Liberalism said goodbye to romance years ago.
“Sex is a beautiful thing.” Remember that solemnity being intoned endlessly by the sex prophets of the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s? Of course, the more recent prophets were preceded by the sexual psychopaths of the 1920s and ’30s. There is a long history to the absurdity of sexual utopia.
Yet by the 1960s the sex prophets were on the hem of marketing their balderdash to a mass market, and by the early days of the 21st century they had their market. The “sex is a beautiful thing” crusaders had found their followers in the public school system, in the pop culture, even in the churches. Now, however, the sex-is-beautiful solemnity is being shut down almost overnight, and the shutdown is being achieved by the fair sex. Anyone caught intoning it in the present moment will be in danger of ostracism, especially if the intoner is a male of the species.
It is increasingly clear to those of us who study such phenomena — some call us sociologists, others use less flattering terms — that something wholly unexpected has taken place in American society. Grievance has trumped the “beauty of sex” poetry. The aggrieved women of Hollywood were the first to let out a holler. The main source of their grievance was Harvey Weinstein, the Bathrobed Romeo, whose quest of the beauty of sex led him to fondle, abuse, and otherwise commit — it is alleged — felonies on the bodies of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of unwilling maidens and pursuers of Hollywood contracts. My guess is he is destined to spend the rest of his life in court with greedy lawyers picking his pockets.
Now there are other erstwhile disciples of the beauty of sex being hounded by a pack of aggrieved women. There is the Hollywood screenwriter and director James Toback, who is being pursued by at least 200 women. There is Ben Affleck, the Oscar-winning actor and director, who has thus far attracted just one raving woman, but there may be more, and there is Mark Halperin. He is the political journalist and author who has acquired five hectoring women, but, again, his hour of anguish is still young.
Perhaps the most arresting of the present moment’s Casanovas is Leon Wieseltier, the longtime literary editor of the New Republic. An indignant lady by the name of Michelle Cottle, who once worked with Wieseltier and even drank with him, has chronicled his thirty-year stint at the magazine, making it sound like he, over the years, mistook the women on his staff for applicants to his personal harem. She evaded his grasp, but others were not so lucky. Leon is now 65 years old and actually looks rather like someone’s grandmother with his flowing gray hair and a wattle of flesh beneath his chin. A more he-man specimen turned up over the weekend, the magazine’s publisher, Hamilton Fish V. With perhaps as many angry women staffers pursuing him as Wieseltier, he “has taken a leave of absence.” Possibly if he returns he will rechristen the 103-year-old progressive magazine as a journal of sexual therapy or maybe sexual hygiene.
Which introduces an important point. This rebellion of indignant women is pretty much a problem for progressives to deal with. Conservatives are mostly exempt. Usually the ladies are on the left as are most of the guilt-stricken men of whom there will be many more before the hysteria exhausts itself. Oh, I know every list of miscreants includes Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, and Donald Trump, but this is merely another case of the media’s tendentiousness or as the President says “fake news.” When he was alive Ailes denied wrongdoing and the evidence against him was sketchy. In the case of the President, there is no evidence of wrongdoing and no credible witnesses. Of the accused conservatives only O’Reilly has suffered monetary loss. As for the progressives they have all lost a fortune and some will be spending time in court or worse.
Actually I consider this a very good thing. Many young women have obviously suffered at the paws of Harvey and company. A lot of them have been duped into believing that all men participate in such boorish antics. No one I know acts like a monkey on monkey island at the zoo. Ladies, bear in mind that the current age of ithyphallic men began with Bill Clinton and was enabled by his lovely wife Bruno. It is now coming to an end. What end I cannot predict. All I would say is let us bring back romance and retire the Clintons, the Hollywoodians, and forget not Anthony Weiner.
Leon Wieseltier in 2012 (YouTube screenshot)