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Sexual Power and Sexual Healing

Posted Mar 19 2010 12:00am
“Nearly all men can stand adversity,
but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
Abraham Lincoln

Just in case nobody has ever told you, let me be the first: Power is an aphrodisiac. It gets you into all the best places, it introduces you to interesting and influential people, it’s headier than any perfume, and I hear it can be even more intoxicating than drugs or alcohol. (I hear things.) In light of the recent very public drawing and quartering of a famous and powerful sports figure, I thought we should revisit a post from several years ago. Amazing just how relevant it still is, isn't it?

But Wait, There’s More!

That’s right; when you combine a dash of charisma with a dollop of testosterone and a large serving of power, guess what you get? If you said a man who’s irresistible to more than just the electorate, you’ve played this game before. Now, pair that kind of irresistible force with a few examples of poor decision-making, and you have an all-too-familiar story—the kind reporters like to lead with by saying, “details at 7; pictures at 11.”

Ever wondered how you’d act after spending years as a powerful and charismatic figure, someone who’s always performing for an adoring public—a public who’s constantly telling you how wonderful you are, and occasionally even throwing themselves at you? Add to that the huge amount of stress involved in performing at such a high level, year after year. Who can say what any of us would do? Just think about how tempting it could be—and how easy it would be for almost any of us to start losing just a bit of our own sense of reality. In fact, when you think about it, it’s a wonder that anyone actually stays sane in that world!

Why is all this so not a big deal in other countries, but always a delicious scandal here? It has more than just a little to do with this country’s attitudes about sex. That and the fact that newspapers have a pressing need to sell stories.

Pop Quiz: What’s one of the hottest selling topics in U.S. newspapers and magazines? Survey says: cautionary tales about sex. Why? Because in the U.S., sex = bad, while in other countries it’s not nearly such a big deal; hence, people can’t be as easily manipulated into buying these tales.

OMG!!! Not Me!

So, when you do see these kinds of stories, ask yourself: did this person actually bring any kind of harm to his/her public; or cheat us out of our time or money or in any other way violate the public trust? If the answer to these questions is a resounding NO, then perhaps it’s really no one’s business but theirs and those closest to them. We’ve all made poor decisions, but most of us don’t have them held up for public scrutiny. What if your every blunder and impropriety was scrutinized under a People Magazine microscope?

Which do you think is more harmful to the public?

A) Lining your pockets with lobbyists’ money?
B) Spending your constituents’ hard-earned tax dollars on overseas “fact-finding” junkets?
C) Having a late night tryst with someone other than your spouse?

If you picked “C,” welcome to America in the early days of the 21st century, where everything is fodder for supermarket gossip tabloids and magazines.

Let’s Slay the Dragon

How do we all put a stop to this kind of manipulation? Step one: Refuse to participate. Don’t read/listen to gossip. Don’t engage in discussions about it. Let’s face it: unless you’re intimately related to the people involved, anything you say is an uninformed opinion anyway.

OK, stopping cold turkey is a bit drastic, but if all of us learned to slowly back away from and eventually refuse to take part in these public rites of character assassination, before too long we’d find the level of discourse would have risen quite a bit. And wouldn’t that be a refreshing change from the usual slap and tickle?

But I DON’T want to forbid you to gossip. That would be wrong. Plus it would just make it that much more attractive. So how’s this for a compromise: YOU be the one in your group to take the high road and maybe mention a few of the above points while everyone else is “tsk-tsk”ing over the latest scandal. Now aren’t YOU the smart sophisticate! Gives you a feeling of power, doesn’t it?

With Pleasure,

Dr. J
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