Former congressman and current New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner apologized this week when it was revealed that, after his 2011 public apology and resignation from Congress caused by revelations that he’d sent pictures of his penis over the Internet to women he’d never met, he continued to send pictures of his penis over the Internet to women he’d never met.
I imagine this was tough on his supporters. I was surprised to find it tried my patience as well. I believe everything of a sexual nature that occurs between consenting adults is their business alone. Unless a politician’s sexual behaviour contradicts his political positions, I don’t care what he does or with whom, and marriages can involve all kinds of arrangements that aren’t ours to condemn or bless. So I’m about as easy going as it’s possible to be on these things.
Honestly, if I could feel certain that this was just something Mr. Weiner needed to do, I’d be the first – well, obviously not the very first – to say, “Let the man show his penis.”
I’d say, “Let him show it to everyone who cares to see it. Let him e-mail it, tweet, text it, post it on Facebook and on Instagram. Let him charge about, performing the duties of whatever office he’s able to attain, like some sort of political narwhal, if that’s what gives him sexual pleasure.”
But after this week I have to wonder if that is what gives him sexual pleasure, and my doubt causes my discomfort.
Many people have concluded, whether with disgust or glee, that Mr. Weiner’s copious production of penis art was instead motivated by vanity and hubris. “He finds his own penis erotic!” quite a few mocked, incredulously, as people often do when they encounter a sexual kink alien to their nature or their sympathies. There was satisfaction that this alleged vanity appeared to have resulted in his humiliation.
But human sexuality is a hall of mirrors, and things are seldom so straightforward. What if he doesn’t find his own penis erotic at all? What if too gangly, middle-aged Mr. Weiner, sending those pictures to strange young women was an act of self-humiliation? Given the remarkable risks he took (his last penis-picture recipient was a 22-year-old blogger with media aspirations), I wonder if getting caught and grovelling wasn’t the endgame here.
The small exposure and humiliation of those e-mailed penis pictures led to this larger humiliation and exposure, and perhaps that’s what actually gives Mr. Weiner pleasure. In which case we’re all involved a quasi-sexual relationship with Mr. Weiner now.
Let that sink in a minute: We just unwittingly played dominatrix to a man who’s co-opted the American political system as his own personal dungeon. And we did it for free.
Damn it, I watched the press conference. I might as well have spanked Mr. Weiner and called him a bad, bad boy. This isn’t a role in which I’m comfortable. I don’t want any part of this to be true. I want there to be some other reason for Mr. Weiner to keep showing his penis.
I hope Mr. Weiner sent those pictures out because he believes he has the greatest penis in the whole world. Hell, I want him actually to have the greatest penis in the whole world. I hope the reason he keeps showing it to people is that it’s so awesome that when all New Yorkers finally have seen it, they’ll replace the Statue of Liberty with its likeness and visitors will have the option of walking around in the head. Anything, really, if it means I wasn’t just manipulated into participating in his shame.
Maybe there’s a map to buried treasure on Mr. Weiner’s penis, or the key to deciphering Linear A. Maybe Mr. Weiner has the Rosetta Stone of penises and he’ll just have to keep showing it to people until someone recognizes its significance because, people, this is history.
“For pity’s sake, read my penis!” poor Mr. Weiner cries out to an all-too-easily titillated Internet, one that continually misses the point and just yells, “Penis!”
“My wife doesn’t understand my penis,” he goes on. “It’s in Greek. For the love of God, check it out. I’m fairly sure the second book of Aristotle’s Poetics is on there.”
Yes, this is what I choose to believe.