Preface: this really is a rambly post, stating a lot of things that you already know, but it’s helping me think. Please forgive if at any time it sounds ‘splainy - I’m ‘splaining to myself and not you, dear reader. This long muse has been awhile brewing, and a particular Daily Beast article finally kicked it off for me to think out loud about it.
We in the progressive feminist interwebs - and here I mean the royal we, so apply your wry #notallfeminist tags liberally as needed (puns intended) - are prone to pile-ons when a rapist or harasser is publicly outed as such, regardless of legal conviction. I think that’s as it should be for now, given the present balances of power and the climate around reporting of harassment. I don’t have any sympathy for the Geoff Marcys of the world, or God forbid the Bill Cosbys of the world. As of this writing, they’re probably getting less punitive justice than they deserve, and the public pile-on is our available recourse.
Did we do that for Bill Clinton? I was too young to notice. Maybe the fact that all of Bill’s publicly aired non-consensual sexual behaviour or consensual power-imbalanced sexual behaviour took place 20+ years ago means that we already had the pile-on and worked through it via different media. Alternatively, maybe it wasn’t worked through as thoroughly and analytically, since the feminist discussion space would have been smaller and less internetty and accessible to all. I also sort of wonder if today’s feminist thinking is obligated to turn a bright light on it a second time, since things have changed since back then. Do I, as an oldish-millenial feminist need to process Bill Clinton’s shit for myself? I kind of feel that I should, because I would join a sisterhood demand for justice in a comparable contemporary situation. So this is me asking to address it with the GT smart people, if only to help me square my own thinking and make sure that I am consistent and fair in my opinions.
(Let’s preface further talk about Bill Clinton and his record with the obvious: it should not matter to the election; he is not on the ballot; “but what about what Bill’s done” wrt HRC is a stupid facebook comment at best; this is not an argument that should be in any way relevant to one’s vote.)
Donald Trump brought forward three women to reiterate sex-crimes accusations against Bill Clinton: Broaddrick, Willey, Jones. (We’re going to leave out Lewinsky and Shelton - Lewinsky because as ooky as all that was, it was consensual and Clinton took punishment for it, and Shelton because she’s accusing Hillary rather than Bill, and I think for a fallacious reason.) Those three give me pause, because Jones was clearly credible enough for Clinton to have given over a settlement and Broaddrick’s story has been deemed at least credible by journalists I respect. I don’t know anything about Willey’s story, but if it were a different cast of characters, I know I would be inclined to take her at her word. (It should be pretty obvious that “well it was never proven!” is a terrible pro-Bill argument, given how shit investigations are NOW, let alone 30 years ago.)
Should it matter that they’re all professed Trump voters, and Broaddrick’s a Tea Party voter? NO, HONK, IT SHOULD NOT. Stuff it into your honk-hole. There are myriad cases where cops threw out a rape case because the victim seemed a bit nutty or off or who accused someone because their behaviour was weird. So I am making a conscious decision that IDGAF about their political leanings, because (a) it’s irrelevant, full stop, and (b) if I experienced what they have, I’d probably have the same force of anger to vote for the opponent.
I just read this at The Daily Beast:
Hannity’s toughest question was: Has the media reached out to you for interviews?
The women said no, but a quick Google search proves otherwise. Shelton first told her story, anonymously, to The Daily Beast in 2014. Broaddrick was extensively profiled and interviewed by BuzzFeed in August. Willey ignored multiple interview requests from The Daily Beast in the last year. Reporters took to Twitter to note times they interviewed, or tried to interview, the women.
I want to say that claiming not to have been approached by journalists is partisan lying. Is it? No? If it is, does it cast doubt on anything else? I don’t even know.
I’m really struggling on this one, because I feel like the emotional-reasoning side of my brain wants to find reasons to doubt these women’s stories. But that is NOT AN OKAY THING TO DO. But maybe these are good reasons. So um... ?
Weigh in, GT? What do I think about Bill Clinton? What do I think about his accusers? Should I continue to not have an opinion, as has been my approach thus far? Is not having an opinion consistent with my feminism? What’s your thinking?