The sex lives of politicians and entertainers are most vulnerable to public scrutiny, initiated either by intent to sabotage credibility or by exaggerated curiosity in the personal lives of the powerful and famous. When an individual's sex life is portrayed as being "abnormal" or of a "compromising nature" his public and intellectual life is often questioned. Sex scandals, whether products of reality or fabrication, are potentially harmful to the personal and professional lives of those scrutinized, the lives of their families, the general public's faith in powerful figures, and the focus on more profound issues.
In recent decades repeated reports have circulated concerning the sexual liaisons of presidents of the USA, notably John Kennedy and more recently Bill Clinton. Allegations were made in the UK in 1992 concerning sexual liaisons of John Major and Paddy Ashdown. Numerous political problems were created for the Conservative Party in 1993 and 1994 as a result of the sexual improprieties of ministers, members of parliament and the most senior military officer. In 1993, reports circulated concerning Mao Tse Tung's alleged penchant for group sex with young women, itself a traditional Chinese practice. In 1991 a major scandal in Pakistan allegedly involved a senior mullah, responsible for imposition of Islamic law, and politicians of the ruling party, with a leading brothel keeper. In Venezuela presidential mistresses, known as barraganas or concubines, have appeared in the society pages and reportedly wield great political power, leading to accusations of corruption and influence peddling. Such presidential alliances reflect a similar tolerance in other Latin American countries, notably in Brazil. In 1994, Austrian society faced major problems over the role of the affair of its new president with his personal assistant and his separation from his wife.