The Chaste Ways of Female Politicians (Article)
- Women in office don’t dare to get themselves into tawdry situations—but that could be changing
By HANNA ROSIN
Fifty years into the sexual revolution, why is it that female politicians don’t get embroiled in tawdry scandals nearly as much as their male peers do?
… Sue Myrick, running for re-election as mayor of Charlotte, N.C., confessed to a relationship with her husband while he was married to another woman (and managed to win anyway). State Rep. Katherine Bryson of Utah was caught with a lover on a surveillance camera and opted not to seek re-election.
… Women, by contrast, are said to be more altruistic and collaborative, seeking power so that they can share it with others. Plus men find women with power threatening, which leaves them with fewer options.
There might be some truth to all this, but it isn’t enough to explain something so complex as transgression and desire, especially when gender roles are changing so rapidly. I imagine that the reason powerful women have fewer affairs is because they don’t dare to, not yet.
… Women in high positions are a relatively new phenomenon.
…. Today it is still hard to imagine a middle-aged married woman bouncing back from a full-fledged scandal, though men do it all the time. When Nikki Haley, now governor of South Carolina, ran for office in 2010, two men swore publicly they’d had affairs with her. But enough voters decided not to believe them, which was the only way Gov. Haley could win the race.
Will it always be so? Not if we read the latest signs. According to the General Social Survey, younger women are cheating on their spouses almost as much as men: About 20% of men and 15% of women under 35 say they have ever been unfaithful. Women, like men, now spend late hours at the office and travel for business; they can text or email themselves into an intimate corner just as easily as men can.
-—Ms. Rosin is the author of “The End of Men and the Rise of Women,” out in paperback this fall.
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