Love letters from Ana: The Hack Heard Around the World

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Anastasia Gayol Cintron

I like to explain the Ashley Madison hack as having all of your most shameful truths on display for the world to see and, perhaps even worse, those closest to you. Ashley Madison is a website that aids men in seeking extramarital affairs. Okay, their mission statement was slightly immoral to begin with, but when lists upon lists of names of husbands and fathers signed on to this site were released to the public, the issue of morality became an issue of privacy.

This whole scandal got me thinking about cheating and the privacy of it. Did the wives or partners of these individuals deserve to know that they were being cheated on? Was the expense of these men’s personal and family lives worth this knowledge? Can people really forgive infidelity?

It’s hard to make an argument for a cheater. The members of this site willing signed on in order to find opportunities to cheat on their partners. The members themselves were partaking in an immoral act. Whether or not you believe in monogamy is a conversation for another time, but for the sake of this column, I am going to argue that if you commit yourself to a monogamous relationship, you should act accordingly. All of a sudden, the tables are turned and these men, these cheaters, become the victims of one of the most humiliating hacks of all time coming at great personal expense.

Josh Taekman, a husband of “Real Housewives of New York City” star, Kristen Taekman, was one of the men whose name appeared on a public list of Ashley Madison users.

Taekman, the Eboost entrepreneur said regarding his account, “I signed up for the site foolishly and ignorantly with a group of friends and I deeply apologize for any embarrassment or pain I have brought to my wife and family,” he told People in a statement last Monday. “We both look forward to moving past this and getting on with our lives.”

So, now we get to this idea of moving forward. With the private sexual fantasies of many men exposed to their partners, wives, friends and family, my question is, how does one move forward? There have already been two suicides related to Ashley Madison exposure. While some people are saying that these cheaters deserved to be exposed, we must be sensitive to lives that are being ruined from the hack.

Can you forgive a cheater? I guess it’s circumstantial. It may not be based on how long you’ve been with someone, how many children you have or how many times the cheating occurred, I believe it depends on how much the person who was cheated on can handle. It’s how much someone will allow the trust in their relationship to dwindle. Some people’s tolerance for cheating is higher than others. Some people are able to look past sexual cheating, but care more about emotional cheating. Some believe that cheating is natural, our primal instinct and inability to be sexually monogamous as a species.

As far as the Ashley Madison hack, well there were many more casualties than the professional and personal lives of its users. There were wives, mothers and children who had their lives turned upside-down, as well. I know that both the users and their families must be experiencing a lot of pain. And who knows, perhaps this mutual hardship will help in forgiveness. Maybe it won’t. It’s a shocking story about privacy in this technological generation where sex is on the Internet and secrets are easier to keep.