Talking Petraeus at Jezebel and on Current TV

In response to the David Petraeus sex scandal, I wrote a piece at Jezebel: ‘I Know You Better Than You Know Yourself:’ Why Men Cheat With Their Biographers.


It’s hard not to suspect that that same lack of self-awareness drove General Petraeus. Men whose lives are defined by public action and attentiveness to image are vulnerable to “imposter syndrome.” They may be keenly aware of the disconnect between how they are perceived and the messy reality of who it is that they “really ” are. Married to women who are under no illusions as to their shortcomings, plenty of middle-aged men make the mistake of turning to the women who “understand.” An affair with a journalist or documentarian offers a double bonus: not only the chance to be validated as privately worthy by a star-struck lover, but the promise of being presented to the public in the most favorable possible light by a woman whom you like to imagine knows you better than you know yourself.

Sex scandals are rooted in male narcissism, as Irin Carmon wrote for Jezebel when the Edwards scandal broke. Rielle Hunter famously first got John Edwards’ attention with a blunt “You’re hot!” But we make a mistake when we assume that male narcissism is only about being validated for being sexually attractive. It’s also about the longing to be seen as worthy by a woman who is presumably in a position to know the truth about his goodness. Men who froze their own capacity for introspection when they were young are particularly likely to seek out the affair with the woman who promises to peek underneath the uniform and pronounce that what she sees is hot, fascinating, and noble. This is a narcissism driven as much by a specifically male lack of self-awareness as it is by preening, anxious vanity.

Last night, I appeared on Current TV’s The War Room with Gov. Jennifer Granholm to talk about this issue. The five-minute clip is here.

On the Ricki Lake Show

Last month, I taped an episode of the Ricki Lake Show, talking about circumcision. The clip of my appearance aired today:

I’d like to think that the make-up artist made it believable that I could pass for 37,which is how the video title describes me.

IF you’re really interested, there’s a UStream of my appearance today with the “After Ricki” team. Much lower quality, but an interesting discussion.

On “The Point” talking Sex, Drugs, and Rock n’ Roll.

A couple of weeks ago, I taped an episode of The Point in nearby Culver City. For those unfamiliar, The Point is the public affairs platform for the Young Turks; a 50 minute talk show that features guests exploring a variety of culturally relevant topics; this episode was “Sex, Drugs, and Rock n’ Roll.” (We failed to exhaust any of these.) The host was Christopher Ryan, author of Sex at Dawn, and my fellow panelists were Cara Santa Maria (senior science editor at HuffPo) and Richard Metzger (of Dangerous Minds).

It was great fun to chat about everything from Alice in Chains to the misuse of Cialis to the parlous state of sex education in America. The full show is here.

New Video from “Healthy is the New Skinny”

Healthy is the New Skinny and the Perfectly Unperfected Project have released two new videos. In the first, Katie Halchishick and I talk about the whole issue of authenticity and beauty — a discussion of real v. fake similar to the one I touched on in this Jezebel piece. The second looks at the issue of bullying in schools, and explains how the PUP program can be part of the solution.

Check out Real Beauty and Bullying in Schools.