Suzanne Fields
Once upon a time, they called it "the double standard." Women were held to higher virtue than men. Then women learned to stoop to conquer. In a sex-saturated world, women could exploit their tales of sex for titillation and money. A woman no longer has to be the victim of a brute. She could be a damsel in the distress of others.

Ginger White, the latest accuser of Herman Cain, uses the catch-all euphemism to appraise her "very inappropriate, situation, relationship," with that certain presidential candidate. That's prim and proper language to describe what she insists was a 13-year affair. She's coming forward now only because she's bothered over how those other women accusing the Godfather were "demonized" and expected to provide "the burden of proof."

Imagine that. Her lawyer insists she's not doing it for money. Of course not, though she's a single mother of two who probably could use the money. Several liens have been filed against her in Georgia and Kentucky, and several eviction notices were served on her for failing to pay her rent. A former business partner sued her for posting disparaging comments about the partner in an e-mail, and she admitted that she made it up "out of anger and frustration." She had to pay all the legal fees.

But timing is everything. White ordered more toppings to the super-combo pizza with thick crust just when the kitchen was closing. She has her minute of fame, such as it may be, when the pizza man is closing in on the last of his 15 minutes. She has to get in line to hurry with her memoir, likely to be remaindered before the first review. Lucky for him, the presidential candidate has a wife who knows a good punch line (if not a good punch) when she hears one. After the latest accusation against her husband, she reprised the Great Communicator: "Here we go again." (Read that any way you like.)

As Washington boudoir scandals go, Ginger White's is as bland as her name. We've had a lot better. Rita Jenrette, the wife of a Democratic congressman from a conservative South Carolina district, titillated the capital with a tale of sex on the Capitol steps with her husband, of all people. She said they "made love on the marble steps that overlook the monuments" late at night during a break in an all-night session of Congress.

That was shocking at the time, and so were the risque photographs illustrating Playboy magazine's subsequent story of "The Liberation of a Congressional Wife." Now we learn that as lax as security was in those days, the sex on the steps never happened. "It was a lie," the former wife tells the New Yorker. She's changed her story along with her name, which became Principessa Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi, after she married into Italian nobility.

On her feet or on her back, she doesn't have to look at the Washington monuments, but can take in Renaissance masterpieces at her new husband's ancestral estate in Rome. Villa Aurora, built in the 16th century, has a Caravaggio, the only one known to be on a ceiling, and a sculpture of Pan in the garden by Michelangelo. Talk about landing on your feet. Her old husband didn't -- he went to prison for two years in the Abscam bribery scandal.

We're remarkably inconsistent in judging sexual morals, despite the Puritan heritage. Barney Frank surmounted the scandal of his live-in lover's male escort service in the basement of their Capitol Hill home. Barney got away with only a reprimand, with the House of Representatives rejecting motions to censure or expel him. When he announced this week that he would retire after 16 terms, he had become an elder statesman in his party.

Bill Clinton was impeached for lying about sex with "that woman," and became a highly respected former president and head of a foundation that gives away billions of dollars to needy countries.

Newsweek magazine says we're in the clutches of an epidemic of "sex addiction," with estimates of sex drunks as high as 3 to 5 percent of the population, or as many as 9 million Americans. "Shame," a new "psychosexual movie" about carnal encounters, is getting rave reviews in certain circles. The writer and director say that in sex scenes set in New York City, the audience is treated like a participant. Hmmmm. Just like Washington.


Suzanne Fields

Suzanne Fields is currently working on a book that will revisit John Milton's 'Paradise Lost.'

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