Friday, 26 July 2013

Meanwhile, in America...

So in response to yesterday's nonsense about the Royal Baby, I got linked to two good articles. The first is some Serious Business from Laurie Penny about babies born to single mothers on the same day as "Baby Cambridge". She's got the opposite point to me on how people link these big happy symbolic events to negative underlying trends: she thinks everybody is actively trying to stop discussion on other babies, whereas I am cynical about the number of people who have conveniently discovered the existence of other babies but will conveniently forget about it once the royal birth is off the front pages. Anyway, those other babies are important all the time and the article is good, so go read it.

The other one is from America!

Yes, the United States of America have some news for us! I've definitely written about US issues before and I will do again without all this weird self-conscious fanfare but you know what, sometimes it's fun to pretend to have short-term memory loss and small-island syndrome. So let's collectively pretend that the US is novel and interesting and that things happen there that the rest of the world cares about. Like political sex scandals!

So let's appreciate this man. His name is Anthony Weiner. By German pronunciation standards that should be pronounced "whiner" not "weaner", but I'm pretty sure the sausage/penis slang is spelled that way in English? I'm not looking it up because hey, 30 blogs in 30 days! There's only so much fact checking you're getting here. But let's assume it's Anthony Sausage-Willy-Tee-Hee-Hee because that's funnier and I don't really put much faith in Americans' ability to pronounce "person from Vienna" as a German speaker would.

I looked him up on Google image search so you don't have to. Seriously, I don't recommend it.

ANYWAY. Anthony From-Vienna is a very naughty boy. He has been spending far too much of his time back in the day sexting young women instead of doing whatever it is Congressmen are supposed to do, like filibustering or sitting on committees or hanging out in the library of congress eating frozen yoghurt (it is possible I am getting confused with my own time in Washington D.C., which mostly involved library and yoghurt). This is convenient, because it might help us fully integrate "sexting" into the english language as a word we can say without sounding like a self-conscious Gran trying to get down with the kids. Seriously, try saying "sexting" in a natural way. Sex-ting. It can't be done.

Equally impossible to take seriously is the fact that Mr. Weiner has apparently been sending sexts (another impossible word) under the nom-de-plume of Carlos Danger. The great American public took a dim view of this when it first came to light, and Carlos resigned from congress, but now he's back and trying to be mayor of New York. As a symbol of how seriously electorates take mayors, he's got to be up there with Boris Johnson, except as far as we know Boris Johnson did not send pictures of Boris's johnson to random women before being elected ‒ preferring instead to become mayor first and then alienate us through some choice comments about women in education. And as a result, we (or rather America, and other people who have been paying attention to more international news than I have) get treated to voyeuristic nonsense about Weiner and his long-suffering wife (now long-suffering thanks to both having a sex addict husband and horrible media treatment)

Still don't care about tabloids.

Now, of course, two things happen. The first is that, like with the baby thing, having one interesting case automatically makes a lot of others intrinsically more interesting (thanks again Gail Collins!) The second is that after an acceptable period of voyeurism, we all get a bit tired and scared of the idea that so many people who run the world think like this, and find ways to either make it somebody else's fault or to dismiss it all as irrelevant to whatever these guys' jobs are. In a recent high profile case in China, public official Lei Zhengfu was secretly filmed having sex with prostitutes, and the tapes were then used and later published online (by a different man, where it's not clear how he got hold of the tapes; prostitution is illegal in China so this didn't turn out too well for the women involved). Whilst reporting on the case started off focusing on Lei and his corruption ‒ apparently the prostitutes were bought for him by clients who were unable to bribe him with money ‒ by the time the people involved were put on trial last month, the focus in the Chinese media swung firmly around to the "blackmail ring" of women involved in making the tapes, several of whom got long jail sentences (the man who published the video, to my knowledge, did not.) Though Lei himself got 13 years, media opinion on the case seemed to tire of having to speculate on why public officials are so awful, especially when a convenient (but incorrect) answer was apparently right in front of them. Why are men weak? Women. Always women.

It remains to be seen whether New York will join the "mayors with last names that are willy slang who are also a bit sexist and disturbing" club, and whether anybody will care about the sexist disturbing bits by the time the election rolls around. Whatever happens, I think it will take a few thousand more instances of the connections between sex and power for us to start caring for longer than it takes to tell a story. Even if the story IS about Carlos Danger.

(One last thing. Here a link that I found and need to share despite its irrelevance: Wikipedia's list of scandals with the -gate suffix. Thank you, Watergategate, for your contribution to the english language. You are almost as useful as "sexting".)

Three days. A weekend away planned. How will this first hurdle pan out for our blogging heroine? Tune in tomorrow for "Adrienne learns how to set up scheduled blog posts for Great Justice"!