The Representative Weiner’s tweeting cheating fiasco is more than weiner jokes. Although those are clearly the best part.
Background (full timeline here):
Representative Weiner attempted to direct message a young woman on twitter on Friday, May 27th. Direct messages (DMs) are private communications similar to messaging someone on Facebook. However, he mixed up the DM and tweeting to EVERY SINGLE FOLLOWER a picture of his underwear and, well, weiner. Weiner claims his twitter was hacked and denies sending the tweet but has trouble denying his weiner picture (as I would expect with most men who think that their weiner is worth sending). By Tuesday, June 7th, he admits to everything including five previous internet affairs. And no, he’s not stepping down as a government official. (Although if everyone who cheated quit their job, we’d REALLY have an economic crisis.)
I’m not interested in whether he keeps his job. I’m more intrigued by the hundreds of articles and posts asking Is Internet cheating really cheating? and the country responding with a resounding YES. Even in the news website comment sections where crazy is just another word for typing, 99% believed he cheated.
Over and over again, people write that cheating can be mental and emotional, and sending inappropriate pictures to someone, that isn’t a spouse, is infidelity.
And I agree. But I think that 15 years ago there would have be more debate. Before it was okay to find a soul mate on Facebook or Match.com — when it was just talking to anonymous and possibly dangerous losers.
But more so, our understanding of cheating has fundamentally changed. It’s less “weiner-driven.” And I wonder if it’s because we are more aware of what it means to care about another person. That love means listening and talking and relating as much as it means touching and kissing and sexing.
Or is it because we have become more puritan? Our cheating lines are broader because we are so uncomfortable with intimacy. Intimacy must be sexual. Or intimacy is sexual because we are bombarded with so many two-dimensional versions of sex that we confuse the two and look beyond the realities of sagging breasts and dirty dishes to find that spark.
So what constitutes cheating? What about flirting? Winking? Staring? Pornography? Can we comment that someone is hot? What if that someone is an actor? Is that different than a person in the coffee shop? Or on Facebook? Can we drool over Catherine Zeta Jones but not over a Twitter follower?
Because at some point, Representative Weiner’s six women were not receiving sexy pictures. They were talking. Facebook-ing. Would we care if they had just thought the other person was good-looking? Tweeted that to each other?
One op-ed quote a husband saying: If you wouldn’t do it with your spouse looking over your shoulder, then it’s cheating.
That might make buying a $200 pair of shoes cheating. (They ARE sexy.)
But the sentiment is probably right. If we don’t want our spouse to know something and that something involves another person and sexy feelings, we are probably heading for trouble. Or maybe we are already in trouble.
Do I think there needs to be physical weiner contact to be cheating? No. But I think there are gradations to infidelity. Some marriages make room for pornography and others do not. Some couples can agree on an actress being sexy or a friend looking hot. Some don’t care about the online flirting and some can’t have close friends of the opposite sex.
In my own marriage, we draw conservative lines on matters of sex and intimacy because we know ourselves well enough to admit what adds to our relationship and what takes away from it even when others cross those lines without consequence. But I don’t know Anthony Weiner and Huma Abadin marriage. What they wanted. Where their lines were.
Yet these gradations are important even when we cross them. I would not feel the same about catching my husband texting or even sexting a woman as I would if I found out that he was sleeping with another woman.
Yes, they are both cheating.
But only one could I see our marriage surviving.