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Sunday, August 01 2021 @ 05:13 AM CDT

SexCult: Confederacy of Sexual Dunces

Whited Sepulchers

by Liz Langley

Political sex scandals seem to be a matter of course these days — is anybody surprised anymore when the news announces yet another politician has cheated on his spouse? This begs the question: Why did they even get married in the first place?

Say there is a job you’d really like to have, one that will get you money, recognition and even allow you to further your ideals — it’s something you were made for. You understand the people in charge of it and what they expect of you. One thing they expect is for you to be a zealous vegan.

You’re not a zealous vegan. In fact, in your wilder years you’d have put anything in your mouth. At some point, though, you know, most people put down the McNuggets and follow a long-accepted path of limitation. You’ve tried it and even succeeded for certain periods, but you know deep down you’re an omnivore. Just when you think you’ve really started to prefer Boca Burgers you get a whiff of barbecued pork and you don’t just fall off the wagon, you leap off it like it’s on fire. You think it’s human nature to be omnivorous but you keep mum about that: you don’t want to draw attention to your appetites. It’s tough, though: meat is easy to get and temptation is everywhere.

But dammit, you’re going to do this vegan thing. Everyone does it. You want to do it. You promise to forsake animal products and cleave only unto vegetable matter for the rest of your life, which suddenly seems really long. Still, you feel content — right with the world. And if push comes to shove, you know you can cheat.

You end up being a great success... even a role model for eating clean. The world is your tofu oyster. You’ve arrived.

Until the day some little shit takes a picture of you at the KFC drive thru with a breast in your hand and a drumstick hanging out of your puss. A box of Extra Krispy lolls open in lewd, grotesque manner on the passenger seat. Once this image hits the Internet more follow... that fish fry, that 2 a.m. bratwurst stand, your kinky steak tartare habit. Even vegans pounce when there’s blood in the water. You’re clucked.

You lie out of self-preservational instinct, but soon you own up. You apologize to your colleagues, your family, the chickens you exploited. You promise to get treatment but privately you a desire for variety really pathological? Some people are happy omnivores... but they’re more maverick than you. The culture you want to succeed in prefers denial of the had to hide it. Didn’t you?

This hypothetical trap is very like the one that’s snared so many public figures in sex scandals in recent years. The confederacy of dunces...Weiner, Vitter, Craig, Edwards, on and on... just makes me wonder: why do some people bother getting married in the first place? Of course sometimes relationships begin well and change over a long period, but sometimes the desire is there from the start. If you know you’re Wyle E. Coyote why swear off the poultry?

Marriage, of course, is expected — we fetishize it to the tune of $70 billion a year. That’s a lot of social pressure but come on — if you’re of marrying age you’re old enough know your own our nature. Sure, you can hide your hungers instead of owning them — as long as you’re aware that your pysche is Pet Semetary and whatever you bury there will pop up hungrier and stinkier than before...and man-o-Manischewtiz, will you wish we had properly attended it in the first place. If you know you can’t be faithful — and your partner isn’t up for clauses — maybe you shouldn’t sign a marital contract.

Singleness, serial relationships and polyamory are all perfectly legitimate ways not to end up labeled a cheat, but are we ready for anything like that? Bella DePaulo, author of Singlism: What It Is, Why It Matters and How To Stop It is doubtful about singles getting taken seriously in such a forum.

“Singlism is rampant in American politics!” she says in an email interview. “There are innuendos about homosexuality ‘as if that should matter,’ plus with ‘family values’ being the rhetorical rage, those of us who aren’t in a family are dismissed, despite married households being a minority for the first time.

So what if we did get ourselves a politician who unmarried households being a majority for the first time.

“Candidates tell us that they are going to stand up for “working families.” Why don’t they just stand up for workers?”

Interestingly though, DePaulo points out how the rhetoric backfired on Mary Fallin, who ran for governor in Oklahoma in 2008, and used her wife-and-mother status as a qualification for office. In a debate the audience actually groaned at the idea (and DePaulo blogged about the reaction.)

Between all this, and being fed up with scandal, could we be ready for a candidate who could say “I have an open marriage.... can’t cheat with your cards on the table?” Would we give that kind of honesty the time of day?

I’d wish we were, but I doubt it. Like anyone in a bad relationship pattern we’ll bitch about the lies but we’ll still pick a liar over someone who owns their appetites without having to get “caught” having them.

The show will go on. No one put it better than Garrison Keillor in Lake Wobegone Summer 1956 describing all the men in town who got caught in adultery:

“One after another caught at the old game like a weasel in the moonlight, held up, dangling from the leg trap, and people cry italic|Shame! Shame!] and among the shamers is a man thinking “Lucky for me that I covered my tracks. Nobody’ll ever fine me out.” And they sniff him out two weeks later, and tar and feather him and ride him around on a rail, and of the men carrying the rail one thinks “Good I burned those letters when I did.” Two weeks later they fund two unburnt letters addressed to Angel Eyes....”

This goes on for a whole page, wrapping up with “And so it goes. One after another. Each one dumber than the one ahead of him in the parade.”

And we all love a parade. But man, am I sick of the elephantine piles of tradition that insist that one size fits all and the line of clowns who always step in it.

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