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Joan Z. Shore Headshot

Sex in High Places

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No, I'm not talking about the Mile High Club, whose members boast of having had sex while flying 30,000 feet above the earth.

I'm talking about those prominent public figures whose hanky-panky hits the headlines every now and then, evoking gales of ridicule, outrage, bewilderment, and scorn.

My question arises, of course, following the Eliot Spitzer scandal in New York. You know the story: the governor was in office just over a year when it was discovered he was spending tens of thousands of dollars on the services of a 22-year old prostitute -- a high school drop-out, a former drug addict, and wannabe singer.

Putting aside the governor's monetary extravagance and weird sexuality, we may examine the fallout from this peccadillo. Politically, it was the end of his public career. Domestically, it might be the end of his marriage. But Silda, his 50-year old year wife, stood stoically by his side when he proferred his excuses and resignation. Why?

Why, whenever this sort of thing happens, does the little woman appear with the marital culprit, almost as contrite as he? Why does she submit herself to public exposure and humiliation? She already has it hard enough at home, just getting up in the morning and embracing her kids. What is to be saved from her husband's career, or her marriage, from this sham show of "solidarity"?

We have never, ever, had the reverse situation: a wife who has been cheating on her husband, and he stands by her as the disclosure is made public. Why not? Are women more clever about their affairs, or are they more faithful to begin with? Or is it simply that they are never in such high public office that such infidelities are deemed important?

Maybe it;s a combination of all three. Still, I'd like to see it happen: an outstanding, well-known female who is discovered to have a boy-toy, and as she tearfully faces the media, her husband is standing by her side, smiling bravely, the ever-faithful cuckold.

Now that would make news!

Meanwhile, I am also wondering why Americans make such a fuss over sexual conduct. Bill Clinton was impeached because he lied about it. New York Republicans threatened to impeach Spitzer if he didn't resign. But impeachment in the American Constitution is based on serious public wrongdoing: treason, for example. Certainly not on mistresses or call girls. Otherwise, we could have impeached a dozen or more presidents, from Jefferson to Eisenhower to FDR to Kennedy. (And it happens, I say in all amazement, that our sexiest presidents were probably our best ones. Lincoln was an exception.....but who knows? Carter doesn't count, in any case, because he only had "lust" in his heart.)

So let us now pray that Silda gets a whopping good settlement, that Elliot gets a steady job as a court stenographer, and that our next sex scandal involves a woman.