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.