With the recent passing of my mother, I have been in full retreat–from the media, from my routines, and yes, even from writing. Sometimes grief empties us and sometimes it fills us to the brim. This has been the case for me. So much so that the smallest of details, the slightest of triggers, threatens to overflow me. I have, thus, been holding still. Very still.
I knew that one day the words would come, that “ordinary life” (whatever that is) would resume. But I did not expect re-entry to look like this.
Now don’t get me wrong, Rage and I are old bedfellows. We know each other well. We grew up together. But it did not seem fitting, somehow, to pick up the pieces (of love, of memory, of life) in a white hot fit of fury.
But we do not get to tame the wave–just ride it. And you can come along if you like.
This latest provocation came in the form of an interview Bill Clinton gave while promoting his latest book–fiction, this time (or have they all been so?)–with co-author, James Patterson.
“Nobody believes that I got out of that for free,” he said, defending his affair with Monica Lewinsky (and subsequent perjury) while still in office, “I left the White House 16 million dollars in debt,”
Why should you, Bill? Why should you get out of that for free? Heck, why should you “get out of it” at all!
Here’s the thing. At best, the affair was a gross lapse of judgement (and some might say integrity) on the part of someone who should (arguably) know better. At worst, it took advantage of a young woman’s crush on an older, powerful, and charismatic man and cast her (at different times) as a bimbo, an opportunist, and a whore. Either way, what is undeniable is that it was a calculated abuse of power–the power that comes with the office. And that should surely incur some sanctions, the lightest (most basic) of which is resignation.
So you did get away with it, Bill, if not for money-free, certainly Scot-free.
And to answer your question, Yes, Kennedy should have resigned. LBJ should have resigned. In fact, they should have been prosecuted for the way they used and discarded women for their own amusement and gratification.
Because time’s up.
Your time’s up. Yours and everyone else’s who’ve been systematically using their power to manipulate/coerce women for sexual favors.
It has to stop.
And you know what else has to stop? Holding women responsible for your bad behavior. Again and again, woman after woman being paraded onto the stage–the Hillarys, the Camilles, even the Chelseas and the Ivankas . . . it has to stop. Stop asking women to forgive your bad behavior because then they get judged for being anti-feminist or hypocritical or both–at the same time!
And your legacy becomes their legacy, your crimes theirs.
And even your victories are used as weapons against the women in your life. Like that twit, Chris Matthews, saying (speaking about Hillary), “Let’s not forget, the reason she’s a U.S. senator, the reason she’s a candidate for president, the reason she may be a front-runner is her husband messed around. That’s how she got to be senator from New York … She didn’t win there on her merit.”
She can’t win. We can’t win as long as we are tethered to your choices, your behavior.
So Stop. Stop the whining. Stop the platitudes. Stop the defensiveness.
You know why?
Because this is your cross to bear, your letter A to pin to your chest.
And for heaven’s sake, stop the predatory behavior.
Because women deserve to feel safe and respected–in your presence as well as out in the world.
And no, your freedom and comfort are not more important than our safety and dignity.
Because time’s up.
And if that means you have to (re)learn how to comport yourself around women in this post-misogynisitic world, then saddle up.
This is a new day
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