June 07, 2011

Prudes and Prisons

After a night without internet, I finally got to catch up on the Weiner "scandal" this morning. All the reaction I had time before work was summed up in three Tweets:
  • Yeah, I'm a bit ticked at Weiner. Mostly for labeling his premarital sexting as "inappropriate."

  • As for his postmarital sexting? Only his wife can say. And I'm certainly not going to put her on the spot to find out.

  • In other news, has Ginny issued a public apology to Clarence yet for her inappropriate lobbying?
I meant to write a whole blog post about the subject tonight, but Amanda Marcotte has already written it.

Against prudery

I don't want to keep hammering at this, but here's a link to my Alternet piece on why I'm so concerned about this whole Anthony Weiner scandal. I won't revisit it at length here; please read the article. My biggest problem is that the pretense of public interest was completely abandoned, and this was just a matter of the "ick factor". Now that this door is open, and simply making people uncomfortable is considered reason enough to condemn someone and demand their resignation, I'm really worried. My gut feeling on this is that Weinergate really is confirmation of a suspicion I've had for awhile that America has quietly become more prudish in the past few years, and this is a very bad thing.


Silly, and unfortunately dangerous, as recent events demonstrate. Because it's one thing not to be sexually adventurous, but quite another to sit in judgment of people whose sexual curiosities ick you out, whether done out of meanness or defensiveness. And lately, I've just generally noticed a trend towards more openly bashing people for seeking pleasure, even and often especially if they harm no one else in doing so.

Read the whole thing. Really. All of it. Chances are good Marcotte brings up at least one thing you haven't considered as a mark of prudery, and that she makes a good case for it.

There's also an echo in her post of a Facebook conversation with a friend of mine about a week ago. My friend started it off with this:

The queer movement spent decades trying to convince people that we should be taken seriously because we posed a real threat to the status quo. Now we spend all our time trying to convince everyone that we don't pose any threat to anything, so the right should stop picking on us, already! I am of the whiplash generation of lesbians.

I will fight the marriage amendment with all my might because I believe that everyone has a right to marry, but I feel like, by getting us to spend all our time fighting for marriage and for open inclusion in the military, the right has recruited us to do the work of dismantling radical queerness for them.

I think she's wrong about the recruitment. I think it's more a question of discarding the people and tactics that have taken the gay rights movement as far as it's come now that the gates appear to be in reach. But like my friend, I'll fight with the crowd on individual rights issues. Otherwise? I'm hanging out with the drag queens. I'm talking to the leather girls. I'm having drinks with the sex educators and burlesque dancers and poly people.

Why? Because with the exception of a very few other people, these people are the ones who offer me freedom. These are the people who don't care what is hiding in my email or DMs or with whom I flirt or how many inches of my cleavage or legs or anything else are visible. These are the people who understand the costs of arbitrary rules and who are stirring things up enough that we can figure out what is necessary (compassion and good communication) and what is arbitrary (almost everything else). These are the people capable of having the kinds of conversations that philosophy undergrads only dream of, many of which make it to this blog in one form or another.

So go read about prudery. Then go think about the costs of demanding that rights be granted only if something "isn't a choice" or if the alternative is death or if granting the right won't lead to granting another. Think about how narrow this box we're asking for really is. No matter where you sleep, is that where you want to live?


Shari said...

I have also, finally, just caught up on Weinergate.

Many comments have already flown around, most of the reasonably witty comments have been made, so I'm not going to waste the effort to try for comedy here.

But there's a few things Not connected (at least, in my own head yet) to prudery that Still make me want him to step down.

Poor impulse control. Utter lack of concern (or was it freaking AWARENESS of concern) for what his family would go through 'if he was caught'. Whether right or wrong - and if prudery is being used as a cultural straightjacket, we can all probably assume Wrong! - he knows that politicians are under intense scrutiny, as they represent other people. And they are held to high standards. Or, at least, I hold them to high standards - especially of judgement.

I'm guessing he thought he could manage any fallout if this ever became public. We see how well That turned out. That amazing level of arrogance in his initial denials screams of his desire for celebrity, without responsibility. And that kind of judgement in his personal life makes me question his judgement on national issues.

The point at which compulsive behaviour threatens your job - and this qualifies, I think, you need to put it in check.

Would I be as disgusted if this guy weren't married? Not quite, because the whole point of marriage is to forsake all others (not discussing polygamy here.), and if you want to do gross tweets, don't friggin' get married because your spouse will be understandably pissed. Poor judgement. Single people sexting (especially with that last name)are opening themselves up to blackmail - poor judgement if they are in the public eye.

(sheesh, this guy must tick me off good - didn't mean to start ranting all over the comment section! sorry!) Anyway, would love your thoughts (as much as you want to waste on the topic) on whether my own prudery is the larger force that is feeding my desire to have him Step Down. If it helps, btw, I Am an even Bigger prude than I used to be!

Stephanie Zvan said...

Thank you, my dear. Comment addressed in full here: http://almostdiamonds.blogspot.com/2011/06/judgment-of-rep-weiner.html