Ad-ultery: Ashley Madison To Advertise With TTC

11 Dec

“Adultery: noun – voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and someone other than his or her lawful spouse.”

Thanks, dictionary.com, for that extremely whitewashed definition of what might just qualify as the most terrible thing you can do to somebody.

Believe it or not, my friends, your Uncle Alex has known the touch of a woman once or twice in his life. I know, it would shock me too. Unfortunately, that touch has all-too-often come with a price – typically, my self-respect at the hands of dishonest women.

Before you leap down my throat, I’m not making a blanket statement about women, or even about relationships. I’ve had some great relationships along with the shitty ones, and I genuinely like and respect women as a general rule – as long as they’re honest with me. I don’t ask for much, people, but I ask for that much, and I don’t think I’m out of line in so doing.

My thoughts are as follows, to paraphrase the great Henry Rollins:

“Get a divorce, have a time-out, get therapy – don’t cheat on your woman.”

Damn right, Hank. I don’t really give a good goddamn what your personal morality is; in this day and age, there is absolutely no excuse for that kind of dishonesty. There are too many options available – if you want to take the constructive route, there are counselors and therapists and shrinks and what all else whose services you can retain to help you and your partner through whatever ailment made you consider cheating in the first place. Contrarily, since half of all marriages end in divorce, I can’t imagine it would be that hard to implement. So why cheat?

I think of it as human frailty. People have no desire whatsoever to face up to their responsibilities, and everyone’s looking to get something for free. Everybody wants to be able to have and eat their cake, and they’ll go to extraordinary lengths to get it – if they put half the work into being genuinely honest as they do into finding loopholes, they’d probably be more successful in the long run.

To be fair, when I talk about adultery, I’m not referring to people in so-called “open relationships”. If you’ve had a mature, adult conversation about your and your partner’s desires and you come to the conclusion that you’re both okay with the idea of having multiple sexual partners, more power to you. I don’t necessarily understand how people can be in a committed emotional relationship and still sleep around, but it’s not for me to judge that particular behaviour – as long as it’s a mutual, consensual thing. The minute it stops being that, the minute somebody breaks trust, that’s when the big hammer of rage drops out of the sky and squarely on the perpetrator’s head.

Some people might be surprised at my standpoint; I’ve been told in the past it’s kind of puritanical. You know what? I don’t care. I’m a very liberal guy, and I typically keep my nose out of other people’s personal business, but there are a couple of things I can’t ignore or forgive, regardless whether it’s my relationship or not: one is abuse, the other is cheating. I’ll stay out of arguments friends have with their significant others, but if I ever discovered that one of my friends was (inexplicably) fooling around on his or her partner, I’d be the first person in line at that particular crucifixion, friend or not.

So why am I making such a big deal out of this?

This is why.

Here’s the gloss: Toronto residents are already familiar with the TTC’s shameless whoring out of their outdated streetcars to whatever advertiser will pony up the cash. Even visitors here can’t fail to notice the so-called “wrapped” streetcars completely covered in advertising for some shitty TV show or some product you don’t need. I’ve already got issues with that kind of advertising. It burns my ass in a big way that our transit commission keeps upping the prices of their fares because they “have no money” but they seem to have no problem pocketing that sweet, sweet ad revenue. But it gets worse.

Ever heard of AshleyMadison.com? I first discovered this website a few years ago after seeing a commercial for it on late-night TV. The ad was kind of vague; I got the sense it was some kind of dating site, but the line “sometimes needs aren’t met” sent my mind down a path rife with bizarre fetishes I’ll never pretend to understand (but for which I still harbour a morbid curiosity), so naturally I had to check it out.

Turns out it’s a dating site for married people.

I know this won’t come as news to you cyber-savvy people out there, but like I said, this was a few years before I became the Prince of the Internet I am today, so I wasn’t quite in the know.

As it happens, the Ashley Madison organization has decided to purchase advertising space with the TTC, so in addition to the regular “Entourage” and “So You Think You Can Dance” streetcars that trundle through our streets, very soon you’ll start seeing the Ashley Madison logo decorating our public transit, complete with their catchy tag line “Life is short – have an affair”.

Now that’s a pretty interesting choice for a commission that is defined as a public service. One might go so far as to say it’s controversial. If by “one”, I mean “me”, and if by “controversial” I mean “completely fucking unacceptable”.

Which I do.

You might say that’s a pretty harsh sentiment, but have you seen the Ashley Madison FAQ page? After reading it, and after I ran around outside for ten or twenty minutes screaming at nothing and smashing a good deal of public property to let off some of the unfathomable rage that gripped me, I decided to deal with it point-by-point, just to illustrate to you, my dear readers, why I have adopted such a militant viewpoint on this topic.

Does Ashley Madison encourage infidelity?

No, Ashley Madison does not encourage anyone to stray. In fact, if you are having difficulty with your relationship, you should seek counseling.

However, if you still feel that you will seek a person other than your partner to fill your unmet needs, then we truly believe that our service is the best place to start.

Right. How does this sound? “No, Junkies ‘R Us does not encourage anyone to use heroin. In fact, if you are having difficulty with your debilitating addiction, you should seek rehab. However, if you still feel that you will seek out opiates to fill your unmet needs, then we truly believe that our service is the best place to start.”

Might sound a little overreaching, but I’m sorry – that such a service is provided by this company points directly to a tacit approval of the kind of behaviour the service is designed to facilitate. Any argument to the contrary is rhetorical bullshit.

Does a service like Ashley Madison make it easier for people to stray?

Of course not. People don’t stray because it is easy or convenient. Most stray because they are missing something in their relationship and feel they need or deserve more than their primary partner offers.

Providing a service like ours does not make someone more likely to stray any more than increasing the availability of glassware contributes to alcoholism. No report contradicts this finding. On the other hand, putting up barriers and making it difficult to stray has never discouraged infidelity; if anything, it simply makes people want to even more.

Oh, do I ever want to meet the person who writes their copy. Whoever they are, they’re good. Really good. I like the use of the term “primary partner” to refer to the ostensibly monogamous other-half of the relationship, because it surreptitiously suggests you can have a “secondary” or even “tertiary” partner. Also, the bit about increasing the availability of glassware not contributing to alcoholism? This is pure marketing gold. It’s a completely pithy argument with absolutely no basis in reality: if the analogy was in line with the actual motivation of the company it would be more along the lines of my Junkies ‘R Us thing. But the way it’s worded allows the company a little moral wiggle room; they’re just providing a venue for something that’s going to happen anyway – it’s not their fault. Yeah, and Joseph Mengele was just conducting research.

Why does Ashley Madison offer an outlet for people that don’t care about their spouses?

Unfortunately, stereotypes about philanderers abound. Most unfaithful people do care about their spouse and will take steps to work out their problems.

Our role is to keep them from taking unnecessary risks while they explore the feelings that got them to our website to begin with. Helping individuals stay safe and anonymous impacts the potential outcome of their decisions.

Once again, great writing. “Philanderer” sounds so much more upscale than “two-faced slut”, doesn’t it? (And when I use “slut”, I’m referring to the men just as much as the women, so don’t start.) But the part that wins is the second sentence. First of all, I never thought I’d see “unfaithful people” and “care about their spouse” in the same phrase, and second of all, “[taking] steps to work out their problems”, at least in my mind, does not constitute “fucking other people”. Helping individuals stay anonymous impacts the outcome? You’re damn right it does. This is no better than the fraternity brother who will look the other way when you bring home some sorority broad that isn’t your long-term girlfriend, and later lie to said girlfriend on your behalf about what really happened.

This website seems like a radical idea. What do people have to say about it?

Public opinion is clearly in favor of a free and democratic society that lets people do as they wish, including signing on to our service to have an affair – (Even if they would not use our service themselves). A recent survey suggested that as many as 75% of those polled believed that: “While ‘cheating’ was inherently wrong, we should still have the right as a free society to make up our own minds”.

Besides, the most fatal decision is that of a settled point of view.

Isn’t that interesting? That’s the second time they’ve referenced vague statistics and surveys that back up their point – statistics and surveys that go conspicuously un-linked. You know what happens to me when I make a point and I don’t back it up? Brent or Moot or even the Mule come down on my head like the million-ton weight falling out of the sky and tear my article to pieces. And they’re right to do so, because without hard facts to back up the opinions I forward on this website, those opinions are worth approximately as much as the turd they rode out on.

And all that talk of our “rights” in a free society? I’m sorry for being a little more profane in this article than I typically try to be, but all of that pointless posturing about “rights” and a “free society” can fuck right off.

I said it the other day – I’m sick and tired of people who hide behind freedom and use it to justify their morally reprehensible acts, and that’s all this is. Should we have the right to do what we want? Yeah, I suppose we should. Saying anything else is a slippery slope to the final death of democracy. But what about the rights of your spouse? What about their right to a life free of mistreatment? Because that’s all cheating boils down to, folks: emotional abuse. If you can find me a single scenario in which cheating is justified, I’m all ears, but I doubt you’ll find it.

And as far as the TTC goes; well, they’ve been on thin ice with me for a while, but this is beyond the pale. According to the Commission’s public relations department, customers are free to lodge complaints, and if they get enough of them, they’ll put the decision to a committee that will decide whether or not the ads stay up.

I’m urging my fellow Toronto residents to lodge those complaints. I sure as hell am. You want to cheat on your s/o? Fine, I can’t stop you. But I’ll be a monkey’s uncle before I allow my city to support this bullshit on the vehicles of a public service. Call me a Puritan if you want, but everyone – even me – has limits.

7 Responses to “Ad-ultery: Ashley Madison To Advertise With TTC”

  1. Diana Poulsen December 11, 2009 at 5:51 PM #

    To be honest, today was the first time I had ever heard of this dating site. I agree with everything that was written. Another reason I didn’t like the ad campaign, other than for all the reasons that have been stated, is because it tries to make me, a person who would not cheat, appear as boring. That some how my resolve to be faithful should be perceived as though I am wasting my short life. I am not married, but have been with the same person for the 3 years. Should I ever get bored, I’ll have a conversation with my partner and add spice or danger to our lives. Actually having a real conversation with your partner is probably easier than all the guilt and effort that goes into lying. On top of that, the mind fuck of an affair is simply too cruel. I cannot support an ad or a society that accepts betrayal. An affair is betrayal, and that is the worst thing you can do to a person.

  2. Moot. December 11, 2009 at 6:00 PM #

    People stray because they have a lack of respect. Simple. Nobody wants to be cheated on, but that doesn’t mean they wont do the crime themselves. It all boils down to respect. Treat others as you’d like to be treated (a foreign concept on today’s age).

    Now the sanctity of marriage MUST BE PROTECTED by the government!! Unless they’re offering money, of course. Then its advertising. Just keep the fags away from weddings and we’re golden.

    One more point….if a company like this can get their business approved by the government to the point where they can advertise on the TTC then whats with all these laws against polygamy? If you’re going to be in a monogamous relationship then all the best to you and you’re probably better off. If not, start a harem!

  3. Erin December 11, 2009 at 7:28 PM #

    Well written Alex. I always like your articles, but I think this one was particularly heart felt. Well done.

  4. Heather December 11, 2009 at 8:14 PM #

    Hear, hear!

  5. Lovey December 14, 2009 at 10:23 AM #

    Apparently AM approached Tiger for a sponsorship deal after they heard about his transgressions. Subtle.

  6. Ryan December 15, 2009 at 1:51 PM #

    Much like the saying “guns don’t kill people, people do”, the whole campaign is an attempt to justify the company’s position of being an enabler to something morally wrong. Also, by advertising this service on a mass scale by plastering posters all over the public transit system, it plants the idea in society’s collective consciousness that cheating on your spouse is something that a large number of people think about, and/or actively seek out. Diana brought up a great point about the message it sends out those who are faithful to their partners… Talk about propagating a culture of paranoia and distrust among couples!

    I don’t know what bothers me more; a company that condones adultery, or one that makes a public declaration about it to men, women and children of all ages.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. State of Affairs 2009 Blog Wrap-Up « State of Affairs - December 31, 2009

    […] got to give the TTC a bit of credit, though; just hours after I posted my blog about the controversy surrounding the possible advertising partnership with adulterous dating site Ashley Mad…, the proposal was unilaterally turned down by the TTC’s governing body. To be honest, I […]

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