"We had made a good team business-wise, but we were never able to separate our work from our personal life," Marion Barry wrote of his marriage to the late Mary Treadwell in his new book. "You can't have two people of equal power in a relationship, you simply can't."
Written with best-selling author Omar Tyree, Mayor for Life: The Incredible Story of Marion Barry, Jr., tells the story of Barry's life as he sees it. In doing so, Barry unwittingly casts a spotlight on the disturbing gender dynamics of his interpersonal relationships, even as he seeks to portray any attention to his personal life as the media focusing needlessly on scandal.
In one instance, he's miffed when his late wife Effi Slaughter Barry refuses to visit him behind bars after he was arrested for smoking crack with a mistress. In another, he accuses an anonymous woman of manipulating him with sex. "Attracting women was never my reason for wanting to lead," he wrote, "but it was a trap that any man in power can get caught up in. And this woman had me in a compromised position."
For some, it's easy to write these comments off playfully as something a crazy uncle might say, and much of the media have done that. Others have focused on his self-congratulation. The most newsy thing to come out of a media event last Friday was his opposition to a nonexistent yogurt tax. Such colorful coverage, while often entertaining, plays into an image of Barry as a wild but lovable philanderer, just another boy with a cookie jar who can't help himself.