By Ken Feltman
originally published in Politico
A woman who chaired a key federal commission and our spouses discussed this some years ago. She was less disgusted with men than amazed at men’s recklessness. Each of us knew people in three occupations that are in the public eye – athletes, entertainers and (mostly) politicians. She believed that all three occupations tended to have a large number of men with over-active egos requiring instant gratification. I agree.
Athletes tend to take groupies as a fringe benefit, always available, interchangeable, disposable. One professional baseball manager told me that certain players always tried to break curfew so he arranged with the hotels where his teams stayed to put those players in rooms with easy access to exits, far away from coaches. Was that manager an enabler? A rather unfortunately ugly player once confessed to me that he decided to pursue a career in sports rather than accept a scholarship to Princeton because for young men who were not good looking, “that’s where the girls are.” Was he suggesting that supply creates demand? Let’s see about entertainers and politicians.
Entertainers are of many types. Most of the male and female entertainers I have known would fit the description “normal.” Many entertainers defy expectations and seem introverted when not performing. Many are shy, some painfully so. The exceptions make the tabloid headlines. A gay actor who was a teenage heart throb said to me that all the groupies were “wasted on me but they still cluster around all the time.” The wife of a leading male told me that her husband’s philandering “goes with the territory.” Do we have “enabling” going on?
Politicians are the category that is harder to understand. Yes, they have the same opportunities that their ego-driven counterparts in sports and entertainment have – but they also have a higher penalty to pay when caught. What is it that makes them risk it? One long-time senator (married for over three decades) told me that he had never been successful with women until he got elected to his state’s senate. He was proud of his conquests, mostly young staffers. A young member of congress (married and with a family back home) said that the risk was part of the excitement. Do these “reasons” seem juvenile? Does that preying senator seem especially venal?
That’s my bottom line: The combination of testosterone-addled egos and immaturity causes grown men to become self-indulgent little boys. They and others may attempt to justify their abhorrent behavior because some women tempt the boys. Face it: Most women don’t. Women have matured since the time when they huddled in caves protecting their children while the men roamed the countryside trying to kill dinner. Women still have the primary responsibility for caring for the young. Women seek a safe and settled place. Men may have left the caves but the caves seem not to have left the men.
Why? Because too many never had to grow up and learn to accept responsibility. The groupies are not at fault. Testosterone is not an “advance to go” card. It’s as if these supposedly civilized guys stopped hunting down woolly mammoths and substituted women. The guys are responsible for their behavior. But everyone is responsible for holding the guys to a mature standard. Let’s stop enabling them by finding excuses or reasons for their lusting.