Adam and Eve. Samson and Delilah. Tiger Woods and the cocktail waitress. Poor men undone by women. Ladies: the destructive femme fatales. Think Cleopatra, Salome or Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct.
And now consider Peter Robinson, who has lost it all thanks to the toyboy wanderings of his wife, Iris. So are women really to blame for these high-profile falls from grace?
History has not been kind in its portrayal of such women. The story usually shows some poor hapless man has been driven demented by a hot siren to the point that he loses it all. Could this just be misogyny or a fear of female independence? Is there even such a thing as the femme fatale or is that simply a male invention, designed purely to make him feel better about himself? Do some women really wreck the lives of otherwise good men who fall under their spell? Your call, but let me begin by telling you about my date with Iris Robinson.
As a young reporter I had been sent up North to cover the 2001 election. I was there to report on Iris Robinson's first bid for a seat. From the outset there was something about Iris that just didn't add up. The second we met I could see that Iris had the X factor. Dressed in dark blue (a Unionist shade, of course) with glossy make-up and a very attractive bone structure, Iris Robinson was a walking paradox. She was sexual but covered with a mantle of religious fundamentalism, and I fell for her straight away.
After some polite chit-chat, she gave me her views on "Southern interference in Northern politics". She then proceeded to quote me extracts from the Bible to do with justice and vengeance. Those quotations didn't quite cover Salome, but she was full of fire and brimstone. In a way, it made her more attractive. Forbidden fruit. She continued to fire off Bible quotes during the day. Then, when it came to lunchtime, she changed. I had no one to hang with and she picked up on it. "You can have lunch with me," she said.
Just the two of us, I thought. But I found her decent and warm. She made jokes. Was she flirting with me? I'm not sure. However, better to be safe than sorry, so I flirted back. Later, her Unionist party handler came along and we were back at the vote count centre. And Iris the Warm became Iris the Cold.
Maybe that is what drives us blokes demented. The potentiality of sex and excitement crystallised in powerful but unstable women. I have met so many guys who fall for women like this. Usually the women are blamed when things go south. Yet we men are drawn to the unavailability. The excitement of sexual uncertainty.
But if women lead to the downfall of men, do we have any responsibility? Didn't Tiger know what he was doing with the many women he birdied? Did Peter Robinson know what his wife was up to? Wasn't that a cynically convened press conference last week when he tearfully recounted his wife's troubles? Robinson crying months after he discovered Iris's affair with young Captain Kirk. Going further back, what about poor Bill Clinton, done for by an intern? Bullshit. Old Bill knew what he was doing when he was getting the cigar treatment from Monica Lewinsky.
I reckon that the femme fatale exists but she can only operate in tandem with the male moron. Men are stupid. Their sexual drive takes over to the extent that they will risk the presidency of the United States or their international reputation (any number of people).
It suits us to blame the woman but we are not hapless fools. Are we?
Eamon presents Lunchtime on Newstalk 106-108FM, 12-2pm, weekdays. Myspace.com/eamonkeane