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May 21, 2011

Two Sex-Scandals: Focusing in on the Problem

Given the increasing hullaballoo surrounding this week’s two sex-scandal stories, this image of Schwarzenegger and soon-to-be ex-wife, Maria Shriver, strikes me as paradigmatic of how these scenarios seem to play out: focus in on brooding, somber (occasionally apologetic) male politician; blurry, out-of-focus female victim in the foreground.  While the impetus behind these stories is supposedly exposing  the men that “done them wrong,” it’s often the women who suffer most from the media backlash.

This New York Times article from Wednesday makes the point well, both the Schwarzenegger scandal and the Strauss-Kahn case “raise similar questions about imbalances of power” when it comes to sexual indiscretion and assault.  With teams of high-powered attorneys and publicists at their disposal, both men have the means to launch vigorous counterattacks, circulating rumors and exposing the women’s lives to excrutiating public scrutiny.

It’s unsurprising that women are hesitant to come forward regarding sexual assault when such a media circus is bound to ensue, and/or when it doesn’t seem to have much impact.  As Michael’s post earlier this week points out, Schwarzenegger’s infidelity and aggressive sexuality are nothing new – the man won the gubernatorial race despite exposés regarding his mistreatment of women by both the LA Times and Premiere Magazine.  The only real news this time is living, breathing, incontrovertible evidence.

With known-philanderer (and consequent hypocrite) Newt Gingrich eying the White House, what become increasingly clear are the cultural denial and double-standards we hold regarding men in positions of power.

–Cate Blouke

(photo 1: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello. photo 2: Jonathan Alcorn for The New York Times. caption: In California on Wednesday, Mildred Patricia Baena had some presumably unwanted visitors outside her home.)

  • Mmer

    What is common with many of these photos of women caught up in these sex scandels is that the women always appear to be in the background while the main media story swirls around the man. In this photo, the blurring of Ms. Shriver puts her in the same type of background with the focus on the man. The other thing is the face of Mr. Schwarzenegger appearing to glare at his wife in a creepy, controlling way. 

    As an aside, I think the media focus on this trash just feeds our society’s interest in it. Everyday on every media outlet is some additional story about Mr. Schwarzenegger or Mr. Strauss-Kahn. It reminds me of walking through the check-out ot the local grocery store with all the tabloids. Why do we have to be inundated with these stories?

  • Anonymous

    Europeans have wondered for years why we make such a big deal out of male politicians’ philandering. Difference between how you feel about it and what you say about it. Including saying blatantly hypocritical things about it.

    Incidentally, I was thinking about how Newt Gingrich and John Edwards cheated on a wife who was seriously ill with cancer. Does such a condition matter to the American public? Should it?

  • http://reciprocity-failure.blogspot.com Stan B.

    I hope Mr. IMF gets everything that’s coming to him, but I have the same amount of sympathy for Ms. Shriver that she herself demonstrated for all the women violated by her husband before her- none.

  • Glen

    The Strauss-Kahn story isn’t a “sex scandal.” The man allegedly committed a crime of assault upon a stranger. That’s not a sex scandal.

    It’s appalling to hear the two issues equated.

  • Nemo

    I think Arnie is concentrating on what his wife is saying.  She was probably shilling for him or one of his programs.
    DSK’s alleged rape is different from Arnies sleeping with someone and knocking them up.  For me, Arnie is not/not newsworthy; DSK is.
    But the two cases say plenty about the US media and their power to distract; distract from other more important events going on, but also to distract from the essences of powerful, rich, male behaviour.  Rich men tend to have more of everything – more women, more children, more expensive cars, bigger houses, and the greater ability to pay less taxes. Rich men get so used to this that they believe they can get away with almost anything – and they do most of the time.  How many women did DSK force himself on? We know Arnie’s history.

  • Bugboy

    Coming to a theater near you: THE SHRIVERNATOR!

    This all begs the question, how long did she know and how long did she keep quiet for the benefit of her husband’s political career, like the good Kennedy she is?  His love child is how old?  

    She is a willing participant in this charade.  I have no sympathy for her.

    DSK on the other hand is innocent until proven guilty…something the MSM has lost sight of.

  • Bugboy

    Coming to a theater near you: THE SHRIVERNATOR!

    This all begs the question, how long did she know and how long did she keep quiet for the benefit of her husband’s political career, like the good Kennedy she is?  His love child is how old?  

    She is a willing participant in this charade.  I have no sympathy for her.

    DSK on the other hand is innocent until proven guilty…something the MSM has lost sight of.

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