by Joyce Marcel
American Reporter Correspondent
March 27, 2008
MARRIAGE WITH BENEFITS
DUMMERSTON, Vt. - Sex, sex everywhere, and not a drop to drink. How did America become so schizophrenic with its toxic mix of Victorian morality and girls-gone-wild sleaze and licentiousness?
Or was I the only one screaming "Stop it!" two weeks ago when the headlines trumpeted "Spitzer Linked to Prostitution Ring?" Or when the hooker started getting more press than Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama combined? Or when, last week, we got: "New Governor admits to affairs" and, to compound the damage, "So did his wife"?
Every now and then, a good bout of schadenfreude - where you rejoice over someone else's unhappiness - is good for the soul. Spitzer was always something of a hard-edged moralizer, so congratulations to New York Magazine for putting a picture of him on the cover with an arrow reading "brains" pointing at his crotch.
But enough is enough, and these mea culpas - with accompanying press-gone-wild headlines - have gone way too far.
When Bill Clinton got caught diddling Monica Lewinsky in the White House, it wasn't breaking news that the guy was a sleaze. We even had a cute name for it; we called it his "zipper problem."
The Clinton-Lewinsky scandal may have been disheartening, but it wasn't important. After all, FDR ran the country while screwing around on Eleanor. I think Harry might have been faithful to Bess, but don't even mention JFK.
What was important? Clinton had turned the Democratic Party into his own personal fiefdom, thus guaranteeing that a Republican House and Senate would tie his hands for the next four years while he tried to appease them by giving away all our jobs to NAFTA and GATT. Now that was a scandal that needed covering!
I wasn't alone in my feelings back then. As the Republicans, greased with billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife's money, geared up for a hypocritical impeachment circus, thousands of us joined a movement named after the emphatic message we wanted to send Congress: "Move On!" It turned into a liberal citizen's lobbying group which grew to be a national player on the political scene.
What infuriates me most about Spitzer/Paterson/the other Paterson -and, to top it off, again with the McGreeveys? - is the moralistic self-righteousness that accompanies these stories.
Some right-wing dingbats blamed Spitzer's wife for not giving him more love at home. And the ever-declining Associated Press had the gall to examine Hillary Clinton's White House logs and run a story about her whereabouts on the day Bill was having fun with Monica and that cigar: "At home in the White House..." Over 11,000 pages of Hillary Clinton's records were released last week - records which might give us insight into just how much policy experience she managed to rack up as First Lady - and that's all the AP could find to write about?
So if Hillary had wrapped herself in Saran Wrap and met Bill at the door with a roast when he came home from work, he would never have sought sex elsewhere? And would she be so close to the presidency now?
The only good thing to come out of the Spitzer scandal was the start of a national discussion about prostitution. Unfortunately, the conversation quickly lost its nerve and skittered back to hide behind Victorian conventions.
Personally, I believe prostitution should be legalized. After all, it's called "the world's oldest profession" for a reason. If women choose to sell their bodies for sex to survive (or to afford a penthouse on Central Park West and to party with P. Diddy on a yacht in the Mediterranean), they have that right.
Prostitution is also an equal opportunity employer, and lots of handsome young men make a living selling their bodies to other men. I believe Hollywood madame Heidi Fleiss has been trying to set up a legal brothel in Nevada with male prostitutes and female clients. And there are probably female prostitutes who cater to a female clientele. Did I leave anyone out?
Prostitution has all sorts of ugly strings attached to it - kidnapping, child abuse, slavery, degradation and torture, just to name a few. But these are criminal offenses, not sexual offenses. If you remove the sex, then rape, abduction and abuse are still illegal. Go after the criminals and the poverty and leave the sex workers alone.
But the culture blathers on and on - Shocked! Shocked! - about sex and scandal. From Donna Reed and her frilly aprons to Britney and a slew of pop tarts writhing and pretending to have sex on stage, we are swamped with images of rigid, weird, packaged and fantasy sex.
But the kind of sex that comes with love, babies, giggling and affectionate cuddling is rarely depicted. Why? No dramatic tension? Too few marketing opportunities?
Most of us don't have washboard abs and 19" waistlines, or are doing our cuddling with 19-year-olds who have washboard abs and 19-inch waistlines. But I'm guessing that a majority of us are enjoying long-term, committed relationships which probably include rewarding sex.
That's why it was heartwarming yesterday to see, on the front page of my local paper, the Brattleboro Reformer, a story about a record bumper crop of babies being born over the weekend at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital. It reminded me that real sex has a real place in the real world.
Marriage with benefits - the culture could use a good dose of it right now.
A collection of AR Correspondent Joyce Marcel's columns, "A Thousand Words or Less," is available through joycemarcel.com. And write her at email@example.com.