weiner’s ‘jewish’ sex

by tobybee

so I don’t really care about anthony weiner’s sex life. obviously. (i’m going to assume you know what i’m referring to here…) in fact, i care a lot more about the fact that there has been such outrage about his sex life. from what i can gather, the texting and the photos etc were all mutually consensual between the various people involved (although, of course, if the women involved were not consenting, then i have rather a large problem with weiner’s ‘sex’ life). i care though that his wife, Huma Abedin, was lied to and disrespected. when a promise of monogamy is made, it should absolutely be honoured.

but one of the problems (and i’ll get to the other in a sec) in the media and political that has arisen in the last week has been this seeming horror over the public performance of sexuality. it feels like it wouldn’t really have mattered whether or not weiner was married – liberals and conservatives alike are angered by the fact that a congressman dared to (albeit accidentally) demonstrate that he has an active sexuality – that he desires sex, and that he desires sexual interactions with numerous people. in an important sense, a large problem here seems to be – as per usual – that his sexuality goes outside, and disrupts, the heteronormative sexuality that we’re all meant to embrace. sex for procreation, or for the purposes of practicing for procreation is fine; sex for pleasure, not so fine. it’s puritan and prudish, of course, but its harm is more than that. it’s the double (or triple, or quadruple…) standard: because it’s not as though public displays of sexuality in america are always completely out of bounds. but in the calls for weiner to resign over this (and by calling it a ‘sex scandal’, as though the scandal was the mere involvement of sex, as such) there seems to be a suggestion that sex is beneath congress (no double entendre intended). sex is ok elsewhere, in ‘lower’ places, but not in that high chamber of public representation. in a sense, that this space, which is meant to be one of democracy, is not open to people’s bodily urges and desires. and that, i think, is a problem.

the other problem involved in this is weiner’s anti-jewish woman sexism (which, of course, can also be named an antisemitism). in case you missed it – and it was very easy to, not that much was made of this comment, as compared to the widely shared picture of his dick in his grey underpants – in a text messaging conversation, as Marc Tracy at Tablet writes:

A Nevada woman Weiner flirted with on Facebook told him that she understood herself to be good at giving oral sex and added, “i love doing it.” To which the congressman from Queens responded: “Wow a jewish girl who sucks [cock]! this thing is ready to do damage.”

so what we have here is the recurrent idea that jewish women don’t like giving blowjobs. that we’re frigid, bad in bed, unable to sexually please a man etc. we’re also meant to be unattractive and annoying generally, so i guess being unsexual is just part of the package (there’s a great interview with rachel shukert on these discourses here (via that tablet link above)). so this is the other part of weiner’s actions that makes me angry, and that makes it seem like for all his desire for sex, it is about his desire, not about respecting the women whose bodies and minds might bring him pleasure. that he had to fall back on such old-school anti-jewish woman prejudices is pretty pathetic. but hey, a powerful liberal man being a sexist – what a shock… or not. still, makes me angry.

to get the full context of the text i’ve just referred to, have a watch of jane lynch and bill maher doing a dramatic reading of their conversation. it’s rad.

*update (17/6): so, having thought about it a bit more, and having read other peoples thoughts, I’d change something that I said above. I misunderstood the nature of the the texting/photo sharing etc that was going on, and trusted that it was consensual. I now understand that it wasn’t always. Plus, there’s this, as articulated in comments (and then put into a post) on Ta-Nehisi Coates’ blog:

He’s a congressman. It’s his job to get things done in government for people who need things done. Is the VA screwing you over on benefits? Call your congressman. Are you having trouble with your student loan servicer? Call your congressman. Etc. There’s a problem here if your congressman thinks he’s allowed to proposition any attractive woman who contacts him. It’s a problem directly analogous to the creepy boss problem.

Wiener isn’t Ms. Cordoba’s representative. But the way his “consensual” dalliances started shows a pattern: Wiener gets contacted by a female, he friends said female and sends banter that progresses into sexual banter. If that’s his pattern, what female constituent would feel totally comfortable contacting him? It just isn’t right for half his constituents to think they might have to exchange sexting for getting him to take seriously their problems with government agencies.

I totally agree. And thought it was worth sharing (particularly today, when we woke up to the news that Weiner had resigned).