There have been some prominent madams, of course—Heidi Fleiss, Sydney Biddle Barrows—but not since Catherine the Great has a prominent woman racked up a harem to rival a man’s.By far the two most famous categories of female sex scandals are the lesbian love affairs (women’s basketball coach Pokey Chatman, tennis player Billie Jean King, model Gia Carangi) and the female teachers who incomprehensibly fall for their students (from Mary Kay Letourneau on down).Recent years have also seen two minor flaps involving female elected officials, both Republican congresswomen, both tripped up by extramarital affairs.“It’s not because women don’t get the hots for new guys,” says Jessica Cutler, former author of the Washingtonienne blog, which chronicled her sexual exploits as a congressional staffer. ”We’ve yet to see a real whopper of a female sex scandal, but Professor Tiger says this may change as gender parity increases at work and women start making more money than men.“Who knows?
Or it’s because, apart from Madonna, real women just don’t have sex like men.“There are women who are fairly celebrated for their erotic lives, the standard starlets and so on,” says Lionel Tiger, the remarkably named Charles Darwin Professor of Anthropology at Rutgers University and a specialist in the biological origins of human interaction, “but there are none equivalent to Wilt Chamberlain or those men that celebrated how prolific they were in securing females.”Professor Tiger offers the story of a woman who once shepherded him around on a book tour.
She had filled a similar role for countless rock stars and celebrities over the years and observed an ironclad gender disparity: After a show, the male stars would head back to their dressing rooms with five or so women apiece; and the women would go back to the hotel with a gal pal or two and order room service.
Quite simply, “women tend to prefer males who are more powerful than they and not vice versa,” he says.
But maybe it’s a little more complicated than the standard psychological profile of star-fucking.“Men are typically seen as having agency and women are typically seen as being acted upon in romantic relationships,” says New York writer Emily Gould (a survivor of her own small-scale sex scandal).
“So then even when those stereotypical power dynamics aren’t really the ones at play, the culture-making machinery will simplify whatever the real story is until it is a more familiar wronged-woman, lothario-man narrative.”Perhaps for that reason, most modern sex scandals centered around prominent women have a more chaste feel.
At the height of her stardom, Ingrid Bergman left her husband for Roberto Rossellini, and nearly lost her career as a result.
Princess Diana was recorded talking dirty to her pal James Gilbey one night on the phone and ultimately lost her life being hounded by the paparazzi while on a drive with a beau.
Meg Ryan cheated on Dennis Quaid with Russell Crowe; while married to Robert Evans, Ali Mac Graw had an affair with Steve Mc Queen during the filming of The Getaway; singer Le Ann Rimes had an affair with Eddie Cibrian, her co-star in a TV movie.
South Carolina Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley landed in an elite club Monday morning, when a conservative blogger claimed the two had had an affair in 2007.
She joins Princess Di, Catherine the Great, Ingrid Bergman and the very few other women who’ve gotten caught in sex scandals.
Haley immediately denied the allegations that she’d had an extramarrital dalliance with blogger Will Folks while he was in her employ, calling the claim a “disgraceful smear.” Former Alaska Gov.