Weinergate: Why aren’t men more ashamed?

June 14, 2011

By Amy Richards
The opinions expressed are her own.

Sadly, women have grown to expect men to behave badly. To cheat, lie, deny and manipulate. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t angry — thousands of women rallied in France calling for Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s resignation and in this country columnist Katha Pollit has a volume of essays recounting her rage.

I think a timelier question is: Why aren’t men angrier? Reading the news of tweeting penis images, harboring your lover in the family’s home, sexually assaulting a hotel maid, I would expect some exalted cries from men attempting to distance themselves from “those” men. At least, maybe we could hear some admissions of embarrassment.

I certainly had a twinge of embarrassment when Sarah Palin winked during the Vice President debate and when Brandi Chastain ripped off her shirt after winning the world cup. Many women feel the need to apologize for their gender — and there is public pressure for them to do so. Men don’t seem as cursed.

These different reactions underscore an age old disparity:  men are free to be treated as individuals. One man’s behavior isn’t used to undermine all men. Women don’t have it so easy: Women are penalized for their gender. Anna Nicole Smith marries for money so all women do. Perhaps women’s lack of outrage is our attempt to focus on the specific rather than the general. They are tired of being seen as one in the same and refuse to punish men in the same way.

As seems to be the case with many people, I don’t find these male digressions “newsworthy.” Women are numb to such egregious behavior, not because we tolerate it, but because to note it and even to defend it means that we have capitulated that men will be men. Of course, this behavior isn’t isolated to famous examples (Gary Hart, Bob Packwood, Tiger Woods), but perhaps a disproportionate number of powerful men. I just heard from one woman that she was taking her three kids and leaving her marriage because of her husband’s cheating. Most alarming to her was the number of women who said some variation on “we tolerate it, why can’t you?”

Public servant or not, I am amazed that these seemingly hard-working successful men have time for such dalliances, and of course the chutzpa to think they can cover it up and ride out the public opinion. If women weren’t doing those documented extra-hours of housework each work, maybe they would have time for more romping. Not surprisingly, the women caught in these sexcapades are disproportionately domestic help. In other words, women whom these men clearly have power over, which perhaps isn’t the same as in their married life.

Weiner’s wife is the one with the ironclad relationship with Hillary Clinton. Schwarzenegger might have been Governor of California but his wife is the Kennedy. As much as their behavior has been defended as man’s strong need for sexual outlets, it seems suspiciously like they also need to reinforce their dominance.

Equally shocking is why outrage over men’s heinous sexual grievances is only asked of women. The aggrieved group is asked to explain itself, but not the powerful one.

This “bad boy news” is not about whether women should show more outrage or not. Instead, it is a moment to pause and ask that we start asking more of men. Boys don’t have to be boys. Women have to stop making accommodations for men to be boys and need to start asking them to express their outrage.

Amy Richards is the author of “Opting In: Having a Child Without Losing Yourself” and a founder if The Third Wave Foundation.

Photo: Former U.S. president Bill Clinton speaks with the Reverend Al Sharpton and Rep. Anthony Weiner at a voter registration rally in New York on April 24, 2002. REUTERS/Peter Morgan PM


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What do you really expect from us, Ms. Richards? We deal with it and distance ourselves from the Weiner in our own way. That’s the problem with you women, you expect men to react the same way you do. When we don’t, there’s something wrong with the MAN. One way we deal with such guys is to make fun of them. To shame them with jokes.
By the way, you’re pretty cute.

Posted by mheld45 | Report as abusive

Well because men are different than women. Why is it that men or women for that matter have to have the same reactions, behaviors?

Men are men, women are women, and it is fine like that.

Posted by johnnie.welker | Report as abusive

I had a suspicion this article would be sexist. With the constant referrals to men and women to make an illogical point, Amy Richards I just want to take this time to apologize for reading your article and encouraging media coverage of a hilarious Weiner.

Posted by M.C.McBride | Report as abusive

The author asks: “I think a timelier question is: Why aren’t men angrier? Reading the news of tweeting penis images, harboring your lover in the family’s home, sexually assaulting a hotel maid, I would expect some exalted cries from men attempting to distance themselves from “those” men. At least, maybe we could hear some admissions of embarrassment.”
My answer is that we (men) are accustomed to seeing the most boorish, infantile, and sexist behavior rewarded by both men and women (especially women). For every outraged woman there is another cultivating the miscreant’s attention. Tiger Woods cheats on his wife, yet has no shortage of companionship. Charlie Sheen accumulates ‘goddesses.’ Ahnold, even at his advanced age, has no shortage of groupies. As long as men can continue to behave badly and be rewarded for their behavior by women, the rest of us will continue to just shake our heads and ponder the perversity of nature.

Posted by ridenm | Report as abusive

I so tired of all the “holier than thou” people. Weiner didn’t do anything that 75% of the public hasn’t done and another 20% wishes they could.
Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

Posted by tmc | Report as abusive

Weiner has been lying because he is terrible ashamed, who says men are not more ashamed.
Huma travels all the time, leaving Weiner alone to himself.
Men are made like that, it is in their design, to dream about women (girls) from early life, and when left alone.
Men are fascinated by everything a woman does,wears, the way she talks, the way she walks, the way she smiles, even the way she cries.
Men do nasty things only when they are deprived, and left with no other option
Few Men who are not fascinated or have grown up not dreaming about girls have some serious problem, need help.

Posted by GoodDeedsLeadTo | Report as abusive

While the article raises some important questions, I do feel that some generalizations are made in it which are not entirely fair. That said, some of the comments I read here are perfect examples of SOME men “not listening”. In their general defense, I do think some men attempt to distance themselves from guys like Weiner. And I think men are holding each other to a higher level of behaviour, in general. The exceptions are glaring, however; and women’s excusing men’s bad behaviour brings to mind the term “female Uncle Tom”.

Posted by Radissa | Report as abusive

Wait a minute, you start the piece saying “women have grown to expect men to behave badly” and then just a couple of paragraphs later assert “men are free to be treated as individuals.” Which is it?

Posted by runningnekkid | Report as abusive

Dear Ms. Richards, thank you for trying so hard to make us men feel better about ourselves. Maybe we – men who actually have morals and standards and who try not to cave in to the libertine life style – maybe we just do not care as much. But is that really a problem?

As you wrote yourself, these digressions are hardly “newsworthy”. So, who cares? And I do not mean any disrespect to the woman who may or may not have experienced the tragedy of a sex crime, but DSK is being prosecuted, is not he?! Anyway, how would a manly outcry be any different from the media trying so hard to get our attention in the first place. Who cares about someone sending around pictures of what-he-believes-to-be-the-biggest-thing -in-congress? If I wanted more of that kind of news I would go to www.please-scandalize-me.com.

Honestly, as sweet as your article sounds, I think it is just saying either men are pigs – boys who have never really grown up and think they can still get away with their mischief – or – if they are not – they have not yet grown up enough to care us much as they should – or as much as women do/have to. In other words, I do not see why I should feel any better about myself after having read your article. All I hear is: “Why aren’t you in outrage? What is wrong with you? I am tired of being seen as one in the same […], why aren’t you? Why can’t you say something about these digressions? Why don’t you distance yourself from these men? So as to at least pretend you feel treated the way women are always treated: being seen as one in the same.”

Hmm. No. No, honestly, I really do not feel that way. I am different from these guys, and I know it! I do not need anybody to affirm that for me, and I do not to tell anybody. If other people do, that is their problem, not mine. Fortunately, there are a lot of women who feel the same way. Take care!

Posted by Sekin_Bey | Report as abusive

“Boys don’t have to be boys.” – While you may understand children you clearly don’t understand men. Equating men to children when men do things you don’t understand is a move to exert your own control or dominance over an unknown. That’s the best case, the worst case is stereotyping which is hardly a step in the right direction. I think any deep understanding of the opposite sex is fleeting at best and false and harmful at worst.

Posted by NsteveA | Report as abusive

@Sekin_Bey and some of the other respondents here: The point the author makes is that men, even when they do care, do not care to and/or do not need to explain themselves or take a stand against these powerful men whose overblown sense of entitlement allows them to act like pigs. You (the men who have responded, which seems to be each response) may feel that you don’t need to say anything because you know you’re not guilty of the same kind of crimes. Well, this line of defense only reinforces the author’s point–that somehow, there is still a lot more pressure on women to defend themselves, to explain when acting in a shameless way and even to explain when their men are acting shamelessly. Your replies show that the article makes a valid point.

Posted by Fescu | Report as abusive

What a lot of muddled thinking.

” Many women feel the need to apologize for their gender — and there is public pressure for them to do so. Men don’t seem as cursed.”

Really? If women ‘feel the need’ for something, that is their feeling, and their issue. I see no sign of public pressure for women to apologise for their gender.

Truth is, people is power use it to get sex. That applies equally to men and women, it’s just that there are far more powerful men.

“One man’s behavior isn’t used to undermine all men. Women don’t have it so easy: Women are penalized for their gender. Anna Nicole Smith marries for money so all women do.”

What a load of rubbish. What about the concepts of Angel and whore? Is that one out of the window now? Ever heard someone say ‘All men are bastards’

Besides it is a fact that after being nice/kind the most important attribute interms of attractiveness for men is money, for women it’s looks. The reasons for this are biological.

Posted by Dafydd | Report as abusive

I’m more ashamed that manufactured media outrage such as this tricked our complacent and uninformed public into ousting one of the only politicians in this country who actually works for the interests of his constituents.

Posted by seanrenlyb | Report as abusive

What you’re ashamed of and what you get angry about speaks more about you than the other person. Women are more sensitive about promiscuity, ,

Posted by asdasdas | Report as abusive

Shame and embarrassment are the opposite coin of pride – what you’re ashamed of or embarrassed of is the direct result of the violation of your pride system. Perhaps most women are proud of their devotion, their loyalty, their chastity, their monogamy. While most men are rather proud of their strength, courage, fearlessness, etc. Anything that violates those pride will cause a feeling of either shame or embarrassment. A feeling of shamed is caused when we ourselves violate what we’re proud of, and we feel embarrassed when others violate or damage our pride.

Perhaps you are expecting men to be angry and ashamed, because you’re projecting your own feeling of shame and anger onto men.

Posted by asdasdas | Report as abusive

You know what I found helpful when reading this article? Replace the word ‘men’ or ‘man’ with the respective ‘women’ and ‘woman’. After having done that I can agree with this article.

Posted by harryslovak | Report as abusive

I don’t agree with the opinion expressed in this article because I think many women already DO blame all men for the actions of some rotten apples. Those of us men who do our best to be good husbands or boyfriends ARE ashamed when we see men that are unfaithful to their wives or who are just promiscuous in general. IT IS quite aggravating to hear women say, “Ugh, men…” and IT IS said quite often. Unfortunately, I can’t blame women for looking at us in that way. That is to say, I completely understand and sympathize with those women who think all men are pigs. I agree with them because I, too, think most men are selfish pigs. However, there are also a lot of selfish pigs that are women.

Also, I agree fully with “RIDENM”.
If some women were not so rewarding of piggish men, then piggish men would not have a reason to be so piggish.

Posted by ElTejanoLejano | Report as abusive

“Weinergate: Why aren’t men more ashamed?
by Amy Richards”

Whatta load of hypersensitive leftist feminine emotionality, devoid of all reason and undeserving of serious reply.

Posted by jca | Report as abusive

“Why are Reuters standards so low that this “report” is worthy of the front page?”

I think that’s a more pressing societal question.

Posted by nln | Report as abusive

Ms. Richards received exactly the response she was hoping for.

Sensationalism, even obvious sexism, is an easy way for her to boost page views, personal sales and popularity – whether it’s fame or infamy.

Posted by aex | Report as abusive

Ridiculous article. Men aren’t ashamed cause we’re not women. Men could care less what other men do.

Posted by Archon | Report as abusive

What is it that Amy Richards wants? Self abuse? Most of us who are married are faithful to our wives. Most wives are faithful to their husbands. No one will listen to us (average “Joe Doaks,” not “Joe the Plumber,” so what difference does it make. Our actions speak louder than words. The laws are set up now that there is “no fault divorce.” If a wife cheats on her husband, what happens in court? Nothing. The same is true in reverse. Society doesn’t care. The law doesn’t care.
Only when people who are in power do stupid things it makes the news. Fight the media, not men in general.

Posted by neahkahnie | Report as abusive

So Ms. Richards how would you explain the behavior of Sarah Palin, Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Michelle Bachman, Ann Coulter, Brittney Spears… do any of them act ashamed?

Posted by seattlesh | Report as abusive

Let’s face it men are simple creatures. All they need is sex, food and sports / or hobby and they are set. In that order mind you. Women are more complex and emotional, and in most cases more aware of what’s going on around them then men.

Look at the colleges in America, women are exceeding men in college degrees, they mature faster, and are better listeners and in my opinion way ahead of men when it comes to social settings.

The problem with men, is that sex, is a major player in their lives. Women don’t understand this, if she cannot meet her mans needs, they will off with one who will.

Its all about meeting your partners needs, no matter what they are. The person who does this best, will win that person over, man or women. By the way, I’am a happily married man of 27 years that would never stray, because I have my needs meet.

Posted by cheeze | Report as abusive

Human beings are animals and not actually meant to be monogamous. Spreading ones sperm around produces offspring from different blood-lines, which is a good thing if you are compelled to have your genes passed along. Fidelity is an unnatural convention, so I can’t help but wonder why we are so amazed when people can’t suppress their instincts.

Before you tear me up, I’m a faithful wife of 25 years. My husband and I took vows that include being monogamous, and we have been, but it takes work. That said, not everyone is capable of being faithful, and if they are not capable, they shouldn’t promise to be faithful.

Posted by Marla | Report as abusive

Custom is perhaps the best answer. Men have also a certain lack of self-respect, which leads them to act like cavemen (I am stereotying cavemen). Men also have lots more power in the world and feel they can do anything, alas, hence the wars, the financial disasters, etc. When women get like that they do the same as men. Except the sex thing (generally speaking).

Weiner is actually fairly harmless. He may have been honing his appetite, but it seems he ate at home. What gets men seeking pleasures outside the marriage though is definitely being in a cage. Vows of fidelity or not, given the opportunity, most men will jump. Women not. The research on this has been done, by the way, I am not just giving opinion.

Posted by Talleyrand | Report as abusive


Though I couldn’t care less about men like Weiner, I deeply care about this men-women/women-men-difference-issue.

Rather than telling men to care more, Ms. Richards should tell women to care less. But, of course, based on the assumption that the men have to be fixed, we are told by Ms. Richards that it is wrong that we do not care us much as women do. If you think that is a valid point, then at least have the courage to say, that all men are behaving wrong; the “bad guys” because they simply behave badly and the good guys because they don’t seem to lose their self-respect in spite of all the atrocities the “bad guys” commit. You still think this is a valid point?

I think it is just pointing to a – I give you that – fact, we can observe in reality. BUT. Who is Ms. Richards to tell us that we (the men who don’t feel the need to be ashamed etc) are wrong to behave the way we do?

It is this line of feminism that will never be able to establish any equality between men and women. Because one of its precepts for trying to achieve equality between men and women is the idea that there aren’t any real differences between men and women – they are all just cultural constructs that can be corrected by changing the way we perceive, think and speak about the world.

Gladly, there is another line of thinking (which I do not even want to call feminism because it is trying hard not to be an “ism”). There are real differences (biological, psychological and so on) between men and women, and they should be respected. However, neither the article nor all the stereotypes about men and women do.

There will always be conflicts due to the real differences between men and women. Anybody in a healthy relationship can attest to that. But it is respect for the other and the ability to acknowledge those differences as being a part of the other that will get us closer to equality.

Telling someone he is wrong simply because he feels different from me or behaves in an unexpected manner (and I am not talking about objective moral digressions here) is disrespectful and does not get you anywhere.

@Fescu To you it may seem Ms. Richards is making a valid point. To me it feels more like a bitter attack on man. If you are a bad guy you lose, if you are a good guy you lose. The only way to satisfy this kind of view on men and women is to behave more like a woman, which I think is disrespectful to the real distinction between men and women.

But, of course, I am just a man. How should I know what is the right thing to do? For all we know, I am culturally predisposed to think the way I do. Ms. Richards on the ohter hand, an individual who has clearly broken through these binding cultural constructs (men “successfully” established centuries ago) seems to have all the answers…

Posted by Sekin_Bey | Report as abusive

C’mon, folks, don’t take her so seriously.

Reuters contributing author Amy Richards is a self-avowed feminist activist, organizer, and co-founder of The Third Wave Foundation benefiting “young women, transgender, and gender non-conforming youth.”


Posted by jca | Report as abusive

Why should a man be ashamed of his penis being erect? Should a woman be ashamed of her breasts increasing in size when she is pregnant or lactating? Clearly these human conditions are a biological function.

Perhaps most men are not ashamed to send a willing recipient such pictures. Clearly the receiving party was not embarrassed either. It is about time adults start acting like modern people and not Victorian hypocrites. And while they are at it, the media should put as much energy into exposing the gross misconduct of our two parties and the malfeasance of our government.

Posted by coyotle | Report as abusive