Tuesday 30 July 2013

Anthony Weiner Redux: Outed to the World

We're all having a good laugh over this. Late night talk show comedians are having a field day. But let me ask you one little thing: What if it was you?

Of course, you wouldn't text a naughty picture of yourself. And of course, you wouldn't send a sex message. But somewhere, sometime, you've said or done something which, if released to the public and published on the front page of every newspaper in the country, would seem scandalous, funny, or just plain stupid. How would you like Leno, Letterman, and Fallon all writing out numerous comedy bits mocking you from here to kingdom come?

Just now I watched an episode of The Colbert Report during which our Conservative caricature reported on and mocked Anthony Weiner's latest transgression. It was funny. I laughed out loud. And now sitting here writing this, part of me wants to cringe. What if the world got a hold of something I had said or done and decided to make me the object of ridicule? But I'm not going to do that. Right? Right!?!

Issue: Sexting is bad
Apparently not. That is, the activity itself is not inherently bad. In fact, various bloggers, therapists, and online magazines offer tips on how to use this social media technique for spicing up one's relationship. Walker Thornton, The Diva of Dating, points out that sexting is not just for teenagers; it is a way to creatively get people in the mood even before foreplay has started. Think about sex and there's a better chance you'll want to have sex.

Issue: Selfies are bad
But everybody is doing it. Ah, but they aren't famous. Just ask Geraldo. (Fox News Latino - July 26/2013: Geraldo Rivera: A Bad Idea by Geraldo Rivera) Apparently Mr. Rivera tweeted along with his almost naked selfie that "70 is the new 50." As Stephen Colbert reported when the story broke, "And if there is one thing people want to see on their Twitter feed, it's naked 50 year old men." (Instead of Twitter, we should use Snapchat?)

Issue: Cheating on your partner
Sexting? Sex itself? Inappropriate behaviour? I spoke with a woman who told me she and her partner of over thirty years recently got married at the age of 62. But, during their whole time together, both of them have followed a polyamorous lifestyle, meaning that both of them have had lovers. And, even though they got married, they still are proponents of polyamory.

During #AdultSexEdMonth, I discovered the author @GoodDirtyWoman. She and her partner both write erotica publishing to the world their inner most thoughts and fantasies on all that is hot in sex.

In an ode to casual sex, psychotherapist and LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker), Stanley Siegel explains at the age of 65 he has shared extraordinary tenderness, generosity and affection without long-term commitment.

Issue: Not satisfied with your partner?
People supposedly stay in a marriage or a relationship because their needs are being met. Those needs could entail family, love, and sex, what have you. In my posting "Why did that @#$%^* bastard divorce me?", I asked the question why a man (or a woman, I suppose) would eat his dinner, get up from the table, then drive to McDonald's and order a Happy Meal. Yes, he's a @#$%^* bastard but there just has to be more to it than that. He can't be full. He can't be satisfied. He didn't like his meal and fed it to the dog when nobody was looking. Bill Clinton had nine sessions of bobbing for apples in the "Oral Office". Does Hillary bob for apples? Yes, Bill is a @#$%^* bastard but somehow there has to be more to it than that.

Let's just say Monica was a sign that something was wrong, something wrong with Bill or something wrong with Bill and Hillary. This wrong was outed and I mean outed. I don't think there a person on this planet who doesn't hear the name Bill Clinton then immediately does a fist pump and yells, "Mo-ni-ca!"

I apologise but I keep bringing this following story up in my postings.

Back in the early 90's, I'm watching one of the talk shows, not quite as elevated as Oprah but not as low as Jerry Springer. A couple is being interviewed but we're given to understand they have a secret. Commercial break. We return to see... two women. I look closer. Woman number two is the husband; he's dressed up in drag. The wife explains that her husband has always had a fetish for women's clothes and once a month he dresses up and the 2 of them go out for a drink together as 2 female friends. She goes on to say that her husband is a wonderful man, a great husband, a good lover and an excellent father; he just seems to have this one special quirk and it is the only oddity out of an otherwise exemplary human being.

Now just mull that one over for a minute. We have a gentleman who has a fetish for woman's clothes. How in heaven's name did this couple arrive at a point where the man could bring this up with his wife? Who knows, maybe he told her about his fetish before they were married and she married him anyways. The point is that their relationship was open and honest enough that they could discuss this. But look at the alternative. What if she had reacted to this discovery with, "Eew. Get away from me your goddamn weird-oh pervert!" What if this man was so scared of a negative reaction, he stayed in the closet?

However, here's the kicker. This man's wife accepts his fetish. They go out together once a month. All good. But... What if this man's friends, his boss, or the local newspaper found out about this? In San Francisco or New York, maybe nobody would blink an eye, but what about in Anytown, U.S.A.? What about in the religious fundamentalist far right anti-anything-but-married-heterosexual America?

Issue: Being outed
Scott Sassa was the president of entertainment and syndication at Hearst (it owns Cosmopolitan, among other titles) receiving a reported $6 million salary. He's single. As in not married. (divorced) He sexted a woman, supposedly an escort, a few times. They never met. At some point, she or her boyfriend attempted to blackmail Sassa and when he wouldn't comply, they sent the sex messages to his employer. Sassa was let go. I find it odd the company did not support their employee during an attempted blackmail, which, as I understand it, is a crime, but the word was out and Sassa had to go. (see Jezebel - Apr 9/2013: These Sexts Cost Former Hearst Exec Scott Sassa His Career by Katie J. M. Baker)

my blog: On-line, oh so not private and busted
Monica Day had a job offer rescinded when the company discovered her Facebook page and references to her second career as a sexual counsellor.

Pamela Madsen is the author of the book Shameless in which she writes about her personal journey of sexual self-discovery. Before the book, she wrote about her experiences in a blog under pseudonym The Riverdale Goddess. When her employer found out about the blog, they let Ms. Madsen go as they were worried about having to face a "sex scandal".

Judy Buranich, an English teacher for the past 25 years, is in hot water with her school board as the community has discovered she is also the published author of several racy romance novels. Parents are calling for her resignation.

Tera Myers, a teacher by trade, has now been fired twice after the school boards she was working for discovered she was once an X-rated movie star.

Lori Douglas is, or was, an associate chief justice of Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench (family division) in the province of Manitoba, Canada. In August 2010 it came to light there were photographs of the judge in flagrante delicto posted on the Internet.

Sydney Leathers, the 23 year old woman who outed Weiner to the world, supposedly sent the mayoral candidate more than 30 nude photos of herself. Nobody is condemning her behaviour but was outing Weiner her ticket to fame and fortune?

Issue: Anonymity
As I have said elsewhere, anonymity gives a certain freedom to say what would be impossible otherwise due to peer pressure, censorship at work, or even public humiliation. Being totally honest may be the best policy but it is not always a doable policy.

I blog under a pseudonym. What would happen if I was outed? Pamela Madsen, mentioned above, was fired. Ms. Quote, aka A Good Dirty Woman's Mind, writes anonymously. She is a divorced mother and a working professional. Walker Thornton, The Diva of Dating, was writing anonymously but has recently "come out of the closet." Debbi Moynahan of A Few Good Bedtimes Stories seems to be using her real name but mentions in her About, "I am a mother of three grown children who would probably just up and die if they ever read anything on this blog." (She writes M/M erotic fiction.)

Samsung Galaxy S III
In a product advertisement with a little edge, Samsung offers up this personal take on their mobile device. To show how easy it is to share videos and other data — you just rub the back of your phones together — his tutu-wearing daughters tell him that they made him a video to watch when he's gone. Then his wife bends over to his open taxi window and whispers that she made him a video too, but he "probably shouldn’t watch it on the plane."

Final Word
Let me take a moment to clarify spellings. "Weiner" with "e-i" is the name of Anthony while "wiener" with "i-e" is the name of the frankfurter. The correct spelling of the joke is Weiner's wiener.

What exactly is my point in all this? If your partner is fully aware of what you're doing and accepts it, it's not bad. It's permissible. Okay, within the bounds of the law. Ha! But if you are in the public eye, you always run the risk of somebody turning you in, of outing you. Even if your partner accepts what you do or is forgiving about what you do, once the word is out you face the judgement of the public. Your partner may forgive but the public will not.

This entire story has many secondary issues besides a married man doing something questionable behind his wife's back. Even if any of us is not doing something against the law, how would we feel if it ended up in a headline on the front page of every newspaper in the country?

There's an old saying: "If you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about." The problem is that what's considered right by one person may be considered wrong by the next person.

If you steal, defraud, or even murder, you will be forgiven. But sex? In our North American culture, whether we realise it or even admit it to ourselves, there is a stigma and a shame attached to sexual matters which is right off the charts. We live in a puritanical society that vilifies sex but accepts violence. We prefer to make war than love.

I'm not saying I condone Weiner's actions within the context of a marriage, the idea of a husband being faithful to his wife but there are a number of secondary issues which apply to all of us. #AdultSexEdMonth saw both amateurs and professionals come together for the purpose of expounding on how we all can have better and more fulfilling sex lives. But we all are carrying around with us the baggage of our puritanical traditions. Yes, I can get up the intestinal fortitude to take off my clothes and stand before you stark naked, but that doesn't mean I feel comfortable about it. And at the sound of the first snicker, I'm going to run and hide. But more importantly, me being naked may lead to me being blackmailed, being exploited for fame and fortune, or just humiliated for the sake of a headline.

I'm not Anthony Weiner. I'm not in the public eye. I'm not rich and powerful. But I read the headlines. Yes, they may not apply directly to me, but they still affect me. You want me to open up? Be honest? Discuss the more personal aspects of my life? I hesitate. I'm suspicious. I'm apprehensive, no, I'm afraid. It is difficult to forget a lifetime of puritanical traditions in a puritanical society. There is just too much to lose. I like having a job. I do not want to be ostracised by my peers. And I do not want to be humiliated by the world. Pardon me if I keep to myself and I keep my selfie.


Walker Thornton - July 25/2013
Weiner's Wiener - Not Fit For Office?
In general I think a person’s sexual (mis)conduct is really none of my business–as long as he/she is not my partner. Infidelity should be a private matter. Politicians make mistakes, just like the rest of us. Unfortunately the media and the public have become so obsessed with knowing all the personal details that we hear about indiscretions more often. I don’t think the incidence of inappropriate sexual behavior is happening more often. There are just more ways to express one’s sordid desire and, therefore, more ways to get caught.

A Good Woman's Dirty Mind - July 28/2013
Women Who Stick With Their Dicks by Ms. Quote
As much as I’ve been yucking it up over the latest Anthony Weiner sexting scandal, I’ve been seriously pondering why his wife, Huma Abedin, is standing by her man.
I was in a situation 13 years ago when I learned that the man I planned to marry had another woman in his life. She wasn’t a girlfriend or a booty call, but a wife.

A Good Woman's Dirty Mind - July 25/2013
Carlos Danger's Weiner Roast by Ms. Quote
A good selection of some of the funnier bits about Weiner's wiener.

Jezebel - July 23/2013
Should You Send a Lady a Dick Pic? A Guide for Men by Erin Gloria Ryan
Scenario 1: You're on OKCupid and you have been exchanging messages with an attractive woman who you strongly believe is interested in seeing your penis. She hasn't exactly come right out and asked you about your penis, but you're pretty sure she wants to see it. Like, 60% sure. Also, you're drunk.

Condom Depot TV - Apr 24/2013
The Do’s & Don’ts Of Safe Sexting by Kelly Steele
The average 20-something sends about 100 text messages per day; that’s, on average, 3,000 text messages per month. The average 20-something is also horny as hell, in their sexual prime and thinking about sex almost constantly. Now, combine the two and you’ve got the risky combination that is “sexting” – the act of sending sexually explicit photographs or messages to another person via text.

Vice - April 2013
How to Sext Without Looking Like an Idiot by Monica Heisey
There are a few things in life that everyone over the age of 16 should be able to do: cook a few decent meals, navigate a new city without Google Maps, enjoy a hangover, and, bear with me here, send a decent sext. Anyone who thinks they'll be able to track down The One without knowing how to turn their phone into an object of lust has another thing coming. Sexting is practically a requirement for living in the 21st century, no longer the reserve of predatory creeps or girls who give HJs to exchange students, being able to communicate just how horny you are over iMessage or Snapchat is a life skill, and you're going to have to learn how to do it.

Cosmo - July 2013
Sexting 101: How to Send Dirty Messages Without Ugly Consequences by Ariel Nagi
Sexting is tricky. Since we know a lot of you naughty ones are doing it, we decided to compile a list of sexting do's and don'ts. The last thing you want is your naked photo leaked on social media.

Better After 50 - June 13/2013
Sexting - It's Not Just For Teens by Walker Thornton
There are things you can do to build a sense of excitement, for yourself and for your partner. Once you start thinking about sexually you’re more likely to want to engage in sexy activities. You just have to start thinking creatively.

Wikipedia: Snapchat
Snapchat is a photo messaging application developed by Stanford University students.[3][4] Using the app, users can take photos, record videos, add text and drawings, and send them to a controlled list of recipients. These sent photographs and videos are known as "Snaps". Users set a time limit for how long recipients can view their Snaps, ranging from up to 10 seconds to as little as 1 second, after which they will be hidden from the recipient's device and they are also deleted from snapchat server.

On May 9, 2013, Forbes reported that the photos do not actually disappear, and that they can still be retrieved even after their time limit had expired with a minimum of technical know-how. A few days later, the Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a complaint against Snapchat with the Federal Trade Commission saying that the company deceived its customers by leading them to believe that pictures are destroyed within seconds of viewing.

Jezebel - Apr 9/2013
These Sexts Cost Former Hearst Exec Scott Sassa His Career by Katie J. M. Baker
Now, Business Insider has the sexts that cost Sassa his career... Undeniably juicy, yes. But Sassa was single. He was texting a consenting adult. There's no evidence that he ever even met up with Kira, the Los Angeles-based escort who helped her boyfriend blackmail him by threatening to go public via TMZ or Us Weekly if Hearst didn't step up.

Fox News Latino - July 26/2013
Geraldo Rivera: A Bad Idea by Geraldo Rivera
It seemed like a good idea at the time. Of course the time was 2:30 Sunday morning, and one of my hard-learned life rules is that nothing good happens at that hour of the deep dark night, especially after a couple of tequila shots, except sweet dreams and maybe an intimate snuggle.

my blog: Weinerlogues: A reading by Bill Maher and Jane Lynch - June 13/2011
On June 1, 2011, RadarOnline released a PDF file purported to contain transcripts of Facebook exchanges between Congressman Anthony Weiner and a blackjack dealer in Las Vegas, 40 year old Lisa Weiss. The conversations start on August 13, 2010 and go up to June 1, 2011. Note: All profanities are marked with asterisks.

On Friday, June 10, 2011, on the show Real Time with Bill Maher, Mr. Maher invited actress Jane Lynch, currently starring in the TV show Glee, to join him on stage for a reading of the "Weinerlogues". Bill played Anthony Weiner and Jane took the part of Lisa Weiss. The three minute video clip from the show has them reading lines verbatim from these Facebook dialogues.


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1 comment:

Walker Thornton said...

Wow. Lots to comment on. First: we have to understand that everything we put on the internet can be viewed by others...so if as a politician/public figure you fail to take that into consideration then I question your ability to make good judgements in other areas!
There are many risks in being public about sex. Pamela Madsen's example speaks to that. I have the fortunate (maybe) advantage of being self-employed but I risk losing clients who might be offended.

I think we writers are working to help normalize the societal view of sex. And, that means that we take risks so that others can learn about sex, explore their own sexuality and develop strong positive images and experiences when it comes to sex. For us the censure comes from people who worry about their business self-image (the school teacher writing erotica) and from people with very different attitudes towards sexuality.

We've got a long way to go before our society encourages open conversation about sexuality...but you and I and the others you mention, like @GoodDirtyWoman, are helping to make that happen.