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The Shocking Thing About Sex Scandals: We're Shocked

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Anthony Weiner's escapades infuse a whole new meaning into one of my favorite words from the movie "Bambi": twitterpated.

"Why are they acting that way?" Thumper asks.

"Why, don't you know?" answers Friend Owl. "They're twitterpated. ... Nearly everybody gets twitterpated in the springtime. For example: You're walking along, minding your own business. You're looking neither to the left nor to the right, when all of a sudden you run smack into a pretty face. Woo-woo! You begin to get weak in the knees. Your head's in a whirl. ... And then you know what? You're knocked for a loop, and you completely lose your head!"

Thumper says, "Gosh, that's awful."

"Terrible!" chimes in Bambi.

And the wise owl warns: "And that ain't all. It could happen to anyone, so you'd better be careful."

It could even happen to you, Anthony.

Twitterpated. It's as good an explanation as we're likely to get.

Of all the questions left unanswered by Anthony Weiner's astonishing press conference on Monday, the most unanswerable is this: "What were you thinking?"

A grown man, 46 years old, repeatedly sends lewd and graphic photos and texts to multiple young women he's never met.

How could he expect that was going to work out for him?

What were you thinking, Anthony?

"You know, I don't know what I was thinking. This was a destructive thing to do. I'm apologetic for doing it. It was deeply, deeply hurtful to the people I care about the most," Weiner said.

Each and every one of these anonymous ladies were so fascinated by Anthony Weiner that not a single fabulous female Facebook friend would ever personally betray him -- as he was betraying his wife?

A woman reporter tried for an explanation, "Why did you get involved in this activity? Were you lonesome, were you alone a lot?"

Weiner replied: "I have a loving wife; it's not anything like that. I treated it as a frivolous thing, not acknowledging that it was causing harm to so many people and would eventually come out."

Watching Weiner flounder, I had a flashback to a recent Heritage Foundation panel, "Sexual Economics: The Forces Shaping How Young Americans Meet, Mate and Marry."

Mark Regnerus, a sociology professor at the University of Texas in Austin and the author of "Premarital Sex in America," pointed out something no woman likes to hear.

For women, he said, infidelity tends to happen when they are unhappily married. But even many happily married men will regularly engage in this type of behavior, to the great consternation and surprise of women.

I emailed professor Regnerus for comment. He made a point of telling me he does not believe Anthony Weiner should resign.

"These things never surprise me," he said. "The male libido can be a very unstable thing, a mystery even to the self, and certainly to women. Men's sexual 'memory' tends to be very short. ... As a result, men don't seem to learn much from their fellow men's public blunders."

Sexual memory?

"When the libido kicks in, what happened in the past seems to them largely erased, and they're primed for opportunities in front of them," he said. Men with a very strong moral compass may resist temptation, but temptation they will have. "Men have plenty of free-floating desire," he told me, "and it's not often very discriminating."

He pointed me to a quote in Steven Rhoads' book "Taking Sex Differences Seriously":

"The libidos of perfectly ordinary men, when fully understood by women, seem deformed or disreputable to them. Many women strongly resist an accurate presentation of male sexuality."

Yes, it's the indiscriminate quality of lust that appears deformed to most women, probably because it contradicts our own cherished sexual fantasy of being the chosen princess -- the object worthy of all desire.

Huma Abedin is Anthony Weiner's beloved princess. He seems to genuinely feel that way about his wife. But that doesn't mean Weiner would not like Meagan Broussard to admire his ... underwear.

Sad, sordid, stupid.

How can sex scandals manage to shock us over and over again?

Part of the answer for women, Regnerus suggests, is that we are socialized to believe gender is irrelevant, which tends to make us blind and sometimes dumb.

As for men, I'll leave the last word to Regnerus: "What men are having trouble understanding is the permanence of the digital record. One foolish tweet outlives all the many one-to-one sexualized comments that never get recorded."

Welcome to the Facebook generation in politics.

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