Weiner’s Weiner…Why it’s a Feminist Issue

“If we want fewer sex scandals in Congress, we should elect more women.”  Well said, mom!  I have been running through this whole Weiner/weiner debacle in my mind trying to decipher my opinion on it.  Is it that big of a deal?  Is it something the feminist community should be up in arms about?

Maybe not.  But I think my mom was on to something.  While I don’t want to promote the idea that the ego-driven, hedonistic, self-serving behavior that Weiner and so many other male politicians have exhibited is somehow intrinsic to men and masculinity, the fact is, men in Congress do have a monopoly on that kind of behavior.  Perhaps because society teaches men that power and sexual conquest go hand in hand, men who seek power in high levels of political leadership feel entitled to copious helpings of women (who are simultaneously taught to be sexually available to them).  The fact that Congress is overwhelmingly male may contribute to the culture where this kind of behavior feels appropriate or even part and parcel with the role.

Would more women in Congress balance out this ‘good ole’ boy’ routine?  These revelations in the media of what really goes on behind closed doors also make me wonder what kind of working environment Congress is for women. Additionally, do these stories subtly inform all women that Congress is synonymous with male power, hence further widening the gender gap?

The bottom line is, it’s not about Weiner’s indiscretions or the fact that he’s a scumbag.  What we should be worried about is that this type of behavior contributes to the culture of masculinity that dominates our decision-making structures and leaves women out of the mix.  The halls of Congress are no place for male domination and expressions of exclusively masculine power.  Weinergate has brought to light the necessity of electing more women to Congress, yet has suggested perhaps one of the reasons why this task is so difficult.  As feminists, we need to not just talk about this, but rather connect this story to the bigger picture.  Let’s use this incident to raise awareness about gender equity in government and refocus our efforts on closing the gender gap.

Originally posted on rachelpiazza.tumblr.com

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3 Comments

  1. Posted June 15, 2011 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    I would guess we don’t see these incidents from female politicians primarily because our culture is so much more judgmental about expressions of female sexuality that a female politician who performed an equivalent act would be much more harshly punished for it.

  2. Posted June 15, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    While I don’t want to promote the idea that the ego-driven, hedonistic, self-serving behavior that Weiner and so many other male politicians have exhibited is somehow intrinsic to men and masculinity, the fact is, men in Congress do have a monopoly on that kind of behavior.

    Really? While the men in Congress are certainly high profile, and therefore their indiscretions make the news, I hardly think that ego-driven, hedonistic, self-serving behavior are unique to them.

  3. Posted June 15, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    But men of all ages and professions commit similar acts so why tie it to power? I’d rather instead tie to sexuality in general.

    I see no evidence less scandals would exist if we had more women in power. There is no evidence to support this. Feministing itself insists that men/women have equal sex drives for example. And studies have shown women cheat just as often as men.

    So really I think it just comes down to the # of women in government. There have been female sex scandals recall, you just see less because there are less women.

    Which goes back to point #1 – if women commit these at the same rate as men, we can’t blame it on “society teaches men that power and sexual conquest go hand in hand”.

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