The Age of Dick Pics And Why Weiner Should Have Stayed

Back in February, I attended a Planned Parenthood rally here in NYC. There were at least 20 speakers at that rally, many of them great, but one of the best was Anthony Weiner. Having just come from a pro-labor rally also being held that day, he spoke with passion about women’s rights.

Anthony Weiner (image courtesy of wiki images)

He was eloquent, fervent, full of humor and feeling. I left the rally liking Congressman Weiner more than ever, and feeling proud that a politician like him could be re-elected six times in my hometown.

When the scandal first broke that he had allegedly sent the now infamous picture of his alleged dick in his alleged underpants, I believed that his account had been hacked. After all, wasn’t the scandal being broken by right wing liar Andrew Breitbart, who also infamously defamed Shirley Sherrod so that she was forced to resign? Why should anyone believe his word over Weiner’s?

But now the truth is out. We know about the sexting and tweeting and Facebook messaging. We’ve seen the pictures of Weiner in the gym showing off his pecs and his package. He is clearly guilty of extremely bad judgment — from trusting women that he didn’t know to not come forward with their stories to not totally getting why Twitter is a horrible way to send private messages. Maybe he’s a narcissist, but probably most politicians are guilty of that. Maybe he’s an exhibitionist, but so are lots of people. Maybe he’s permanently fucked up his marriage, but that happens. As far as we know, he didn’t break any laws, or even violate any ethics rules.

I realize that some feminists see what Weiner did, in certain instances, as harassment, but I haven’t seen evidence of that yet.* Mostly what I’ve seen is just immature “sexy” chatter, the kind you might engage in or choose to ignore if you’ve ever been on an online dating site. Truthfully, if Anthony Weiner had sent me a picture of his dick, I would have emailed him to say that he shouldn’t send this stuff around because it might get into the wrong hands. And then, judging by what he’s written in other chats, he’d probably make a “wrong hands” joke. The couple of times that someone sent me an unsolicited dick pic (and it’s happened), I’ve just blocked the guy.

I’m not saying that my nonchalantness about receiving unsolicited pictures is the standard by which other people should approach such things. Nor that’s it okay to send such things. I’m just saying that the reality is that people do stuff like this all the time. Deciding that someone is a bad person because they engage in it, or seeing that the person that they engaged in it with feels “iffy” about it afterwards, doesn’t make it a crime or even a malum prohibitum. In a time when people are spending billions of dollars to perfect their bodies and cameras that can take thousands of pictures at the cost of less than developing a few rolls of film in 1995, the truth is, we’re living in a time where dick pics are flying across the Internet all the time. We may be, essentially, living in The Age of Dick Pics.

So what sort of precedent does Weinergate really set? To me, it sets the precedent that if the media covers your scandal enough, and you’re a Democrat, you’re going to have to resign, even if you didn’t do anything illegal.

Protester At The Rally For Women's Health (image courtesy of http://4eyedblonde.tumblr.com/)

Current Speaker Of The House John Boehner literally handed out checks from tobacco industry lobbyists on the floor of Congress before a big tobacco legislation vote. He’s still around. Senator John Ensign stuck around for years after having paid hush money to keep an affair quiet, being investigated by the FBI and Federal Elections Commission, ignoring ethics rules, etc. Anti-gay rights Senator Larry Craig served his full term despite soliciting sex from a guy in a public bathroom.

Anthony Weiner wasn’t just some faceless, one-term Congressperson. For twelve years he’s been a consistent voice for reproductive rights, healthcare reform, environmental protection and more. He’s been vociferous in his stand for important causes, and stayed to the Left while so many have kept shifting to the Right.

So why couldn’t Weiner stick around?  Why couldn’t Democrats stand up for him?  Why couldn’t they come out and say, “Yes, this was a case of really bad judgment, and he definitely has issues, but he’s still really good at his job”?  If he’d been more conservative and less of a loudmouth would the party have stood up for him more?

No one’s perfect, but Weiner’s record in Congress was as close to perfect as most progressives can wish for, and we threw him and his record to the wolves over a couple of dick pics.

*Of course, I haven’t read all of the transcripts of all of the texts and facebook tweets. If there were instances where someone told him to leave her alone and he kept sending pics, please send me a link.

17 thoughts on “The Age of Dick Pics And Why Weiner Should Have Stayed”

  1. “I don’t think sexual banter nor an unsolicited pic equals “harassment”. If someone had written to Weiner and said “please leave me alone” and he didn’t, that’s harassment.

    I know it’s Wikipedia, but it’s pretty clear:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_harassment

    I agree that he should have come clean right away, but he didn’t, and he lied about it. That’s true and that was ridiculous. But maybe he knew that this was going to be the end of his career if he told the truth. Clinton lied about having “sexual relations” with Monica Lewinsky, but because the lie was about something non-political, most of the Dems I knew wanted him to stay in office. . . . .The GOP defends every douchebag in their party. I wish we’d do the same sometimes and not be scared.

    Golda, I get that Weiner supporters want to look the other way and make excuses for his behavior, simply because he SEEMED to agree with them on certain issues (if he lied about this, I don’t understand why it’s being assumed he was telling the truth about anything else) and would help them get what they wanted passed in Congress.

    However, in others areas of life we call that kind of behavior ENABLING.

    1. Here’s the thing, where is the evidence that this was unsolicited?

      Also, I think it is bad judgment to trust someone else with pics of yourself if you’re an elected official. It would be bad judgment to send them to men too, of course, but he sent them to women, so I use that word.

      1. http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Democrats-Weiner-Resign-Congress-Twitter-Scandal-123849114.html“Lee, from La Vergne, Tenn., said the pair exchanged about 100 emails between March and June, but said she never received photos from Weiner and never sent him any. She said she followed him on Twitter because she liked his stance on Planned Parenthood funding and health care, and that he repeatedly tried to turn the conversation into sexual banter.”

        http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/09/nyregion/weiners-pattern-turning-political-admirers-into-online-pursuits.html?_r=1&pagewanted=1“Ms. Cordova, who had traded messages with Mr. Weiner, a New York Democrat, about their shared concern over his conservative critics, said she had never sent him anything provocative. Asked if she was taken aback by his decision to send the photo, she responded, “Oh gosh, yes.””

        Sound unsolicited to me.

  2. Eh, no. Most of the women said they tweeted him saying they admired his politics. And then he followed them, asked personal questions, and Sent Them Pictures of His Dick. That’s harassment, it’s not flirty, sexy talk. And I know he’s a Dem and supports the Democratic platform for women’s reproductive rights, but that doesn’t make what he did any better. It makes it worse in a way.
    Excusing it by saying that lots of guys do this kind of thing is just ridiculous. Yeah, women get harassed all the time, and most of us just learn to put up with it because we don’t have any other choice. I hardly think this is something we should celebrate.
    You’re right that it wasn’t illegal–creepy, but not illegal. But the way he handled it, by lying for an entire week and shouting about right-wing conspiracies was unprofessional and disrespectful to his constituents. The man lied to you repeatedly, you believed it, and you’re still on his team? No. If he’d done this and come clean right away, I’d shrug and say he’s just another icky politician, and avoid tweeting him. But then he had to go and lie, and so it’s just time for him to get off the stage. The Democratic agenda will survive without him.
    And by the way, just because the Republican party is OK with questionable ethics and homophobic officials getting caught in bed with meth-dealing male prostitutes doesn’t mean the Democratic party should give its people a pass.

    1. I agree that he should have come clean right away, but he didn’t, and he lied about it. That’s true and that was ridiculous. But maybe he knew that this was going to be the end of his career if he told the truth. Clinton lied about having “sexual relations” with Monica Lewinsky, but because the lie was about something non-political, most of the Dems I knew wanted him to stay in office.

      Harassment is not okay, but I’m still looking for one of these women to say they were harassed. Just because the media decided they were harassed doesn’t mean they were.

  3. Sending people unsolicited sexual pictures is still sexual harassment. Yes, even if “everybody” is doing it. And you defending him against that because you like his voting record is problematic in the same way that people saying Assange couldn’t possibly have raped those women because WikiLeaks is awesome.

    Continue to support him, if that’s the way you feel about it. But have the integrity to admit that he did something wrong. Harassment is harassment.

      1. Again, I don’t think sending pictures in the context of “sexy talk” is unsolicited.

        Also, this is different than Julian Assange. Those women came forward and said they were raped. That is completely different than a case where no women actually said they were harassed.

        1. Unsolicited sexy talk and pics ARE BY DEFINITION SEXUAL HARASSMENT. If somebody in your office started making sexual remarks to you and you didn’t want them to, it would be harassment, whether or not you asked them to stop. What is this, “This is harassment harassment,” like “It’s not rape rape”? It’s still harassment even if they don’t call it that, just like it’s still rape even if they don’t call it that. You’re repeating the standard rape apologist script, word for word. Cut it out.

          You want to defend him because you like him. It’s bull.

  4. I wonder if the Dems opted this route so they could say that they’re not operating like the GOP by covering up and sweeping the scandal under the rug.

    I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, just that this could be their justification because backing him or showing understanding would have the GOP using it as ammo. against the party for more years than most of us will probably live.

      1. I did too. But because of his actions I don’t know that I’d trust him to push through the things he so vehemently talked about (women’s issues mostly).

        I know most people think what he does in his personal life should have no bearing on his public life, but when you’re a politician being elected into a position, the personal becomes the public.

        Nobody says a word when positive elements of a politicians personal life are put out there for everyone to dissect…it’s only when the negative shows up that many start separating the two.

          1. I don’t know how a person can claim to support equal rights/ woman’s rights/human rights and then turn a blind eye to someone who violates them. If a person refuses to support a man who is violating the rights of other human beings, it’s not being scared. It’s having the moral integrity to stand by your convictions.

Leave a Reply