Not to Mention the Finns

March 13, 2008
Posted by Jay Livingston

Sex – is there anything that better exemplifies cultural variation? Maybe food. Americans are famously comfortable with excesses of eating – restaurants advertising “all you can eat” as though gluttony were a virtue, as Steven V. Roberts (Cokie’s husband) once said. European ideas about eating and drinking have a different emphasis. The French, notably, emphasize not quantity but quality, proportion, and aesthetic pleasure.

Our ideas about sexual indulgence, however, are somewhat narrower than those of Europeans. Even New Yorkers overwhelmingly thought that Gov. Spitzer should resign for having patronized prostitutes. (Spitzer’s legal problems may center more on money laundering than on sex, but I doubt that “structuring” was what the public was thinking about in judging the governor.)

Meanwhile in Finland this very same week, the foreign minister admitted to sending hundreds ofcell phone text messages to a topless dancer and her porn actress sister, and he’s not resigning. The other cabinet ministers have rallied to his side. Maybe the Finns will approve of anything so long as it’s done on a Nokia.

And according to the story (in the Daily Mail but it seems to be legit), the prime minister too had his non-marital sex life exposed without any loss of public support. A former lover published what the Mail calls a “steamy kiss-and-tell account of their relationship” just before the general election last year. He was re-elected anyway.

Hat tip to Jonathan Kulick at The Reality-Based Community for the link to this story. The title of this post, for those not familiar with ancient music, is from Cole Porter’s “Let’s Do It”:
he Dutch in old Amsterdam do it,
Not to mention the Finns.
Folks in Siam do it;
Think of Siamese twins.

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