When news of Anthony Weiner’s “sexting” (as the media prefers to call it) habit first came out a few years ago, most people were, let’s be honest, thrilled. The American public loves nothing more than titillating “sex scandals,” regardless of how said “scandals” impact those involved — namely, women.
Famous men caught buying sex and hanging out in strip clubs are “bad boys” and cheaters, not exploitative predators. Men like Weiner who are caught sending sexually explicit messages and photos to women who are not their wives are seen as immoral by what might be considered conservative types, but as little more than embarrassing and naughty to liberals. (Sex-positive even! Who are we to repress men’s sexual urges!)
We’ve come to a point where criticizing anything sex-related is a no-no, so long as there is “consent.” In July 2013, The Rumpus published an article claiming Weiner was being “slut-shamed” due to what the writer, Roz Galtz, considered to be little more than “marital infidelity.” I mean, really, all he did was send “sexy texts to adult women who also sent sexy texts to him.”
While Weiner was roundly mocked, liberals are far too cool to seriously criticize a man for repeatedly contacting much younger women by sending them dick pics (also known as “sexual harassment!”) — boys will be boys, amirite?
But considering what this kind of behaviour is connected to, perhaps it’s time we stop treating men’s sexual entitlement as a dirty joke and start taking it seriously.
In 2011, it was discovered that Weiner sent a 21-year-old woman a photo of his erect penis (under boxers). He was 46 at the time. He also admitted to sending Twitter messages to a 17-year-old girl, though he claims the messages “were neither explicit nor indecent.” In 2013, Weiner had returned to politics, but had never stopped “sexting” and The Dirty published evidence of more sexually explicit photos, this time sent by Weiner to a 22-year-old. It was revealed, throughout these “scandals,” that Weiner had been engaging with many more women in this way. Last month, his wife Huma Abedin finally left him after another round of sexually explicit photos were published (this time he was exchanging photos with a 40-year-old woman — how mature!). And what now? Well, apparently, Mr. Weiner was sending porny messages to a 15-year-old, engaging her in “rape fantasies” and asking her to dress up in “schoolgirl outfits.”
While after numerous scandals, many finally decided that Weiner was a loser and a sleezebag, it’s only now that liberals are labeling him a predator. Prior to this incident, the main problem with Anthony Weiner’s behaviour was that it was embarrassing and disrespectful to his wife. Also, maybe he is just sick! With sex addiction! Pitiable, in fact. But let’s be honest — Anthony Weiner’s behaviour isn’t really that different from the behaviour of a large majority of dudes who everyone considers to be quite normal. I’m talking, of course, about porn users.
If it’s ok for men to pay cam girls regularly, what’s the problem with Weiner’s behaviour? It’s literally the same thing, except money is being exchanged. Interactive porn is pretty goddamn routine at this point in the internet age. At any given moment, a man can send off dickpics to a woman online and ask her to engage his rape or schoolgirl fantasies with him. Liberal society is perfectly ok with this.
Now, let’s look at the way Weiner was talking to this 15-year-old: “I would bust that tight p***y so hard and so often that you would leak and limp for a week,” he texted. He sent her porn videos and Skyped with her, asking her to take her clothes off for him and to masturbate for him over video chat. Weiner asked the girl to “dress up in plaid skirts and pretend he was her school teacher.” She told the Daily Mail:
“He had some rape fantasies. It would just be him showing up at my house when my dad was out of town… And just start undressing me, being forceful, asking me if I want to be dominated, strange questions.”
While Weiner “sexted” with adult women as well as girls, in what many consider to be an excessive way, I really don’t see much difference between his behaviour and the behaviour of men who watch porn or visit cam girls regularly. As liberals would say, everyone was “consenting.” Was Weiner’s behaviour only wrong because he is a politician? Or because he is a father? Because he was married? Because the public seems to accept the notion that all men watch porn, and that this is harmless, even if the man is a politician, a father, or married.
Porn culture teaches men that Weiner’s behaviour is harmless. These are “just fantasies,” men are told, over and over again. Porn sexualizes teenage girls. Cam girls routinely play the role of “schoolgirl” and accommodate men’s rape and incest fantasies. The same violent “bust that tight pussy” language used by Weiner is plucked directly from porn and the notion that women and girls should perform for men over the internet, so those men can jack off, has been fully normalized in our culture.
So tell me: what is it that has horrified liberals so? How on earth can we feign surprise and disgust that men do the very thing we have said is normal and harmless, over and over again? We breed entitlement in men, then are shocked when they follow through.
We need to stop. We need to stop pretending that men’s “schoolgirl fantasies” are normal and harmless. We need to stop telling men that women and girls are masturbatory tools. We need to stop calling misogynist, violent language “just a fantasy” because that language is connected to sex. We need to stop separating male entitlement from men’s predatory behaviour. Porn culture is a problem and it’s time for liberals to admit it.
Founder & Editor
Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.