You can't make up this kind of story. Some of you may have heard about Quinn Gray, the Jacksonville, Fla., housewife who faked her abduction in order to extort money from her husband. Gray, the mother of two young daughters, alleged that she had been kidnapped, sexually assaulted and held for $50,000 ransom in "hellish conditions."
Upon investigation, authorities learned that it was just a sick plan, hatched by Gray and her 25-year-old lover to extort money from her husband. The sexual assault and kidnapping? According to witnesses, Gray and mechanic Jasmin Osmanovic were holed up in a hotel room doing the nasty. A tape surfaced with the sound of Gray and her lover in the throes of passion while plotting the extortion. Witnesses say that Gray looked "relaxed" and not "distressed" at all. Holed up for four days getting your groove on, escaping the reality of being a housewife and having the entire world coming to your rescue, might have that effect.
Gray's attorneys insist that she was having a psychotic episode and that this "Bosnian mechanic" took advantage of her. What's the catch? She is undiagnosed and has no history of mental illness; however, she does have mental illness in her family -- which they claim stigmatized her to such an extent that she masked her "sickness" with alcohol (and a 25-year-old penis I suspect), which led to her being exploited by this mechanic. She had nothing to do with this plot and is a victim of society and this evil man.
To this I say, give me a break. This chick was bored, needed attention and got it from wherever she could. Because she lacked a moral compass, she engaged in a torrid affair with a 25-year-old. She cared so little about the man who provided the "perfect" life for her (that they keep referencing in the media), that she wanted to use his material wealth to bankroll her debauchery. I do not believe for one minute that this woman was sick. If so, why were there no symptoms?
I have two family members with schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder. I've seen episodes up close and personal and know that decent people do crazy things when off their meds or undiagnosed. Having said that, I'm not inclined to believe Gray, who now wants to claim a mental illness that her lawyers say she never acknowledged because of the stigma attached. Is it possible that she's telling the truth? Yes. Do I believe her? Not bloody likely.
Why? Because I think that the only victims in this crime are this woman's husband and society. Haven't we had enough of runaway brides and housewives faking abductions to know that this is now a viable means for selfish and narcissistic people to draw attention to themselves? Women and men and their ridiculous rescue fantasies have permeated reality. The sad part about it is that they utilize tax dollars and resources when we throw caution to the wind and chase after them. "Oh my God, a beautiful housewife has been kidnapped -- stop the world until we find her!" Yes, kidnappings are serious business, but everyone deserves this kind of response. Why is it that a certain class of white women get this attention and other women do not?
That's another column for another time, but this week I'm suggesting that Gray is a liar and is cashing in on the cultural capital that comes with being a "beautiful housewife with a perfect family." Here come her attorneys, both men, to rescue her again.
You may remember Bonnie Sweeten, who faked the abduction of her daughter and herself last May in order to go to Disney World. To add insult to injury, she blamed black men in the process, and authorities embarked on a national search that overtook the media. It was crazy, and of course, they said that she was crazy -- not too crazy to blame a black man in the process, but crazy nonetheless.
Perhaps Sweeten and Gray are psychotic, but not in the way that they are described. They are not victims of others. They are victims of their distorted perception of their importance in the world, and we help reinforce that by giving them another out. And that's a result of the ridiculous stereotypes about women. We need rescuing. We wouldn't possibly turn away from being a housewife. We would never do anything to jeopardize our families, especially our children. We would never plot against our good-looking, well-to-do husbands. Hogwash. Gray's lawyers contend that it was the lover's entire fault, and she was basically an innocent bystander. Why couldn't she have been the aggressor and the mastermind? Because she's a housewife?
I wish that we could get it through our heads that many women do not like being housewives. Even in researching this story, most of the description centers on her "perfect life," which obviously wasn't that perfect if she went to such drastic measures to escape it. Is she sick? Possibly, but what's really crazy about this is the plan that she hatched against her husband and how everyone, including her husband, is coming to her defense. Now that's sick.
Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D. is managing editor of TheLoop21.com. She is an assistant professor of Communication and Media Studies at Goucher College and writes the blog Tune N (http://nsengaburton.wordpress.com), which examines popular culture through the lens of race, class, gender and sexuality.