Thursday, June 09, 2011

when is a sex scandal not a sex scandal?

I turned on my hotel TV this morning, like I always do when I’m alone in a hotel room, and the first thing that confronted me was the Andrew Wiener “sexting” scandal. Not only did he tweet his underpants to a woman somewhere or other, but he also apparently had an ongoing text flirtation with a casino card dealer. On my screen was an outpouring of moral revulsion and condemnation. It was quite festive.

I don’t care about Anthony Wiener. Nonetheless, it’s disturbing that we’ve become so culutrally obsessed with this bizarre romantic/moral expectation that no reasonable person could ever engage in extra-curricular fantasy, flirtation, or even attraction. I heard Wiener’s texting equated to “cheating” on his wife. Really?

To me, this looks more like an attack on imagination than anything, which is no great surprise in a society that demands simplistic black-and-white moral distinctions. A spouse is either faithful or faithless – and to be faithful apparently means having no other attractions or affections of any kind outside of the marital bond. There is no room for ambiguity, and no forgiveness for even the mildest flirtation or shared fantasy.

On one hand, that attitude is frankly and utterly stupid. I can no more refrain from haphazard and random attractions than I can stop seeing. It doesn’t mean I’m faithless. Beyond that, I can’t begin to fathom why it’s become an unimaginable moral monstrosity that anyone could possibly get erotically entangled in fantasy with someone not sanctioned officially for it. Our culture has a driving need to judge, I guess.

Not that I’m sending anyone pictures of my underpants – because I’m not quite that stupid or foolhardy. Besides, sometimes a few words are worth a thousand pictures.

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