have thought that he had killed all those women, not simply slept with them. As he continued to talk, we kept thinking, “Imagine if real killers came on television and repented? Imagine Bush and Cheney having to appear on the screen after having spent a month in round-the-clock therapy to help them deal with the enormity of their war crimes?” But no, those who systematically plot the killings of  thousands of people are rarely held as accountable as even a cheating spouse.

No matter how we might personally feel about your husband’s behavior, Elin, we watched with increasing discomfort as the media and his sponsors went from deeming him a chosen one to treating him as a predator. Such punishment for indiscretions reveal that racism is still with us, and you and your multiracial toddlers are caught in the middle of all of this.

From where we sit, the person Tiger needs to apologize to is you, then perhaps to your children when they are older and perhaps also to the women he bedded–but then again,they are all adults, made their own choices and knew he was married. If anything, they may have some amends to make to you. It is still unclear to us whether the male public, at least, wanted to punish Tiger for getting caught or for the acts themselves; so many men continue to consume women at their pleasure that they could not have appreciated having a high-profile man take such a fall for doing what they perhaps might wish to do themselves..

Beyond that, it seems to us what matters is whether he still interests you intellectually, whether you feel good about his parenting, whether he is going to be able to let you grow and change and have the life you want. Between now and then, hold onto your last name—Nordegren. It suits you.

Letter to Elin Nordegren is crossblogged on http://tonkathompson.wordpress.com

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Diane Harriford Ph.D. and Becky Thompson Ph.D. are co-authors of the When the Center is on Fire: Passionate Social for our Times. See tonkathompson.wordpress.com.