Awareness of “rape culture” has recently caught fire, and once more energized and concerned college students are leading the discussion. “Rape culture” and its enablers are nothing new. A generation ago, high0profile cases were downplayed, ignored, or elided. A powerful CEO. The scion of a wealthy family. These men, and others like them, were protected by the press and by other women, who came to the defense of the abusers, mostly by attacking the abused.
The corporate CEO is better known as Bill Clinton. His first presidential campaign staff knew about the “bimbo problem,” and Hillary Clinton referred to one of them, Gennifer Flowers, as “trailer trash.” When the story of Monica Lewinsky came to light, Ms. Clinton angrily denounced the story as part of a “vast right-wing conspiracy” to make him look bad (note that Bill Clinton did have to give up his law license for lying under oath about the affair, something that suggests Hillary was very wrong to tar the investigation as a “conspiracy”). As noted by Slate writers Melinda Henneberger and Dahlia Lithwick, “(Clinton) consistently relates to and protects and stands with the oppressors in the gender wars, not the victims.” The list of women importuned by Bill Clinton is long: the list of women dismissed and denigrated by Hillary Clinton is just as long.
But Hillary wasn’t alone in defending Bill Clinton. Gloria Steinem, the Dowager Queen of the feminist movement, stood up for this serial abuser/exploiter of women, saying that “feminists will still have been right to resist pressure by the right wing and the media to call for his resignation or impeachment.”
Others in the feminist movement also knew which side of the bread held their butter. One, Nina Burleigh, said, “I’d be happy to give him [oral sex] just to thank him for keeping abortion legal.” Yep, that’s right: give the abuser more of what he wants so he’ll be nice to you. Is that how feminists believe young women should respond to a known serial sexual predator — by rewarding him?
And that scion of a wealthy family? That would be Ted Kennedy, who left a 19-year-old woman to drown in his car while he went to a hotel, took a shower, slept, and then talked to some lawyers before reporting the accident nearly ten hours later. Yet, he was considered a “Lion of the Senate,” while at the same time it was well-known in Washington and journalistic circles that he was an unruly drunk who regularly groped waitress when he wasn’t throwing them across tables. Somehow, his drunkenness and wretched treatment of women were never the subjects of, say, a 60 Minutes profile or a ten-part front-page story in the New York Times (unlike the breathless coverage given to a teen-aged Mitt Romney allegedly giving an unwanted haircut to a classmate).