Tom Matlack and Slade Sohmer discuss sex addiction and the should-be ramifications for in-office philanderers.
While Anthony Weiner’s, um, wiener might be old news, last week a New Jersey politician was forced to resign after naked pictures he’d sent to a woman were posted online by a political rival. Louis N. Magazzu, the now-resigned politician, had been separated from his wife for two years when the pictures were published. Our friend Slade Sohmer, editor of HyperVocal, posted a smart response to the Magazzu resignation, defending our sexting politicians. So, Slade and our founder, Tom Matlack, decided to have a conversation about the topic. Here’s what happened …
Tom: I’m not sure if you saw my satirical take of using the junk-shot ID instead of face recognition to keep track of our politicians, but what do you think?
Slade: Witty take, but hey, do we know for sure that no two penises are alike? Is junk like snowflakes and fingerprints? Until we can safely say that “No two junk shots are exactly the same,” your idea might lead to the humiliation or incarceration of the wrong man. Also, anyone who tries to put restrictions and hurdles onto porn-viewing will face the angriest, horniest mob in the history of pitchforks and torches.
Tom: Well, the skin of the penis sure looks like a fingerprint to me. But then I’ve only been able to examine one at close range, so I could be wrong. We may need the help of a urologist on that question.
Slade: I’ve been fortunate to examine quite a few, so I’ll begrudgingly stipulate the Fingerprint Theory. Although, I’m wary of submitting to a federal system of schwanz monitoring. Isn’t the Era of Big Government Databases of Peens over?
Tom: On porn viewing restrictions, I agree that it would create some issues but in all seriousness the number of hours wasted by guys jerking off has to be some kind of national epidemic. It also rots our boys’ minds. They think that’s sex when, really, it is nothing of the kind.
Slade: I agree wholeheartedly about porn rotting the brain, especially in boys. But, for adults, I’m a freedom is freedom kinda guy, and if men want to spend three-fourths of their days putz-futzing, that’s ultimately their business. I understand and agree with your position, but there’s no real answer to it. Are we really going to try to restrict what the courts say is free speech? Are we going to go back to the idea of a porn-based V-chip? It’s a problem, sure. But what’s the solution? Epidemics usually end with a cure and a vaccine. Not sure the porn epidemic can provide us either one.
Tom: On a more serious note, do you believe there is such a thing as sexual addiction, addiction that would cause a person to pursue sex at the expense of everything else, thus impairing their professional judgment?
Slade: Absolutely. Sexual addiction definitely exists, both outwardly (playing nice with others) and inwardly (dancing with yourself…for hours and hours). One day it will surely be included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. But, like other addictions, I think people are too quick to substitute “sex addiction” for “super-super horny.” Do I think Tiger was a sex addict? Anthony Weiner? Probably not. Now, if Tiger missed the first round of the Buick Invitational to have a wild romp with two blondes and a nine iron, or if Weiner missed votes and meetings to chat online about where his junk ranks on the Mohs hardness scale, then I’d say their professional judgment was impaired by sex addiction. Otherwise, I think they were just into “gettin’ a lot” and didn’t think through, or didn’t care about, the ramifications of getting caught.
Tom: Really? Seems to me they both paid a heavy price for just being horny. In my book, an addiction is defined as a behavior that becomes so important that you are willing to do anything to do it, even screw up your life in ways that generally mean screwing up your marriage, among other things (lose job, become homeless, cause harm to those you love). If Tiger wasn’t an addict, giving the number of women he was sleeping with and the amount he was lying, I really don’t know who is a sexual addict. You might have a bit of a stronger argument with Weiner, but still, that was some pretty bizarre shit to be doing when you just got married to a super smart and beautiful woman. Makes no sense. That’s the other thing about addiction. From the outside it looks insane.
Slade: Tiger did give up a lot, but I still think he was just a guy gettin’ a lot of strange. His only real sin was getting married. Could you imagine if someone like Mickey Mantle lived in the Internet Era? Would we classify him as a sex addict, or just a dude who liked to fuck? Weiner is the better test case, though. Sure he just got married to a smart, pretty lady. But this wasn’t about her, and new research from Guelph/Kinsey shows that men might cheat regardless of who their partner is or whether they’re satisfied. I’m not sure how you could call what he did “pretty bizarre shit.” I feel like what he was doing is more common than we care to admit. In my opinion he’s just a guy that got desensitized along the way and was looking for something akin to “live porn.” Porn, like technology, WITH technology, has a natural progression. We went from fapping to merchandise catalogs to skin mags to VHS tapes to DVDs to streaming tube sites. We went from 1-800-phone sex lines to cybersex to webcams. We build up immunities to porn, like how we build up antibodies to viruses and bacteria. We used to get off waiting for dial-up pictures to load. Then the pictures popped up faster, but soon that didn’t cut it. Then porn videos hit the Internet. Then we started watching amateur porn. Then we began cyber-flirting. Then cybersex. Then online “conversations.” Then junk shots over Twitter. And, really, how can we brand the man a sex addict when he never had sex with a single one of these women? Ultimately I’d say he’s more of an egomaniac than a sex addict.
Tom: Most corporations have strict rules against the use of sexually explicit content in the workplace. Weiner took his photos inside the capital. Why should he be treated any different?
Slade: Who’s asking for special treatment for him? Weiner shouldn’t be given a free pass for what he did. But should he resign over Twitpic’n on the Hill? Hardly. Okay, so he broke a rule by taking a photo in the Capitol. Let that be the worst rule ever broken in the Capitol! Really, what he did was harmless. Consenting adults. This is the 21st century. If people don’t think there are hundreds of thousands of otherwise normal folks on the Internet at any moment satisfying their deepest and darkest sexual desires then they don’t understand the world in which we live. He sought out consenting adults to fulfill his desires, to feed his sexual ego, and they willingly obliged him. They willingly engaged him. He’s not some flasher in a trenchcoat in the park—Weiner and these women and were in Internet Era relationships.
Tom: Really, so our leaders should feel free to have Internet sex with strangers while determining our collective world future? I am not one to try to regulate what “normal” people do or find sexually satisfying, but I do think it’s appropriate to have basic standards of conduct at work, like corporations do, that are as high or higher for our public officials.
Slade: I don’t know if they should “feel free” to do it, but it’s not the biggest problem with our members of Congress. The only problem I see with his behavior is potential blackmail, and yes, I’ll grant that is a big problem. But politicians are people, and people are fallible, as well as naturally sexual, and when we ask our politicians to repress their basest sexual desires it will manifest into something even more problematic. Just look at what happens when people hold in “the gay”—it leads to even more outrageous deviance (wide stances in bathroom stalls for instance). I have less of a problem with our leaders being real people when it comes to sex/infidelity and more of a problem with the fact that some of our leaders don’t believe in freakin’ evolution. I’d rather have a congressman who has a harem of 10 Internet mistresses than one who thinks climate change is a left-wing conspiracy.
Tom: Why do you think there are no female politicians sexting or having affairs of any kind, as far as I can tell?
Slade: There are, what, 89 women out of 535 on the Hill? If only a handful of the 446 men have been caught, then it stands to reason that along the same percentages, some are sexting and having affairs, and one woman will be caught eventually. But, also, men and women cheat for entirely different reasons. Not a rule, but usually, men cheat because of their own personality traits and flaws, while women cheat because of satisfaction in a relationship. And the different reasons why men and women cheat might be the very reason women don’t get caught—maybe they’re just not doing one-night stands and Internet nonsense that leads people to getting caught. Maybe they’re cheating “safer” with more stable men who won’t sell them out to the National Enquirer or Andrew Breitbart. But some female politicians HAVE to be having affairs, right?
Tom: Let’s get one thing straight: whenever there is a male politician having an affair, there is obviously a woman involved (except if he is Republican or a priest, in which case it’s a boy). The woman is generally doing it for money or because of power (like Monica). Women in power don’t really have any use for men in power, though I suppose it’s possible that men and women in Congress could be getting it on with each other behind their spouses’ backs during that round the clock debt ceiling debacle. Married women do have affairs, obviously. But I agree they tend to be less stupid about it. And we don’t seem as willing to blast it across the front pages. We are obsessed with men behaving badly. So I wouldn’t hold your breath for a female politician to have an affair, get caught, and have it turn into a Tiger-level circus.
Slade: But how awesome would that first big national female politician affair scandal be?! I think it would absolutely be a circus if it had the right tawdry details, especially if it’s either a lesbian affair or if she bears a child from it. That’s front-page, above-the-fold stuff. But, yeah, men behaving badly is on another plateau altogether.
Tom: Do you think JFK’s sexual proclivities made him a better or worse president?
Slade: I don’t think it matters, unless that cheating spills over into the professional arena (like, did JFK go after the mob because they shared women?). Europe has proven you can be a sexual infidel and a decent politician. Heck, Bill Clinton proved that. Dude penetrated a young intern with a cigar tube and still presided over the creation of 22 million jobs! Anthony Weiner, in my Brooklyn-based opinion, did a great job. I was pissed at him when he resigned. Unless sex and sexual malfeasance is directly interfering with your performance, there’s no reason to think it makes you worse at your job. As for JFK, it was a different time. That guy would been Twitpic’n his junk fortnightly. Who’s to say it would have affected him negatively?
Tom: I think its okay to say that JFK, Clinton, and our current and future Presidents really should keep it in their pants. They are getting laid because we all elected them to do a job. And spending all their time juggling the deception involved in an affair or affairs from their wives (“I did not have sex with that woman”) is a huge distraction from the job of leading. Love him or hate him, it’s a nice break from the sex talk to have Obama in the White House at least appearing to be a faithful husband and father. And no I don’t think philandering European leaders have held up all that well over time, comparing their ability to sleep with teenagers to how they deal with the issues of the day. Last time I checked France, Italy, and the others are a huge mess.
Slade: We’re a mess, too, but I wouldn’t blame the decline of the American superpower on the small slice of philandering politicians. Clinton was distracted from leading because moralists in this country’s leadership and media distracted him. Again, I’m not saying our leaders should feel free to slut it up out there, but if they should prove to be human, and should they have an affair outside their marriages, as long as it isn’t distracting them from legislating, maybe we shouldn’t be so eager to distract them. (Shit, that was a convoluted thought.) I guess my point is, Clinton doesn’t deserve all the credit for the big boom, but he did preside over a really, really good period for this country, and his sex life has nothing to do with anything. I don’t even give a shit that it happened in the Oval Office. Should he have been faithful? Sure. But we don’t know anything about his marriage. And we shouldn’t presume to know anything. Maybe Hillary only liked to watch and Bill really needed release. Anyway, I 100000% agree about Obama. I think the best part of his presidency has been the stability of his family and the appearance of awesomeness and togetherness the Obamas seem to enjoy.