Women shouldn’t be responsible for the actions of cheating men

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Hannah-Rose Yee
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Kelsey Grammer and wife Kayte Walsh on the red carpet

Kelsey Grammer got his wife’s name tattooed on his crotch, to deter women with whom he might want to have an affair. But why is it up to women to police men’s infidelity?

Here’s something you probably never wanted to know: Kelsey Grammer has a tattoo on his groin. It’s in “the pubis” area, he charmingly explained to Conan O’Brien this weekend, and it features just a single word: Kayte.

Kayte is his wife’s name. His fourth wife, a woman with whom he cheated on his third wife Camille, and who he married two weeks after his divorce from Camille was finalised. The pair conducted a six-month affair between December 2009 and June 2010 after meeting on a plane to London in which Kayte was working as a flight attendant.

In fact, the Frasier star explained, the tattoo was Kayte’s idea. It is a little bit of extra insurance to remind him not to do to her what he did to his third wife.

“Maybe it was based on the idea if ever I thought maybe a peccadillo outside the marriage was a good idea,” Grammer told O’Brien, “that whoever it might be would read that this particular piece of equipment was already signed, and owned, by someone named Kayte.”

Are there any Real Housewives of Beverly Hills fans in the building? Then you’ll know all about just how fond Grammer is of a “peccadillo outside of the marriage”. Camille was one of the founding cast members of that reality television show and her divorce from Grammer after 13 years of marriage and two children was played out in spectacular fashion on RHOBH’s first season.

I’ve watched RHOBH since the very beginning and I’ll never forget the moment that Camille realised that her husband was cheating on her with Kayte. “Somebody’s in the apartment as Mrs. Grammer,” Camille said in one episode, utterly crushed. “It’s just not me.”

People cheat. Sh*t happens. I get it, I really do.

But can we talk about how problematic it is that both Grammer and his wife think that he needs to tattoo her name onto his penis so he won’t stray into the path of temptation?

On one level, the fact that Grammer thinks he needs an ink-and-needle deterrent from cheating is laughable. But more concerning is the fact that he places all the responsibility for his own unfaithfulness on the person with whom he might want to have a little “peccadillo”: the woman who would see Kayte’s name tattooed on his “pubis” area, and, presumably, turn him down.

Having her name tattooed there suggests that Grammer thinks that the biggest deterrent to having an affair is Kayte herself. That her incurred wrath is the real reason to not cheat, and not because he took a literal vow to forsake all others.

Camille and Kelsey Grammer in 2006

Camille and Kelsey Grammer in 2006

Everything about this tattoo screams that Grammar refuses to own his decisions. Why is it the female cheat-ee, not the male cheater, who always shoulders most of the responsibility for an affair? Why should a woman have to check his groin for a tattoo revealing whether or not he’s married? Why is it up to the woman to say, oh dear, I just found out that this particular piece of equipment is signed and owned by someone else so no, I don’t want to engage in this little “peccadillo”, thank you very much?

Why can’t he just… not cheat?

Throughout history, and certainly throughout the history of Hollywood, affairs have been spun in the public consciousness a particular way. The woman is cast as the temptress, a cruel home wrecker, while the man is merely powerless to her charms.

Thus it ever was, from the time of Eddie Fisher and Elizabeth Taylor all the way up to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Even when there isn’t another woman – think of Anna Faris, Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, or how Marion Cotillard was implicated in the Brangelina split – there’s always another woman. Thus it ever was and thus it ever shall be.

But this line of thinking is dangerously close to slut-shaming, and reinforces the misogynistic idea that, no matter the situation, if a man cheats it is somehow the woman’s fault. It’s the fault of the woman whom he cheats with for leading him astray and not policing his behaviour and it’s the fault of his wife for not adequately keeping tabs on her man.

Unfortunately, if someone wants to cheat on their partner, only they can make the decision to do so – regardless of whether or not they have a groin tattoo. 

When Grammer and Kayte first met in 2009, he didn’t have a ‘Camille’ tattoo, but he did have a wedding ring. He knew he was married, and so did Kayte (she told Oprah as much in 2012). But the ring didn’t work as a deterrent. Only time will tell if the tattoo does.

Or maybe, if there is a next time that Grammer cheats, he can take responsibility for his actions. Maybe he can speak up for the fact that his equipment is already “owned”, without letting the tattoo take the fall. Maybe before he lets a little “peccadillo” proceed far enough that someone is close enough to his groin that they can see the name of his wife inked there, he can just say ‘No thank you, I’m married.’


Images: Getty