Is Race Behind Tiger Woods’ Sex Addiction? Ask David Mura.

By Daisy Hernandez Mar 20, 2010

It’s a busy weekend, everyone. On the national agenda: the health care bill, immigration reform…and, oh yes, the Tiger texts. One of the golfer’s many white mistresses, Joslyn James, has published text messages he supposedly sent her. Not surprisingly, Tiger managed to cover a wide range of topics through his cell phone including golden showers, anal sex, parenting, and what kind of sandwich to have for dinner. James published the messages on Thursday on her uncreatively — though, I suppose, appropriately named — website, The news came a day after Obama told Fox News that he hoped Tiger was back on track with his family, and that he admired the man’s game… golf, of course. Tiger’s probably trying to focus right now on getting ready for the Masters in a few weeks, but since his wife’s not talking to him and he’s apparently put down his drug of choice (white women), this might be a good time for him to consider picking up a memoir by another man of color who’s been there, done that. I’ll be the first to say I was skeptical when I started reading David Mura’s memoir Where the Body Meets Memory: An Odyssey of Race, Sexuality & Identity last year. What did sex addiction have to do with being Japanese American? Or with having parents who grew up in the internment camps? That was—I announced at the time—a real stretch. Unfortunately it wasn’t. With unflinching honesty, and lyrical prose as well, Mura recounts the messages he received about masculinity as a young man. Some were what men get across all race lines: your self-esteem is based on how many women you sleep with. Other messages were specific to his Japanese American family: blend in, act white, that’s what we had to do when we got out of the camps. And yet another group of messages came from media, from school, from films: don’t expect to get the girl, Asians are nerds not “real” men. Mura grew up and proceeded to sleep with as many white women as he could, at times literally putting his own life at risk. Sex helped him play out dramas and demons around race and masculinity while also giving him a temporary escape from the real feelings just beneath the surface. In the end, he found that he had to take a look back at the cards he’d been dealt and the ones he’d chosen or risk losing not only his wife and children, but his own sanity. Is it a simple case of cause-and-effect? Of racism causes sex addiction? No, of course not. A person’s decisions are much harder to unravel, but what Mura’s memoir does suggest is that the terrain of desire isn’t free of the race issues we face at work, in public policy, and over immigration reform. It’s just a bit trickier to talk about — which is, perhaps, why we can’t stop talking about Tiger.