When Anthony Weiner was exposed for showing his “Little Oscar” in a text message, the press had a field day. Granted a lot of it was because of his name and the all too obvious puns, but a lot of it has to do with our double standard we have in this country. We live by one standard and are incensed by the invasion of privacy when someone talks about our sexual adventures, but for politicians it’s open season!
Now let me clarify something. I am not talking about closeted public servants who actively work to suppress the rights of one sexual minority while secretly engaging in the same practice. Because of their hypocrisy I think that makes them fair game. The same holds true for candidates who claim high moral ground, opining about the “sanctity of marriage” and parade under the banners of “family values”, only to engage in serial affairs and get caught with their pants down, sometimes literally!
I am talking about this illusion we have that our politicians are somehow above sex. We as a country seem to believe that sex is some sort of dirty activity and politicians should be chaste. We treat them like priests and if recent news shows anything, even priests are not chaste.
The whole thing boils down to our country’s strange attitude toward sex in general. We can’t seem to talk about it like adults and we treat the subject with snide remarks or adolescent humor rather than take it seriously. They truth is we are all engaging in it in one way or another so what is the big deal?
The big deal is most likely the long history of suppressed sexuality in the United States. As far back as our Puritan forefathers control of sexual activities has been used by religious groups. I could be quick to lay our repression exclusively at the feet of religion, but I believe it goes further than that.
I suspect once the practice of psychoanalysis got going in the US we began to pathologize sexuality. From the early work of Krafft-Ebing in the late 1800’s anything that varied from the “norm” was categorized as deviant. Subsequently these deviant behaviors were given names and Bingo, new “diseases” were created! Since our country is very much fascinated with rules and lists, these new classifications were tailor made for those prone to fear mongering.
It is during that time that the term “homosexual” came into common use and I believe both the scientific and religious communities embraced it along with anything else that a Latin moniker could be slapped on. After all if you could justify it with not only science but a few lines from the Bible, then it had to be something to be monitored and controlled.
At some point we, as a country are going to have to face the fact that we need to learn to talk about sex as adults. That means putting aside the shame and guilt about anything sexual and give serious consideration that every one of us is a sexual being every bit as much as we are human beings, it is part of our nature. And I understand it will be uncomfortable for some folks, but that is most likely because they have denied that part of themselves for their whole lives. Not that they haven’t had sex, just they have conveniently compartmentalized it and relegated it to a secret place even they are afraid to go.
I am not a psychologist, but I am very much human, and I found out long ago that to live a full and whole life, I had to accept and embrace my sexuality. We have to give the same respect to every other human being. The acknowledgement that they are also sexual beings like us and therefore having sex is part of their lives is essential. We have to stop expecting people just because they are in the public eye to stop having sex, in whatever form they might have it.
I can hear the shouts of protest about sports figures and celebrities, “they are role models”. Well, if they are role models only when they are chaste and pure, and essentially sexless, we are setting a very strange example for future generations. They will grow up with the same guilt and shame issues we have and perpetuate that on their children as well.
Healthy sex, consensual sex, even kinky sex if not the issue. The issue is being able to admit that our humanity includes all of that and unless it is actively harming someone it’s most likely just part of human nature. We can continue to behave one way but expect others to adhere to stricter and in fact unhealthy restrictions, or we can face facts and get over it.
Sex is the big closet that our whole country has been in, and like those of us in the LGBT community, we found coming out of the closet liberated us from a lot of guilt and shame. We America, It’s time to come out!