Northern Ireland's Female Cad

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
Jan. 8 2010 11:35 AM

Northern Ireland's Female Cad

We've spent a lot of time at DoubleX in the past few months contemplating the way men seem to be more likely than women to trash their lives and careers at the urgings of their nether regions (or, in the case of Mark Sanford, "love"). We racked our collective brains trying to come up with a woman to add to our list of Top Cads of 2009 and failed. Now Northern Ireland MP Iris Robinson-mother of three grown children and wife of the country's First Minister Peter Robinson-goes to the top of the list for 2010 scandals thus far-she resigned late last month, but it's only in the first days of 2010 that the details of her affair with a 19-year-old and her misuse of her position to help her lover fund and open a business have come out. We don't have many women-centered political sex scandals to compare her with, but when it comes to "taking it like a man," she's already shown that female politicians-or at least this particular, not otherwise overly sympathetic Irish female politician, do things differently.

Instead of waiting for the news of her financial and family troubles to break, Mrs. Robinson (known in Northern Ireland for her anti-gay stance-she described homosexuality as only slightly less "vile" than "sexually abusing innocent children") resigned in late December, and apparently attempted suicide. She didn't take the stage for the inevitable press conference, stoic husband by her side, to apologize to the nation and her family and attempt to weather the storm. Instead, she's issued an apologetic statement, but left the appearances to her husband, whose political career is also in danger because of allegations that he knew about and didn't reveal her financial transgressions. So far, he's supporting his wife and defending his marriage, but this one-a new kind of a problem for a relatively new style of political partnership-has yet to play out.


Granted, Iris Robinson is a sample of one, but it's notable that so many male politicians, faced with far more dramatic scandals or at least equally embarrassing ones, tied on their striped ties and let the media and the public take a swing at them-even while, in some cases, offering mental stresses, depression, and other excuses for their behavior. It's not necessarily more admirable, but it's certainly a different way to handle the fallout from stepping into this particular pitfall of power. Meanwhile, Mrs. Robinson, so far, stays home. Is she retiring from the spotlight to give her husband a better chance at keeping his position? Does she feel more personal guilt over her behavior-or does she believe that any form of brazening this out would only make things worse for them both? Northern Ireland's press will surely be all over this, but a little meta-scrutiny is appropriate from this side of the pond.


The World

The Budget Disaster that Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

Are the Attacks in Canada a Sign of ISIS on the Rise in the West?

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

Is It Offensive When Kids Use Bad Words for Good Causes?

Fascinating Maps Based on Reddit, Craigslist, and OkCupid Data


The Real Secret of Serial

What reporter Sarah Koenig actually believes.


The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

In Praise of 13th Grade: Why a Fifth Year of High School Is a Great Idea

Can Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu Pull Off One More Louisiana Miracle?

  News & Politics
Oct. 23 2014 3:55 PM Panda Sluggers Democrats are in trouble. Time to bash China.
Business Insider
Oct. 23 2014 2:36 PM Take a Rare Peek Inside the Massive Data Centers That Power Google
Atlas Obscura
Oct. 23 2014 1:34 PM Leave Me Be Beneath a Tree: Trunyan Cemetery in Bali
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 23 2014 11:33 AM Watch Little Princesses Curse for the Feminist Cause
  Slate Plus
Oct. 23 2014 11:28 AM Slate’s Working Podcast: Episode 2 Transcript Read what David Plotz asked Dr. Meri Kolbrener about her workday.
Brow Beat
Oct. 23 2014 4:03 PM You’re Doing It Wrong: Puttanesca Sauce
Oct. 23 2014 4:36 PM Vampire Porn Mindgeek is a cautionary tale of consolidating production and distribution in a single, monopolistic owner.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 23 2014 7:30 AM Our Solar System and Galaxy … Seen by an Astronaut
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.