It’s been weeks since the Arnold Schwarzenegger “lovechild” scandal broke, and the media has settled on a pretty clear narrative for the story’s main characters. Maria Shriver is being presented as the tragic and long-suffering scorned wife, Arnold’s the powerful horndog who nevertheless deserves praise for his generosity towards his illegitimate son’s family, and Mildred “Patty” Baena, the Guatemalan housekeeper who bore Arnold’s child, is being almost universally defamed for her sexuality and dishonesty.
Since the story broke, Patty has claimed betrayal from members of her family who have shown few reservations about talking to the press. Her ex-husband, Rogelio Baena, was reportedly paid six figures to appear on Entertainment Tonight and, essentially, lie. He claims he had no knowledge that Patty’s son wasn’t his own, biologically, despite the fact that in his and Patty’s divorce papers — which were filed soon after Patty gave birth — the two claimed to have no children together. Now Patty’s suing ET, citing defamation. A Forbes blog had this to say about the situation:
“If Arnold’s first family never knew about Arnold’s second family, it takes nerve for Mildred Baena to claim ‘defamation.’ The woman and her son lived amongst Maria and her children for over a decade. She apparently not only worked there, but also was treated like a member of the family (which I guess she was, sort of). Presuming Maria didn’t know the truth, I can’t think of more of a (self) ‘defaming’ thing to do than pretending that your child, which you had with your employer/friend’s husband, was someone else’s.”
What does the writer, Kiri Blakeley, mean when she says Patty was “treated like a member of the family”? Well, she’s appeared in photographs with the Schwarzeneggers, and once Arnold paid for a quinceanera party for her niece. More to the point is the house Patty lives in, the down payment for which was paid for by Arnold. TMZ implied that the home, which has “four bedrooms and a pool,” indicates that Patty’s living the high life on Arnold’s dime.
In reality, Arnold Schwarzenegger paid a $65,000 down payment, which covered a quarter of the home’s price, and left Patty to handle the mortgage. Prior to this, Patty and her family were living in a modest apartment. The house she currently owns is in Bakersfield, CA — an economically stunted desert area two hours outside of Los Angeles. Bakersfield is consistently ranked as one of the least educated regions in the country, with 18% of residents living below the poverty line. To imply that Patty’s living in the lap of luxury with uninhibited access to a sugar daddy’s checkbook is an offensive and insulting exaggeration.
Despite what the media may want, this isn’t a, intriguing story about sex and power. This is a story about a Guatemalan housekeeper with a family to raise who became pregnant by her absurdly wealthy and powerful boss. Do we think Arnold was showering his “mistress” with gifts and whisking her off on exotic rendezvous? No, he was having sex with her in his home while his wife was out and then sending her off to clean his toilet, essentially.