Why Women Don't Care About Monica Lewinsky

by Janis Cortese

This non-issue has come up more than once lately. In fact, it's never died down ever since Paula Jones came forward.

Why did women vilify Clarence Thomas and support Bill Clinton? In fact, we talk about it in our essay on Paula Jones as well. And still -- no one is touching on the basic differences between Monica Lewinsky and Anita Hill. So let's get this out in the open right now.

  1. Lewinsky wasn't forced into anything. No one visited attention upon her that she didn't like. Was she forced into sex? Flat-out raped? Harassed? Seems to me as if she liked it, although why is mystifying to us all. HIllary at least we can understand -- the more he gets it from his interns, the more he sleeps on his side of the bed. When he propositioned Paula Jones, and she refused him, he replied with, "Well, I don't want to make you do anything you don't want to do." What in God's name is wrong with this? Had Lewinsky not been interested herself, she could well have said no -- and her no would have been respected.

  2. Anita Hill was harassed, systematically, against her will. She didn't like it -- Thomas didn't want sex with her, he wanted to treat her like garbage. Her career suffered, too -- and yet neither Lewinsky nor Jones appear to have suffered career setbacks, part of the definition of sexual harassment.

Clinton is a cad -- he's not a rapist. Or would the right wing believe that any man who is sexually interested in a woman is a rapist? You'd think they wouldn't; they sure get bent out of shape when any feminist suggests it!

Okay? Now do we have this settled yet or do we have to skywrite it in all major cities?

Now, the reasons why people are expecting women and feminists in particular to rush to Monica Lewinsky's aid is the following: They want us to be the moral arbiters of the nation, as women are supposed to do. They think that S*E*X is the single most consuming interest for us, given that as women, we're good for nothing else. Iraq? The embassy bombings in Kenya? Child care? Hell, our frail feminine minds can't confront such complex topics -- tab-A-into-slot-B is all we're capable of understanding, right? Wrong.

Second, there is no one to aid. Lewinsky had, and presumably wanted, sex with him. Women can and do enjoy sex -- we no longer lie still and think of England. So if you're expecting us to rush in and defend the Victorian Blushing Heroine who Suffered The Beastly Attentions Of A Man, then get lost. Had Lewinsky been repeatedly harassed, we'd be there. Had she been raped, we'd be there. Had there been any indication that she couldn't have said no without fearing reprisals, we'd be there. But there isn't a smidgen of evidence to show that she had other than a fabulous time -- how on Earth is a woman having a good time in bed a terrible thing, even if it is with red-faced Bubba? (It's a rhetorical question, BTW; I already know the answer).

Simple -- because the right wing wants to keep it that way. And the fact that they are still pissing about this shows nothing so clearly as it shows that they still haven't the slightest goddamned clue what we women have been talking about lo these past fifty years. They just don't get it.

Now sure, it sucks that our president can't keep it zipped. It makes him look mighty stupid (and us for being so goddamned fascinated with it). But if it's a national issue, then why turn exclusively to women as if we're supposed to have some sort of special interest in this?

Plainly, it's because of precisely what I outlined above -- that we're supposed to Defend The Maidenly Virtue against The Beastly Male Attentions. Even when the woman in question seems to be completely willing -- because, Christ knows, this society doesn't ever want women to enjoy sex.

And the more women they can distract into being concerned exclusively with sex, the more sneaky junk they can pull with half the population distracted. Problem is -- it's not working. Women read news, women watch news. Women care far more about foreign policy, terrorism, Social Security, and child care than anyone -- especially the right wing -- imagines we can comprehend. And if a president is going to have a decent track record in those issues, who gives a damn if he sins the same way that everyone in his office has since the beginning of time. Thomas Jefferson sired untold kids with Sally Hemings. FDR had an affair in the White House, and his own daughter helped to hide it from Eleanor. JFK nailed anything that moved. Even Goeorge Washington died of syphilis (you never hear that in your history class, though).

So why the focus on Clinton?

Simple -- it's got nothing to do with sex or morality. He's a successful Democrat, and the fundamentalist right-wing wants him gone. And women are not about to get BS-ed into fighting on the same side as the fundies -- since we correctly understand that our concerns and issues are the last thing on their minds.

Plus -- and this is the clincher -- he takes no for an answer.

Get it?

Copyright © 2000 by Janis Cortese

02/08/07 at 21:47