Swimming in a Sea of Prudish Absurdity

I typically don’t have time to watch the news after work.  By the time I finish exercising and then making our supper, the evening news is over, and I’m fast asleep before the news comes on again at 11pm.  However, the universe aligned itself on Wednesday night such that I actually had time to catch the evening news.  We grabbed our supper, a glass a wine and headed upstairs to my office where the television is kept.  Holy wow, what a difference a week makes.  When did we go from talking about weighty issues such as the election, economy, climate change, equality, and education to what has been referred to as, “the Pentagon Place?”  The CIA director’s extra-marital affair and the web of players involved in the unfolding drama were THE hot news topic.  Men in very high places have fallen, and like Humpty Dumpty, won’t be able to be put back together again.  It’s a tabloid-esque scandal that includes infidelity, thousands of pages of “flirtatious” emails by a four star general, and internet photos of a shirtless FBI agent.  Seriously?

Two things strike me as absurd about this whole drama.  First, why on earth with all the serious issues that we face in this country and around the world is an extra marital affair by the CIA director news of such magnitude that it’s cause for his resignation?  I get that it’s a national security matter when the person who holds the strings to the purse that contains our country’s secrets has a secret of his own to keep.  One of the excuses used to prevent gays and lesbians from serving in the military before the repeal of DADT was that we were security threats.  Because of the negative stigma attached to being gay or lesbian (which thankfully, is diminishing around the country) there was a fear that we could be black-mailed in order to keep our “secret.”  Thankfully, the country has come to its senses on that issue.  Being gay or lesbian is not a dirty little secret.  It’s simply a fact of life for some of us that in no way impairs our ability to be good members of the military.  Notwithstanding all the harm to the CIA director’s family that may arise out of his infidelity, I don’t believe for a second that it would in any way interfere with his ability to do his job if we didn’t make such a big deal out of it.

As for infidelity, I’m not condoning it, but enough already with the high stakes drama of it bringing down a president and now the CIA director.  We need to just grow up and stop being so bogusly prudish in our view of ourselves.  The collective “we” makes sex into this taboo thing that is considered bad unless it fits within the confines of a very narrow view of what is acceptable.  The delusion we cling to is one in which sex only happens between a married man and woman missionary style.  Please, give it up already.  Make no mistake, even our so-called religious leaders are coloring way outside the lines of the rules they prescribe for the rest of us.  We’re a country obsessed with sex because we spend so much time trying to repress it.  The reality is that we’re human.  Sex is as natural as breathing, eating and sleeping.  And, we really like it.  Just look at the success of the book “Fifty Shades of Gray” for evidence of that.

I visited Copenhagen a number of years ago.  I remember standing in the check-out line of a grocery store and being shocked by magazine covers with naked bodies on them.  My prudish American attitude was to look away.  Not because I didn’t want to look, but because it wasn’t “right” to look.  Phew, I’m glad I got over that ridiculous lie.  There are few things in this world as beautiful as a woman’s body.  Why wouldn’t I want to look?  As for sex, it’s a pleasure to be grateful for when it happens between consenting adults.  What a liberating experience to engage in it without the confines of someone else’s definition of “right” and “wrong.”  Only my spouse and I get to have say about what goes on in our bedroom.  The same should be for the CIA director as well.  It’s none of our business what he does behind closed doors so long as it’s not a crime.

To be clear, I’m not talking about society looking the other way when it comes to sex in the context of rape or manipulation.  I wouldn’t call those things “sex” anyway.  They’re crimes that we have a stake in and responsibility to prevent.  But, sex in the context of infidelity, even for all the harm it may cause within a family, is still not a crime.  Moreover, if it leads to divorce, there are laws in place to protect the family unit.  That should be our only business in the matter.

Maybe if we stopped being so prudish and paternalistic about sex, less bad stuff would happen and we’d have a much healthier view of it, however it happens between consenting adults.  I personally don’t think our obsession with the CIA director’s affair is healthy, especially when it’s the cause of his resignation and all we can talk about.  Some paparazzi style photographer went to a lot of silly effort to get the photo of the CIA director’s mistress holding a glass of wine while hiding out at her brother’s house.  Thousands of people in NJ and NY are still without homes or power after Hurricane Sandy and this photo is news?

While I suspect that the CIA director’s wife has been hurt by this, it shouldn’t be any of our business.  Human relationships are complicated and I don’t think politics and social mores should be meddling in his bedroom any more than the bedrooms of gays and lesbians.  If we didn’t make it our business, it wouldn’t be a national security issue and the director would still be running the CIA.  I suspect that the real security issue is that while we’re spending all of our time trying to further investigate his affair, we’re not paying attention to the real threats that are out there.  When are we going to stop being our own worst ridiculous enemy?

The second absurdity in all of this is how shockingly careless some of the players in this whole drama have been.  They’re players who should know better than any of us how dangerous it is to put damning things such as topless photos of one’s self into the bottomless pit of the internet.  And wow, 30,000 pages of emails in two years.  When did the four star general have time to do his job?

After watching the news Wednesday night, it sure felt like we were swimming in a sea of prudish absurdity.  I sincerely hope that the next time I turn on the news we’re back to talking about stuff that actually matters.  There are too many important things that demand our attention.  We ignore them at our peril.  Peace.

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11 thoughts on “Swimming in a Sea of Prudish Absurdity

  1. Very well put. This seems like a major distraction from the real issues before our country and more like voyeurism. While I don’t condone adultery, this is a private matter. Why isn’t someone more upset about the number of women in our armed services who are harassed. That is a real problem in the military, not the affair of an ex-general. Thanks, as always, for the thoughtful blog.

  2. (***Posted on FB as well. Never quite sure where to post***)
    OK, so, let me get this straight – which is not a position to which I aspire… The CIA General had a fling with a (not very qualified) adoring biographer. She got unprecedented access – ahem – to the inner workings of Petraeus and his commanding theories and practice. Other authors/journalists have been embedded with military activities, but apparently she took that to full advantage and definition. Then there is the other-other-woman who brought some of these things to light invoking cyber mail stalking and trying to use some bogus diplomatic considerations. And another General putting his poor judgment in print via email other kinds of endorsements and defenses comes to light via this Tampa pseudo-socialite wannabe. And not to forget the shirtless ticked- off FBI guy who it seems had an axe or some such to grind.
    Are we in junior high school??? Good Gorgonzola, cheese on a cracker, what do I care? Truly, none of my business. So many other stories and concerns that journalists might cover, and we should pay attention to. Thanks as always for your insights and reflections, Bev, and – how the heck did we get so intrigued with sex and yet so uncomfortable about it?

    • You rock, Sheila! You have had me laughing so many times today. Your descriptions and questions perfectly frame the absurdity of it all. Thanks for being such a wise, true and funny friend. Have a great weekend. Thanks so much for weighing in with your insights which are right on target.

      • I really enjoy your blogs, Bev – you always offer food for thought (and food for better health!). On Rock this weekend, you!

  3. Hey Bev, thanks for another great blog. For me its not so much his affair which is his and his wife’s problem but his obvious lack of judgement in choosing a woman with a personality disorder for a girlfriend. Shouldn’t the Director of the CIA be a better judge of someone’s mental health? This guy may be a whiz-kid on the battle field but he has absolutely no emotional intelligence. Its like a Cohen (not sure of the spelling) Brothers movie has come to life!

  4. Living on the other side of the Pond, news reports are limited, and one doesn’t get a really good understanding from them or even the news reports from the US I get via Facebook, are not generally as clear and understandable as your Prudish Absurdity, Bev.
    The comments, further reinforce and brings it to fore, I also suspect it was your President’s reason for accepting the resignation. It is all about judgment. Thank the Goddess, we can come to Blog’s and comments like this to make some sense of the World, Thanks you keep bring magic into my life. Eileen

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