The recent allegations of sexual harassment and assault by Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain are just the latest in the long line of political sex scandals over the last several years… and what a long line it has been. Among others, we have seen the political careers of John Edwards, Elliott Spitzer and Anthony Weiner go up in flames for anything from extra-marital affairs and prostitution, to the tweeting of inappropriate photographs across the web! Even Hercules himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger, was unable to escape political office unscathed.
But politicians are only one piece of the puzzle. It wasn’t all that long ago that we heard of Michael Jordan’s indiscretions. More recently, we have witnessed other famous sports stars like Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant and Ben Roethlisberger throw away their marriages and families or risk their reputation, and in some cases freedom, for meaningless sexual encounters. What is going on? Why do powerful men seem to risk so much, for so little, so often?
James Smithers, President of Polaris Counseling, had this to offer, “The problem lies with both men… and power. There is enough evidence to suggest from an evolutionary perspective that males are driven on an unconscious level to be less choosy and more promiscuous that females. These instinctual, biologically driven behaviors are designed to increase the odds of being more competitive on a reproductive level. However, men do not operate on instinct alone and are self aware (at least some of the time!). Most importantly, they know the difference between right and wrong and have the ability to choose their course of action. This is where power comes in. Studies have shown that people in power have an inflated sense of self and a diminished capacity to see the potential harm in their actions. They believe everyone is attracted to them, and have become accustomed to getting what they want, when they want it. A perfect storm for many powerful men!”