Call home fast and easy with ATT Direct Service.



The sexual symbolism of Ted Kaczynski's crimes

Deconstructing the Kennedys

Should an economist wear a short, tantalizing black dress to work?

Prozac is for wimps

The nanny trial, "Boogie Nights" and feminist writing about men

- - - - - - - - - -


About Camille Paglia
Ask Camille archives

- - - - - - - - - -


Sexpert Opinion
By Susie Bright
Bust-ing out

Bestseller Hell
By Jon Carroll
Paul Reiser's "Babyhood": TV without the laugh track

Spice of Life
By Chitra Divakaruni
Fear of flying with children

Telling a book by its cover
By Christopher Hitchens
Maybe someone's sex life is nobody's business, but in President Clinton's case, it tells us what we need to know about the man.

Right On!
By David Horowitz
We believe you scumbag

Word by Word
By Anne Lamott
Traveling mercies

Ask Camille
By Camille Paglia
The sexual symbolism of Ted Kaczynski's crimes

New Year's wish for the Reverend Al
By Jim Sleeper
It's time for Sharpton to renounce his un-American, unchristian politics once and for all. Don't hold your breath

Let's talk about race
By Sallie Tisdale
Sallie Tisdale: Should the U.S. apologize for slavery? Only if we ever want to have a real conversation about racism (01/22/98)

Sound Salvation
By Sarah Vowell
Arc of a diva

By Courtney Weaver
Inside the Oval Orifice

The Awful Truth
By Cintra Wilson
Plastic surgery erases your face AND your soul!

Salon Columnists

A S K_C A M I L L E +|+ C A M I L L E+P A G L I A
--- Online advice for the culturally disgruntled ---

Illustration by Zach Trenholm

Why feminists are co-dependent with philandering Bill

Dear Camille:

Does Clinton's sexual appetite invalidate or conflict in any way with his support of women's causes? Just because he's the president, and just because he appears to pursue sex, does that make him a misogynist?

Ray Gordon

Dear Ray Gordon:

Thank you for the fascinating question. Naturally, in the wake of its lightning-quick Clinton crisis coverage, Salon has been flooded with messages from its international readership.

For example, Bewildered Male declares, "For the life of me, I don't understand female passion about Clinton." Noting that "Anita Hill is given victim-sainthood for having seen a pubic hair," he asks, "can you please explain why women -- even my wife -- love to love Bill Clinton?"

Another writer, using the piquant sobriquet Draft Libby in 2000, exclaims, "Are you as frustrated as I am with feminist takes on the Clinton scandal?" Evan Allen takes the strawberry cupcake for his query: "Did the president's penis peregrinate into the private parts of a barely post-pubescent intern?" He sees poetic justice in Clinton's finally getting nailed: "Personally, I feel this is the result of his (and other politicians') knuckling under to the Anita Hill-driven nuttiness of some sexual harassment laws."

I'm glad you have refocused attention on the "misogynist" charge, which William Ginsburg, the lawyer for ex-intern Monica Lewinsky, speculatively attached to Clinton but has strategically backed away from. "Misogyny," meaning hatred of women, has been the big crutch term of contemporary feminism. Everything uncomfortable or unpalatable in sexual relations is attributed to misogyny by feminists inside and outside academe. Hence their absurd insistence on a "war" supposedly going on against women -- as in that sourpuss Marilyn French's virulently anti-male "The War Against Women" (1993) or in Susan Faludi's shrill, sloppy screed, "Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women" (1991).

In "Sexual Personae" and elsewhere, I have argued that "misogyny" is a hopelessly inadequate word for analyzing or understanding the turmoil that has been going on between the sexes since the Stone Age. For hatred of women I substitute fear of women -- illustrated, I contend, by the whole gorgeous corpus of world mythology, with its horrific monsters and vampires and sizzling femmes fatales, who live again in Hollywood.

Bill Clinton's "sexual appetite," as you put it, intrigues me as a theorist of sex. I'm immensely enjoying the spectacle of feminist leaders twisting slowly, slowly in the wind as they try to defend the debaucheries of the standard-bearer of the Democratic Party -- their none-too-secret affiliation, which they constantly elevate above feminist principle. (I speak as a registered Democrat long repulsed by their ruthless, back-room partisanship, which has so distorted and limited the women's movement.)

Freud, whom Gloria Steinem and company threw overboard, offers the only key to Clinton's strange psyche. The feminist high muckety-mucks are having a little compulsory remedial education these days, a crash course in basic psychology. How amusing to see the arrogant authoritarians turned into tolerant libertarians overnight! Those who so censoriously intruded into the sex lives of American citizens on campus and in the workplace are now performing slithery contortions of self-exculpating casuistry worthy of the Borgia popes.

Notorious for doing four things at once (e.g., watching TV, reading, eating and talking on the telephone), Clinton is literally omnivorous: He would gobble up all the hamburgers and women in the world, if he could. The book he reportedly gave to Lewinsky, Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass," contains the line, "I am large, I contain multitudes." Clinton is the ultimate democratic -- that's small "d" -- president. He wants to suck everything up, have it all, cram life with every sensation and emotion. His moods go up, down and sideways (like his rumored bent organ?). He's always behind; no day is long enough. He has the complexity of a great star -- like Judy Garland or Joan Crawford. Yes, the only analogies to him are female, not male.

As polls show, a majority of the American people are in uneasy love with Clinton and forgive him every fault, including compulsive lying. But love affairs are dangerously mercurial. Should Clinton's electrifying energy and transcendent self-belief begin to flag, the public will go cold and rend him limb from limb. He is the prodigal son now, but he could still end up crucified.

Exactly what drives Clinton's appetites? Fatherless, he was reared in matriarchy. He reveres women but fears their all-engulfing power. His feisty, florid, ribald mother, Virginia -- so strong that even the dominatrix Barbra Streisand fell under her influence -- would be succeeded by her rival and opposite, the male-willed Hillary Rodham, a fanatically focused, high-minded Puritan who took Bill under her wing as a lovable but ever-straying son, whom she molds like clay but can't control outside her atelier.

Clinton's crimes are incestuous: He makes the whole world his family and then seduces and pollutes it, person by person. Remember how then-Gov. Clinton, hot and sweaty from jogging, jovially stained Jim McDougal's expensive new leather chair? -- something his Whitewater partner never forgot.

N E X T_P A G E | Is Hillary Clinton a lesbian?

Starbucks. Make your daily ritual a holiday tradition. Click here!