Wayne Rooney has had reason to cry like a baby recently. I don’t want to regurgitate the stories that have been churning out of the media machine. We know they have been drawing on that age-old presentation of women as either the pure, procreating Madonna or as no-good low-down whores.
But I am interested to note that, in reactions to the media representation of this ‘story’, whilst there has been plenty of outrage at this admittedly stereotyped, reductive and moralistic version of women’s sexualities, there has been very little comment on how the media has dealt with Rooney himself, with footballers who get caught with their trousers down, and with mens’ sexuality in general.
Is the message that the men in these stories are not being judged in the same, negative terms as the women? Is the media treating Rooney and other footballers as just doing what men do? Or does he deserve any vilification he gets, because after all he is a lying, cheating, adulterer? Is it implied that women don’t have affairs? That it is men who are unable to do anything but follow their cocks with no restraint?
Rooney was only seventeen when he started playing adult League football professionally. He had been on the Everton Youth team since he was ten. He met Coleen at school and they have been together ever since. Heterosexual monogamy is quite difficult for anyone to achieve, so for a young professional footballer, with access to so much disposable income, so much testosterone, so many nightclubs, so many ‘temptations’, I am not surprised he has had sexual experiences outside his marriage. If I was Coleen, I might have been tempted to experiment a little myself rather than only ever enjoying coital relations with babyface FOR MY WHOLE ENTIRE LIFE.
In my view, the implicit message of both the media presentation of this story, and its critiques, has been that ‘men cheat on their wives’ and this is a ‘bad thing’ but by its very commonplace and immoral nature, something not really worth questioning or trying to understand.
I think if we are going to find a villain of this piece, it is not Babyface at all. It is not even the myth of the man as adulterer and the woman as victim of adultery, or the madonna/whore dichotomy, though both are very tiresome. The Big Bad Wolf in this story for me, is Normative Heterosexual Monogamy and the ridiculous, gendered, impossible expectations it places on us all.