Of all of the scandals to possibly torpedo a political career, Anthony Weiner’s might just be the most absurd. He's hardly the first politician to find himself in a compromising situation. He's not the first to relapse, either. But the nature of his latest sexting scandal – more naked selfies? "Carlos Danger"? Really? – puts Weiner in a league of his own.
Now, as New Yorkers debate whether they want a Weiner for their mayor, people elsewhere in America are wondering what his situation says about our culture. Some speculate that, if Weiner had just had a garden-variety affair, the voters might be more willing to forgive. When it comes to sex scandals, have our standards relaxed? Is Weiner being punished for stupidity, not impropriety? Would he be getting this much attention if his pseudonym weren't so blissfully easy to mock? Here are some theories about what the Weiner scandal really means. Add yours to the comments, or tweet at the hashtag #Weinergate. (And please, don't send photos.)
Sexting scandals reveal a worrying trend
While it’s hard to imagine the U.S. electing an unmarried president – male or female – any time soon, Americans have come to accept a certain degree of sexual shenanigans from white heterosexual male politicians. However, any extramarital sexual behavior (let alone sex scandal) involving women, LGBTQ politicians, and politicians of color appears to be career-ending for anyone not named Barney Frank. With these norms in place, “sexting” enables sexual exhibitionism (often without consent) of the sort Anthony Weiner seems drawn to, with the kind of hypervisuality that steals headlines. But this only reinforces our culture’s hypocrisy regarding sexuality as a privilege afforded some more than others.
Maria San Filippo @cinemariasf
Author of The B Word: Bisexuality in Contemporary Film and Television
Visiting Assistant Professor of Gender Studies at Indiana University, Bloomington
It's not worth the time of day
Now let’s turn to Carlos Danger, Weiner’s online pseudonym and alter-id. His prolific sexting took place before, during and after his wife’s pregnancy. He was caught doing it, denied it, admitted it, promised not do it again, did it again and admitted it—again. All of this makes him stupid, boorish, adolescent and deceitful about sex, but no more so than the millions of men (and some women) who do the same thing. It might also make him a bad husband, but only his wife Huma Abedin can be the judge of that, and it is really none of our business what she thinks, what arrangement they do or do not have and whether or not she should leave him. Nothing Carlos Danger did was illegal or coercive, and, it should be pointed out, none of it actually involved physical contact. His behavior and his marriage are entirely unworthy of public concern.
Richard Kim, The Nation @RichardKimNYC
Blog Post, July 24 2013
Work with what you have
I just feel like most sexting politicians would kill to be named Tony Weiner.— Austin Siegemund-B (@ASiegemundBroka) July 23, 2013
It's just sad
You could digest the scraps of correspondence between Weiner and his latest cyber paramour in any order—the way he eagerly asked if she had read his New York Times Magazine profile or looked at his previous dick pics, the way he dangled a Politico blogging gig in front of her nose, as if to emphasize how Big and Important he is—and come to the same conclusion. Here is a man desperate, as he told the Times, “to be liked and admired,” but going about it all wrong. Men: In the vast majority of cases, sending out images of your penis, contra a noble defense of crotch shotting by Anne Lowrey in the pages of Slate two years ago, is juvenile, inexpert, and above all, sad.
Katy Waldman, Slate @xwaldie
Blog post, July 24, 2013
The other uncomfortable truth
Need help picking your sexting pseudonym?
Use Slate magazine's fantastic Carlos Danger name generator!
Make a classy exit
And just like that, Carlos Danger ended the press conference,Anthony Weiner got into his car and sped away. pic.twitter.com/nhAzyLRead— Will Ferrell (@Will___Ferrell) July 23, 2013
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