Juan Battle is a Professor of Sociology, Public Health, & Urban Education at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (C.U.N.Y.).
Prof. Battle is a Fulbright Senior Specialist and was the Fulbright Distinguished Chair of Gender Studies at the University of Klagenfurt, Austria. His research interests include race, sexuality, and social justice. Further, he is a recent president of the Association of Black Sociologists and is actively involved with the American Sociological Association (ASA).
Question: Are tarnished male figures like Tiger Woods and Eliot Spitzer changing how we think about sex?
Juan Battle: It’s funny you should say that because I haven’t given this much thought because my sentiment is except for Tiger Woods, who by the way, I’m still telling everyone, don’t forget, he said he was not black, so don’t push him off on us. Please no. We got enough problems. Eliot Spitzer, John Edwards, Tiger Woods, all these ministers in the Midwest and Colorado and who keep getting caught with their pants down, my argument is what they’re doing is the human experience. They’re not doing anything different than what everybody else is doing, so then why do we care? What are they tapping into that causes this? And I think that there is again this tacit agreement about how these things should be done if you will and they’re exposing the fact that that’s not true. It’s not true.
We all cheat, but we don’t get caught and we don’t do stupid things like leave ridiculous messages on the voicemail of a cocktail waitress out of Vegas. Could you be more cliché for heaven’s sakes? So that is where I think the sort of this pushback that we have to give this public perception that we disagree with someone engaging in the same behavior that I too engage in. That was a far too long answer.
Question: Aren’t women cheating just as much as men?
Juan Battle: No, no. I’m not saying women don’t’ cheat. Don’t get me wrong. But you say just as much, that’s where the variable comes into play. I think that again there is this cultural expectation and this cultural standard that there are certain things a women should do. If you talk to an average guy. If you meet a women at 2:00am on a Wednesday in a bar and she goes home with you and has sex, that’s the kind of woman that goes home with people at 2:00am on Wednesday in a bar and has sex with people and he’ll enjoy that, but this is probably not someone he wants to hang out with for a very long period of time, because these cultural standards, norms. Conversely, I think from the man’s end you know he can probably go home and you know tell most of his friends, “Oh my God, I went out to the bar.” “I met this woman.” “We went and had sex.” There will be no judgment around that activity, but there would be judgment around if he then said, “Oh, and I asked her to marry me.” See they would look just like you are right now.
Recorded on March 2, 2010