The smart, delightful Maureen Dowd wrote an interesting column about the fallen-from-grace Rep. Anthony Weiner today, “Your Tweetin’ Heart,” in the New York Times. She’s clearly put out with and put off by the cyber-licentious Congressman, and I’m not saying I plan to start a fan club for him, but (as Dowd points out about many contemporary women), I really can’t get worked up about this.
Whatever Weiner or any man does sexually (or pseudo-sexually) is his own business and that of his partner, if he has one. A man’s sex life should not be an issue in regard to his role, and performance, as a political leader. Of course, many folks claim to be upset because he lied – to the press and public – and Americans like to pretend they’re all incensed about lying, as if they never do it themselves. Yes, of course he was stupid to lie, but that’s what people do, especially public people, particularly when it’s about (gasp! horror!) S-E-X!!!
To me, the issue isn’t what Weiner did sexually, or even that he lied about it. To me, the issues (there are two of them) are that this country is immature and Puritan when it comes to sex, and (we claim) that public behavior – especially if it’s political – can’t be separated from private behavior. I disagree.
There have been sexual/political scandals since the beginning of political time; people are titillated by what their public figures do in the bedroom (or the back of a car, or a bathroom, or in the netherworld of something called cyberspace). I’m probably in the minority in not caring in the least. I also don’t judge the “health” or “goodness” (or lack of it) about what people do sexually.
My attitude is: whatever two (or more) adults do that is consensual, non-violent, and does not deliberately spread disease, is their business. If they want to slather each other in peanut butter and swing from a chandelier, who cares? It’s time that we as a nation grew up about sex, rediscovered the notion of privacy, and protested loud and clear when the media and other politicians try to bring down a politician because of his sexual behavior. It’s bullshit.
One can be a “kinky” liberal or conservative or some political stance in between or otherwise. That doesn’t mean you can’t be politically rational or serious or genuinely effective. If we (as a nation) are going to condemn every political man – or woman (God forbid!) – for what they do sexually, we’re going to end up with (a) nobody, (b) a handful of happily monogamous people or (c) a bunch of celibate wackos who worry me more than the ones who dress up like Little Bo Peep.
The other thing I want to say here is that I think women who have a man in their lives – husband, boyfriend, whatever – shouldn’t get so uptight if he’s into porn or sexting or even cyber-sexing. It’s time we accepted that men apparently have different sexual needs and drives than we do (this distinction is, of course, a generalization and surely there are exceptions to any rule).
Men – or so male comedians keep telling us – need a greater variety, creativity and frequency of sexual outlet than do women. I would not be happy about my man (if I had one) gallivanting in the real world outside of our relationship; I’d feel betrayed and, quite honestly, threatened. But, if it made him feel better to watch porn or sext to a stripper or whatever make-believe crap gets him off, so what? It leaves me time to watch movies he doesn’t like, read a book or take a nap.
I think America needs to take a nap, then wake up and say: “We’ve got serious stuff to deal with. Enough about Weiner’s wiener and let’s get down to business!”