When a politician gets caught with his (or her) pants down, it is like the Olympics for sex educators. Weinergate is a sex educator's dream; it gives us the opportunity to talk (both publicly and privately) about sexuality, relationships, and how technology impacts our sexual health. They are subjects we speak about all the time, but we are not always provided with this large of a platform to work with.
Yes, I shared in the media frenzy. I appeared on CBS talking about sexting and cheating and the role that technology plays in our lives as well as the notion that emotional infidelity is sometimes worse than sexual infidelity.
And in my personal life, I talked about Weinergate, too. For my kids, who have been taught that genitals have names and that we shouldn't use slang terms, all the Weinergate media sent them over the edge. So I explained to them that when the news talked about Weiner, they were actually referring to someone's name and not a slang term for penis. (Though I suppose that's somewhat debatable.) Nonetheless, so be it. I'm a parent. That's what I am supposed to do. I'm supposed to talk to my children. I am supposed to answer their questions.
Yet it appears that Republican pundit, Mary Matalin, doesn't agree with me.
On Anderson Cooper 360 last week, Cooper asked Matalin if Weiner should step down. Part of her answer included the following statement:
Our kids do not need to be having to -- we don't want to be having to talk to our kids about sexting and phone sex and all that. Paul [Begala] has kids the same age as our girls. It's just not something that we want to be engaging in relative to talking about our political leaders today.
Oh, Mary? You're wrong. WE want to be having these conversations with our teens so that the media doesn't educate them. WE want to talk to our children so that politicians' indiscretions don't shape how our children see the world. And by the way, WE don't want our teens hearing that we would rather not talk to them! When you become a parent it is your responsibility to do the bulk of the educating. And the Weinergate scandal, or a teen pop star getting pregnant, or a celebrity releasing a sex tape, is a parenting gem. It is an amazing springboard for talking about sexuality and your values. It is far easier to initiate a conversation about sexting by using Anthony Weiner's situation, than turning to your teen and saying, "By the way honey, when's the last time you sexted with your friends?"
The idea that Matalin doesn't "want" to talk to her teen (who is 15 years old and certainly old enough to have friends who may have experimented with sexting) is not just ridiculous, it's downright irresponsible.