The Beatles’ musical question, “Why don’t we do it in the road?” has been answered, most recently by former Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., who, over the digital devices of modern communication, broadcast to a select audience his eponymous homonymous anatomy.
What Weiner learned, to his dismay, is what he and other priapismic politicians caught in the act should have known: It is getting nearly impossible for high-profile people to keep their sexual indiscretions and philandering hidden from the public.
Weiner’s cyber flashing has attracted the attention of a far greater audience than he had targeted. The vast global network of leaky digital communications along with a news media that increasingly behave like paparazzi, and the public’s seemingly insatiable appetite for anything sexual — the more tawdry the better — have all combined to work like Agent Orange to remove the cover under which the high rankers could engage in sexual indiscretions.
Lately, powerful men brought down by their sexual conduct, including Weiner, have sought treatment for sex addiction. Sex addiction? Treating men for sex addiction is like treating fish for swimming. The only effective treatment for male sex addiction is castration.
Sex is a natural human behavior, and not peculiar only to the male of the species. With less than 4 percent of the U.S. population reportedly homosexual, the vast majority of sexual activity here involves women with men — and women are not infrequently the initiators of the activity. Women, therefore, are usually complicit in perceived sexual misbehavior for which men get condemned. Yet, these women, although willing participants, are less likely to be denigrated than to be exonerated or considered innocent victims.
The notion that sexual misbehavior is strictly a male megalomanic malady deriving from some kind of testosterone poisoning that expresses itself in power abuse is tenuous. Although the nation might be better off if more male leaders were replaced with women, eventually there would be abuses and misbehaviors, including those involving sex, by women in power.
America, Puritan legacy and all, has hypocritical attitudes toward human sexuality. Weiner, who committed no real crime by showing off his family jewels to Internet girlfriends, is stoned to death career-wise. Meanwhile, America feasts on Internet pornography, sexually explicit sitcoms and Viagra.
There is no recession in the sex business, and judging from the burgeoning human population that is nearly suffocating the planet, there aren’t many folks practicing sexual abstinence. And, survey after survey reports that significant percentages of Americans engage in adultery and more would if they knew they would not get caught. One out of three divorces is blamed on infidelity.
So, with such widespread disregard for sexual moralities why all the media frenzy and national focus on some guy getting off on sexual exhibitionism? Why won’t we separate a person’s sex life from his or her professional life?
The operative question here is that if sex, real or virtual, between, or among, consenting adults is nobody’s business but their own, why should it be reason to ruin anyone’s professional life or livelihood?
While sexual aggression — rape, pedophilia, harassment — is a crime that should be severely punished, what Weiner did, what John Edwards, Eliot Spitzer and Arnold Schwarzenegger did is between them and their wives.
Was President John F. Kennedy less effective because he was an adulterer? No, but then the public did not know of his sexual dalliances. Was President Bill Clinton intrinsically less capable because he received fellatio from a White House intern? No, but he was a less effective president after his extra-marital sexual conduct was exposed to the public. Because he knew that he had offended the public’s notion of sexual morality, Clinton lied about the affair. That lie resulted in the Republican Party firing up the moral machinery to impeach him. Now he was distracted in office and less effective as a president.
The real problem for Weiner and the rest of the randy bunch is that the Beatles were wrong when they said nobody will be watching us. You can’t do it in the road and not attract attention. You become a media obsession.
Weiner is just the latest entry in a long list of powerful men who have demonstrated arrogant disregard for the sexual mores to which our society at least pays lip service. Such disregard not only indicates an attitude of elite privilege that galls the American public, but it also shows a dangerous deficiency in judgment or self-control, and, therefore, questions fitness for leadership. How could these men not predict the consequences of their actions? They are either stupid or they lack self-control, and neither is an attribute for sound leadership.
— Santa Barbara political observer Randy Alcorn can be contacted at email@example.com. Click here to read previous columns.