I blame Paris Hilton. And maybe Kim Kardashian. And maybe – though less so – Monica Lewinsky.
We are in an era of great potential for women. Title IX has created a generation of females raised on participatory soccer, their egos managed and competitive spirits nurtured by the weekly exercise of winning gracefully and losing when they weren't as good as the other side. Females in the military can now ask to go into combat roles, should they so choose. And we are finally, at long last, considering the possibility that we might have a female president, since the early front-runner for 2016 is a woman.
So what would lead some young women to try to make their names by becoming low-rent figures in sex-related scandals?
There was the woman who traded emails with former Rep. Chris Lee, who didn't do more than send a photo of himself, shirtless, to a woman seeking male companionship on Craigslist. The woman "came forward" (who is she, Daniel Ellsburg?) and ID'd the congressman as some sort of criminal. She didn't identify herself at first, of course, leaving it to a friend to describe her only as a "leggy glamazon." Really? Is that what glamorous and highly appealing women do in their late night hours – troll for dates on a website perhaps best known for its use by a serial killer?
Now we have the improbably named Sydney Leathers, who has declared herself betrayed and manipulated by former Rep. (and current candidate for New York City mayor) Anthony Weiner because the two were exchanging crudely sexual texts and photos. Leathers knew he was married and knew he was an elected official. Does she really believe anyone will think her behavior (which does not excuse Wiener's behavior, of course) is anything other than a pathetic attempt to get attention and temporary notoriety?
The disappointing thing is not the sexual assertiveness of these women – power to them, on that matter, in the general sense. What's distressing is that at a time when they could achieve fame by doing something actually useful or impressive, they have fallen back on the recipe of old: hook up with a famous man and ye, too, shall become famous.
Yes, you can still get your name and photo out there by making a sex tape (and it helps if you hail from a wealthy family). And you can surely get on "Inside Edition" by writing dimestore porn to mayoral candidates. It's juts not as much actual work as, say, running for office or writing something brilliant or becoming a star athlete or brave soldier. Trading sex for money is prostitution. Trading your sexuality for a moment in the news is just pathetic.