Deborah Coddington

Deborah Coddington is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Deborah Coddington: Power as a turn-on

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When Henry Kissinger said power is the ultimate aphrodisiac, I doubt he was referring to women politicians.

I've had to go back to Catherine the Great to find a woman at the top prepared to risk losing all for the dubious thrill of a roll in the hay.

Len Brown's no stud muffin and young, sexy Bevan Chuang admitted she only got loved up for two years because he's Auckland's boss.

There must have been pulling power swirling around Parliament when I was there, judging by the number of male MPs who had to resign because they've been caught - not quite in flagrante delicto but before media could make it messy for their parties. But I never noticed this intoxicating aura which turns boring men into lotharios just because they've garnered more votes than their rivals.

Here's the mystery. Why men? Why don't elected women leaders risk all for a quick naughty?

Can you imagine Hillary Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, Angela Merkel, Julia Gillard, Jenny Shipley, Helen Clark, Cath Tizard, Celia Wade-Brown, Lianne Dalziel, having got to the top, succumbing to the temptations of an illicit sexual liaison and risking all their hard work? I can hear the sexism already: "Who would want to go to bed with them?"

Such hypocrisy. Many of these women are very attractive.

Poor misguided Bevan Chuang was seeking power by association. And she made two dreadful mistakes: thinking she'd get it, then going public. To paraphrase, those whom the gods wish to destroy, first they make famous.

Not that she's the victim she says she is, and as some women who should know better are claiming. Women like this let the side down. And women who take her side and call her a victim - by implication, the defenceless, exploited female of the species - take feminism back a few decades.

Chuang is 32, hardly a teenager. Chuang chose to stand in the local elections - she wanted to represent and be paid by voters. She can't have it both ways. She either wants to tell people what to do, or be told what to do.

If Brown flirted with Chuang as she alleges, she had the oldest weapon in the book to defend herself - just say no. But then having said yes, and yes for two years, she could have said no when approached to tell her story to the public. But she chose not only to kiss and tell but to denigrate her former lover's sexual prowess, the ultimate betrayal.

She said she felt like a prostitute and got nothing, but professional sex workers don't betray clients.

Perhaps I'm wrong. Maybe men do get turned on by women in positions of extreme power. But they'd be special men - not your Len Browns, boosting their egos with women nearly half their age. Men like Brown are threatened by powerful women. They have opinions. They're stroppy. They'd buy their own lingerie and perfume. They certainly wouldn't take being called racist names.

Powerful women make mistakes too, but when that occurs real men stand beside them. They don't go to ground like Brown.

- Herald on Sunday

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