"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Le Droit Du Seigneur–Seigniorial Right And The Governor Of New York

The Droit du seigneur also known as jus primae noctis ('right of the first night'), was a legal right in medieval Europe, allowing feudal lords to have sexual relations with subordinate women especially and in particular on their wedding nights.  It was one of many privileges of kings and lords of the court, and was abolished by Ferdinand II of Aragon only in 1486, but survived intact and lived on elsewhere.

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The practice was particularly prominent in Scotland. After their travels in Scotland in 1773, Samuel Johnson and James Boswell documented the custom of the payment of merchet, linking it with the "right of first night".  Sir Walter Scott mentioned the custom in his historical Scottish novel, The Fair Maid of Perth (1828).

While droit du seigneur has long been out of favor, there is no doubt that it has lived on de facto, by extension, and in extremis (Governor Nelson Rockefeller was found dead of a heart attack in the arms of his lover; and behind respectful reportage the press crowed, ‘What a way to go’).  With the exception of Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter,most men in power took full advantage of their position.  

The most memorable was John F Kennedy who had affairs with many women.  Rumor has it that he shared Marilyn Monroe with his younger brother, Robert, Attorney General and the most powerful member of JFK’s cabinet; but his extramarital relations were legion, known by everyone except the public, shielded from what might be politically volatile news by an adoring and complaisant press. 

Donald Trump obviously loved beautiful women, arm candy, beauty queens, models, and showgirls.  He was of course accused by his opponents of unwanted sexual advances, but his arm around Miss Connecticut and warm smiles for all the other contestants were telling.  

This was a man of oversized appetites, and while the fey Left laughed at his glitz, Las Vegas runways, Hollywood tinsel, and sexual bombast, the public loved that part of him.  No voter wants a wimp in the White House, a put-on-your-sweaters, fireside, compassionate Jimmy Carter president.  They want a JFK, Sarkozy, Mitterrand, or Trump.   

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LBJ used his Secret Service as a cover for his tomcatting, and suggestions were that they pimped for the President who, it was assumed, was too busy to be bothered with actually chasing women. Bill Clinton’s trailer-trash affairs were well known and the revelations during his presidency which caused his impeachment were no surprise to anyone.  

While no one outside of the United States was surprised or offended at Clinton’s adultery, most men wondered at his bad taste, especially the French who were used to President Mitterrand’s affairs and took them with casual indifference (his illegitimate daughter appeared at his graveside without a second thought by anyone); and loved the sexual hijinks of a later President Sarkozy who kept his mistress at the Elysees.

Henry Kissinger famously noted that power is the ultimate aphrodisiac, and it was assumed that all men in power wanted as much sex as they could get, and the pool of willing women was wide and deep. 

So it is not surprising that the long-term, influential, and current Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, is under the lens and likely soon under indictment for extramarital sexual activity.  In the Governor’s case, however, there is nothing much to share in locker rooms and bars, for he is not accused of a liaison with the likes of Marilyn Monroe but only of groping, fondling, and making ‘improper advances’ towards women.  

How revolting and unseemly – not that the Governor did these adolescent, desperately puerile acts, but that was all he did.  The public was very forgiving of JFK when many years later the stories of his dalliances came out and in fact his stature became even more regal.  They adored this young, handsome, witty, charming, and wealthy man; and affairs with beautiful women only enhanced his image, an image that remains and colors its reaction to Cuomo. 

 ‘Smarmy, repressed, and ugly’ was the way one columnist put it honestly (he was expected to take umbrage and the Governor’s indecency and violation of the new sexual contract in America), and few could disagree.  Walmart greeters have affairs with checkout girls but presidents go out with the best and the finest of American womanhood.  More power to them.

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What was going through Cuomo’s mind?  Was it some weird emergence of the old Southern Italian ogling, pinching thing? Was it the pure frustration of a macho, virile man hemmed in by the strictures of power? Or was it a dope, a man so insulated from feminist censoriousness and the new sexual normal, that he really didn’t know shit from Shinola?  

Whatever it is, and whatever the outcome, get rid of him.  It is not so much that the public wants him penalized for his irremediable and insensitive behavior, but that the whole idea of a sexually impotent man reduced to fondling and lurid comments is disgusting.

And by the way, what is it with New York Governors?  It’s one thing to die at the moment of climax with a beautiful woman as Rockefeller did; another entirely to have smarmy sex like Eliot Spitzer. When news reports of his afternoon trysts with high-priced Washington hookers in the bridal suite of the Mayflower Hotel came out, his reputation his political career was finished.  Once again the public was not so surprised at his sexual lassitude, but that it was with prostitutes.  Men in power, even as unattractive as Spitzer, can and do have any woman they want for free, so what’s he doing trolling the streets of DC?

We live in a censorious and hypocritical age.  Women who are told from birth that they can do anything, that they are more than the equal of men, that they can handle themselves in any circumstance, and that they will never be bested by any male, now need a good propping up.  Gone are the strong women of literature who were models for women – Hedda Gabler, Rebekka West, Tamora, Dionyza, Laura, Rosalind, Margaret, and a thousand more – women who ran rings around men, bested them at every turn, took advantage of their beauty, intelligence, and allure and got what they wanted.  Women want to be all they can be but with a little help.

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In an earlier age, women would have dismissed the likes of Mario Cuomo with a sniff and and a look, and never looked back; while now it is all about unwanted attention, male ignorance, patriarchy, and machismo. 

Mario Cuomo should neither resign nor be forced to quit unless and until the charges – regardless how flimsy and inconsequential they would have been only a few decades ago let alone in the era of truly strong women – are proven in a court of law.   However, for reasons unrelated to the legal accusations before him, his resignation would be welcomed.  Men would be happy to have an ass-pinching adolescent out of office; and women would feel they got their protective due.

The press has called for President Biden to speak out on Cuomo’s irregularities, but he has demurred.  Let justice take its course, he implies.  Of course only those with very short memories have forgotten the same Cuomo-like accusations against the President.  He always seemed to have his arm around young women, hugging them, and kissing them half-chastely on the cheek

In this defiantly prudish and intolerant age it is not surprising that men in office resort to dry sex.  Unrestricted sex used to be a perk of the office, now it is a death sentence.  It is easy to feel sorry for Biden, a careful, controlled and dutiful man past his sexual pull-date whose only sexual outlet is a hug with a pretty girl.  

It is hard to feel sorry for Cuomo who acted like a petty dictator during the worst years of COVID, postured and posed as a man of moral authority, dismissed opponents and critics, and who has become a bore and a pest.  Whether or not there is any truth to the accusations made against him, nobody will be sorry to see him go.

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