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Are Feminists Protecting Women in Sexting Scandals? What’s Really Fair?

Are Feminists Protecting Women in Sexting Scandals? What’s Really Fair?Sydney Leathers, Anthony Weiner’s 23 year-old sexting partner, recently cashed in on her fame by starring in a porno film of herself masturbating.  It sells for $4.95.  Another one of her enterprises is writing an obscene article about how to seduce a politician.  She advises women who want to be like her to “indulge his crazy alter ego, and whatever you do, don’t laugh at him.”

Leathers is not embarrassed about the scandal that caused the former Congressman so much grief in his latest political run as a candidate for Mayor of New York.

“For me, Anthony Weiner was a big weird science experiment,” she says.  “I wanted to see how far it could go.  How far could I push it?”

And despite her advice not to laugh at your victim, she does find him funny.

“You have to keep a straight face,” she says. “Anthony would thank me every time he had an orgasm… Who thanks someone after an orgasm?”

Some twenty years ago a White House intern in her early 20s flashed her thong underwear at the President of the United States, and the rest was history.  Monica Lewinsky later told Barbara Walters that her thong reveal was just “a small subtle flirtatious gesture.”

Lewinsky and Leathers are many things, but they are not subtle.  Is it fair then, for feminists to always present the young women in such scandals as victims of powerful men?

Author and feminist Susan Jacoby thinks not. In an op-ed for the New York Times on July 30, 2013, she noted that what was missing from the sex scandals was “the role of women in a coarse and creepy Internet culture.”

“These women are not victims of men like Mr. Weiner,” she wrote, “but full and equal participants.  There was no force involved here.”

Jacoby believes that the old double standard for women is being replaced by a new one just as sexist.

“In the 1950s,” she writes, “women were supposed to be the gatekeepers of sexual propriety while they waited for Prince Charming.  But the unfairness of the old expectations does not justify a new double standard, which pretends only men are responsible for virtual sex that may prevent or wreck real-life relationships.”

“As a feminist, I find it infinitely sad to imagine a vibrant young woman sitting alone at her computer and turning herself into a sex object for a man she does not know, even if she is also turning him into a sex object.”

Some who responded to Jacoby’s piece in the New York Times objected to her “moralizing on what constitutes valid erotic pleasure” for both parties. This could be a generational reaction. Younger women may be less likely to take issue with the behaviors of eager participants like Leathers and Lewinsky. Unlike their mothers, they were brought up on Shera, Princess of Power – not Walt Disney’s Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.

Dr. Keith Ablow, a psychiatrist who works as a consultant for Fox News, believes that older women like Nancy Pelosi who condemn Weiner’s behaviors as offensive to women “expose a fault line between women of their age and women younger than, say 30… ”

“Anthony Weiner had plenty of playmates happy to receive photographs of his private parts, flirt with Carlos Danger and gratify him and themselves sexually,” he says. “Today’s women are, by the millions, no different from men in their sexual appetites or lack of demureness… The sexual liberation of women has liberated them to be just like men – who, whether anyone likes it or not, often enjoy sex outside of emotionally-connected, longstanding relationships.”


Jacoby, Susan. “Weiner’s Women,” The New York Times, July 30, 2013.

“Letters to the Editor – Re: Weiner’s Women,” The New York Times, August 1, 2013.

Ablow, Keith (MD). “What Weiner’s sexting scandal tells us about young women today,” July 31, 2013

Kurtz, Howard. “Lewinsky Tells of Her Hapless Affair,” The Washington Post, March 3, 1999.

Sydney Leathers, Weiner Sexting Partner, Makes Porn Video Because Of Course, The Huffington Post, August 5, 2013.

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