Sex and power: Why on earth do politicians sext?

Article by Maria Bervanakis / /
September 07, 2016 /
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ANTHONY Weiner. He is the New York politician with an insatiable appetite for sexts that eventually led to his downfall.

Weiner’s unhealthy obsession finally cost him his family this month. His wife Huma Abedin, an aide to Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, announced she was leaving him.

It came after the latest in a string of lewd messages was publicly exposed: a text message containing a picture of his bulging underwear while his son slept beside him.

When it comes to power and sexts Weiner, 52, is not alone. There are plenty of more Anthony Weiners out there. Men. In power. Prepared to take risks.
There was Missouri House Speaker John Diehl. The married father of three was forced to resign in May 2015 after getting busted sending provocative messages to a female intern at the Missouri Capitol. His racy texts read: “God I want you right now,” and “I wish you could have me right now”.

Christopher Lee is another. The New York representative resigned in 2011 after he was exposed for sending a shirtless photo of himself to a woman he met on Craigslist. Lee claimed to be a “very fit fun classy guy” who was divorced. In fact, he was married with a son.

And just last week UK Labour politician Keith Vaz, a 59-year-old father of two, was recorded allegedly paying two escorts for their services. Also in conversations via text, Vaz reportedly offered to buy cocaine for a later date, although he said he would not take any himself. He also asked an escort to bring the party drug poppers with him for their encounter.

So why do they do it? Why do prominent men, time and time again, risk everything they have worked so hard to get for sex.

Sexologist Dr Lauren Rosewarne puts it down to their supersized egos.

“There is one argument that certain people are attracted to professions like politics and being CEOs etc who have egos and egos that are bigger than the average person,” says Dr Rosewarne.

“They are risk-takers and disproportionately to everyone else.

“They like an element of taking chances and that quality which can be very successful in the business deals or political field often extends to their private life.

“And that type of behaviour of being risky, being dangerous, playing on the edges of what is OK and acceptable can lead them down this path such as Anthony Weiner.”

Vaz’s alleged antics haven taken their toll on his career. On Tuesday he resigned as vice chief of the Home Affairs Select Committee, which monitors crime, immigration and drug policy, after nearly a decade in the position.

Dr Amanda Lambros, clinical fellow and sexologist, at Curtin University said men like Weiner and Vaz didn’t consider sexting a risk. That’s why they do it.

“They really don’t. That’s pretty much why they do it,” says Dr Lambros.

“Sometimes when they are texting they don’t take it (their public profile) into consideration. “What they try to do is they try to be very discreet about their sexting, so they may not actually have a full frontal face image on the sext, so they actually feel there is a level of de-identification when there actually isn’t.”
They rarely feel guilt. Instead, Dr Lambros says, they get a high out of their inappropriate texts.

“It’s kind of an ego stroke,” she says.

“They don’t want to stop it. Not unless it becomes problematic.”

One thing is for sure, sexting is very much a distinctive male behaviour. We have yet to see the likes of Hillary Clinton, Julie Bishop or Christine Lagarde outed for sending a sexy text. If they did, it would certainly be interesting to see how the public responds.

Absence of testosterone is part of the reason for the gender divide in sexting, Dr Rosewarne says. But in the end it comes down to holding on to power.

“Women know the journey to get to the top is harder, so you are going to do a lot more to protect and you would strategise a lot better.”