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(10,173 posts)
Wed Nov 30, 2016, 08:20 PM Nov 2016

Double Standards : Cheating men and Cheating women. [View all]

"Cheating Men Get a Second Life in Politics, Cheating Women Get a Scarlet Letter"

On December 15, 2011, four male Minnesota state senators called a press conference. Its purpose was to issue a moral rebuke to a woman who wasn’t there, over an extramarital affair she’d had with a colleague. In the ensuing weeks, the four men would force the woman, the state’s first ever female majority leader, to move to an office far from theirs, on a different floor. Nobody would move into her vacant office before the end of the term, after which the woman would pack her things and leave the home she had shared with her husband of 18 years to move back in with her parents. Weeks later, the woman’s 64-year-old mother would die of breast cancer, only four months after her diagnosis.

Amy Koch still feels the echoes of the day of that press conference in her life. “People called it ‘The Scarlet Letter award ceremony,’” she tells The Daily Beast. “I didn’t watch it. I’ll never watch it.”

That was the day that news of Koch’s affair with a male senate staffer went public, that her colleagues turned on her, that Koch resigned from her leadership position among state senate Republicans and announced she wouldn’t seek reelection. The damage to her life and career felt complete, the shame all-consuming.

The 2016 election has offered America a crash course in double standards when it comes to how men and women in the public eye are treated. If Donald Trump were a woman, for example, a 70-year-old obese woman with a sexual obsession with her adult son and the vocabulary of an elementary-school bully, would she have been the presidential nominee of this country’s conservative party? If somebody named Donna Trump had bragged about sexually assaulting men, would she be the president today? Would a woman who famously cheated on her husband be given a second chance in politics right away? We have our answer to the last question.

Trump himself has a colorful history with infidelity. His image of a “playboy” was so important to the president-elect in the 1980’s and 90’s that rumor has it he’d pose as his own spokesperson to plant stories about his sexual exploits in tabloids (acting in a way that would get one labeled a slut if one were female, turns out, is beneficial for men). He left his first wife and the mother of three of his children for his mistress amid a flurry of tabloid coverage. In 2005, he famously bragged to Billy Bush about grabbing women “by the pussy.” In December of that year, People Magazine writer Natasha Stoynoff alleges she was grabbed and forcibly kissed by Trump when she was at Mar-a-Lago to interview him for a story. During a presidential debate this year, Trump says he hasn’t even apologized to his wife. He hadn’t done anything.

Trump’s inner circle is lousy with men who have done worse than Amy Koch, and not suffered nearly the professional consequences. Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, currently lobbying hard to be made Secretary of State, married his second cousin and began dating his second wife before he and his first wife divorced. While he was still married to his second wife (not to be confused with his second cousin), Giuliani allegedly carried on a long affair with his press secretary. In the late 1990’s, Giuliani met a woman named Judith (a new one, not the press secretary. Keep up.), and used his publicly-funded NYPD security detail to escort him to and from liaisons with the woman who would turn out to be his future third wife. He announced his separation to the public and to his second wife simultaneously, with a press conference.

David Petraeus, another rumored Secretary of State candidate, carried on a years-long affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell that was only discovered in 2012, the year after he was appointed head of the CIA. Broadwell and Petraeus had been exchanging love notes over unencrypted channels that were discovered by the FBI after Broadwell began cyberstalking a socialite named Jill Kelley. In 2015, Petraeus pled guilty to mishandling classified information with Broadwell, a misdemeanor that resulted in two years’ probation and a $100,000 fine. If he’s selected as Secretary of State, Petraeus will still be on probation when Trump is inaugurated on January 20, 2017, and will continue to be on probation for the first three months of his theoretical tenure as the person fourth in line to the Presidency.

Amy Koch did not mishandle classified information like David Petraeus. She did not obscure the use of public funds from taxpayers to hide her affair from the public, like Rudy Giuliani. She didn’t use prostitutes like David Vitter, or send suggestive pictures to a handful of people over and over again like Anthony Weiner. She didn’t get oral sex from a 22-year-old intern in the Oval Office like Bill Clinton. “Mine was kind of boring by comparison,” she says. “It was just an affair.”

Koch wonders if men who have been able to pick themselves from scandals like hers were able to do so because they blame themselves less for what happens to them, if they feel less shame in the aftermath than she did. “It took at least two years before I wasn’t just broken down about it,” she says. “Before I could talk about it without being sad and embarrassed. And a lot of that came from just being in the bar, being in the bowling alley, talking to people. Having good friends.”


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