Another sex scandal occurred in the USA this week, in which New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer was caught in having close relations with VIP prostitutes. Opinion polls unveiled the day after the beginning of the sex scandal that the majority of Americans were deeply concerned with the governor’s hypocrisy. Many of them said that the governor should resign. Spitzer released a statement to the media and sent in his resignation.
Such a radical reaction to sex scandals raises envy with Russia, where it is generally believed that the retribution for sex affairs is a token of true democracy and testifies to the real responsibility of the authorities to the people. An act of public repentance plays a special role at this point, for it shows that the general public is entitled to expect a special moral level from a statesman, whereas other people who do not take official positions are free to break those moral standards. A theory says that this is a payment which state officials have to make for their participation in the decision-making process and those advantages that the power gives them.
On the other hand, laws do not regulate moral values per se – they were made to struggle against the abusive exercise of power. The notorious scandal with Monica Lewinsky is a classic example of this paradox. Prosecutor Kenneth Starr repeatedly emphasized that the fact of Bill Clinton’s adultery was not the subject of investigation. The case was connected with criminal actions connected with Bill Clinton’s attempts to put obstacles in the way of investigation. As it is known, Mr. Clinton denied the allegation of his sexual contacts with Monica Lewinsky and attempted to make third persons commit a perjury too. The formal approach allowed Clinton to keep his power during the process of impeachment and the Senate-led investigation.
Nevertheless, intimate details of Bill Clinton’s private life made front pages of nearly all newspapers in the world during a whole year. Clinton entered history as the president who desecrated the Oval Office and outraged family values that are so cherished by Americans.
Adultery has become a common phenomenon after the sexual revolution of the 1960s. Modern culture propagandizes unfaithfulness and freedom of sexual expression. It just so happens that a common person or a successful entrepreneur has a right to have an affair with a ‘call girl’ and even develop a full-fledged relationship with her (as it was shown in Pretty Woman). This would not be an option for state officials.
As a rule, a sex scandal starts with the appearance of pieces of information about sexual pleasures of an influential person. The rest depends on the conduct of the “pervert.” Only several days of the scandal were enough to make Eliot Spitzer resign. British Home Secretary David Blunkett resigned a couple of weeks after he was accused of power misuse to solve his lover’s family affairs. Israeli President Moshe Katsav was struggling for a year and so did Bill Clinton. As a result, Katsav resigned, but Clinton managed to keep his office.
Sex scandals play on such natural reactions as fear, disdain and envy. It is an open secret that many people feel good only if they bring other people down.
In Russia, the first scandal occurred in the second half of the 1990s, when the general public saw the tape of Justice Minister Valentin Kovalev entertaining himself in a company of naked girls. A similar story happened to Prosecutor General Yury Skuratov. The two stories ended with resignations of both officials. However, the majority of Russians did not pay much of their attention to those stories. Many of them believed that it was silly to dwell upon state officials’ sexual preferences against the background of other occurrences of revolting lawlessness in the nation.
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov