Whether or not Anthony Weiner tweeted a photo of his, um, inspired state to a woman not his wife is of less interest to the public than his policies and hyper-partisanship. The real question for Joe Public about politicians like Weiner is whether or not they are good for the country rather than good for their own private marriages. That is something he and his wife must decide.
Still, Weinergate matters for an entirely different reason. How may more public figures are we going to see combust before our eyes before we make the decision to start a real dialogue about the foul state of men in America? How many more talented men will see their careers and marriages go up in flames before they make the decision to heal?
In 2008 I published a book called “The Broken American Male” that called for just that, a real conversation about the sky-high levels of male violence, depression, porn-addiction, and infidelity. But even I could not predict just three years ago that we would be treated on a near-weekly basis to some giant personality going up in flames due to a torrid sexual scandal. It’s gotten so ludicrous that within a fortnight of each other we had two world-renowned bankers arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting the hotel cleaners. And these were guys who could easily have afforded a high-end call girl if it was sex that they craved.
But it wasn’t.
It was something else entirely. Men today are broken. We have created a hyper-competitive society where the worth of a man is judged by one thing and one thing only: his professional success, measured in how money he has, how much power he wields, and how famous he’s become. Those who engage in the arena are, sadly, the most messed-up of all.
Is anyone really surprised at all the reports from owners of prostitution agencies and strip-clubs that about half their clients work on Wall Street. These guys live under an intense pressure-cooker where they have no time to explore their own humanity or feelings. The only thing that matters to their firms is their productivity, their hands rather than their hearts. So they can only relate to women with their hands, as well. Hence, they cannot sustain an emotional attachment to the gentler gender. So they commoditize her. Since these men live only for money, they can only relate to women who are interested in the same. They cannot treat women as equals. They have to own them, which explains why these out-of-control bankers are often, allegedly, forcing themselves on the hotel help. The women are there, in their own minds, to cater to their every need, to make their beds in a metaphorical as well as a literal sense. That’s what happens when you create a generation of men who only know how to own things and not to relate to them.
What is needed to bring some change is one courageous man – just one – who has been caught in a scandal to come out and say the truth. I nominate Anthony Weiner. Firstly, he is up a creek and his hard-built career is imploding before his eyes. Second, he is brash with a big mouth. Why not use it to save himself and the male species at the same time.
Here is what he can say:
“Members of the media, thank you for coming to my press conference. I have given conflicting reports over the past few days as to who tweeted what and whether the picture tweeted was me. There is good reason for this. I was ashamed and embarrassed by my actions. So I spun yarns from whole cloth. The truth is that I am a decent, but damaged male. I try and do the right thing but my insecurities are getting the better of me. Even after marrying a wonderful and accomplished woman who is devoted to me and whom I love, I still feel that I need the validation of other women to feel important.
“You may wonder why a Congressman would feel unaccomplished. But the truth is that no matter what I achieve it just goes into a bottomless, inner pit. I never feel good about myself. It seems there is always someone ahead of me, someone even more accomplished, someone getting more attention, with brighter advancement prospects. I can’t seem to quiet the demons in my head, which also explains some of my other reported behavior. I am a man with a heart who wants to be good. I say that sincerely. But I can be tough on my subordinates because I always feel like I am just treading water and when they make mistakes they sink me.
“But the events of the past few days have really taught me something. They have taught me that if I do not finally get control over these toxic inner voices and start taking joy from my life and wife and feel good and accepting about myself, the darkness is just going to grow until me over completely.
“So I’ve decided first and foremost that I am going to have a conversation with my wife about some of the mistakes I’ve made. I’m going to come clean. They are not big mistakes. But I want her to be not just my partner, but my soul-mate. I am going to therefore invite her into my soul and what she discovers isn’t always going to be pretty. But it’s me – damaged and broken – but still me, the real me. And I need her comfort and support. Which is why I married her in the first place.
“Second, I’ve decided to have this conversation with all of you, notwithstanding how painful and humiliating it has felt. I’m having the conversation because it’s time that me and other Broken American Males shared the nature of the feelings of unworthiness that plague us, that no seat in Congress can remedy and no amount of money can cure. Only we can remedy it by having better, more deeply-seated values and more intimate and fulfilling relationships. That’s what I’m committed to today. I will try to never again define myself solely by my professional achievements but mostly by the code of male honor that I try and observe as a gentleman. I want to be committed to my wife in thought, speech, and action. I want to be a loyal friend and a devoted son. And I want to be inspiration to the public, warts and all.
“I realize that these commitments I’m making today can change tomorrow. So I have also found a spiritual authority – someone I deeply respect – to speak to twice a week over the next few months to help me remain grounded and rooted in these important values that ought to define my public and private life. I have also given my wife the password for every online account I have so she has complete access to my online life, which is the way it should be for a husband and wife who should be joined in every way.
“Again, I am sorry for giving you all the run around. But in sharing my heart I feel liberated, even as I am humbled.
“May G-d bless you all and may G-d grant healing to the men of America and continue to bless this majestic and great nation.”
Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi,” is one of the world’s leading relationships experts and is the best-selling author of “Kosher Sex”, “Kosher Adultery”, “The Kosher Sutra”, and “Hating Women: America’s Hostile Campaign Against the Fairer Sex.” Follow him online @RabbiShmuley.