What Would Happen If Anthony Weiner Were a Woman?

Exploring the gender politics of the latest sex scandal

Weinergate is turning out to be like herpes—the gift that keeps on giving.

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse for Rep. Anthony Weiner (D- NY), it gets worse. From underwear-covered to naked to towel-draped, his cyberpenis has dominated the news cycle for almost two weeks. It could star in its own sitcom.

Weiner is hardly the first married politico to be caught with his flag unfurled, but he stands alone as the best named. Edwardsgate, Spitzergate, Vittergate, Sanfordgate, Schwarzeneggergate don’t provoke the same imagery as does Weinergate. In that department, it was pretty much over for Anthony Weiner at birth.

All of which got me thinking: Why is it that male politicians dominate the juicy sex scandals?

For starters, there are many more male than female elected officials. That implies privilege, which translates to opportunity. It’s safe to say that, as a rule, men perceive extramarital sex differently than do women. A Congresswoman would be more reticent, or at least more discreet, about having an affair.

Some experts argue that male politicians operate under the illusion they are invincible, which leads to reckless behavior. (See Clinton, Bill.) A few manage to stay in office (ibid) but most do not. In February, for example, married Congressman Christopher Lee (R-NY) resigned within hours after suggestive emails surfaced with photos of him bare chested.

Think about it. Lee quits because of chest shots, while Weiner and his genitals continue to hang in. Guess which one has the illusion of invincibility?

Arguably the most important reason for the gender differential in such scandals is in sexual perceptions of power, as described in a piece in the Sunday New York Times. Simply put, powerful men attract women; powerful women repel men. Discuss.

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, hardly a handsome man, famously said in 1973 that power was the ultimate aphrodisiac. Sure it is, for men. When is the last time you saw an ugly powerful woman with a hot younger man?

Conversely, what else but power would attract a good-looking, younger woman to a troglodyte like Newt Gingrich, who dumped his last two wives as they were suffering from cancer and MS, respectively. What a catch!

Now, the bigger question. If a married female in Congress strayed and got caught, would the public ever forgive her? Would her cuckolded husband stand beside her at her confessional press conference? My guess: No and hell, no.

Going even further, what, if by some unfortunate coincidence, her name suggested slang images of her genitals? Would the media be as quick to add the suffix “gate?” Imagine the possibilities. Pussygate. Labiagate. Piegate. Cootergate. Bootygate.

The ‘Vagina Monologues’ writ large.

To the prudish public, only a vagina could trump a Weiner.