copyright © 2010 Betsy L. Angert. BeThink.org
She is an eloquent speaker, an expressive author. Elizabeth Edwards is effervescent, effusive, and has an excellent mind. She understands profound policy issues as easily as she prepares a sandwich. Her memoir appeared on The New York Times bestseller list. Few think of Elizabeth Edwards as every woman.
Other daughters of Eve might say Edwards is exceptional; surely, she is not as I am. Yet, life experiences might have taught Elizabeth Edwards otherwise. Just as other ladies, she is brilliant, beautiful, and not nearly equal to a man.
For years, millions of Americans thought Elizabeth Edwards could be a political power in her own right. However, friends aver, Elizabeth never had an interest in that. First and foremost, the role Elizabeth Edwards has said is most significant to her is that of Mom. She was happy to support her husband, glad for the opportunity to speak on his behest. However, Ms Edwards was content to be behind the scenes.
The wife and mother believed as much of the country did. Her spouse, John, was quite superior. Not only was he an accomplished attorney, as was she, He was a Presidential candidate in 2008 and a Vice President aspirant in 2004. John Edwards had a following, as did Elizabeth. Each was “stunningly” successful in their work. Certainly, the two were characterized as a powerful pair. Neither could be called common. Average Americans, they were not. Still, John was the one who could command an audience, or a country.
He was handsome. Granted, in her youth, Elizabeth was also smashing. However, by 1998, a woman told an Edwards pollster the lovely ‘Lizabeth looked like his [John’s] mother, or older sister. Indeed, this casual observer said of the then future Senator’s spouse, “I like that he’s got a fat wife.” In the new book, “Game Change,” which documents the doings within the 2008 Presidential campaign, it is revealed that the aforementioned anonymous woman remarked in relief, “I thought he’d be married to a Barbie or a cheerleader.” Perhaps these verbalized thoughts were the first reported glimpse into the present. Elizabeth Edwards is every woman. Infrequently, is John Edwards spouse looked upon as a separate individual. Ms Edwards is regarded as unequal.
Ostensibly, Elizabeth and John were thought to have an exceptional life. In truth, they were as you and I are. Elizabeth Edwards and her husband are never free from human emotions.
Humans, adult men, women, adolescents, and sandlot age persons tell others a tale. People weave a yarn that helps to inform others it also instructs the storyteller. Dan P. McAdams, a Professor of Psychology at Northwestern and Author of the 2006 book, “The Redemptive Self” states, “(T)hese narratives guide behavior in every moment, and frame not only how we see the past but how we see ourselves in the future.” This may explain why no two persons are alike. However, the thought might not help to explicate what is real for a woman and not necessarily for a man.
Either might think themselves a failure if a relationship is severed. Each could characterize himself or herself as someone who is not good enough. Perchance, societal standards will cause a woman greater stress. A female might believe herself, damaged goods. While Americans state that they have progressed beyond such suppositions, in actuality, any or many a label can classify a divorcee as undesirable. Some will say she could not satisfy her man. Her age might ensure that she is thought to be an unattractive asset. Perchance, some will say, she was too forthcoming, overly friendly when in the company of other men, a flirt, a floozy, and a femme fatale.
Then there are the financial ramifications and considerations. Men, before a divorce and after fare far better fiscally than their counterparts do. Interestingly, a study, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology shows that men who think of women in a more traditional, some would say sexist manner earn more money than those chaps with equalitarian views. The variance is vast. The more old-fashioned a gent might be, the greater his rewards.
Women, on the other hand, make less on average than men do. Parents may posture that an excellent education will nullify the gender gap. However, the Pay Gap Persists; Women Still Make Less, than men do. Surely, most surmise, Elizabeth Edwards will be amongst the exception. She need not worry. Once separate, the conventional wisdom is, Elizabeth Edwards will be equal. The accepted thought is Edwards is not every woman.
After all, Ms Edwards graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with a degree in English. She went on to study American literature and ultimately secured her degree in law. She certainly is set for life. However, her status as a “professional” person, one out in the work-world became less of a priority. Elizabeth Edwards, as her friends will attest to, thinks of herself as the proud mother of four children: Catharine, Emma Claire, and Jack. Her first child, Wade, died in 1996. Time away from the office takes a fiscal toll.
In truth, even if Ms Edwards had remained a fixture in a solid firm, she would have experienced as most every other woman has. Women Earn Less Than Men, Especially at the Top. No matter the tale Elizabeth or every other woman might tell themselves, there are some facts that females know they must face. Emotionally we can evolve. Economically, the road is rougher for the “fairer” sex.
Only the desire to treat someone of a different sex fairly is great. Parity is not the reality. Be it a former spouse with whom we have feuded, a friend, male or female by nature, wives wronged, and women righted, wish to achieve equality. This may be why many women welcomed the prospect of “no fault” divorce.
While it is fine to think that we might not wish to place the onus on one or the other partner, in truth, the notion of a “no fault” divorce has done much harm. A blameless split severs more than a legal bond. It presents ”perverse consequences for women,” says Lenore J. Weitzman, Associate Professor of Sociology at Stanford. Divorce for women is just different than it is for men. Perhaps, ”There are enormous financial ramifications” even if you are Elizabeth Edwards. Potential economic woes must worry any woman who contemplates the disillusion of a marriage. The appearance of wealth, for women, maintained while married, will not warm the cockles of a heart hurt. Nor will the façade fill her coffers. Frequently, females face financial ruin, realized in divorce.
That truth has power. Does a wife such as Elizabeth Edwards weigh the practical and or parse the paradox of a deceitful philanderer. This may depend on the missus, the mistress, the money, and more. In a moment, the yarn spun may be sufficient. In the next minute, the same saga may sound silly, insincere, or just more of the madness. If a husband is All apologies and earnestly expresses remorse, a couple could come to terms with what occurred. An admission could kindle forgiveness, or after a series of confessions, one too many might be the permission to leave that a scorned wife sought. Elizabeth Edwards stated she was "relieved" and hoped husband John’s long delayed disclosure would end the seemingly eternal drama that had become her life.
What we do not know; nor does the soon to be footloose and fancy-free Elizabeth, is how her saga will evolve. While Elizabeth Edwards is every woman, she is like no one else. Her tragedy, comic relief, travel, and she are uniquely her own. This is true whether one’s name is Ellen, Emma, Eileen, Eve, or even Rielle. What differs is who directs our performance, the stories told.
What might matter most to someone such as Elizabeth Edwards is how the eventuality of a divorce will affect her health. Will this woman, who loves her life as a mom, be able to help her children? Divorce, It Seems, Can Make You Ill. Indeed, the research reveals Divorce undermines health in ways remarriage doesn’t heal. What is a aggrieved Eve or Elizabeth to do?
A captive American audience awaits the details, the decision, or knowledge of the direction a resolute Ms Edwards will take. For months, or perhaps years, observers asked of the screenplay that appeared often on American television screens, in tabloids, and in books. Some wives expressed sympathy for exactly what they witnessed in their own marriages. Singles also empathized. Elizabeth Edward’s experience is not isolated to the institution of wedlock. The similarities scream out.
Women pose. They posture. Females hide the pain, and the shame. They may shout, shriek, or calmly express distress. “I am so determined. This time I will lose 40 pounds,” said Elizabeth Edwards as she greeted a guest at the door of her home. Did she wish to present herself at her best for her husband? Might Ms Edwards words “show a lack of pretense,” or, as her critics say, was the statement but another act on Elizabeth’s. part. What role did and does Elizabeth play in this drama? Can anyone know for sure?
Is she a caricature, stereotyped as a spouse? What is the story Elizabeth tells herself and others? A women’s place is in the home, on the campaign trail, to pale in comparison to her husband.
Might her yarn be the same is true if a dame is a professional person, a politician, a plumber, or a Professors wife. A women’s work is never done, be it that of a domestic, a doctor, a lawyer, a baker, or candlestick maker. Elizabeth Edwards, as many women can attest to the notion, when you are of the fairer sex, praise pours in sparingly. Disparagement is distributed frequently. At times, the two are synonymous.
The former North Carolina Senator’s erstwhile aide Andrew Young exemplifies this. In his tome titled “The Politician” Elizabeth Edwards is described as the wife and mother could not keep her man. She “became intoxicated by power, and sometimes looked the other way.”
The Edwards Adviser, as do most, at least in America, acquiesced to the old adage, there is a good woman, behind every man. A gent does not act alone. Certainly, John Edwards did not. Mister Young, in his writings, marvels that Rielle Hunter and Elizabeth Edwards each moved John to do as he has, or perhaps the two damsels did as all people do.
With societal standards in mind, they pen a tale that reflects their truth. The title; This is your life (and How You Tell It.) Men might have opportunities that allow for a more sensational, secure, and solid plot.
Woman work on a screenplay more mired in woes. She persistently updates the plot. Just as Elizabeth Edwards, she transforms the treatment of our own life. She learns and finds Saving Graces: Finding Solace and Strength from Friends and Strangers. For some, the saga was audacious, and certainly not what they expected from an authority on the law. Others saw them selves. Every woman might relate to the reality, Elizabeth Edwards has learned every woman is as she., effervescent, effusive, bearers of excellent minds. We all experience hurts and heartaches, many of our own making, many more that are not.
“I am a woman. Here me roar.” Watch me soar. I may occupy the planet “in numbers too big to ignore,” but will I ever realize the heights, or have rights equal to those of a man.
Every Woman; Elizabeth Edwards . . .
- This Is Your Life (and How You Tell It), By Benedict Carey. The New York Times. May 22, 2007
- 5 Things Elizabeth Edwards Must Do Now!!! By Doctor Gilda. Married Life from Hitched. September 8, 2008
- What’s up Slut? By Maureen Dowd. The New York Times. July 15, 2006
- Your Old Man, By Lisa Belkin. The New York Times. April 1, 2009
- Women’s Earnings. General Accounting Office. October 2003
- Sexist Men Earn More Money: Study, By Brooke Sopelsa. CNBC. September 34, 2003
- Pay Gap Persists; Women Still Make Less, study says. By Ellen Simon. USA Today. April 23, 2007
- Elizabeth Edwards. Senior Fellow. Center For American Progress.
- From John Edwards, lessons on celebrity and politics, By Richard Cohen. Washington Post. January 26, 2010
- Elizabeth Edwards: Survivor in chief, By Jennifer Palmieri. Washington Post. January 22, 2010
- The Lies Of (And To) Elizabeth Edwards, By Lee Stranahan. Huffington Post. May 3, 2009
- Edwards told mistress he’d wed her, book says, By Michael Inbar. MSNBC. Today Show. January 28, 2010
- Dan P. McAdams Profile of Dan McAdams
- The Redemptive Self, Who are we as Americans? What is our deep identity? By Dan McAdams.
- Women Earn Less Than Men, Especially at the Top. November 16, 2009
- Post Marital Economics. Just about everybody welcomed ''no fault'' divorce, but it turns out to be tough on women. By Andrew Hacker. Cable News Network. December 23, 1985
- Conversation: No Fault Divorce. By Andrea Sachs. Time. Aprilm14, 2003
- Elizabeth Edwards' Dramatic Journey, By Claire Shipman and Sheila Evans. ABC Morning News. January 22, 2010
- Divorce, It Seems, Can Make You Ill. By Tara Parker Pope. The New York Times. August 3, 2009
- Divorce undermines health in ways remarriage doesn’t heal. The National Institute on Aging. The University of Chicago. July 27, 2009