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The Left’s Long-Time War on Women

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Apr 12, 2008
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The Left’s Long-Time War on Women
Misogyny and male chauvinism run deep in the roots of the modern Left.

Rand Simberg

March 18, 2012

An evergreen guide to what the Left is doing or plans to do is to listen to what they accuse their political opponents of. Along those lines, incandescent in its projection, cynicism, and hypocrisy is the latest mantra emanating from the Democrats of the “Republican War On Women,” based on nothing more than some crude comments (since apologized for) by a talk-show host aimed at a Democrat feminist activist who thinks that the world owes her free (and expensive) contraception and, moreover, that it should be done in violation of the religious conscience of Catholics. Of course, they don’t want their demagoguery to be distracted by the annoying reality that their own misogyny and assault on women is much more virulent, and has been going on for much longer.

It should be shocking, by the conventional narrative, that the White House of a “liberal” president would be a hostile work environment for women, but it is not at all a surprise to anyone familiar with the history of the Democrats and the Left, going back at least to the 1960s, when a prominent Democrat politician got a pass from the media for abandoning a young woman (possibly pregnant by him) to drown in his car. The same man went on to later fame as the top slice of bread in a “waitress sandwich,” and yet was so lionized by the Left that not that long ago, at the time of his death, a woman(!) wrote that Mary Jo Kopechne might have been happy to undergo the terror as her lungs filled with the brackish water of Martha’s Vineyard had she only known what a great legislator he would turn out to be.

To see similar hypocritical Leftist misogyny, we need only go back to the last time a Democrat was in the White House. Whenever a woman came forward with allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct by Bill Clinton, the response of the Clinton defenders, both in and out of the media, was to attack her credibility, character, and virtue. Advisor James Carville famously said of Paula Jones (the young Arkansas state employee whom Clinton as governor had his state police guard procure to his hotel room for the purpose of orally pleasuring him), “Drag $100 bills through trailer parks, there’s no telling what you’ll find.” Evan Thomas of Newsweek dutifully complemented the slander by declaring her on national television “just some sleazy woman with big hair coming out of the trailer parks,” though he later was compelled to apologize in print. (One wonders how residents of trailer parks felt about that, but I guess empathy for them is for the little people.) When Kathleen Willey accused the president of groping her in the White House, and was physically threatened for her trouble, feminist icon and (former) scourge of sexual harassers Gloria Steinem said that it was no problem — he was entitled to a freebie, after which Cathy Young of Reason magazine reported on “the death of sexual harassment.”

It got worse. As the Paula Jones lawsuit progressed, and the president committed acts of obstruction of justice (federal felonies) by perjury and subornation of perjury through threats and bribes, the White House was prepared to go after Monica Lewinsky, the woman about whom he engaged in such obstruction. She was bribed with jobs, and urged to in turn suborn perjury from her confidante Linda Tripp, by implying threats against her family. If the incriminating blue dress hadn’t turned up, their plan was to continue to cover up and lie, and accuse Lewinsky of being a crazy stalker. The White House orchestrated the leak of the personnel files of Pentagon employee Linda Tripp, the only person in the entire fiasco who told the truth, in an attempt (sadly quite successful) to discredit her. This included a mistaken felony arrest record that had been sealed since she was a teenager. She was vilified and maligned in the media, with late-night comedians mocking her physical appearance. It’s unlikely that many of these people were either conservatives or Republicans.

Again, no one familiar with the history of the Left should be surprised by any of this (other than perhaps the blatant hypocrisy, aided and abetted by the ever-compliant press). Misogyny and male chauvinism run deep in the roots of the modern Left. Many think that the gender feminist movement of the seventies, started by Gloria Steinem and others, was a reaction against the conventional culture of the fifties and early sixties, with its casual assertions of male superiority and paternalism (on literally dramatic display in the AMC television series Mad Men, which also shows how the attitudes evolved through the decade). But it was at least as much, if not more, a reaction against the male chauvinist pigs of the so-called New Left on campus in the mid-to-late sixties, in which the men would write up the manifestos and plan the demonstrations, expecting nothing more of the women than to satisfy their appetites by cooking for and copulating with them. Basically, it was barefoot (or naked) in the kitchen, hopefully without the pregnancy, but for which abortions were required in the event of accidents.

The attitudes of Leftist sexist men were well documented by the women’s movement:

Women’s developing networks ran into conflict with the alternative media almost from the outset. In 1969, Spazm, the Laura Murra paper mentioned earlier, had focused attention on sexism practiced by the alternative press. Reporting the Radical Media Conference in Ann Arbor in July of 1969, Spazm published the Conference’s resolution on “Women and the Underground Press.” It expressed the rejection of the sexism in underground papers by the women who worked on them and by other women who were irritated by their overt disrespect for women. Although the best known of these underground papers was The Village Voice, begun in New York in 1955, the number of others had increased dramatically by 1970 to over 450 such papers. While most of them purported to believe in female liberation, they nonetheless included sexist advertisements, photographs, cartoons, and articles. San Francisco’s Open City printed photographs of a woman carrying a sign stating “Every Woman Secretly Wants to be Raped.”

It resulted in a takeover of some of the publications by the women:

The February 7, 1970 issue of Rat included the Rat‘s most classic piece, Robin Morgan’s “Goodbye to All That.” Goodbye, she said, to the pornographic cover of Rat, to the personal ads, the little jokes. “No more, brothers. No more well-meaning ignorance, no more co-option, no more assuming that this thing we are fighting for is the same: one revolution under man, with liberty and justice for all.”

The politics of radicalizing academia was similarly sexist:

The issue of the role of women in the [American Studies] Association was more controversial than that of electing radicals and students to the Council. In 1969 Betty Chmaj was the only woman on a council of twenty-seven. This reflected not only the attitude of the national office in Philadelphia and the status of women in universities, but also the practice of the regional chapters in every part of the country, for in 1969 most of the council members were elected by the chapters. Chmaj almost singlehandedly forced ASA to face the “woman question.” It was not easy. Many of the men who called themselves radical did not think the issue of discrimination against women in the Association was a concern of high priority, and the ASA, like all professional associations of this period, had its share of male chauvinists and womanizers. One could say of Radical American Studies what Rayna Rapp said of her male colleagues at the University of Michigan: “They had all this empathy for the Vietnamese, and for black Americans, but they didn’t have much empathy for the women in their lives; not the women they slept with, not the women they shared office space with, not the women they fought at demonstrations with.”

[Emphasis mine]

Of course, the misogynist tradition of Leftist protest remains alive and well, as we’ve seen over the past few months. There has been no recorded incident of rape at any Tea Party rally, but no Occupy protest seems complete without at least one.

So when you see a White House staffed with people nurtured in such a radical environment, as Barack Obama himself was, it shouldn’t be surprising at all to see the old Leftist misogyny and sexism (and lies and projection) continue. It’s in the movement’s DNA. So when they talk about a war on women, it should be pretty tough for anyone knowledgeable to take them seriously. Unfortunately, that category probably doesn’t yet include the mainstream media.


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