Arnold Schwarzenegger Joins the Love Child Club

Class and power play out when politicians have illicit affairs with women.

May 17, 2011, 3:02 PM

May 17, 2011— -- Arnold Schwarzenegger's "love child" -- one that he has financially supported for 10 years -- recalls other affairs between men of power and women who have agreed to keep their children's identities secret.

Just this week, the former governor of California announced that he had fathered a child with a two-decade long household employee, citing it as the reason he and Maria Shriver, his wife of 25 years, were separating.

Shriver only learned of the affair, which happened more than a decade ago, when her husband left political office.

"Caste, race, class, money, gender and power all play out in ways that profoundly disadvantage women," said Adele Logan Alexander, a research professor of American history at George Washington University in assessing Schwarzenegger's announcement.

"Think too, in others of today's headlines, of Dominque Strauss-Kahn and his presumed sexual assault on who?" she asked. "A hotel maid."

Schwarzenegger, 63, said in a statement released to the Los Angeles Times: "There are no excuses and I take full responsibility for the hurt I have caused. I understand and deserve the feelings of anger and disappointment among my friends and family. I have apologized to Maria, my children and my family. I am truly sorry."

Shriver, 55, broke her silence to say, "This is a painful and heartbreaking time. As a mother, my concern is for the children. I ask for compassion, respect and privacy as my children and I try to rebuild our lives and heal. I will have no further comment."

The couple has four children. The newspaper has not published the name of the former staffer or her child. Up to now, she has claimed the child was her husband's, according to newspaper reports.

Often, as was the case in the Schwarzenegger affair, the mothers of these children are silenced.

"Power is at the core of it -- droit de seigneur," Alexander said of the mythical right of European lords to take the virginity of their serfs' maidens.

Such was the case with another famous politician, South Carolina's Sen. Strom Thurmond, who had a biracial "love child" with a black maid that was kept under wraps until his death at the age of 100 in 2003.

His daughter, Essie May Washington, now 85, wrote about her secret relationship with her rich, white father, saying that the senator had been "very good" to her family. Though he had paid her 60 visits over a lifetime, she had never sat down to dinner with him.

Her mother was only about 15 when she submitted to Thurmond, according to Alexander, who reviewed the 2006 memoir.

"Thurmond took advantage of a girl who was in his family's employ and had no power or options open to her," she said.

"Similar situations manifest themselves in all sorts of ways -- in American and other Western hemisphere slave societies where owners used enslaved women, and often impregnated them," she said.

In the old South, "everyone knew who the children were and no one said anything," said Alexander. "No one dared to challenge the masters."

Thomas Jefferson was supposed to have sired several children with Sally Hemings, a slave at Monticello, a subject that been debated for generations.

Powerful Men 'Buy' Silence

"Thurmond continued to 'buy' Essie May Washington's silence, which, I assume Schwarzenegger had done the same with the household employee who bore his child," said Alexander.

"Both of these women and ultimately their children understood that the way to get along is to say as little as possible and not have your life made miserable," she said.

Similarly, Prince Albert of Monaco, one of the richest men in the world, is supporting two working-class women who have given birth to his love children.

In 2006, the son of movie starlet Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier, admitted he had a 14-year-old daughter following an affair with California waitress Tamara Rotolo. Today, Jazmin Grace Grimaldi is 19.

Just the year before, he admitted that he had fathered Alexandre Coste, now 11, the daughter of flight attendant Nicole Coste from Togo.

Jesse Jackson, 69, had an affair with a former employee at his Rainbow/PUSH coalition that produced a daughter, Ashley. The once presidential candidate said that he had never offered payment to Karin Stanford, who is now 49.

In 2001, she sought formalized child support and told ABC's 20/20 that she only wanted him "to be a father" to the child, who is now 12. She reportedly received $3,000 a month from Jackson.

"I really need to clear up some misinformation about me," Stanford, now an author and a professor, told the Chicago Tribune in 2001, when she sought child support. "I'm not a blackmailer. I've never received any payoff money…please don't call me a mistress.

Stanford was said to have received a $100,000 annual salary from one of Jackson's organizations. "That implies I'm a kept woman," she told the newspaper. "I am not that."

In 2009, New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Palladino, now 64, confessed a secret child to his wife of 40 years, Cathy, after their son was killed in a car accident. The girl was conceived during an extramarital affair a decade ago with Sue Brady, an ex-staffer in his development company.

Other modern day philanderers include 2008 presidential candidate John Edwards, who now has a 3-year-old daughter Quinn with filmmaker Rielle Hunter. They had an affair while he was on the campaign trail, which later broke apart his own marriage to Elizabeth, who died of breast cancer in 2010.

The victims in all these scenarios are often the children -- not only the love children, but legitimate siblings, according to Dr. Judy Kuriansky, professor of psychology at Columbia's Teacher's College.

"This is very traumatic for the love child," she said. "Basically they are being kept as a secret and sometimes they don't even know who the father is. Nothing is worse than not being recognized or not being accepted by your parents. But we also have to think about the [half] siblings."

Just today, Schwarzenegger's 17-year-old son Patrick Shriver, who uses his mother's name, tweeted these rap lyrics: "Some days you feel like shit, some days you want to quit and just be normal for a bit, yet I love my family till death do us apart."

"This is a way of assuaging his feelings," said Kuriansky. "It's not only the child that's been kept in the dark all this time...It's tremendously distressing have a role model father who does such things."

But Kuriansky said there are other victims, including, perhaps, Schwarzenegger himself.

"It's the whole idea of a shotgun wedding -- getting the guy by getting him pregnant," she said of women who target wealthy celebrities.

"He is a victim like everybody else," said Kuriansky. "The love child's a victim, the mother is, in a way, because people think she's reprehensible because she broke up a marriage. And we are victims, too, because we have been duped. He ran for governor and kept it a secret until he left office."

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