Media, Politics

Anthony Weiner: Heh-heh, you said ‘penis’

By Kevin Bloom 11 June 2011

The latest scandal involving a US congressman seems to be slightly different from the thousands that have preceded it. The likely reason is that this one involves a closer focus on the penis than the others, and that the name of the congressman is – wait for it – Weiner. Not even the most po-faced of media outlets have been able to resist. By KEVIN BLOOM.

Did you know that the plural of “penis” is “penes”? No? Or that the world record for largest penis- to body-size ratio, at 40 to one, is held by the barnacle? Fair enough, but then of course you knew that before the word entered the English language – from the Latin for “tail” – this particular part of the male animal’s anatomy was widely referred to as the “yard,” and that almost every mammal was said to possess a bone therein, the notable exceptions being the human and the horse. Still, bone or no bone (the scientific term would later become “baculum”), the human male has since time immemorial found much joy in the fact that his own penis is by far the largest organ amongst the primates, with the adult chimpanzee’s measuring only eight centimetres when erect, and the average gorilla’s coming in at a laughable four.

Which may explain why, in June 2011, the full spectrum of the media universe – from the highbrow New Yorker to the middlebrow Time to the lower-than-lowbrow Gawker – is exceptionally interested in the fact that a US congressman by the name of Anthony Weiner appears to spend his off-hours posting photographs of his penis to women he’s never met.

“Of course I take pictures of my penis and send them to people,” the New Yorker’s John Kenney wrote in sympathy with Weiner. “Why wouldn’t I?

“It’s my penis. And as a great man once said, it’s meant to be photographed… Where some people have photos of their families on their desks at work, I have photos of my penis. My penis on vacation in the Bahamas. My penis in Madrid, on a business trip, the Prado in the background (slightly out of focus). My penis receiving an award for Outstanding Employee of the Month.”

While Time magazine’s Joel Stein didn’t exactly take the opposite tack, he did suggest that there would need to be some sort of external impetus for the aforesaid snap to occur. “Unlike Anthony Weiner, I am completely familiar with all the photos ever taken of my penis. That’s because there aren’t any. Like any man, I would love to spend an afternoon lolling in a glade, taking pictures of my penis. But no one – not women I’ve dated, not a urologist, not the Museum of Modern Art – has ever said to me, ‘I’d love a few candids of your penis.’”

No-one said that to Weiner either, which was the point – that, and the fact that although he only intended to send the penis-picture to a 21-year-old female student who was following him on Twitter, he pressed the wrong button and sent it to all his followers (who at the time numbered in the tens of thousands). Like any good politician, at first Weiner claimed that his Twitter account had been hacked. But when a right-wing blogger by the name of Andrew Breitbart published a cropped shirtless picture Weiner had sent to another woman, and indicated there were more, Weiner was forced to come clean.

Photo: A screen grab of the website Biggovernment.com shows photo of a shirtless U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner. REUTERS/Biggovernment.com/

The tearful news conference happened on Monday night, 6 June. “To be clear, the picture was of me, and I sent it,” said Weiner. “I am deeply sorry for the pain this has caused my wife, Huma, and our family, and my constituents, my friends, supporters and staff. In addition, over the past few years, I have engaged in several inappropriate conversations conducted over Twitter, Facebook, email, and occasionally on the phone with women I had met online.”

Needless to say, the damage had been done. On June 10, New York-based gossip website Gawker was still awash with headlines (and graphic photos) on the incident – from “Anthony Weiner’s Cock Shot Emerges” to “How to Take a Dong Shot” to “The Most Famous Cock Shots of all Time”. Two of the more interesting ones were “Anthony Weiner May Have Scared Congressmen Away from Twitter” (seems volumes were down in the days following the incident) and “Stephen Colbert Is All Over Anthony Weiner’s Cock” (see the link to the video below).

So what, aside from the almost unbelievable concurrence of his name, is at the core of the intense focus on Weiner’s weiner? As suggested, it’s not as if only the gutter journalists are swilling in the mud here – at this writing, on June 10, three of the “most popular” stories on the New Yorker site are directly related to the congressman from New York.

If there’s any theory worth positing, perhaps it’s the simplest one: the theory that this scandal is different because it gets right to the heart of where all scandals begin and end – the human penis. And let’s face it, there’s always been something irresistibly funny about this part of the male anatomy. The late-night hosts have been having the time of their lives – witness the following from David Letterman’s “Top Ten Questions to Ask Before Tweeting a Photo of Yourself”: 10, “Is this my best side?”; 6, “Would it be more personal to fax everyone photos?”; 4, “Is there a better way to show people I’m Jewish?” DM


Read more:

  • “America’s Next Top Weiner,” in Time;
  • “Of course I take pictures of my penis and send them to people,” in the New Yorker;
  • Transcript of Weiner’s confession on NBC New York;
  • “Stephen Colbert Is All Over Anthony Weiner’s Cock,” on Gawker.

Photo: U.S. Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY) reacts as he speaks to the press in New York, June 6, 2011. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

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