Sex and politics
Once upon a time, almost no women held any kind of political office unless it had to do with children or schools. Even then, the higher up and top offices were always held by men. If you are young, you may wonder why this was so. Why was our country — on every level of government and business — not using half of the adult population to run things? Why waste all that brain power?
There were many reasons given — not as much education, psychologically unequipped to handle pressure, illogical and emotionally unbalanced were among the most popular failings submitted as the factual basis for exclusion of women.
Some of these notions were actually factual. For example, in general women didn’t have as much education as men. The basis for that fact was overlooked — that women weren’t allowed in the schools or classrooms to get the education was neither here nor there. Sometimes even in simple, normal subjects, women were humiliated by the professors or classmates. I well remember being run out of the law library by the boys shuffling their feet on the floor which signaled the presence of an interloping female who’d better leave immediately and also being laughed at by my male classmates and male professor when trying to give a serious answer to a question that had been posed.
Let’s not quibble, though, about reality when we’re trying to paint a picture of unequal differences with a broad brush. It was just generally assumed that women couldn’t learn like “the men folk” and education was wasted on women when all they were going to do was cook, clean and raise babies.
There was also a major drawback to putting even a few educated women in positions of power. It was widely accepted and understood that when women were having their menstrual cycles, they were completely emotional, unstable and unreliable. For heaven’s sake, if a woman became president and any sort of crisis were to occur, she might have a hormonal rush that made her lose all reason, go completely out of control, and push the infamous “red button” that would start a nuclear or at least the next world war! It was just an unnecessary risk to take when we had perfectly good, solid, unemotional and unflappable men we could keep at the helm to steer our country through stormy seas. After all, unreasonable behavior came from “raging hormonal imbalances” — a popular expression back in the day — spelled w-o-m-e-n!
And yet, in modern times, an interesting pattern has come into view and even more interesting is how the press, public and the political power structure deal with it.
To keep this simple, let’s take a look at three recent examples of what can only be referred to at the least as hormones gone severely wobbly. How else can one explain: Elliott Spitzer, former governor of New York being personally involved in a prostitution ring, Anthony Weiner, a former US congressman sexting pictures of his erect penis-filled underwear to a variety of women he didn’t know (both of whom now running for mayor of New York), and Mark Sanford, former governor of South Carolina and current US congressman using state money to have a sexual relationship with an Argentinean woman, aka “Hiking the Appalachian Trail”.
These men were all married, the relationships were with women who were not their wives, and clearly they knew they were doing something wrong. After all, one doesn’t refer to an appropriate sexual relationship as “hiking the Appalachian Trail” and they all were keeping their actions secret. Politicians never keep good or appropriate acts a secret.
All of them were found out, had to make public apologies and/or step down from their respective public offices. I have yet to hear of a female elected official who felt hormonally compelled to email pictures of her ass in a thong or breasts in nipple exposing bras, who was involved in a male escort ring, or had trysts with foreign or local lovers she referred to as “climbing Mount Everest”.
Thank heavens none of these men had access to a “red button” when they experienced their apparent raging hormonal imbalances and were seized by the urge to waive their erect penis’ about.
The real message from all of this would appear to be that selection of elected officials and leaders should be based on qualifications to do the job to be filled and steadfastness of behavior and not on extraneous data such as their favorite ice cream flavor or their sex. As a foot note, I might add that all three of these men are running for public office again.
Interesting how the Scarlett Letter doesn’t stick to their lapels.
- Photo from Wikicommons, PD