There is a trend in media and society to discredit and denigrate all men in general, and so it should come as no surprise that the personal life and reputation of someone like Albert Einstein could also not have been immune to such perfidious onslaught.
Instead of dismissing Einstein’s demands as misogynistic manifesto, let’s take a reasonable look at those demands and analyze them from the counter viewpoint of what women expect in marriages today, and can in fact enforce them legally using laws like Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (PWDVA) in India.
First of Einstein’s conditions below:
(Source: Einstein: His Life and Universe)
A. You will make sure:
1. that my clothes and laundry are kept in good order;
2. that I will receive my three meals regularly in my room;
3. that my bedroom and study are kept neat, and especially that my desk is left for my use only.
There is nothing wrong in these conditions. I think if Einstein can be blamed for something, it is probably lack of tact. A middle class married woman in India today can expect the following from her husband, and he must obey or be ready to be charged with domestic violence:
1. You must keep the family car ready and be willing to drive me around. (If not, emotional and economic violence)
2. That I will receive enough of your salary to sustain a better lifestyle than at my parents’ house. (If not, economic violence)
3. That you cannot use the same bathroom as mine. (If not, physical violence)
Further conditions put forth by Einstein:
B. You will renounce all personal relations with me insofar as they are not completely necessary for social reasons.
Specifically, You will forego:
1. my sitting at home with you;
2. my going out or travelling with you.
C. You will obey the following points in your relations with me:
1. you will not expect any intimacy from me, nor will you reproach me in any way;
2. you will stop talking to me if I request it;
3. you will leave my bedroom or study immediately without protest if I request it.
Above are probably the points which the news writer is utilizing to brand Einstein’s conditions as making his wife as a maidservant rather than lover. Well the writer has omitted to mention that Einstein promised her wife a status of housewife (and mother) in return for the conditions. What a crime! — to be a housewife and mother.
And since the conditions put forth by Einstein are being analyzed in this day and age, let’s be clear that in 2013, in most countries the marital laws are such that a husband cannot enforce legally upon his wife practically anything which might be socially considered as duties or desirable conduct of a wife towards husband. A wife however can legally enforce upon a husband maintenance/alimony for herself, get exclusive child custody, throw him out of the house and practically claim it as her own. He becomes basically an ATM machine!
Regarding not treating the wife as lover. That’s a joke. Legally a wife is not required to guarantee anything to husband including sex. And in any case, how do we know the state of affection between Einstein and his wife, and that only he is to be blamed for putting forth these conditions!
Laws of many countries allow a woman to file marital rape upon husband. It is her word against his. However if a husband refuses sex to his wife, he could potentially be charged with domestic violence under categories of emotional abuse, sexual abuse and so on under the DV Act in India.
Further, the last condition of Einstein:
D. You will undertake not to belittle me in front of our children, either through words or behavior.
There is no need to even defend it. But it gives a suspicion that Einstein was facing such behaviour at home or otherwise a man with his ordered and reasonable mind will not put forth a condition like this.
Now the news writer doesn’t stop there because so far probably he hasn’t done enough damage to Einstein’s personal character. He proceeds with more fault finding in Einstein’s character.
Given the circumstances in which they met, Elsa may have expected a certain level of dalliance from her new husband.
And of course, although Einstein married Elsa in 1919, within four years he was already involved with Bette Neumann, his secretary and the niece of one of his friends.
‘His conquest of general relativity proved easier than finding the formulas for the forces swirling within his family,’ Isaacson says.
Something the women who loved him learned the hard way
Well, the facts mentioned seem different and wikipedia article on Einstein’s wife Elsa below point to Einstein’s traits of being a gentlemen and committed father to his stepdaughters as below:
With daughters Ilse and Margot, the Einsteins formed a close-knit family. Although Albert and Elsa did not have any children of their own, Albert raised Ilse and Margot as his own. They lived in the Berlin area, also having a summer house in Caputh in nearby Potsdam.
And then the news headline as a question about Einstein being the world’s worst husband. What about the man who kills his wife and children? Surely we need more of those and less of Einsteins!