The XX Factor

Repulsive Sex Scandals

Aren’t sex scandals supposed to be a little bit fun? Of course, if they’re scandals, it means a left-behind partner has gotten hurt, but the best sex scandals at least allow you to be wryly amused about the follies of human passion. The Mark Sanford affair was a good sex scandal-the meltdown press conference, the tearful confessions of love, the e-mails about Maria’s luscious casabas , the knowledge that the wronged Jenny could very well take care of herself. (She actually takes care of herself too well-the tell-all book makes her look stupid for marrying him.) But each iteration of the Tiger Woods and John Edwards scandals leaves a sick, dispirited feeling. Now there are more Tiger Woods texts, and they reveal a sadistic creep who acts as if his family is an annoyance that takes him away from fantasies of golden showers with porn actresses. The John Edwards-Rielle Hunter saga should be entertaining and titillating-a phony narcissistic is brought low by an aging airhead. But the background noise of loss and death makes you want to turn away.

Photograph of texting by Alton , made available under a GNU Free Documentation License.