THE WORST PLATFORM EVER

When I worked at Playboy a few years ago, some of the fellows were fond of a saying: “Don’t mess with another man’s blow job.” Crude, blunt, and yet eloquent, the saying had a lot of applications. Don’t criticize another man’s girlfriend (boyfriend.) Don’t come on to another man’s girlfriend (boyfriend.) Don’t interfere with his gig. And most generally, mind your own business.

It is good, sound advice.

Astonishingly, Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican Lt. Governor of Virginia who is running for governor, has proposed, as part of his platform, to mess with the blow job of everyone in the state. Specifically, he has proposed outlawing oral and anal sex, even among consenting adults. He is doing this despite figures from the Centers for Disease Control that show that 82 percent of me and 80 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 44 admit to having had oral sex, and that the Kinsey Institute has studies showing that nearly everyone who practices vaginal intercourse also engages in oral sex. It is one of those things, it seems, that people like to do.. It is also one of those things, like marching on a picket line or voting one you turn 18, that the Supreme Court has actually said states can’t stop you from doing. Cuccinelli says he is proposig this, not because he is anti-sex, but because it is the only effective way to stop child molestation, even though Virginia has strong laws on the books against rape. Statutory rape, and child molestation. Cuccinelli has assured Virginians that once this law is passed, it will never be used against ordinary people engaged in sexual fun. He is a moron to think that anyone will believe him. He is a moron to think that this is any way good government. He should be chased from one end of the state to the other, followed by people chanting `Don’t mess with another man’s blow job.’’

It’s a crude, blunt phrase, but maybe that’s what’s necessary to get him to pay attention.

TAKE WEINER OFF THE GRILL. . .

. . .he’s done.

As the New York Post reported yesterday, “The other shoe dropped yesterday for Anthony Weiner, who was forced to admit he engaged in a months-long sexting affair with a woman — a year after he resigned from Congress in disgrace — using the bizarre online alias Carlos Danger. Weiner copped to the pathological behavior after the Web site thedirty.com reported that he had exchanged dozens of sexually explicit messages, phone calls and photos with a then 22-year-old Indiana woman. Weiner, who at the start of his mayoral campaign said other instances of sexual high jinks might surface, sent snapshots of his penis to the woman and engaged in extremely raunchy talk last summer — long after he claimed to have been rehabilitated.
Some of his messages were enough to make a porn star blush. “So I walk into a hotel room and you are at the end of the bed naked, except for some amazing f–k- me shoes, your legs are spread and your feet are flat on the ground,” wrote Weiner using both Carlos Danger and Dangr33. “I slide my c–k in you slow at first, then harder my b—s are slapping your a–. With each thrust you squeal a little. I start to f–k you so hard your t-ts almost hit you in the face. You reach behind and spread your a–.”

Weiner’s ‘net pal was identified by Buzzfeed.com as “progressive activist” Sydney Leathers of Indiana. Hours after the raunchy chats were posted, Weiner issued a statement confirming that some of the details “are true” and apologized.”

Weiner’s candidacy was going to be an interesting test of what today’s voters would forgive. I believe they would have forgiven sexual indiscretion, preferring a sexual politician to a boring one. ut voters would never forget ludicrousness. Once you are the butt of mockery, you’re done. Anthony Weiner might have had a political career; Carlos Danger doesn’t.

MORE CATHOLIC THAN THE POPE

I was born Catholic. My father was one of ten sons in a Polish Catholic family, and my mother was one of eleven children in a Polish Catholic family, and I had a great many Catholic aunts and uncles and cousins. I went to a Catholic grade school, a Catholic high school, and a Catholic college. I was an altar boy. I went to the CYO. I found it especially easy to root for my hometown Colts because Johnny Unitas was a Catholic. I married a Catholic girl from a big Irish Catholic family. At the time I graduated from college, I bet more than 90 percent of the people I had ever met were Catholics.

So I feel comfortable in generalizing.

There is one kind of Catholic who’s like me. I don’t practice, and I don’t believe, but the way I live my life is surprisingly and even annoyingly similar to the codes of conduct we learned from he priests and nuns.

There is another kind, the faithful, people who go to church regularly and who pray devoutly and who care very deeply about their faith. It gives them solace and strength and comfort. They are very serious Catholics, but their faith is between themselves and their God, and I admire them and respect them. Some of the people I love and admire most in the world are Catholic in this way.

And then there is the kind of Catholic like Rick Santorum is, the guy we used to describe, and not with admiration, as more Catholic than the Pope. I have know this type of person my whole life, and have seen in the living rooms of friends and family members, in class rooms and cafeterias and on campus. They are not intelligent enough to try to make their way through the mysteries of faith–its challenges and contradictions and painful choices–and so they do the oxymoronic things, and replace faith with certitude. They don’t need to think, because the church has supplied them with all the answers. And they don’t sin, sometimes because they have discipline, but often enough, because of their certitude that the things they do and believe simply cannot be sinful (ask a pro-lifer how he can countenance capital punishment.)

But they are quick to see the shortcomings of others, and to condemn it, taking satisfaction in their own purity, and in making sure, more in a pleased-with-themselves sadness than in anger, that the sinner is quite aware that he or she has broken God’s law.

I have seen this Santorum-like smugness all my life, and it makes me sick.

The good news is that I think it makes most other people sick as well.

This is Santorum on contraception: “One of the things I will talk about that no president has talked about before is, I think, the dangers of contraception in this country, the whole sexual libertine idea. Many in the Christian faith have said, ‘Well, that’s okay. Contraception’s okay.’ It’s not okay because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.” How things are supposed to be? Says who?

Here is Santorum on being a Christian? “[I]s there such thing as a sincere liberal Christian, which says that we basically take this document and re-write it ourselves? Is that really Christian? That’s a bigger question for me. And the answer is, no, it’s not. I don’t think there is such a thing. To take what is plainly written and say that I don’t agree with that, therefore, I don’t have to pay attention to it, means you’re not what you say you are. You’re a liberal something, but you’re not a Christian. That’s sort of how I look at it.” I’ll respond with one name, the most significant American of the 20th century, the liberal Christian Martin Luther King Jr.

Can a mind get smaller? Here’s Santorum talking about the speech JFK gave on the separation of church and state. “The first substantive line says ‘I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute.‘ I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute. The idea that the church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country. . . .What kind of country do we live in that says only people of non-faith can come in the public square and make their case? That makes me throw up.” Santorum gets kind of a two-fer there, deliberately misinterpreting Kennedy, and them responding with wretched self-dramatization.”

Last week, Bill Keller of the Times went on Morning Joe and said ““Remember earlier in the campaign when Newt Gingrich was worrying everybody about Shariah law — you know — the Muslims were going to impose Shariah law in America? Sometimes, Santorum sounds like he’s creeping up on a kind of Christian version of Shariah law.”

Good point–only Santorum is even more self-righteous than the mullahs. I don’t think Santorum wants people to stop behaving and believing differently than he does. I don’t think he’d know what to do with himself. I think he likes having people out there–maybe even a majority of people–to whom he can feel sorry for and superior to.

THE BANALITY OF MEN BEHAVING BADLY

Sometimes writing for a weekly newsmagazine means being willing to ask a dumb question. Writing Time‘s cover story this week on the sexual trespasses of Arnold Schwarzeneggar, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and other powerful who did not happen to specifically get into trouble this week, Nancy Gibbs, one of the best to ever write in this format, asks the Duh-worthy question, “How can it be, in this ostensibly enlightened age, when men and women live and work as peers and are schooled regularly in what conduct is acceptable and what is actionable, that anyone with so little judgment, so little honor, could rise to such heights?”

Good question, Nancy–now why don’t you give us the answer? “By now social commentators have the explanations on auto-save: We know that powerful men can be powerfully reckless, particularly when, like DSK, they stand at the brink of their grandest achievement. They tend to be risk takers or at least assess risk differently — as do narcissists who come to believe that ordinary rules don’t apply. They are often surrounded by enablers with a personal or political interest in protecting them to the point of covering up their follies, indiscretions and crimes. A study set to be published in Psychological Science found that the higher men — or women — rose in a business hierarchy, the more likely they were to consider or commit adultery. With power comes both opportunity and confidence, the authors argue, and with confidence comes a sense of sexual entitlement. If fame and power make sex more constantly available, the evolutionary biologists explain, it may weaken the mechanisms of self-restraint and erode the layers of socialization that we impose on teenage boys and hope they eventually internalize. “When men have more opportunity, they tend to act on that opportunity,” says psychologist Mark Held.”

Delving into the deep secrets of this phenomenon is like delving into the mystery of why people like warm sunny afternoons. Even the most disciplined and moral of powerful people tend to try to get away with doing what they want to do, and because they are powerful, weaker people tend to permit them, if not actively encourage them. And when powerful people find themselves on thin ice, they invent high-minded moral reasons to do what they want to do. Ask Henry VIII, or Hitler, or Jack Kennedy, or Nixon, or Bill Clinton or Charlie Sheen. Everybody has his reasons. I need a son. I fear that I am going to die prematurely. The streets are in turmoil. I am a torpedo of truth.

What restrains them–if anything ever restrains them–are other people saying no. This, of course, is what must be killing Maria Shriver. People have known forever that Schwarzeneggar was a big, slobbering pig. As we reported it in Spy, one of his most effective pick-up lines was “Your bangability is very high tonight.” A lot of the most controversial of Heidi Fleiss’s business with the studios, as John Connolly reported in Us, was about supplying girls for Arnold. This couldn’t have been secret from Shriver, and it was certainly raised when he put himself forward for governor. Surely Shriver was an enormous help to his campaign when she publicly invested not only the credibility she had developed as a newscaster but the imprimatur of the Kennedys. “You can listen to all the negativity, and you can listen to people who have never met Arnold, who met him for five seconds 30 years ago, or you can listen to me.”

The peculiar circumstances of the Schwarzeneggar situation–the counterparty was not an ingenue or a stripper, but a member of the household staff–must be particularly galling to Shriver. The whle thing recalls the entry from the shrewd and perceptive Mary Chesnut, the premier diarist of the southern slavocracy. “Ours is a monstrous system,” she wrote at the start fo the Civil War. “Perhaps the rest of the world is as bad. This only I see: like the patriarchs of old, our men live all in one house with their wives and their concubines, and the Mulattoes one sees in every family exactly resemble the white children–& every lady tells you who is the father of all the mulatto children in every body’s household but those in her own, she seems to think drop from the clouds or pretends so to think. . . . Alas for the men! No worse than men every where, but the lower their mistresses, the more degraded they must be.”

It is convenient to believe that men are different than women, or that rich men are different than the rest of us poor schlubs. It is comforting to think that bad behavior is somehow lodged in an easily idenitifed “other” that we can see and condemn. But the truth is that none of us is perfect. We are all sinners. Most of us do most of what we think we can get away with, and it is only the prospect of getting caught that restrains us. And that includes making up excuses and rationalizations for those people on whom we depend for emotional and financial security.

MYSTERIOUS, MYSTIFIED YOUNG MEN

Two very interesting, fairly contradictory stories about young men, have recently appeared.

In Slate, Mark Regnerus says that while young men are struggling in the world, especially in contrast with young women, they are still finding it fairly easy to bed young women. “We keep hearing that young men are failing to adapt to contemporary life,” writes Regnerus. “Their financial prospects are impaired—earnings for 25- to 34-year-old men have fallen by 20 percent since 1971. Their college enrollment numbers trail women’s: Only 43 percent of American undergraduates today are men. Last year, women made up the majority of the work force for the first time. And yet there is one area in which men are very much in charge: premarital heterosexual relationships.”

Regnerus says that if women were more fully in charge of their relationships, “we’d be seeing, on average, more impressive wooing efforts, longer relationships, fewer premarital sexual partners, shorter cohabitations, and more marrying going on. Instead, according to the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (which collects data well into adulthood), none of these things is occurring.” Instead, men are geting what they want–easy sex with no commitments.

Regnerus says it’s a matter of supply and demand. Although sex in consensual relationships commences only when women decide it can, women are just not demanding much. Regnerus cites several reasons: the proliferation of porn, the availability of birth control, the lowering of social constraints on sexual activity. “The price of sex is low, in other words, in part because its costs to women are lower than they used to be.” But just as important is the “growing imbalance between the number of successful young women and successful young men. As a result, in many of the places where young people typically meet—on college campuses, in religious congregations, in cities that draw large numbers of twentysomethings—women outnumber men by significant margins. (In one Manhattan ZIP code, for example, women account for 63 percent of 22-year-olds.)”

The idea that sex ratios alter sexual behavior is well-established. “Virginity is more common on those campuses where women comprise a smaller share of the student body, suggesting that they have the upper hand. By contrast, on campuses where women outnumber men, they are more negative about campus men, hold more negative views of their relationships, go on fewer dates, are less likely to have a boyfriend, and receive less commitment in exchange for sex.” Women are agreeing to sex earlier in relationships, or even without relationships; Regnerus found that 30 percent of encounters “don’t involve romance at all: no wooing, no dates, no nothing. Finally, as my colleagues and I discovered in our interviews, striking numbers of young women are participating in unwanted sex—either particular acts they dislike or more frequent intercourse than they’d prefer or mimicking porn (being in a dating relationship is correlated to greater acceptance of and use of porn among women).”

And yet, despite this available sex, young men are still not happy; in fact, they’re angry. So says Kay Hymowitz, author of the new book Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys. Writing in The Daily Beast, Hymowitz says young men are angry because women are demanding equality everywhere, except when it comes to romance. “During the last few years researching this age group, I’ve stumbled onto a powerful underground current of male bitterness that has nothing to do with outsourcing, the Mancession, or any of the other issues we usually associate with contemporary male discontent. No, this is bitterness from guys who find the young women they might have hoped to hang out with entitled, dishonest, self-involved, slutty, manipulative, shallow, controlling—and did I mention gold-digging?. . . .Women may want equality at the conference table and treadmill. But when it comes to sex and dating, they aren’t so sure.”

Hymowitz points to a condition she calls gender bait and switch. “Never before in history have men been matched up with women who are so much their equal—socially, professionally, and sexually. By the time they reach their twenties, they have years of experience with women as equal competitors—in school, on soccer fields, and even in bed. They very reasonably assume that the women they are meeting at a bar or café or gym are after the same things they are: financial independence, career success, toned triceps, and sex. That’s the bait; here comes the switch. Women may want equality at the conference table and treadmill. But when it comes to sex and dating, they aren’t so sure. The might hook up as freely as a Duke athlete. Or, they might want men. . .to pay for dinner, call for dates . . .and open doors for them. A lot of men wonder: “WTF??!” Why should they do the asking? Why should they pay for dinner? After all, they are equals and in any case, the woman a guy is asking out probably has more cash in her pocket than he does. . . . Men say they have no choice. If they want a life, they have to ask women out on dates; they have to initiate conversations at bars and parties, they have to take the lead on sex. Women can take a Chinese menu approach to gender roles. They can be all “Let me pay for the movie tickets” on Friday nights, and “A single rose? That’s it?” on Valentine’s Day.”

Can both of these views be true?

SEX NEWS FROM ALL OVER


Maybe it was all the snow, but whatever the reason, yesterday produced an unusually bounteous crop of sex news.

In an article in The New York Times on the connection between food and sexual arousal, reporter Sarah Kershaw discussed a study conducted by the Smell and Taste Research Foundation in Chicago. “In one small experiment on sexual response to food scents,” she writes, “vaginal and penile blood flow was measured in 31 men and women who wore masks emitting various food aromas. This was the study that found men susceptible to the scent of doughnuts mingled with licorice. For women, first place for most arousing was a tie between baby powder and the combination of Good & Plenty candy with cucumber. Coming in second was a combination of Good & Plenty and banana nut bread.”

Meanwhile, over in Slate, Hanna Rosin was wondering whether Tiger Woods was, clinically speaking, really a sex addict. “One of Woods’ Las Vegas ladies described him as a sex addict who relentlessly pursued women. But that doesn’t mean he was one. Woods’ current mistress count—18 over six years of marriage—does not by itself meet the clinical definition, without knowing how many encounters he had with those women or what else he was up to. The first question [sex addiction expert Marty] Kafka would ask Woods, he says, is: How often did he have an orgasm? By the accepted definition, seven times a week consistently for six months would signal a problem.” Consistency, in this case, is apparently not a virtue.

And in Foreign Policy, David Kenner informs us that Saudi Arabia has refused Pakistan’s proposed ambassador. “Despite having served for years as a distinguished Pakistani diplomat, Akbar Zeb reportedly cannot receive accreditation as Pakistan’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia. The reason, apparently, has nothing to do with his credentials, and everything to do with his name — which, in Arabic, translates to `biggest dick’.” You would have thought that this would have come up before.

On the website Women Talk Sports, an unsigned blog protests the cover of the current Sports Illustrated, which is all about the Winter Olympics, for showing the beautiful and gifted skier Lindsay Vonn in “a sexualized pose.” Seems hard to argue that this is more of a sexualized pose than a skiing pose; a better case could perhaps be made for this photo from SI’s new swimsuit issue.

Finally, Huffington Post founding editor Roy Sekoff appeared with novelist Jackie Collins on The Joy Behar Show, and I guess as a result of his personal investigation into the John Edwards sex tape, was able to confirm that former senator, who in his disgrace can apparently be left with no shred of dignity intact, is physically well-endowed. Old media has had its low moments, but it’s hard to think of an editor of what aspired to be an influential publication going on TV and delving into that particular topic.