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America: you need to get laid

By Amanda Marcotte
Friday, December 11, 2009 20:58 EDT
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Rebecca Dana has an article up at the Daily Beast examining the question of why there aren’t as many sex scandals with women at the center of them. There are many theories that are 100% bullshit: that women aren’t as interested, that women only fuck up and so powerful women have nowhere to go, that women are too busy for affairs, that women are less careless because they have more to lose. The only thing that seemed remotely plausible to me was Emily Gould’s theory.

“Men are typically seen as having agency and women are typically seen as being acted upon in romantic relationships,” says New York writer Emily Gould (a survivor of her own small-scale sex scandal). “So then even when those stereotypical power dynamics aren’t really the ones at play, the culture-making machinery will simplify whatever the real story is until it is a more familiar wronged-woman, lothario-man narrative.”

I think there’s a lot to that. It’s not like there’s a lack of scandals involving women, but most of them are about being scandalized that someone is just so unladylike. Having an affair is actually pretty ladylike, or can be seen that way if it’s spun the right way. So I think there’s something to this theory.

But I have another theory that I think is closer to the truth. There are fewer sex scandals involving women because there are fewer women in roles prominent enough to cause a sex scandal. Think of the categories of people that there’s sex scandals about: athletes, politicians, late night talk show hosts, basically people who have more than celebrity, but who have authority. (Though this is increasingly less true of athletes, which is a good thing. They’ve never really been that upstanding a crowd.) There’s not much scandal if the person having the illicit sex is someone who is supposed to be doing that, like a movie star or a rock musician. It’s only someone with gravitas, and the ranks of those people are overwhelmingly male. At this point, it’s a numbers game. For instance, there are exponentially fewer political sex scandals involving female politicians because there are exponentially fewer women holding high office.

One thing I know for certain is this sex scandal crap has officially gone too far. Now the only hook necessary for the mainstream media to cover a sex scandal is “just because”. No need for a public interest hook. When the Letterman thing happened, I knew it was all over. The blackmail arrest was the official hook, but that’s a thin excuse, and really it shocked me how much people were willing to pretend to be shocked that someone like Letterman would have an affair. That’s what made all this Tiger Woods crap unavoidable. The hook is the car accident, but at this point does anyone really believe that? No, instead we’re being subjected to the bizarre faux outrage and titillation at the fact that a world famous athlete who has literally millions of people sucking his butt got it into his head that he could cheat on his wife. This is exactly as surprising as the sun coming up in the morning. Why do people give this much of a shit?

Clearly, the answer is that America needs to get laid more.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
 
 
 
 
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