There, I said it. I’ve listened to the claims that Rep. Weiner is “abusing his power” and “exploiting young women” by firing off crotch shots to college coeds half his age. Interestingly, these charges are coming from conservatives, who usually aren’t quick to join in on feminist pity parties. Whether their concern is sincere or not, I have one thing to say: Give me a break. These women are not being exploited. In fact, way too many of them thrive on this stuff.
I’m a 25-year-old woman who has worked in politics in Washington and in my home state of Ohio. When I got my first internship as a junior in college, I was surrounded by bright young women who planned to become lawyers or politicians. They were there to work, not play. But for a few, this businesslike attitude evaporated the second some middle-aged sleaze with an impressive title (a la “Congressman Weiner”) started hitting on them.
Apparently, there’s nothing more intoxicating for some young women than winning attention from a married man with power and influence. It morphs them from serious young professionals into something more like screaming 12-year-olds at a Justin Bieber concert. Consider that Gennette Cordova, the 21-year-old student who was receiving pictures of Rep. Weiner’s package, giddily referred to him on Twitter as “my boyfriend.” Perhaps the most infamous—and pathetic—example was Monica Lewinsky, who stated that while she knew Bill Clinton had multiple affairs during his marriage, she felt he “really loved” her.
When a politician’s cheating goes public, the mistresses usually find out they’re a dime a dozen. Gennette Cordova now knows that her “boyfriend” was sending the same pictures to dozens of other girls, who no doubt swooned and expressed fawning gratitude for his attention. After Lewinsky professed her love to Bill Clinton, he went on TV and sneeringly referred to her as “that woman.” These women aren’t special—they’re one of many a narcissistic politician keeps around to remind him of his virility.
Whatever the outcome of “Weinergate,” I blame the women.