I’ve been following the Anthony Wiener story closely. I like politics. I like sex. I even like sexting. I’ve written about it (briefly) before. Twice. And I have some thoughts about it.
The Nation article is, unfortunately, badly written (the title of the article – “In Defense of Carlos Danger” – is not, in fact, an accurate description of the content of the article, and the word “disinterested” does not, contrary to its usage in the article, mean “uninterested”). And parts of it are mean-spirited and poorly thought out.
But its basic points are correct. And maybe even vital.
The money shot in the article is this paragraph:
Carlos Danger sexts—a lot. He is overly fond of his penis. He takes pictures of it and sends them to strange women he has never met. He has banal sexual fantasies that involve high heels, pulling hair, holding down wrists and a lot of wetness all around. He does not, apparently, understand the Internet very well, even though he spends a lot of time on it and even though the hackneyed conventions of Internet porn appear to be his Kama Sutra. His prolific sexting took place before, during and after his wife’s pregnancy. He was caught doing it, denied it, admitted it, promised not do it again, did it again and admitted it—again. All of this makes him stupid, boorish, adolescent and deceitful about sex, but no more so than the millions of men (and some women) who do the same thing. It might also make him a bad husband, but only his wife Huma Abedin can be the judge of that, and it is really none of our business what she thinks, what arrangement they do or do not have and whether or not she should leave him. Nothing Carlos Danger did was illegal or coercive, and, it should be pointed out, none of it actually involved physical contact. His behavior and his marriage are entirely unworthy of public concern.
First, let me dispense with the bad part of this paragraph: “Overly fond of his penis”? Really? This seems just unfair. What’s the appropriate level of fondness for one’s penis? Does Michael Bloomberg have the appropriate level? Do I? Is Barack Obama overly modest about his? I’m not sure. Ditto with the “banal sexual fantasies.” It seems wrong to me to judge other people’s sexual fantasies one way or another. Just for fun, I looked up synonyms and antonyms of “banal”: synonyms include “commonplace,” “everyday,” “ordinary” and “uninteresting.” Are my sexual fantasies banal? Or are they “distinctive,” “fresh,” “imaginative,” and “interesting” (the antonyms I found)?
I think it’s silly to judge my sex fantasies. AND I’M A SEX BLOGGER. (Also? I like high heels, pulling hair, holding down wrists, and “a lot of wetness all around.”)
But the basic point at the end, the part I’ve bolded, is the part that seems to be going un-said anywhere else. In short:
1) Anthony Weiner was an atrocious congressman. He was ineffectual and megalomaniacal, unable either to manage his (small) office, which was plagued with turnover, or to accomplish a single thing legislatively. The New York Times had detailed Rep. Weiner’s failures recently. Nobody liked him as a Congressman except people who didn’t care what he did, but only cared what he said.
2) Anthony Weiner has atrociously poor judgment. NOT for sexting however many women he did, but a) for not “understand[ing] the internet very well,” and b) for hubris, for thinking he could bluster his way through a mayoral campaign when there was so much more fodder for the tabloids out there. The dude didn’t understand how to sext and be anonymous. If anonymity is that important to you, you probably shouldn’t do it. (I do it, and I live in terror of blowing my anonymity – not because it’d cause a scandal, but because I value my family’s privacy. If I ever run for office, you can bet that I’ll come out as N. Likes first thing, long before the New York Post figures out it’s me. And don’t worry – I’m not running for office.)
3) THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH SEXTING, and the only person who knows whether he was a “bad husband” is his wife.
This third point is the crux of it all for me. Surely, even New York is not ready for a mayor whose wife says, “Honey, go ahead, do all the sexting you want. Just don’t fuck anyone else, ok?” And maybe this is what Huma said, and maybe it’s not. (I suspect that what she actually was more along the lines of, “Do whatever the fuck you want, but for Christ’s sake, don’t let it get out in public!”)
I’m ready for a mayor whose wife said either one of those things, incidentally.
Just not this guy.