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.

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Sense of Relief

Another common reaction among women this week to the Weiner scandal was relief that his wife hadn't felt compelled to stand beside him at the self-abnegation press conference. When asked where she was, Weiner simply answered: "She isn't here."

Reportedly, she was off doing her job as a high-ranking staffer to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

How great for a woman to have a job that saves her from the media glare at a time like that. Work can sometimes be such a haven.

But wait. What am I saying? The "haven" aspect of work only pertains to women with decent-paying jobs that offer a sense of accomplishment and provide leeway for the total demands of life. For many hourly-wage women in this country, those features are sorely lacking. Many have no chance to even claim a paid day off for illness.

This week the Women of Color Policy Network reflected on that deplorable fact by applauding the Connecticut House of Representatives for passing a law on June 4 requiring all employers to provide paid sick days.

Once enacted, the advocacy group says hundreds of thousands of Connecticut workers will be able to care for themselves and their families without compromising their job security and economic well-being.

"More than 40 million workers in the nation – and over 80 percent of the low-wage work force – currently lack access to even a single paid sick day," the network said in a press statement.

With so many women in low paid jobs this law--in the long run--will be far more important than the latest sex scandal.

Lack of Victim

But some sex scandals are more important than others. Weiner's case seems to lack much of a victim, aside from himself and his wife.

The hotel worker bringing charges of sex assault against the former managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, is a far different story. She says she was attacked while she was trying to do her job. This week she said she would take the stand and tell her story. That's big.

After the not-guilty verdict in the rape case against two New York City policemen the previous week, many women have been raising doubt about whether sex-crime justice can be found in criminal courts. The fact that the hotel worker plans to take the stand-- and that hotel workers were outside the court this week to cheer her on--was really bigger news, in the end, than another male politician's problematic behavior.

But nothing is quite so intriguing as problematic behavior and the Weiner case gave everyone a chance to wonder.

There was the widespread idea that this was about an over-achiever trying to undo something about his life. Perhaps this was a man who, deep down inside, didn't want the high-pressure responsibility of being mayor of New York--his apparently well-known aspiration--and actually pined for the quiet life of a porn star?

Whatever the explanation, the biggest moral of the story might be the reminder that nothing that gets said or done on the Internet is private.


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For more on that, read a terrific recent article by Jane Meyer in The New Yorker about a high-profile trial starting June 13 concerning U.S. anti-terrorism efforts and cyberspace. The story raises questions about what might be happening to all of our e-mail.

Read the full weekly news wrap up here:
Weiner Case Shows Sex, Lies and Power Gap

Corinna Barnard is editor of Women's eNews.

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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?