Media Stories

Weiner Case Shows Sex, Lies and Power Gap

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Don't assume women are morally superior because we aren't getting mired in sex scandals so often. A recent survey of professional people finds that adultery rises with rank. It could be women simply have less opportunity to fall from public grace.

(WOMENSENEWS)--Another one? When will these guys ever learn? How stupid can they be?

That was the initial reaction among women I know to New York Rep. Anthony Weiner's confession this week that his denials had all been false and those were in fact pictures of his own private parts and he was the one responsible for his own self-sex-objectification and public mortification.

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It may not seem like a U.S. congressman's sexual e-misconduct has anything to do with the gender gap. But the he-she divide is nowhere so apparent as in the all-male roster of prominent politicians Weiner joins in the news archives of sex, lies and--in this latest case--incriminating tweets.

In the June 8 issue of The New York Times, Thomas Vinciguerra assembles a seamless column out of snippets of regret and contrition that U.S. male politicians have offered over the past 25 years. The earliest comes from Gary Hart in 1987. Then comes Bill Clinton in 1998. Lately we've had a dizzying spate of public head-hanging, from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Christopher Lee to Elliot Spitzer. The stories are coming so fast Weiner has reason to hope he may soon be dislodged from the hot seat.

Does this suggest some sort of moral superiority on the part of political women? Much as we may be tempted to suppose so, there's no quantifiable evidence of that for one simple reason: Women are just 17 percent of U.S. Congress.

It may be that women--if given the statistical chance at equity--prove more capable of handling power and not going off our rocker quite so often. But there's no proof of that since we lack the equal opportunity to attract this kind of disgrace.

Last month a team of Dutch psychologists found 26.3 percent of professionals have extramarital sex, and the more powerful the person--male or female--the more likely they are to do so. The researchers say there are more stories about powerful males sleeping with their employees because more men hold powerful positions.

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My first reaction to stories like this is, "WHO CARES?!" I think that the news media should totally ignore these idiotic capers, which serve only to distract from the real issues. It's not that I condone this sort of behavior - I don't - but what good does it do to pay SO MUCH attention to things that can't be undone, while there are so many, much more important, issues to be attended to?