From the time I was a child, I was told that sex is a private matter, which is probably why I’ve always found it so odd that there are few topics that receive more media coverage than sexual affairs. This notion seems particularly unusual to me when it comes to politicians. I have never been one to pay a lot of attention to politics, yet even I can remember the Anthony Weiner scandal involving the sharing of explicit photographs.
I’m sure there is a psychological explanation for our fascination with the private lives of public figures, but I see no reason why a politician’s sexual deeds or misdeeds should have any influence on our opinions of his or her governing abilities. As long as a person’s activities are lawful, why should he or she be forced out of office due to personal choices?
I assume that it is mostly a matter of respect. It seems that we feel like we can’t trust a politician with the affairs of our country once we get a glimpse of morally questionable personal activities. We seem to wonder how a person could manage governmental responsibilities when that person appears to struggle with domestic ones. Why, then, do we continue to seek such information? Moreover, why does it matter? We have been taught not to judge people based on their sexual orientation and expression, and yet we constantly use politicians’ sexual affairs as a point of critique.
I understand that we feel that we need to have confidence in the morality of our government officials, so I can see how extramarital affairs could be a source of doubt among certain voters. However, I think that such occurrences take too much precedence in our consideration of politicians. In the end, you do not have to be friends with your government officials; you just need to feel that they can adequately represent you through their political actions.
I encountered a similar situation over Winter Break, when I heard someone claim that a student should lose her college scholarship for texting suggestive pictures of herself. From my point of view, a person’s sexual activities should be of no concern to his or her university, or for that matter to anyone save for that person and others directly involved.
Even if the school in question did hear of the photographs, which could not occur unless the school staff actively sought such information, it would have no grounds whatsoever for refusing the student a scholarship that she had earned. Perhaps there might be concern over the reputation of the university; however, this would be completely unreasonable. A school’s academic standing should have nothing to do with the personal affairs of its student body.
There are many things to consider when judging a person’s adequacy for a position, whether it is a political job or one’s eligibility for a scholarship. When deciding whether you want to elect a person to office, you should look first at the person’s voting records and stances on subjects that are of importance to you; similarly, you should focus on a student’s merit when deciding whether to award a scholarship. If you do consider their sexual activities as an important factor, I would suggest that you consider them last. In almost all situations, I believe that private lives should remain private.