Monday, June 13, 2011

Sex Scandal Summer


Photo by David Boyle

It's a cruel, cruel summer for politicians, their significant others, and the "other" women they have sexualized and objectified.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor of California, had a long, eventful affair with his housekeeper of 20 years. In October of 1997 Mildred "Patty" Baena gave birth to their secret love child Joseph.

Schwarzenegger's "public" family found out in May (along with everyone else) as the shocking news broke.

This isn't the first time the Terminator has found himself in hot water for questionable behavior. When campaigning for Governor, several women accused Shwarzenegger of groping them or otherwise acting inappropriately.

Once she learned of the relationship, wife Maria Shriver separated from the movie-star-turned-politician.

Christopher, a son she shares with Schwarzenegger along with three other children, was born just five days prior to his half-brother. Baena and Shriver were pregnant at the same time while Baena worked in the Shwarzenegger home.

Commentators jokes focused on both Baena and Shriver's appearances, suggesting Baena was less attractive than Schwarzenegger's wife who was already an acquired taste-- especially without make-up.

Then on the East coast, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former chief of the International Monetary Fund, plead "not guilty" to attacking an employee in the Sofietel hotel in New York City, while prosecutors said DNA evidence on her clothing proves otherwise. Strauss-Kahn allegedly forced the 32-year-old woman to perform oral sex when she attempted to clean his suite.

Pundits and comedians couldn't help but liken the unthinkable situation to the IMF "fucking" developing countries all over the world-- an obvious and unfortunate metaphor.

Several women used Strauss-Kahn's trial as an opportunity to demand better working conditions for those in the service industry. This is not the first time a woman has been assaulted on the job by a guest.

''Some rich people think that because we work at a hotel we are poor and that we would sell ourselves for a few extra bucks,'' said Lena Thompson, who has worked in the Plaza Hotel for 14 years. ''I am a room attendant, not a maid. I work with integrity to support my family.''

Strauss-Kahn was released from jail on a $1 million bond and the trial will proceed in July.

Also in New York, democratic representative Anthony Weiner has become a walking punchline after tweeting photos of his "weiner" to several younger women. Many fellow democrats calling for his resignation. President Barack Obama admitted he would resign if he was in Weiner's situation. According to experts at the Hill, he is expendable and Nancy Pelosi wants him out to regain democrat's momentum with Medicare.

Weiner's sexting occurred before and after his marriage to Huma Abedin in July of 2010. Abedin is the Deputy Chief of Staff and Aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Rush Limbaugh recently insisted Weiner's infidelity was caused by hanging around women who attack masculinity and testosterone. Men who feel like "weak, worthless, wimp, sissies" can blame liberal women-- and then cheat on them to try to regain their manhood.

Limbaugh's logic is obviously flawed. Weeks earlier Shwarzenegger was making headlines for his own sexual shenanigans drenched in hypocrisy as an outspoken republican committed to "family values."

While Limbaugh's suspicions are biased and apologetic, the rest of us may have learned something this summer.

Cheating and sexual misconduct cannot be cut by party lines. It can't be determined by city, country, or even continent. It's a social issue that continues to affect everyone equally.

When people question whether feminism is still necessary, this is a fitting example why it most certainly is.

But when men who supposedly support women's issues treat women like means to an end, it feels different. It's not that they've committed a greater offense, but it's more disappointing.

The common thread throughout each of these scandals is that no matter how progressive their agenda, powerful men feel entitled to women, their attention and their bodies. Paired with the meager numbers of women in business and government, it's difficult not to feel like the weaker sex.

Extensive media coverage of one terrible incident after another just adds insult to injury.   

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