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Thursday, Jun 24, 2004, 10:13 am

Rambles on Ryan (Sex, Star Trek, and the U.S. Senate)

By Emily Udell

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Who ever thought that sex, Star Trek and an open seat the U.S. Senate would all converge in one news story? But here it is: When an LA Superior Court Judge ordered that Republican U.S. Senate nominee Jack Ryan and actress Jeri Ryan's 1999 divorce records be opened, the surprising alignment occurred. In the unsealed documents Jeri Ryan, known for her character Seven of Nine on the "Star Trek: Voyager" series, alleges that Jack Ryan took her to sex clubs in New York City, Paris and New Orleans, and asked her to perform sex acts in front of other people.

(Now, I don't WANT to envision the sex lives of political candidates and/or Hollywood celebs, especially not when they, in Jack's case, look like they just stepped out of a Gillette commercial, or like Jeri Lynn, cavort around on UPN in a half-Borg/half-human ensemble that looks like it was sprayed on. However, especially because I live in the Senate district that Jack Ryan hoped to represent, the coverage is impossible to ignore.)

Many detractors of the Democratic persuasion are chastising him for claiming that his motives for keeping the records sealed were to protect his nine-year-old son when he was actually trying to prevent his own embarrassment. See Eric Zorn's columns in the Chicago Tribune.

Some Republicans are outraged that Ryan kept this juggernaut under wraps for so long. some are defending him (see comments reported by William Saletan on Slate), and some aren't yet committing to a stance. U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert cancelled a fundraising appearance with Ryan today due to a "conflicting meeting." Sounds like a brush-off to me.

In the Rockford Register Star columnist Pat Cunningham opines: "What bothers me about Ryan politically is his right-wing stance on the issues, not the question of whether he showed disrespect for his wife at some fleshpot in New York or Paris." As a woman and a voter in Illinois, I have to say that the disrespect he showed his wife is a political matter to ME. Jeri Ryan was mislead, and made so uncomfortable that she cried and was physically ill, and told by Jack Ryan that it was "not a 'turn-on'" to see her crying. Like I said above, I don't want to consider the sex lives of my political representatives (and I should mention that I support everyone's right to their own kinkiness!), but the coercive nature of the behavior according to the court records is troubling, and should call into question his potential ability to serve women in Illinois.

Emily Udell is a writer for Angie’s List Magazine in Indianapolis. In 2009, she finished a stint drinking bourbon and covering breaking news for The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky. Her eclectic media career also includes time at the Associated Press, Punk Planet (R.I.P.), The Daily Southtown in southwest Chicago, and Radio Prague in the Czech Republic. She co-hosted and co-produced In These Times’ radio show “Fire on the Prairie” from 2003 to 2006.

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