Dear Bill and Hillary
by Andrea Dworkin
First published in The Guardian of London
January 29, 1998.
Copyright © 1998 by Andrea Dworkin.
All rights reserved.
Monica Lewinsky is in a terrible, terrible mess. She's being threatened by a very mean special prosecutor who has unlimited powers. And he plays hard ball. She has my sympathy. Of everyone who is a player in this game, she is the one who is going to be destroyed by it.
We are talking about a man who, in a predatory way, is using women, particularly young women. In this case, a woman who was working as an intern, for no money, because of her devotion to the Democratic Party and to him. In an alcove next to the Oval Office, he simply unzips his pants and she sexually services him.
Bill Clinton's fixation on oral sex -- non-reciprocal oral sex -- consistently puts women in states of submission to him. It's the most fetishistic, heartless, cold sexual exchange that one could imagine.
People are characterizing this as a sexual scandal, but it's an abuse-of-power scandal. It corroborates what both Paula Jones and Gennifer Flowers have said, and it's a disaster for this particular young woman, Monica. I think there probably are many more of them, but I don't know how many will come forward. Whoever steps into this is stepping not just into public spectacle, but on to a legal landmine. And it is a very hard thing for someone who is 20, 21, to find herself in the middle of all this, subpoenaed to talk about her sex life.
The second issue that concerns me is what Hillary Clinton is doing, which I think is appalling. She is covering up for a man who has a history of exploiting women. If there is one thing being a feminist has to mean it's that you don't do that. You don't use your intellect and your creativity to protect a man's exploitation of other women. She's done it before and she's doing it again.
Ever since she went to the White House as First Lady, her life has been going down the tubes. She had to give up her profession and she's been the staunch wife standing by her husband, no matter what vile things he does to humiliate her. It's pathetic. She should pack her bags and leave.
Women of Hillary's age -- my age -- have a responsibility not to let the men who are our peers exploit and destroy younger women. It breaks my heart to see Hillary on television. It's a performance and as such it's a lie. Whatever kind of deal they made in their marriage, I don't believe it included the public humiliation of her. And this has to be the most towering humiliation of all.
I had great hopes for her at the beginning. I though: "How wonderful -- a feminist in the White House. She's so smart." But I have not understood the choices she's made and I have not been able to respect them. In protecting her husband, she is betraying younger women.
Maybe it was different 20 years ago. Maybe it looked different to her when Bill was fooling around in Arkansas. She had her job and her child, perhaps she didn't care. But now this is a man, her husband, the president, being sexually serviced by a 21-year-old woman -- in her house.
It's impossible to believe that she, and everyone who works in the White House, doesn't feel utterly betrayed by him. They really thought he had stopped all this. They thought he was a creep before -- even Monica calls him a creep -- but when he became president, they thought he knew he couldn't get away with it any more.
There is a strain of misogyny in him, though. People say it has nothing to do with the way he makes social policy, but I think it does. These things are connected. There are plenty of women who are simply expendable to him -- clearly the White House interns are.
As for the conspiracy theory, I just don't believe it. Yes, there are right-wing people who hate the Clintons, but to think there's a conspiracy would mean somehow the rightwing planted the young woman in Clinton's office to entice him into sexual acts.
I have a modest proposal. It will probably bring the FBI to my door, but I think that Hillary should shoot Bill and then President Gore should pardon her.
The silence from other feminists in this country is deafening. There's no outcry against Clinton, there's no outcry against Hillary for fronting for him. I think a lot of feminists are very distressed and disappointed in him, but they don't want to say so publicly because many of them are connected to the Democratic Party. It's a problem. It was a problem when Bill Clinton threw poor women off welfare and used pregnant teenage girls as scapegoats as if they were causing the economic problems of our country. Clinton has good policies for middle-class women, but I don't think he has good policies for poor women.
Male politicians' policies in respect of women are important, but sexual harassment is an issue, too. You don't say it's OK for the leader of your country to be having his cock sucked, by someone half his age, while he is in the people's house. Yes, the law says that if both parties are consenting, it's not sexual harassment, and it's not illegal. As far as we know, Monica was consenting, but I believe Clinton is culpable because I think he's guilty of exploitation. I care abut how men in public life treat women. Clinton shows a real callousness in what he was doing to someone who was just about his daughter's age.
He may not have to resign, but I think he should and I think he will. I don't want him as my president. I think he's toast, I think he's done, I think he's outta there. And I'm glad about that. Most of my feminist colleagues won't be. They feel he's a good president and the country's in good shape, they feel he's a good guy. Yeah, he just did this one little thing that was wrong, but he's really a nice guy. Au revoir, Slick Willy.
Copyright © 1998 by Andrea Dworkin.
All rights reserved.