There’s a famous scene in Woody Allen’s Husbands and Wives where the brilliant Judy Davis plays Sally, a recent divorcee who terrorizes the unlucky new guy she is about to leave with on their first date when he tries to reassure her that not all men are, essentially, cads.
Davis, sneering with the authority of a jilted Medea, turns sharply to him and, after a long scary moment, ferociously roars: Don’t defend your sex! It’s true!
Judy Davis is not in the house tonight (which is too bad for so many reasons), but I couldn’t help feel those words reverberating in my head many times almost every time I came across a news story this week. If you’re an adult male of, well, any age, it’s pretty hard to stick up for the peanut gallery of ass hats who have been making it so much more difficult for all of the rest of us deeply flawed males in the world to hold our heads – well – not even high, just upright.
1. NYC mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner and his serial sexting. Oy.
2. San Diego Mayor Bob Filner and his serial gropings (not to mention female headlocks). Oy vey.
3. Fox “newscaster” Geraldo Rivera posting a shirtless (naked?) photo of himself on Twitter declaring: “70 is the new 50.” Oy, no.
This is not to even mention in the last several weeks:
4. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signing a bill that REQUIRES all women seeking to terminate a pregnancy to undergo a mandatory ultrasound in order to bond with the fetus and potentially save it.
5. Texas Governor Rick Perry and his mostly male cohorts in the state legislature passing a law that will not only close 37 of the state’s 42 women’s health clinics but will also require all females to get their doctor’s approval before being allowed to obtain full doses of the morning after pill.
6. Virginia Attorney General (and current gubernatorial candidate) Ken Cuccinelli desperately trying to resurrect an old edict that outlaws sodomy, oral sex and just about any other kind of sex aside from the missionary position (could I make this up?) in the state. Note: Certainly this is not so much anti-female as anti- human, not to mention what it will do to tourism, but it bears inclusion nevertheless.
WHAT. IS. GOING. ON????????????????????
Okay, so I’ve taken a survey and this is what I’ve come up with:
A. The intellectuals reason that this is the final expected retro grasp of the white male heterosexual patriarchy trying to expel its last burst of ever-dwindling authority over the rest of us.
My reaction: Too glib.
B. The liberals blame Weiner and Filner for being idiots and blame the rest of this stuff on bigoted, hypocritical Republicans who want to require all of us to go to the Church of their choosing and re-institute school prayer (and Ayn Rand), as we await the Rapture.
My reaction: Too easy, not to mention impractical.
C. And finally – The women I know, ALL of the women I know (which is many because, after all, I am a homosexual) are just plain disgusted.
My reaction: The correct response.
Though they are thinking about bringing back castration.
My reaction to that: Uh, sorry ladies – the wrong response!!
But still – who could blame them????
I haven’t seen such a motley group of guys since high school gym class – a class I, granted, did not attend much but one in which I was able to observe behavior on most days I was in attendance because I did little other than observe while I was there.
Weiner: I’m not gonna say he’s a dick because that’s too easy. What I will say is that in the first go ‘round I didn’t understand why everyone was making such a fuss about a guy who liked to send naked pictures of himself to women who showed some interest, and occasionally pleasured himself over it when his wife was away. I cared more about how he did his job, not what he did in bed (or out of it, or even standing up). Also, like most native New Yorkers I began to resent the outcry from the morality police in the rest of the country (as if they’ve never done anything tawdry – and if they haven’t they certainly couldn’t relate to most of the rest of us), so I decided I’d give him the benefit of the doubt and show my support out of sheer Big Apple spite.
However, there comes a time – hard as it is for me, a Scorpio, to admit – that even spitefulness has to give way to common sense. Suddenly, we now get online pix of the Full Monty Weiner. Then we’re treated to a spinning press conference where his highly intelligent spouse, Huma Abedin, does a millennial generation version of Hillary Clinton standing by her man as she bares the details of her personal life to the world in an attempt to defend a flawed guy she happens to love who clearly and very desperately wants to remain in the politically relevant limelight.
Okay. But then, just when you thought it was over, there are more naked Wieners revealed, as well as rolling admissions by the candidate of there being “6-10 women” he’s met online as recently as six months ago, though he can’t be sure of the actual number since behavior that is immoral is a matter of personal opinion – the implication being his opinion is that he has done nothing else wrong with #’s 11, 12, 13 or more….
Yuk. I think I need a shower. Don’t you? Not because I give an Instagram about whether Mr. Weiner is, indeed, a large tool but because he has become an impossible public figure to govern what is perhaps the most important and complicated city in the country – primarily at his own hands (pun intended, sorry).
Addendum: Recently, I was shocked to learn that Mr. Weiner was 6’5”. As a Jewish guy from New York, I’d always assumed he was closer to around, say, 5’7”. My height. It just goes to show what I’ve always secretly hoped – bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better – especially when it has to do with wieners.
Filner: Any 70 year-old man who has, with the women he employs, chosen to:
- Put them in headlocks
- Grope their asses
- Asked them to come to work not wearing underwear
- Forced them to hug him, kiss him and tongue him and
- Rinsed and repeated on all of these behaviors many times over –
SHOULD. GO. AWAY.
Instead, San Diego Mayor Bob Filner gave a press conference Friday where he announced he was entering a two-week program in behavior counseling for…well, something – WHEN his microphone cut out the audio and we couldn’t hear what it was he was actually going away for. One wag tweeted that “even the mic didn’t want to hear,” but this didn’t stop the mayor and his staff from getting him another mic and podium so he could restart his mea culpa from the beginning (Oh, goodie). And speaking of staff, just after the revelations of sexual misconduct towards women came out days before – the San Diego city attorney announced that as an interim measure the mayor, who still refuses to resign, would no longer be allowed to be alone in a room with any female who worked for him. At all. This was particularly fascinating since that same press release also stated that Mayor Filner had just hired yet another woman to replace his exiting chief of staff. Certainly it gave new meaning to the term team players for everyone else nearby.
By the way, the fact that both Mr. Weiner and Mayor Filner are Democrats is meaningless. This has nothing to do with political affiliation as current Republican Louisiana Senator David Vitter (you know, the former Congressman who was kicked out of office in the prostitution scandal, then reelected) and current Republican Congressman Mark Sanford (he’s the former South Carolina Governor who a few years ago disappeared to Argentina with his mistress when his aides told us he couldn’t be reached because he was out camping – the gayest excuse I’ve ever heard a straight guy give) serve as only two of the most recent analogous examples of sex scandals from the other side.
No, what this all has to do with is this: When it comes to the penis, and everything it connotes for them – some men have remained in permanent adolescence. Sexual compulsion/addiction; it’s about power, not sex; generational shifts in mores; they’re all just the extreme examples; blah, blah, blah - I get it. But as a guy, I gotta tell you – there has been too much of this kind of stuff in the news lately to intellectualize it away. There’s something going on with some of us men out there and it’s not pretty. Or even handsome. Actually, it’s kind of abhorrent. And unless the rest of us guys stand up to the bullies it’s not gonna go away any time soon. I’m not talking about what guys do in the privacy of their own – well, you know. I’ll be the first one to fight back against anyone who says we have to stop doing any of that. I’m talking about – well, you know what I’m talking about.
Screenwriter John Patrick Shanley pondered a variation of all this in his Oscar-winning screenplay, Moonstruck. Faced with the knowledge of her philandering husband, Olympia Dukakis (the Mom) spends her time surveying various opinions of the other characters on one particular question: Why do men cheat? Finally, one person, the biggest philanderer in the film, gives her the only answer that ultimately makes sense: Because they fear death.
Interesting answer. But it’s movie dialogue. As it applies to the mistreatment of today’s women via sexual scandal, which is not about so much as cheating but behaving like an immature idiot – the answer in the real world is more like: Because we can.
Though just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. That might sound like a response from someone’s mother. But maybe it wouldn’t hurt to think about it that way. After all, Mom’s a woman, too. And us men, we’re just wieners.