Through the looking glass: Sex sells

If you want to catch the attention of society, either through moral indignation or salacious fascination, make your story about sex. The most bromidic of snooze fests can suddenly be made scandalously titillating by throwing in a little gratuitous sex. Case in point: Mike Allen, the former MLA for Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo. The only thing that put Mike Allen, the MLA, ahead of Mike Allen, the White House correspondent for Politico, in Google popularity, was the MLA’s new claim to fame of soliciting a prostitute. As a celebrity, he was relatively unknown until his sudden launch to infamy.  Had he been arrested for unpaid parking tickets I suspect he would still be relatively low on the Google pole.

Short of a scant part of the population who, for varying purposes, practice celibacy, every species thrives on the very necessary act of coitus. If everyone’s doing it, why is it such a big deal? Why do we get so wound up over something we all do at home, in tents, elevators, car washes or movie theaters? And those are just a few of the places my friends have told me about.

I understand he broke the law. I get it. He needs to be held accountable. But why the sudden disconnect from society? It’s like anyone who gets caught in a somewhat humiliating presentation has been caught on sticky flypaper and we’re all afraid that if we get too close we’ll get caught, too. Guilt by association. So if we verbally berate the behaviour, it will somehow make us seem more innocent? Our moral compass firmly intact we sleep soundly with the notion that we are somehow at a higher societal level than those who would commit such atrocities.

After a few hours of perusing the Internet, I found that statistics range from 22% to over 70% of married people who stray in their marriages. And consistently 70% or more of the cheating spouses report their spouses know nothing about it. If our moral compass is so high, how can this be possible? According to men usually cheat with women they know citing that more than 60% of affairs begin in the workplace, dispelling the theory that men pick up random strangers. Doesn’t that speak to a slightly higher moral standing than just scratching an itch? If the guy typically wants to engage with someone he knows, who is familiar and trusted, doesn’t that speak to a deeper fulfillment?

Another, more interesting, “fact” I learned is that men cheat to save their marriages.  Apparently when the problems become too insurmountable for men to cope, about 60% of them will find their fulfillment elsewhere. This outside fulfillment allows them to cope with what they deem to be an inadequately fulfilling relationship, and allows them to avoid the problems at home.  Some women felt that their marriages were the best they’d ever been during the time of the affairs and after.

Not to paint men alone in a harsh light, women are continually rising in the arena of infidelity. For various reasons, women will seek emotional fulfillment, which can be a lot more destructive to the survival of the marriage. A woman needs to know she is still desirable and sexy, that she can elicit the kind of desire that will fulfill an emotional need that her partner is no longer fulfilling.

So if infidelity is so rampant and sexual gratification is so widely accommodated, how is it that the minute it’s publicized, we profess to be horrified and repulsed. Allison Redford publicly expressed her disgust with Mike Allen and his behavior. “I was shocked and disappointed to see the conduct. It’s not at all the standard of conduct I would expect from anyone in our caucus.” She went on to say, “He will live with the consequences of his decisions.” More accurately, he will live with the consequence of public scrutiny.  Yes, I realize he broke the law in Minnesota. Given that prostitution is legal in Canada, is it really fair to crucify the man for engaging in something that has been a common practice since the dawn of sex? I agree that he should have to ‘pay the piper’ so to speak, but in Minnesota!? Here, what he did wasn’t wrong according to the law. He didn’t commit adultery as he wasn’t married, and he even went so far as to pay back costs associated with the trip. Couple that with whatever penance he will have to endure legally and I think ’nuff said. Why did he have to lose his career over it?

I get that public figures are held to a higher standard, though I’m just not sure I agree they should be. They are human, after all. They don’t place their emotional needs in a jar when they sign on the dotted line. Folks get pretty excited when someone displays what society deems a lack of self-control. Again, I’d say humanity has to enter in. If all parties are willing and capable of consent, then how can we place a consequence on that?  Don’t we have bigger issues to sort than who’s having sex with whom? Are the polar bears safe from extinction? Have the polar ice caps begun to freeze up again? Has the temperature of the earth dropped below dangerous levels yet? Oh, right, sexual exploits are MUCH more interesting. I forgot. Hey don’t worry about recycling paper, the sexual habits of caucus are much more important.


Jennifer Barry is a writer for Spectator Tribune.

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