Everything You Need to Know About the Media

If you’ve been following this David Petraeus resignation saga closer than Next at a dance party, you are not alone. With its intrigue, espionage, thousands of inappropriate emails, and shirtless pics, the coverage of this sex scandal has everything. And by “everything,” I mean a depressing amount of retrograde sexism.

Photoshopped book cover
See what they did there?

Now if you haven’t been following the saga, most of what you need to know can be found in this up-to-the-minute explanation from Mother Jones or, for the lazier among us, in this flowchart and in this one. (FYI: the shirtless FBI agent not identified in those charts has since been identified as this guy. The plot thickens and honestly the Coen brothers need to make a movie about this so I can keep everything straight.) Suffice it to say, lots of people who work in the upper ranks of national security, government, and the Florida military socialite scene have been getting it on with each other, both in person and in cyberspace. Powerful government officials thinking with their crotches and having to resign because of it? Shocking I know! (Not really.)

Another aspect of this that is not at all shocking, besides the US Department of Horniness and Bad Judgment? The sexist media coverage. Because when there is a sex scandal and women are involved, you can bet those women will also be blamed. And at the rate the media are blaming Paula Broadwell and Jill Kelley, pretty soon we’ll hear how they’re the ones responsible for Andre 3000 not doing the latest Outkast album. With those feminine wiles and form-fitting outfits in play, no man is safe!

On the other hand, few appear to be blaming the adult men involved in this epic tale. Don’t believe me? Ask Pat Robertson, who’d remind you that hanging out with a pretty lady in a foreign land is just too much temptation for one man to handle, which is why Petraeus had no choice but to cheat on his wife:

I’m not the only one who finds the media coverage of this story frustratingly sexist (while at the same time being unable to look away because I like a scandal as much as the next Revenge fan—that thing with Kelley’s TWIN sister?! You can’t make this up!). It’s been a long week, so let’s explore the topic in list form:

That “psycho ex-girlfriend” thing is not a one-off, either. If the media aren’t painting Broadwell and Kelley as tarts, they’re crying Fatal Attraction. I understand that this is a juicy story—I wondered who the shirtless guy would turn out to be as much as you did—but in all I’ve read about it I’ve found no evidence that Petraeus, a very powerful adult man, was a victim of anything other than ego and a disregard for his wedding vows.

Blaming women for marital infidelity is nothing new, but we needn’t just roll our eyes. As this New York Times editorial points out (I don’t usually say this in seriousness but the Times is on it this week) we can learn a lesson from this scandal: We need to treat sexual misconduct in the military—from inappropriate emails to sexual assault—more seriously. Now isn’t that a better takeaway than Broadwell’s oh-so-toned arms?

by Kelsey Wallace
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Kelsey Wallace is an editor in Portland, Oregon. Follow her on Twitter if you like TV and pictures of dogs.

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1 Comment Has Been Posted

urghh scandals these dayss !

urghh scandals these dayss !

anyways good writing !

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