October 19, 2021

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Diving Into the Subconscious of the “Cuomosexual”

6 min read

What are we to make of the “Cuomosexual” phenomenon—of the point that, just a calendar year ago, significantly of blue-state The us was lusting following Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has due to the fact been accused of sexual harassment by at minimum eleven ladies? The erotic interest was documented in a Jezebel article—“Help, I Believe I’m in Appreciate with Andrew Cuomo???”—written in the course of the early times of the COVID-19 pandemic, as President Trump was telling the nation’s governors to obtain their possess respirators and ventilators, and an nervous metropolis was locating solace in Cuomo’s every day push briefings. The expression “Cuomosexual” was popularized in a song called “Andy,” by the comedian Randy Rainbow, set to the tune of “Sandy,” from the musical “Grease”: “Oh Andy, infant / you’re so sturdy and rational / from now on I / recognize / as Cuomosexual.” (Rainbow’s video clip has been seen a lot more than two million occasions on YouTube.)

The Governor offered himself as an alternative to Trump, and New Yorkers embraced the comparison, swooning around Cuomo’s Queens accent and his tricky-male schtick. (“Forget bodyguards,” he reported, of Trump. “He’d improved have an army if he thinks he’s likely to walk down the avenue in New York.”) We basked in his awkward shows of passion (wanting into a digital camera and telling New Yorkers, “I pass up you. I enjoy you. I’m pondering about you”), smiled at his onscreen banter with his brother Chris Cuomo, the muscle-certain CNN anchor, and giggled at his father jokes about serving spaghetti and meatballs to his adult daughters and a boyfriend. Celebs these kinds of as Ellen DeGeneres and Trevor Noah announced their Cuomosexuality. The New York vogue brand name Lingua Franca developed a four-hundred-greenback sweater with “cuomosexual” embroidered on the front, though other venders slapped the slogan on cocktails, underwear, and little one tees.

That all appears to be like a prolonged time back. In December, Lindsey Boylan, a previous state economic improvement formal, accused Cuomo of sexually harassing her more than a interval of numerous many years various of the Governor’s ex-aides followed fit. Before this week, New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, produced the conclusions of a 5-thirty day period-very long inquiry into Cuomo’s carry out. The hundred-and-sixty-five-page report paints a portrait of a gentleman who casually degrades the women of all ages about him, commenting on their garments, hair, and sexual attractiveness, and doling out humiliating nicknames like “Sponge,” “Mingle Mammas,” and “Daisy Duke,” encouraging many others to join in. He torments a female point out trooper assigned to his security detail, and at 1 point “jokes” to Boylan, “If I was the pet, I’d mount you, as well.” The report also contains allegations of forcible kissing, groping, and unwanted touching, all of which Cuomo has denied. “I by no means touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advancements,” he stated, in response. “That is just not who I am.” Due to the fact the report’s release, virtually all of Cuomo’s political allies have abandoned him, and President Biden has known as for his resignation. It is looking significantly probably that he’ll become the 1st New York governor in a century to get impeached.

Conservatives have been speedy to rejoice Cuomo’s reputational implosion. Many others are now scolding the self-proclaimed Cuomosexuals. A Twitter person named p.e. moskowitz wrote, “if u bought a cuomosexual mug or sticker like what did you do with it? is it sitting down in the back of your closet and just about every time you see it you come to feel deep disgrace? did you go out at 3am and toss it into a river so that no a single would see u?” The Washington Write-up ran an op-ed titled “The ‘Cuomosexual’ Phenomenon Was Disgraceful: We’re Politicians’ Bosses, Not Their Enthusiasts.” Some Cuomosexuals have responded with contrition. “I regret ever indicating I was a Cuomosexual,” a person person tweeted. Randy Rainbow deleted his tweet with the “Andy” video. For quite a few of us, examining the A.G.’s report, and listening to the Governor’s cynical denials, spurs a kind of ashamed clarity, equivalent to the experience a person experiences following jogging into an old ex. How could we have witnessed these exact qualities—in Cuomo’s circumstance, the narcissism, the bullying, the hackneyed paternalism—and discovered them beautiful?

In lookup of an remedy, I contacted Virginia Goldner, a psychoanalyst who has written about sexual harassment (see: “Satisfaction Can Harm: The Erotic Politics of Sexual Coercion,” posted very last yr, in an situation of Psychoanalytic Dialogues). Goldner, a scientific professor at N.Y.U., co-started an educational journal identified as Reports in Gender and Sexuality, and appears on the Showtime collection “Couples Treatment.” She had some reassuring terms for any Cuomosexuals who are in a disgrace spiral suitable now. The Governor was up to a thing in individuals press conferences. “He was radiating an erotized masculinity that has in just it hostility and a very little tenderness,” she stated. “That blend of smooth and hard—mostly challenging, but also soft—is what so several ladies crave in some way,” she said. She known as it the “retrosexual component of us”—the component that was raised with the impression of a “big, square” daddy/lover figure, even if we have in no way basically experienced a person. She observed that a ton of gay males reply to the fantasy, also: “That’s a figure that could very easily be sizzling to a person.”

Goldner went on to untangle some of the extra baffling conduct in the A.G.’s report. Why would an qualified bachelor, who could presumably date any female he needed, pick out to kiss, grope, and flirt with workplace underlings versus their will? Why would a skilled politician threat it all to stroke the abdomen of a point out trooper, or to make lewd feedback (“Gentle but exact, I have read that before”) to a health practitioner who was giving him a COVID swab? Was he basically hoping to seduce these women? Possibly not, Goldner claimed. “Sexual harassment is not so considerably about sexual fulfillment. That’s not always its aim.” Instead, it is a form of “sadomasochistic flirtation.” The harasser enjoys creating sexual tension in the place of work, but what he truly likes is the psychological torment. The harassed subordinates are forced to dwell in a state of worry and confusion, questioning if right now will be the day the manager crosses the line all over again. “They’re most likely normally contemplating about him, worrying about him, and it is ruining their lives,” Goldner mentioned. “On the other hand, he might have no memory of these incidents. He will get an impulse, he tortures somebody—startles them, shames them, what ever sadistic activity he’s taking part in that day—and then he goes back again to running the condition.” She quoted Henry Kissinger, noting that power is an aphrodisiac. That’s true, but it is truly “the sensation of electricity relative to powerlessness,” she said—power around a person else.

Which is Goldner’s take, anyhow. Cuomo’s possess rationalization is that his perform was harmless he grew up in a domestic the place kissing and touching ended up the norm. “I basically acquired it from my mother and from my father,” he mentioned, earlier this 7 days. “It is intended to convey warmth, practically nothing far more.” But Goldner suggested that the A.G.’s report shows a disturbing pattern: “Someone that sadistic, who wanted to make every person shake in their boots, gentlemen as nicely as women . . . He have to have been in some way wanting other people to endure due to the fact of some internal trouble.” She quoted a line from her essay: the sexual harasser is “repetitively turning the dreaded threat of getting to be a defeated base into the edgy higher of remaining a prime.” She went on, “He should have experienced some sense of defeated bottomness” otherwise, he would not have harassed men and women so compulsively.

So the Cuomosexual is lifeless, and with it, the fantasy that the Governor conjured on tv: the tricky and tender protector, the daddy/lover/head of state who will help you save us from both equally COVID-19 and Donald Trump. What will acquire its location? Goldner was not sure, but she wasn’t thrilled that the word “Cuomophobia” has started out to look on Twitter. “That character, the character Cuomo performed on television, was a lie, but that retro masculinity has a ton to admire,” she said. We should not bury our Cuomosexuality. We need to analyze it. “We can still enjoy all those dimensions of masculinity, and question ourselves, What are they? And how do they get corrupted?”

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