It’s a really bad time right now for people who like to send naked pictures of themselves to their nearest and dearest. Which, isn’t that most people? I would have thought it was most people, based on the fact that it seems like everyone loves nothing more these days than to take selfie after selfie. And what is a dick pic, after all, other than a below-the-belt selfie? Yet one of the most widely read and tweeted Weiner think pieces yesterday was Erin Gloria Ryan of Jezebel’s “Should You Send a Lady a Dick Pic” in which the answer was a resounding NO (unless, of course, it’s requested, and even then, Ryan says, you probably shouldn’t.) This is depressing. What would a world without dick pics be like? Must we go back to the days before smart phones and the ability to send each other perfectly filtered photos of our most private parts? Did Anthony Weiner have to ruin everything good and dirty in this world? Why is he the absolute worst?
So, I’ll stop with the rhetorical questions now, but I’m completely serious in my defense of sexting and my belief that it is totally possible to separate Carlos Danger and his dick pic-sending ways from Anthony Weiner and his mayoral candidacy. Here’s the thing about sexting—it’s really easy to make fun of other people’s photos because it’s really easy to laugh at the vulnerability of other people. Reading other people’s sexts is like watching really, really amateur porn, its very earnestness negates most (if not all) of the sexual appeal. And so you can’t help but laugh. It’s a natural response, like giggling when someone falls down. Only, with sexting, it’s like they’re falling down naked, so it’s a million times funnier.
The thing is, though, it really only reflects badly on those of us who are laughing, because what we’re laughing at are private moments. Other people’s sexts are not meant for public consumption, and when they become public, tempting as it is to mock them, we should at least keep in mind that what we’re laughing at is human nature. Which is funny and absurd, sure, but ultimately banal because it’s everywhere. Embarrassing sexual moments are anywhere you want to look for them. And so, it shouldn’t matter if Anthony Weiner calls himself Carlos Danger (which, apparently is an homage to Chuck Norris? ha!) and it shouldn’t matter if he writes things like “I like to whisper in your ear while I make love to you. That ok?” Although, “make love”? What? Who says that? Lame.
Anyway, it shouldn’t really matter that Wiener was caught doing these things, but it does. Why does it matter? Well, it’s not because Wiener has sexual proclivities that fall outside an idealized version of domestic marital bliss. That has never really mattered to voters. The list of politicians who have transgressed in this way and recovered is long and will only, as time goes on, get longer, not only because many politicians have the kind of narcissistic personality traits that seem to go hand-in-hand with serial adultery, but also because they’re, you know, human. And humans transgress. It’s what we do. If all that Anthony Weiner had done was cheat on his wife, it wouldn’t have to be a public scandal. Or, at least, it wouldn’t have to be a public scandal with such a long tail.