Leadership and Sexuality: Power, Principles, and Processes

 By James K. Beggan and Scott T. Allison

The focus of this new book is on how power, principles, and processes influence the way that sexuality exerts an influence on leadership and followership. We consider power as the ability to influence an outcome to occur, more specifically with regard to the ability to control resources and others (Stuppy & Mead, 2017). Leadership and sexuality can both be understood in terms of the expression of power (Parker, Barbosa, & Aggleton, 2000). Leaders exert influence over followers. People who can influence others often step into leadership roles. Sexual attractiveness can be a means of exerting social influence over another, i.e., acting as a leader. Achieving the status of leader is a characteristic that many people find sexually attractive. The ability leaders have to control others can occur through legitimate as well as illegitimate means. An employer’s ability to fire a worker for coming to work late is typically well within his or her authority. Quid pro quo sexual relations are outside the permissible.

Sexual opportunities can be construed as a reward for achieving a leadership role (Baumeister, 2010). For some species of animals, social dominance is the sole basis for sexual access to mates (Dixson, 2015). One way that social dominance expresses itself is through leadership. Although becoming a leader may afford sexual opportunities, it is also true that in the 21st century, rather than be seen as a benefit, sexuality can be viewed as potential liability for leaders, as people have become rs-anthony-weiner-c0765988-b506-4967-a722-55b79f5dbc60more sensitive to issues related to gender, sexual orientation, sexual behavior, and sexual harassment.

There is no shortage of evidence demonstrating that great leaders sometimes have poor judgment when it comes to issues of sexuality (Gamson, 2001). Even a quick glance at the newspaper or history books reveals how many careers are ruined or irrevocably altered because of sex. Bill Clinton’s entire tenure as president can be reduced to a punch line about oral sex. Technically, although guilty of marital infidelity, Bill Clinton’s crime with regard to Monica Lewinsky was not the affair but charges of perjury that stemmed from lying about the affair. Of course, he only lied because he knew there would be a scandal if the affair caught the attention of social media. His perceived wrongdoing stemmed from both the fact that he was married and that Lewinsky was a low-level intern, with far less power than the President of the United States. Elliot Spitzer and Andrew Weiner lost their jobs because of a weakness for prostitutes and sexting, respectively. Retired four-star general and director of the CIA David Petraeus resigned after news of a long time-affair with his biographer became public. Beloved entertainer, civil rights activist, and television surrogate father Bill Cosby had his entire life and career upended after allegations of years of sexual misconduct. Donald Trump’s presidential race was marred but ultimately not derailed by comments he had made years before the election about how he felt being a celebrity entitled him to make inappropriate sexual advances toward women.

The problems that are created as a result of sex are more systemic than the bad judgment of a few well-positioned leaders. The US military has repeatedly failed to adequately address issues of sexual harassment and sexual assault in their ranks. The Catholic Church turned a blind eye toward years of sexual abuse by priests. Fox News became notorious sangernewbecause of a climate of sexual harassment that existed, manifested by the behavior of Fox News CEO Roger Ailes and talk show host Bill O’Reilly.

In looking at the details of these kinds of cases, we repeatedly ask ourselves two questions: Why do unarguably intelligent and successful leaders put themselves into these kinds of situations? And why are we, as members of the constituency, continually surprised by these revelations? Shouldn’t we expect it by now?

Although the question of why rich and powerful men (we are not being sexist here; it is more often men than women) risk their careers by engaging in illicit sexual activity is an interesting one, we suggest that the connection between leadership and sexuality is much more important, complex, and broad than the phenomenon of a sex scandal. Sexual leadership can be viewed as operating at both macro- and micro-levels. Issues related to sexual leadership come into play when a nation decides in favor or against an abstinence-only policy with regard to sexual education, the Supreme Court rules in favor of gay marriage, or a husband and wife decide whether to try a new sexual position. Sexual leadership also comes into play in grey and black markets. What leadership dynamics are involved in recruiting, motivating, and managing women who work as strippers, or as prostitutes? The purpose of this edited volume is to explore the largely ignored relationship between sexuality and leadership.

Leadership and Sexuality is published by Elgar and will be available in February of 2018.

Table of Contents

Introduction — Sexuality in Leadership: A Long-Neglected Topic with Vast Implications for Individuals and Society

James K. Beggan and Scott T. Allison

SECTION 1: Sexual Leaders

Chapter 1 — Playboy, Icon, Leader: Hugh Hefner and Postwar American Sexual Culture

Carrie Pitzulo

Chapter 2 — Planned Parenthood: 100 Years of Leadership and Controversy

Sheila Huss, Lucy Dwight, and Angela Gover

Chapter 3

Leadership and the Free the Nipple Movement: An Autoethnographic Case Study

James K. Beggan

SECTION 2: Leadership and Sexuality

Chapter 4

A Failure of Courageous Leadership: Sex, Embarrassment, and (Not) Speaking Up in the Penn State Sexual Abuse Scandal

Jeremy Fyke, Bree Trisler, and Kristen Lucas

Chapter 5

Because They Can:  Adult to Student Sexual Abuse in PreK-12 Schools

Charol Shakeshaft

Chapter 6

Heterosexism in Organizations: The Importance of Transformational and Heroic Leadership

Shaun Pichler

Chapter 7

Leadership in Strip Clubs

Maggie B. Stone

Chapter 8

Training Religious Leaders in Sexually-Related Issues

William R. Stayton

SECTION 3: The Sexuality of Leaders

 Chapter 9

 “Stupid is as Stupid Does” or Good Bayesian? A Sympathetic and Contrarian Analysis  of Bill Clinton’s Decision to Have an Affair with Monica Lewinsky

 James K. Beggan

 Chapter 10

 Leading and Following? Understanding the Power Dynamics in Consensual BDSM

Emma Turley

Chapter 11

Does the “Zipless Dance” Exist? Leadership, Followership, and Sexuality in Social Dancing

James K. Beggan and Scott T. Allison

Chapter 12

Heroic Leadership in The Walking Dead’s Post-Apocalyptic Universe: The Restoration and Regeneration of Society as a Hero Organism

Scott T. Allison and Olivia Efthimiou


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