It's Not the Male Behavior That's Changed, It's the Media's Pace

What Women Really Think
Dec. 16 2009 9:49 AM

It's Not the Male Behavior That's Changed, It's the Media's Pace

In an essay about Tiger Woods on Salon , Mary Elizabeth Williams writes, "Congratulations, 2000s-has there been a sleazier era since Caligula's?" and goes on to list all the sex scandals of the aughts along with the the resulting 15 minutes of fame for the sundry "skanks" who participated in them. She particularly notes "the stark contrast between his demure Scandinavian wife and the parade of Hooters girls , porn stars and possible professional escorts who've come out of the woodwork."

Williams might need to buff up on her history, as the sexual appetite of JFK and the "stark contrast" between his wife, Jackie, and his parade of '60s-era side dishes was just as-if not more-epic than Tiger's "apparently bottomless sexual appetite." JFK's mistresses also cashed in on their liasons with the president, just as Tiger's girls are trying to get theirs: Judith Exner wrote a book about her relationship with Kennedy in 1977 . What has changed in the past 50 years is not that powerful men sleep around as much as they want or that some women will try to capitalize off that power. It's that the cycle happens within days, rather than within decades, of the scandals breaking. One could argue that the media is more likely to report on the affairs of powerful men now than they were in Kennedy's day, but since Tiger was clearly fooling around on Elin for the entirety of their marriage and we're only hearing about it now, it seems like they still give billionaires and their brethren a pretty wide berth.

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Jessica Grose is a frequent Slate contributor and the author of the novel Sad Desk Salad. Follow her on Twitter.