Sunday, November 26, 2017

The Congressional Sex Trade

Angelo Codevilla has a unique perspective on the current rash of sexual harassment accusations. Having worked for years on the Senate staff he was well place to witness the trade… in sex for power. And he points out that this trade took place because many female staffers found powerful men to be attractive. In some cases they happily offered to trade their intimacy for power. 

Under the circumstances any man who tried to force an unwilling woman to do his bidding was, by definition, a loser. Or, has to be as unattractive as Harvey Weinstein.

In the current frenzy this perspective is often elided. So, here’s Codevilla:

During my eight years on the Senate staff, sex was a currency for renting rungs on ladders to power. Uninvolved and with a hygroscopic shoulder, I listened to accounts of the trade, in which some one-third of senators, male senior staff, and corresponding numbers of females seemed to be involved. I write “trade,” because not once did I hear of anyone forcing his attention. Given what seemed an endless supply of the willing, anyone who might feel compelled to do that would have been a loser otherwise unfit for survival in that demanding environment.

Senior female staffers were far more open than secretaries in describing their conquests of places up the ladder, especially of senators. There was some reticence only in talking about “relationships” with such as John Tower (R-Texas) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.) because they were the easiest, and had so many. The prize, of course, was Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.)—rooster over a veritable hen house that was, almost literally, a “chick magnet.” Access to power, or status, or the appearance thereof was on one side, sex on the other. Innocence was the one quality entirely absent on all sides….

In the basic bargain, the female proposes. The power holder has the prerogative to say “no,” or just to do nothing. By a lesser token, wealthy men need not offer cash to have female attention showered on them. Money is silver currency. Power is gold. A few, occasionally, get impatient and grab. But taking egregious behavior as the norm of the relationship between power and sex willfully disregards reality. Banish the grabbing, and the fundamental reality remains unchanged.

1 comment:

Ares Olympus said...

Its a useful perspective to remember, and probably as a warning to anyone who enters the arena of power. And male stupidity can explain a lot, selling their integrity far too cheaply. And outside of the feedlot of ambition, we know women spies are not picked just for their intelligence. As best I can tell asexual Ralph Nader was the only almost-insider who resisted and said "no" when the car companies tried to lure him in some compromising photos.

In contrast this opinion piece completely ignores the power-sex connection, except to see men take advantage of it, but offers some good advice at the end.
let’s start with a basic understanding that masculinity is a subject worth thinking about. That alone would be an immense step forward. If you want to be a civilized man, you have to consider what you are. Pretending to be something else, some fiction you would prefer to be, cannot help. It is not morality but culture — accepting our monstrosity, reckoning with it — that can save us. If anything can.