Sunday, June 12, 2011

Powerful Women Rarely Have Sex Scandals

Why don't women politicians have nearly as many sex scandals as men?

A New York Times article on this subject offers two interesting points.

“The shorthand of it is that women run for office to do something, and men run for office to be somebody,” said Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.

Men are more likely to view the sexual opportunities that come from power as a fruit of the "somebody" they have become, rather than as an obstacle to the "something" they want to do.

Second, Dee Dee Meyers, who survived the Bill Clinton sex scandal when she was his press secretary, says that men in power feel invincible.

I connect this idea with Susan Pinker's contention that women, no matter how powerful, are more likely to feel like imposters.

This makes me expect that men ease up on their self-control as they become more powerful, whereas women increase their self-control as they become more powerful. This increased self-control would explain why women in power as so much less likely to engage in scandalous sex. And because power requires increasing vigilance for women, but not for men, that would contribute to why fewer women than men are willing to seek power in the first place.


Kerri said...

I'm not sure I agree with your very last point. I don't think increased vigilance is why women don't seek power as often as men. I think it's because 1) women are (typically) not inclined to want to boss people around as much, because of socialization and biology. It makes most women I know very uncomfortable being assertive in a professional context (though not in a personal one, so that's interesting...). 2) babies.

Kerri said...

Ah, I misread. I can see how it would contribute perhaps, but I don't think it's near the top of the list.

Gruntled said...

I think the reasons you cite are important ones. Nonetheless, I think women typically feel a greater or additional transaction cost of power in the level of self-monitoring they do.

Kerri said...

Though I think women are expected to self monitor anyway, moreso than men.