Faculty members write book on political sex scandals

Sex scandals in American politics are nothing new, but a soon-to-be published book by nine Shippensburg University faculty members takes a new look at the phenomenon and its impact on the nation. Sex Scandals in American Politics is to be released in September by Continuum Press.

The book was edited by Dr. Alison Dagnes, associate professor of political science, who also co-wrote the chapter "The Politics, Geography and Constituencies of Political Sex Scandals" with Dr. Janet Smith, associate professor of geography-earth science.

Chapters were written by

  • Dr. Cynthia Drenovsky, professor of sociology, “Game Changer: The Clinton Scandal and American Sexuality”
  • Dr. James Griffith, assistant professor of psychology, “The Psychology of Risky Sexual Behavior: Why Politicians Expose Themselves”
  • Dr. Mark Sachleben, associate professor of political science, “A Framework for Understanding: Sex Scandals in Comparison”
  • Dr. Carrie Sipes, assistant professor of communication/journalism, “Men, Mistresses, and Media Framing: Examining Political Sex Scandals”
  • Dr. Richard Knight, associate professor of human communication studies, “Love Means Sometimes Having to Say You’re Sorry”
  • Stephanie Jirard, associate professor of criminal justice, “It May Be Wrong, But it’s Not a Crime: The negligible legal consequences for the amoral sexual activity of men in public office”
  • Dr. Cynthia Botteron, associate professor of political science, “Hedging the Bet: Constitutional Qualifications for National Public Office.”

According to the publisher’s website, “From the misbehavior of President Clinton to Governor Mark Sanford’s Argentinean tryst, sex scandals have become a prominent feature of American public life. This unique collection of essays explains why politicians elected for their leadership and promises of ethical behavior risk their career, and the socio-political consequences of their actions. It argues that political sex scandals are distinct from other types of sex scandals because the nature of elected office is very different from “civilian” life.

The construction, disgrace, and aftermath of political sex scandals are examined from different academic angles, including the politics of place, human communication, political psychology, media, sociology, feminism, and criminology. The essays delve into the role of culture and geography on the political outcome of a scandal, the rhetoric of apologia, the psychology of risk, trends and patterns in media coverage, the impact on different organized interests, legal ramifications, and how different countries view political sex scandal.”

As part of the book’s release, the authors are planning several events including a reading/book signing in Old Main Chapel sometime after the semester starts this fall and an interdisciplinary academic conference on political scandals to be held at the Conference Center at Shippensburg University in June 2012. They also are available for media interviews as other scandals occur.