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Gloria Allred's new feminism

Is the pioneering attorney taking a trivial turn in the Tiger Woods case?

February 23, 2010|Sandy Banks

It was no shock that my column Saturday criticizing public scrutiny of Tiger Woods' apology drew plenty of e-mail response from readers, most of whom agreed that Woods is accountable to his family, not his fans, for whatever "transgressions" occurred in his personal life.

What surprised me, though, was that so many readers were offended by the photo that accompanied the piece.

"It's hard to take your comments seriously with the backdrop of television lawyer Gloria Allred, media hound and high-profile attorney who works the system to make millions, as she seems to be in constant hunt of suing very rich men," e-mailed Nick Antonicello.

The photo showed Allred comforting Veronica Siwik-Daniels, a former porn actress who said she had a three-year relationship with Woods and was "bitterly disappointed" that he didn't mention her on Friday in the list of people to whom he owed apologies.

Some considered it ironic that Allred, who made her name fighting for women and children, would align herself with a home-wrecker.

"I am completely disappointed and dismayed that Gloria Allred, the champion of women, is representing this ex-porn star . . . and has encouraged her to publicly demand a public apology from Tiger Woods," wrote Elaine Grecco. "This puts women back a step or two after all the advances we have made."

Some were simply confused. Like my own 24-year-old daughter, who sent me this text on Friday morning, as she watched the post-apology circus unfold:

"Is Gloria Allred crazy?"

Crazy, like a fox.

::

It's probably hard for those people who see Allred as a joke to understand what a pioneer she was. She hasn't always been about Octomom and mistress redress.

Twenty-five years ago, she took on a cabal of Holocaust deniers, winning $100,000 and a public apology for an Auschwitz survivor. She sued to force Los Angeles County to unchain pregnant inmates while they gave birth. She championed the rights of lesbian couples during an era when politicians felt comfortable calling them derogatory names. She fought to protect rape victims from having to explain why they wore thongs or how many sex partners they had.

She always was a publicity-seeker, but she also was tough and passionate and smart.

But there she was on Friday, complaining that Woods owes her client -- one of a dozen women claiming affairs with the married golfer -- "an apology, at a minimum . . . because he led her on and broke her heart."

I caught up with Allred by phone on Monday in New York, where she's pressing her case on the talk-show circuit.

She doesn't see anything distasteful -- or even vaguely gold-digger-ish -- about it.

"This is a man who went out of his way to make her believe that he cared about her," Allred said. "Then, to protect himself, he dumped her like a hot potato. . . . I don't think he's entitled to hurt her and not apologize. What is so hard about that? Why is it so controversial?"

Allred read me text messages that Woods purportedly sent Siwik-Daniels last fall: Baby, I'm not going anywhere or doing anything. You please me like no other has or ever will. I am not losing that.

Not exactly an engagement ring, but apparently enough for Siwik-Daniels to stake her future on.

She stopped performing in porn movies because Woods "couldn't stand seeing her with another man," Allred said. "She's had no income for the past two years."

Ka-ching! Woods had better get his checkbook out.

::

You've got to admire Allred's moxie. Sure, she's mercenary, but what good lawyer isn't. And if she leads the media around by the nose, well, that's as much our fault as hers.

What troubles me more is this twisted take on feminism: rights without responsibilities.

Her client says she loved Woods. She knew he was married, of course. But Woods told her she was his only girlfriend, Allred said. "A woman ought to be able to believe a man when he tells her that."

And a wife ought to be able to expect fidelity from the man she married.

If your man is lying to his own wife so he can sneak around with you, perhaps a reality check is in order.

That's what I imagine the old Allred -- fist-pumping feminist, equal-rights booster -- would have counseled her would-be client.

Instead, she read this statement from Siwik-Daniels on Friday: "I did not deserve this. . . . You can't help who you fall in love with. . . . I wish I was told the real truth and then I would have made other choices."

Maybe you can't help who you fall in love with, but you can control what you do. And you can't cry foul -- he made me do it! -- when love doesn't work out the way you wanted.

Allred says it doesn't matter what choices Siwik-Daniels made. "It's about does Tiger Woods get to do this -- lead her on, lie and betray her. . . . Men do it all the time and women suffer in silence."

I say you can't heal a broken heart with money, and you can't keep a cheating husband from lying. But if Allred is right, you can sure get rich trying.

sandy.banks@latimes.com

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