SYNDICATED COLUMN: Occupy Sexual Freedom

Sympathy for Newt and Open Marriage

You know the narrative. Right-wing family-values Republican gets caught doing secular-liberal totally-not-family-values stuff, usually involving sex:

Cruising for manlove in an airport men’s room.

Knocking up the maid.

Sending dirty emails to young male pages.

Hiring male hookers and smoking meth.

Asking wife #2 for an open marriage.

This kind of thing happens all the time. And it’s always red meat for leftie media commentators.

Liberal pundits love to call fallen Republicans hypocrites. They point out that liberal politicians are often more heterosexual and monogamous than many so-called conservatives—and remain married to the same spouse for life.

Now it’s Newt Gingrich’s turn.

In her divorce filing Ms. Gingrich the Second claims that Mr. Gingrich asked her for an open marriage so he could stay with her while carrying on with Callista, who became Ms. Gingrich the Third after Ms. Gingrich the Second refused said request. (You may need to re-read the previous sentence.)

Cue the holier-than-thou liberals.

CNN reporter John King opened a presidential debate with an assault on Newt’s alleged yearning for sexual freedom. A New York Times editorial called this “a perfectly reasonable question.”

Across the vertical seam in the op-ed graveyard Gail Collins could barely contain herself. “Beyond the hypocrisy of this sort of behavior from a guy who wants to protect the sanctity of holy matrimony from gay couples, there also seems to be a streak of almost crazed self-absorption that runs through the Newt saga,” Collins gloated. “Who would ditch a spouse of 18 years in a phone call? Shortly after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis? And, of course, he broke up with his first wife while she was battling cancer.”

That Newt Gingrich is pompous, nasty and one of the most hideous members of that physically repugnant tribe known as politicians can be stipulated by all but those blinded by hatred of Mormons and Kenyan-born socialists. Still, I think we on the Left are missing an opportunity for a teachable moment.

Progressives are fighting for human emancipation. The right to engage in sex with any consensual adult in any form is integral to this struggle to liberate ourselves from patriarchy, sexism, racism, homophobia and capitalism. How, then, can we justify mocking anyone—even a hypocritical Christian conservative—for expressing their sexuality?

When Senator Larry Craig was arrested, essentially for the crime of being a closeted gay or bisexual male, in that Minneapolis-St. Paul airport restroom, he needed our support, not our ridicule.

Imagine if supporters of gay rights from across the spectrum had refused to get sucked into stupid D-vs-R theatrics. Remember, the cops weren’t trying to catch a right-wing gay-bashing closeted senator. Craig was ensnared by one of countless sting operations conducted by police departments across the United States designed to harass all gays and lesbians. We should oppose such tactics forcefully and consistently. Defending Craig’s right to hit on other guys would have served the cause better than scoring cheap partisan points.

As for Newt’s alleged—divorce allegations ought to be swallowed with a massive dollop of sodium chloride—request for an open marriage, well, so what if he did?

When 40 to 50 percent of marriages end in divorce it’s clear that state-enforced monogamy for life isn’t working for everyone. Researchers estimate that up to six percent of American couples are in open marriages. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s their decision. It’s their choice. Asked privately, most liberals would agree.

Millions of Americans prefer alternative arrangements for their sex lives—open marriages, swinging, etc. Yet they are forced to sneak around. They’re not hiding from their lovers, but from their friends and neighbors and colleagues lest they be shamed and shunned. Unlike conventionally married couples (who cheat on one another in significant numbers), people in open relationships know exactly what their partners are up to.

Moreover, there are a lot of open relationships that no one thinks about. Does anyone doubt, for example, that the Clintons had a “don’t ask don’t tell” policy that essentially amounted to a license to cheat?

You shouldn’t have to hide or lie when you’re doing nothing wrong. Yet so-called “liberals” join their rightist counterparts in snickering about Craig’s “wide stance” and Gingrich’s request for an open marriage. The effect is to denigrate gays, lesbians and other sexually marginalized and oppressed people.

Nona Willis Aronowitz calls Gingrich “the poster child for the messy, miserable life people can have if they’re stuffed into rules they weren’t built to follow. He’s the poster child for how our sexist and repressive culture can hurt relationships. Gingrich was raised in, and now advocates for, a world that sets up incredibly narrow parameters for sex and love, and shames people who don’t adhere to those standards.”

We should tell right-wingers like Newt Gingrich: you’re one of us. You always were. The fact that you can’t live by your own supposed rules proves it.

Quit living a lie, Newt. More importantly, quit asking everyone else to live the stupid lie that defines your stupid out-of-date politics.

Hey Republicans! Are you a maid-knocking-up, men’s-room-trolling, sexting, bondage-loving, gay-bi-trans-whatever?

The Right’s not that into you. Join us.

(Ted Rall is the author of “The Anti-American Manifesto.” His website is tedrall.com.)

COPYRIGHT 2012 TED RALL

11 thoughts on “SYNDICATED COLUMN: Occupy Sexual Freedom

  1. “When Senator Larry Craig was arrested, essentially for the crime of being a closeted gay or bisexual male, in that Minneapolis-St. Paul airport restroom, he needed our support, not our ridicule.”

    He deserves our support for his sexuality, but not for his hypocrisy.

    I’m fine with openly gay politicians, including my mayor here in Houston. And I’m fine with open relationships, being in one myself. I don’t even mind closets. What I’m not fine with is closeted politicians who love to use those issues against us by pandering to the religious fundamentalists.

  2. ok Ted, when yer right, yer right. I’ve actually been thinkin’ along the same lines for some time.

    still, with Newt, it really is different. not just the fact that he is a hair-trigger methane bomb on the political stage, and a dangerous sociopath in general… there is still the fact that certain types of sexual activity really are unhealthy… sick, to put a finer point on it.

    call me puritanical if you want, but I’m not cool with necrophilia! dammit, it’s just gross! have you seen wife #3? she’s a zombie! walking undead! maybe that doesn’t count as literally bangin’ corpses, but doin’ the nasty with a zombie is just going too far! …even for a Republican.

  3. I love this post and think it is spot on. In fact, just earlier in the day on the 24th I’d been thinking about the tone of the liberal criticism and how often it seems to veer close to revulsion or condescension or mockery — that is, even thought it’s purportedly about the hypocrisy, it often sounds like it’s also about the sex. I’d had trouble articulating what bothered me, but this post lays it out clearly.

  4. Yeah, this is the classic “If only we reach out the conservative with compassion, he’ll turn into a progressive!” meme. I remember when Rush Limpballs got busted with the Oxy liberals said the same thing. “We should not be hectoring Rush about a legitimate drug problem. It’s a teachable moment. We should reach out with compassion.” Secretly they thought by doing so some sort of peace accord would be reached with Rushbo and he would magically say something nice about liberals, or become a voice of reason. What did Rushbo do after such overtures? He dropped the fucking anvil twice as hard on liberal skulls – and rightfully so. Same thing happened when Glen Beck had his hospital nightmare. Liberals thought he’d come out on their side. Nope. Came out with both barrels blasting.

    Now it’s Ted’s turn. If only we reached out to Newt. Maybe he’d warm up to us progressives, even say some kind words.

    When Newt kicks your teeth in, don’t act surprised.

  5. “—divorce allegations ought to be swallowed with a massive dollop of sodium chloride—”

    Yes, the habitual liar with a history of misogyny, affairs, and ludicrously sociopathic behavior with an almost comical tendency to defend himself when any of his past indiscretions are pointed out is being utterly slandered here based on, oh, sheer fiat.

    “How, then, can we justify mocking anyone—even a hypocritical Christian conservative—for expressing their sexuality?”

    When the explictly NOT Christian-in-any-way-save-for-lying individual enters into marriage knowing full well he intends to exploit and abuse his spouse and has absolutely no concern for the other parties in the open marriage whatsoever.

    “As for Newt’s alleged. . . request for an open marriage, well, so what if he did?”

    You completely missed the point, Ted. You might as well claim that a mob enforcer’s coercing a restaraunteur into providing a money-laundering front is an offer for a “business opportunity.”

    “Nona Willis Aronowitz calls Gingrich ‘the poster child for the messy, miserable life people can have if they’re stuffed into rules they weren’t built to follow. He’s the poster child for how our sexist and repressive culture can hurt relationships.'”

    Gingrich is an emotionally-abusive peice of crap. He’s a good example of the _winners_ of our “sexist and repressive” culture — those that use said sexism and repression for maximum effect. To celebrate his cause is nothing short of perverse. There is absolutely no evidence that Gingrich was asking for an open marriage in good faith, and there is tremendous evidence to the contrary. These claims, using Gingrich as an example, set back sexual freedom by years.

    “We should tell right-wingers like Newt Gingrich: you’re one of us. You always were. The fact that you can’t live by your own supposed rules proves it.”

    Gingrich is totally living by his own rules. Gingrich LOVES his rules. And his number one rule is the same as “Bob’s”: he doesn’t practice what he preaches because he’s not the kind of person he’s preaching to. He’s not a hypocrite, he’s a liar. When he tells you to be sexually repressed, he’s lying when he says he cares about the rules (a hypocrite would actually care). The rules are not principles that he fails, they are a means to an end.

    Criticism of so-called liberals is all well and good, but this is a horrible opportunity to do so.

  6. There’s nothing wrong with Newt wanting an open-marriage, but in order to have that, everyone in the marriage must agree to it. Ms. Gingrich the Second didn’t.

    Honestly, though, I don’t see how any woman would even agree to a second date with Newt Gingrich, let alone marrying the guy. Seriously?

  7. Yep, Ted. Agree.

    But it’s the hypocrisy factor that make these goons open game. Basically any politician who REALLY, REALLY hates gays is probably in the closet.

    The Craigs and Haggards of the world are really funny. And they deserve our derision for their HYPOCRISY, not their sexuality.

  8. Ideally, these politicians are being mocked for their hypocrisy rather than their sexual desires. If we take mocking hypocrisy off the table, then Editorial Cartoonists are more finished than previously imagined.

    Don’t miss this:

    Matt Bors on Santorum

  9. I agree with the sentiment, but the issue is that the individuals in question typically don’t have any scruples and will freely use and abuse anyone who lends them help, support, or even just positive words for any form of personal gratification or gain they can manage with them. If liberals supported the individuals in question, they would simply absorb whatever they could extract from this support network to farther themselves, and then cast all these supporters under the next bus of convenience. What you propose would serve nothing in the long run other then to farther the carriers and goals of these self serving individuals at the expense of even more people, who in this case used to correctly be wary of associating with the individuals in question in any sort of positive fashion, if not from personal distaste for them then for reasons of personal preservation.

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