The XX Factor

Bad Mommies? What About Bad Wives?

Hanna , you brought up the Gosselin affair. According to every tabloid in town, Jon Gosselin, costar of Jon & Kate Plus 8 , has been cheating on his wife, Kate. The rumors, accusations, and carefully-worded statements are flying fast and furious. Today, Kate defended her husband on the Today Show , where Meredith Vieira read a written denial by a no-show Jon, and now one of the supposed mistress’s exes has launched a website featuring stills from a sex tape that he claims to have made of himself with the Hester Prynne of the moment.

It’s all sort of ugly-the mudslinging, the sleazy screencaps, the angry recriminations. Kate: “Jon’s poor judgment and irresponsible behavior has also without a doubt caused some added tension and stress between the two of us.” I’ll bet. As if twins and sextuplets weren’t enough. Now, this.

But the fact of the matter is that anyone who has spent any time watching the show knows its subplot is their marriage, and the majority of that relationship seems to consist of Kate treating her husband like something that got stuck on the bottom of her shoe, the property of which she cannot quite identify, eliciting a nonstop look of thinly-veiled disgust and disappointment. In fact, it’s hard to think of moments in which this housewife is not humiliating, degrading, and emasculating her husband. On camera, no less. In one episode, she actually chastised him for breathing too loudly . There she is in the supermarket ripping him a new one for being a lousy spouse. There she is at the pumpkin patch shouting at him for being a substandard father. There she is telling him to stop mumbling like a fool. There she is explaining to the camera that she doesn’t care what anyone else thinks.

As of late, much as been made of ” naughty mommies .” Why, they’ve even got their own twitter feed ! (Sample question: “What is the Worst Thing You Have Ever Told Your Child …” Sample answer: “I told my six year old that if he picked his nose one more time his brains would fall out, shame that he then immediately had a nose bleed, much panic in my house then.”) It’s all so cool . Bad mommies rule! That their fearless leader Dooce, aka Heather Armstrong, earns a purported $40,000 a month in the role of uber-naughty mommy only inspires the rest to be the baddest mommy in the blogosphere.

But what of their husbands? Those men who are regularly depicted by the same bad mommies as fools, as incompetents, as co-failing parents? Well, I guess Jon Gosselin has answered that question. When bad mommies, bolstered by their online sisters, become bad wives, it sucks, doesn’t it?