Bill Clinton

Salon Magazine

Jan. 26, 1998

Feminist Titanic


As the latest "bimbo eruption" breaks over America's airways, and a liberal media reviews the crisis, one observation remains stunningly absent from their assessments: The way in which this series of events signifies the end of feminism as we know it. The one thing established beyond the shadow of a doubt by the line of women outed by the Paula Jones suit is that every feminist in America -- with the notable exception of Camille Paglia -- has been exposed as a hypocrite and a phony.

The once shrill voice of feminist outrage is suddenly, deafeningly still. What we hear instead from the chorus on the left is a litany that goes something like this. What Bill Clinton does in his sex life should not be the subject of public concern. Or, as Politically Incorrect's Bill Maher summed up the reaction: "Where's the crime?" Clinton is running the important business of the ship of state. Who should care about his private acts? (As though these latest incidents of alleged sexual predation did not take place in the Oval Office, in the seat of government, in the presidential workplace -- and as though it was not visited on the President's employees.)

Better feminists should ask, what happened to all their previous concern about sexual harrassment? Where is their outrage over the abuse of women in government offices? In the White House! For what place could be more symbolically important to an issue affecting every working woman in America?

Have feminists forgotten their crusade against Clarence Thomas? Here was a man with 20 years of unblemished public service and no history (unlike Clinton) of sexual malfeasance, who only five years ago was publicly burned in a feminist witch-hunt. And for what? Not certainly for allegations that he dropped his pants and told a female employee to "kiss it." Nor for allegedly seducing a 21-year-old summer intern and then encouraging her to lie to cover up the crime. Oh innocent times those! Thomas was subjected to public humiliation and came within an inch of losing a Supreme Court seat for the heinous sins of 1) allegedly mentioning a porn star named Long Dong Silver; 2) allegedly making a joke about a pubic hair on an office coke can; and 3) allegedly giving verbal signals that vaguely made -- not a wet-behind-the-ears intern but -- a civil rights attorney in his employ feel uncomfortable on the job! Such abominable acts did these yet unproven allegations portend, that righteous feminists still froth at the mere utterance of Thomas' name.

Yet here is not one wronged woman but four actively claiming abuse by a sitting president (who is familiarly referred to in taped conversations between them as "the Big Creep"). Here is not a ten-year old memory witnessed by no one, but episodes immediately reported. Here are jobs actually terminated after the fact. The no longer employed Kathleen Willey was observed by Linda Tripp exiting the Oval Office with lipstick smeared, and blouse undone after the act. Here, moreover, is not just an alleged crime but also an alleged attempt to cover-up the crime. By her own testimony, Anita Hill regarded Clarence Thomas even after the supposed incidents as a friend and mentor to whom she could turn for advice, recommendations, and career advancements. These -- also by her own testimony -- were not attempts to shut her up but rather to offer her support.

By contrast, here we have the transfer of two women to get them out of the way and the subsequent bullying of Linda Tripp by presidential counsel Bob Bennett, who called her a "liar" for complaining about the abuse. It was this insensitive moment according to Tripp that led to her decision to expose the whole mess. Here, we have a sitting president taking advantage not of a well-connected Ivy League lawyer but of a 22-year old intern named Monica Lewinsky, first allegedly seduced and then brutally discarded. But not before being used to deliver a hush memo to the victim-witness. This act of presidential lese majeste involved the young woman (who probably had no idea what she was doing) in a felony in the making. Talk about an employer taking advantage!

Lewinsky's attorney now says his client's life has been "ravaged" by the events that have taken place. Who, pray tell, might have ravaged her? Who could have violated his trust as employer, as powerful public icon dealing with a young and impressionable employee? Who most likely did ensare her in a felony by sending her on the mission to Tripp? Where is the feminist outrage over this abominable treatment of the female gender?

And of course, the trashing of Paula Jones -- the root cause of these latest events -- by Clinton's cohorts Bennett and Carville is now six months in duration, with no protest yet from the feminist side. Consider the infamous figure of Arlen Specter who, despite public apologies and self-flagellations, is still ritually hung out to dry by the feminist truth squad whenever and wherever he happens to appear. Let no one forget his unspeakable acts against Ms. Hill! And what were these? His "harsh" cross-examination of the sensitive witness to demonstrate that she had perjured herself in her testimony against Clarence Thomas. Hill was no passive victim, recall, but the armed aggressor attempting to destroy the character and career of a public servant. As an arbiter of the facts, it was Specter's duty to examine her accusations with such rigor. Yet abject as his unnecessary contrition has been, pure as his regret, the relentless feminist vanguard refuses to forgive him. But has one of these keepers of the flame come out to defend Paula Jones, or to publicly berate Bennett and Carville for tarring the victim because she dared to stand up?

After such virtuoso hypocrisy, who can take feminists seriously any more? In the end, their concern is evidently not women at all, but their own left-wing political agendas. Only conservatives, it appears, can be sexual harassers. As for liberals, like Ted Kennedy and Bill Clinton, as far feminists are concerned they can have their way with women -- any way they want. They can screw them, abandon them, ruin them, ravage them and even drown them, and feminists will look past the misfeasance and will fight to keep them in power. And they will do so in the current matter with Hillary Clinton -- the classic abused spouse -- posing as feminist heroine, and leading the way with lies to protect the guilty.

David Horowitz's columns appear bimonthly in Salon, the Internet magazine of arts and culture.



Monica Lewinski