Oscar Meyer’s Weiner

Over the course of the last few weeks, one American man’s penis has shot to global prominence and infamy and captivated conventional and electronic media. The puns are just too damn easy to ignore, aren’t they? Anthony Weiner resigned as a New York congressman over the furor created by his “sexting” scandal and vows to enter a treatment program for his apparent problem, but Weiner’s sexting of his weiner to various women and the subsequent discovery of his actions raises more interesting questions than whether his actions were ill-advised. The moral indignation shown in the media and public and the backlash Weiner’s weiner has generated is not unlike the Tiger Woods affair(s), which similarly fixated the public for weeks on end.

That Weinergate has exposed has exposed the poor situational judgement of Anthony Weiner goes without challenge, some would contest his resignation and ask why he should have to leave his job. More controversial is whether his actions constitute something requiring therapy, and what this says for our cultural mores that a person’s sexual kink is met with such a strong moral condemnation. Are we still so conservative of mind that a man sharing photographs of his wang is seen as something so deviant that professional intervention is necessary? In our hypersexualized culture, do we have the right to look down on him for this at all?

Set aside outrage that an elected official could do something so poorly thought out. Set aside outrage that a married man could do something so patently against the institution of marriage. What has Anthony Weiner done that is so wrong?

I don’t know that I would ever feel comfortable enough with anyone to take a picture of my engorged manhood and email it to them, but that’s just me. Other people have fewer qualms about such things, just as each of us has our particular fetish or kink, great or small. Human sexuality isn’t a set recipe, with each of us enjoying the same things or feeling comfortable with the same activities. The fact that Anthony Weiner derived some kind of sexual gratification or tittilation from sending explicit messages and photos to women is his thing, even if it’s not yours or mine. We may think it’s strange or perverse, but the truth is that acting according to what gratifies you is quite natural. To deprive those desires or act other than your nature is really the perverse thing, isn’t it?

So, if we allow that Weiner’s particular kink is acceptable, even if it isn’t something that we would do ourselves, we have to ask why he should need therapy. The act itself isn’t really a problem, unless there are peripheral things that make it one. Was he forcing these pictures on people that didn’t want them, harming them in some way? No. Did the pictures and messages themselves harm anyone? His wife, perhaps, but that’s really a matter of his marriage vows having been broken because he acted according to his nature, not his commitment. That’s not an issue for therapy, that’s an issue for introspection, marriage counselling or divorce litigation.

Nothing he did was wrong in the sense that it didn’t keep him from living a normal day to day life, didn’t harm anyone intrinsically and didn’t impede him from doing his job. I don’t see the need for therapy there.

If he had taken portraits of himself, instead of his nethers, this wouldn’t be as big an issue. It’s really the fact that Weiner’s weiner is at the center of the controversy that there’s such a controversy to begin with. Otherwise, you have explicit words being exchanged, which clearly is inappropriate for a married man, but nothing worthy of such a public outcry. Why do we care so much that it was pictures of his junk? Why are we still so ashamed of the naked form?

I can flip on the TV or open a newspaper and find advertisements and shows that border on the pornographic. Sex sells, as they like to say, and our culture is saturated with sexuality. I don’t think there’s anything the matter with this, by the way. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with the human body that should require we keep it locked up and wrapped up tight. Our trouble begins with what we do with these images, with our minds. We give meaning and importance to things that don’t have any sort of meaning or importance on their own. We can do far more sexual things with our hands than we can with a breast or a butt cheek, but I don’t see people donning gloves the moment they get out of bed. We simply choose to put more sexual emphasis on boobs and asses than we do hands.

I don’t have any issues with his resigning, simply because for a person in his office the embarassment that this has generated would impede him from doing his job properly. Nobody would take him seriously, and his opponents would hang this entire event over his head for the rest of his career. This is why I think it was a display of poor judgment, because he had to know that the risk he was taking was substantial.

He also lied, which was stupid. Claiming, at first, that his account had been hacked was retarded. He would have been better served to say “It was a stupid move on my part, but I did it, and now I need to speak with my wife and work through this to repair my marriage.” Done and done. He might have even been able to hang on to his career, though I doubt it. At least he would have made the actions themselves seem less salacious and illegitimate. Lying about it just made him look like he felt guilty and wrong. He was wrong for doing it, but not because it the actions themselves.

Larry Flynt has offered Anthony Weiner a job. The Hustler poon tycoon is even willing to pay him a substantial amount more than Weiner’s job as congressman offered. Which is not surprising. They did the same think with Franken-wang, John Bobbitt, after the much publicized circumstances of his maligned manhood culminated in an extra inch of scar tissue. His career in porn was short lived, but nobody could really say he was a nice guy, so I don’t think very many people feel bad for him.

This is what we’ve made of ourselves. Our human nakedness is relegated to dramatic impersonations of reality on TV, unspoken of exchanges behind closed doors, or circus sideshow controversies and pornographic thumbing of the nose to societal mores. Yet we all get pleasure from nakedness and sharing nakedness with others, we just don’t like admitting it unless it is under certain tight and controlled conditions.

The world isn’t ready for Weiner’s weiner. We aren’t ready to admit that some of us are just like him. Makes you wonder if being Oscar Meyer’s weiner was really such a sought after existence after all.

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2 comments so far

I’m so out of the loop, I hadn’t heard about this. But you have it bang on. Why aren’t you making money writing editorials for newspapers?

June 29th, 2011 at 4:33 am

I agree with Julie… and would like to add that I think the “we” needs to be nuanced. I don’t believe that folks north of the border get as worked up on issues around sex. In addition, juxtapose the furor around sex “scandals” with items tied to violence… not the same at all. Even in TV shows and movies the rating system treats violence as less of a concern for a restricted rating than sex.

August 6th, 2011 at 1:44 pm

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