Men behaving badly are men behaving badly, whether they are banging at the girls’ dormitory or the boys’
Halloween started with a bang this season. The headlines on the paper were the scariest I’d seen in a long time.
Oh, Mark Foley, why couldn’t you have been an out-of-the-closet grown-up instead of a closeted, gay Bill Clinton impersonator, cruising for an underage male Monica?
The more I hear about Mark Foley, the more I think politics isn’t for anyone I care about, ever, and that efforts should be made to keep healthy, ethical young people from becoming lawyers just in case they get a taste for politics down the road.
I pray that my children will hire illegal nannies, fail drug tests or come out publicly as atheists so they’ll never be tempted to become legislators. I hope that the law students in our lives go on to become mediators, green advocates or Irish folk musicians.
Politics seems like such an icky world.
When the Mark Foley page scandal unfolded, I was horrified that an out gay man would act so outrageously inappropriate, and in such a public way. Then it appeared he wasn’t so out as a gay man, but that many knew about his attractions to underage boys. For him to harbor attractions for adolescent boys isn’t so surprising; there is something undeniably appealing about young people on the brink of adulthood, at their physical prime and bubbling with enthusiasm. And it would be culturally understandable in our youth-obsessed society; as long as he kept his hands, his mouth and his erotic thoughts to himself. But he didn’t, and lots of people knew it.
As a lesbian, I’m appalled at his bad judgment. As a mother I know he is just one of many gay and straight prowling in higher office, looking for lust in all the wrong places.
As a proponent of same-sex marriage and equal rights for gay and lesbian Americans, I’m scared as hell that this will be used against us again and again, forever and ever, amen, as a reason not to “pander to political correctness” or employ “the politics of inclusion.”
Oh, for god’s sake.
Men behaving badly are men behaving badly, whether they are banging at the girls’ dormitory or the boys’ (as Mark Foley allegedly was one midnight, demanding to be let in). Sending erotic e-mails to a congressional page is idiotic and wrong whether the page (or congressperson) is male or female.
If we really want to enforce standards of moral/ethical/sensible/legal behavior, the rules need to be enforced across the board: No sleeping with teenage babysitters, no snogging male pages, no sexy secretaries or interns with convenient condos for after-hours “dictation.” In the era of intrusive media and satellites, do we just put GPS trackers on the politicians and hidden cameras in their pants?
One way to encourage self-monitoring (besides raising a generation of responsible adults) would be to make politicians accountable to people, to voters, rather than to big companies with solely economic interests. Limiting campaign expenses and contributions would hold politicians accountable in a way that would hit hard no good behavior, no re-election opportunity. Kissing babies might take precedence over kissing babes, at least until their term in office was over.
It has been heartening to see gay groups coming down hard on Foley, and on the men who protected him from his own behavior. With the stereotypes we’ve survived since the dawn of the gay movement, all we needed was a passive response to pedophilia. Foley himself has blamed priest abuse (and alcohol) for his behavior, a possibly true cause-and-effect circumstance that doesn’t excuse a man so aware of the vulnerability of youth that he was championing legislation to protect minors from internet predators.
The multigenerational impact of unchallenged child sexual abuse is why it must not be tolerated, as the abused child becomes an adult and has ingrained in him that adolescents or younger are fair game. Nor should it be swept under the rug, as those who protected Foley tried to do.
If Mark Foley is our Halloween Boogey-man, let’s hope the November elections heard our screams, that we elected out politicians and political allies and wrote letters to the editor like there was no tomorrow.
As tired as we are from fighting for our rights, we’re not done yet, and we can’t let our opposition be the only voice loud enough for the public to hear.
Beren deMotier is a writer, artist, mother and Internet blogger. Read her work online at www.berendemotier.com
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, November 10, 2006.
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