Money changes everything, by Martha Thomases
So, what did your governor do this week?
Mine, Eliot Spitzer, got caught spending thousands of dollars to have sex with women to whom he was not married. In particular, he paid over $4000 an hour for one woman named “Kristen,” who was described as being five feet, five inches tall, brunette, and 105 pounds, a size two. His wife, seen standing stoically next to him at his press conference, is also a petite, attractive woman (although the news stories have not included her height nor her weight).
There have been a lot of sex scandals in politics lately. The scenario is predictable and satisfying: a man insists that American society is based on the sanctity of the family, and all threats (usually meaning allowing gays to marry and women to control their own bodies) must be overcome. Then he gets caught with a hooker while wearing diapers, or with an under-age boy, or moving his feet to some crazy rhythm in a men’s room. There’s a defiant and/or repentant press conference, with the previously mentioned stoic wife, and he slinks away, hoping never to be noticed again.
Our governor was not quite to that mold. Like McGreevy from neighboring New Jersey, he was not a “family values” scold. No, Spitzer was a crusader, smiting the greedy criminals who threatened the good people of Gotham, I mean, New York State. As Attorney General, he went after white-collar criminals with the same zeal as a superhero. Among his targets were escort services, such as the one he used to arrange for his liaison with “Kristen.” That’s a long way to go to get the satisfaction from his hypocrisy, but we’ll take what we can get.
Why did Spitzer pay for sex? Aren’t powerful men supposed to be sexy, no matter what they look like? Isn’t that what they said about men who look like toads (Donald Trump, Henry Kissinger, Rudy Giuliani) to explain why hot women hang with them? Charlie Sheen said the advantage to paying was that, when the sex was over, the woman would leave. Maybe that’s true if you’re Charlie Sheen, but, it seems to me the one-night-stand has been around long enough to have its own protocols and etiquette.
It seems to me that a lot of the problem here is the product of our Puritan heritage and the infusion of religion (and, hence, the State) into sex. Sex is a biological urge, much like hunger, but unless you’re a devout Jew, Muslim or Hindu, you probably feel empowered to make your own choices about what to eat, and with whom. We each have personal preferences about what kinds of food we like, and how much, and when we want to eat, and how eager we are to try something new and different. Most of us have favorite dishes for special occasions, and other foods we eat habitually, almost every day.
What we don’t have is a system of morality that dictates with whom we can enjoy our food. Having a meal with someone you love might be the best possible experience, but you aren’t ashamed if you are seen at a restaurant with a friend, or even a group of friends. Sometimes, we invite friends over to share food. Sometimes, we’re hungry and hurried and have a quick take-out meal at our desk.
But sex is different. Sex is only supposed to be a communion of souls between two people (of different genders) who have made spiritual and legal commitments to each other. If we treated food the same way we treated sex, if you were a fan of barbecue and your spouse is a vegetarian, you’re out of luck.
Would you pay someone to have dinner with you? Would you hire a lawyer if your spouse had lunch with a friend? Would you have to confess to your religious leader about the bag of M&Ms you keep in your desk drawer for an afternoon snack?
It’s capitalism and patriarchy that makes sex different from hunger. Because sex can produce children, and children can inherit property, Church and State stick their nose in your business. Marriage and family are too complicated, too difficult, and too personal to survive this kind of intrusiveness for long. Hence, the sex business.
What does this have to do with comics? Um, how much do you think Lex Luthor spends on hookers?
Martha Thomases, Media Goddess of ComicMix, feels like having a little snack.