by Gina Guest

I'm getting more than a little tired of this "why are feminists silent?" nonsense.

Feminists have not been silent!  They are simply refusing to say what the radical right wants them to say, so what they have said is simply ignored.

To recap -- when Paula Jones first made her charges of sexual harassment against Clinton she was not ignored by feminists -- the leaders of N.O.W. asked to meet with her and hear her story first hand.

A telephone meeting was arranged but when the call went through Paula Jones' lawyer told N.O.W. leaders that his client was out shopping and he would speak for her.  His "speech" consisted of a demand that NOW provide Paula Jones with money and moral support without expecting her to speak to them.

Apparently to the right wing backers of Paula Jones, feminists were simply supposed to support any woman making any allegation of sexual misconduct without even hearing her story first hand.  When it didn't happen that way the right wing got yet another stick to beat feminists with.

Despite this, feminist leaders have supported Paula Jones's right to have her day in court and have a judge and jury hear her case.  When Clinton's lawyer suggested he would grill Paula Jones about her sexual history, feminist leaders protested immediately and loudly and he quickly back pedaled from that position.

Monica Lewinsky has stated under oath that she did not have a sexual relationship with President Clinton.  She has never charged that the President encouraged her to lie.

Linda Tripp, who commited a felony by taping Monica Lewinsky without her knowledge and was immediately given full immunity for that felony by Ken Starr, and at his urging (for which he did not have judicial authority), repeated her illegal acts has said that Monica Lewinsky told her she had a sexual relationship with Bill Clinton and that he urged her to lie about it.  Linda Tripp illegally taped these conversations at the suggestion of her literary agent, a woman who has repeatedly and publicly stated she is out to "bring Clinton down," in order to make a anti-Clinton book Tripp has been trying to market for more than 3 years more sellable.

As for Gennifer Flowers, Clinton did not say he had never had an affair with her, he said he had not had a 12 year affair with her but admitted he had made "mistakes" in his marriage. Hair-splitting on his part?  Yes, but why was it an issue to begin with?  She didn't work for him nor did she claim the relationship was anything other than consensual.  None of the other candidates running for national political office were asked to confirm or deny their faithfulness to their spouse, nor did Clinton make any of his statements about Gennifer Flowers under oath.

Perhaps Clinton has sexually harassed women, but to date there is no proof that is the case. If such charges are proven, I expect that feminists will react as they have in the past and demand justice to be done, but to do so before such charges are proven is irresponsible. And despite the stereotypes of feminists spread by the right wing, we are not irresponsible, irrational man-hating harpies who act without thinking and without proof.

There does, however, exist substantial proof that Ken Starr who is supposedly investigating this matter has consistently abused women (and his position).

The widow of Vince Foster was put through years of agony while trying to cope with her grief over her husband's suicide.  Her house was searched, she, her family and friends were repeatedly questioned, her husband's private possessions were taken from her. His good character was questioned and her privacy was destroyed.  All in an effort by Ken Starr to prove that Richard Scaife's conspiracy fantasy had some basis and despite the earlier findings of the police, the F.B.I., the coroner and another independent prosecutor that Vince Foster had committed suicide.

Even after Ken Starr concluded for himself that Foster committed suicide, he delayed making his report public for several months (until after getting his lucrative job offer from Richard Scaife), completely ignoring the continued suffering and injustice he was inflicting on Mrs. Foster and her family.

Then there is Susan McDougal, who the woman-abusing Mr. Starr who has kept in prison for 16 months by repeatedly lying to a judge that he has new evidence that justifies continuing to imprison Mrs. McDougal for contempt -- evidence he has yet to present to the Grand Jury despite extending its term twice.

Susan McDougal has spent much of that time in solitary confinement, deprived of medical care and treated in a more severe manner that convicted serial murderers because she refuses to give the testimony Starr wants her to give, even though she has repeatedly stated that what he wants her to say is not true.

Finally we have Monica Lewinsky, a woman who has had her most basic legal rights to privacy taken from her by Mr. Starr despite the fact that he had no judicial authority to wire an informant to tape her private conversations.  He has publicly threatened and harassed her, called her family to testify against her and probably is responsible for leaking details he illegally obtained in order to pressure her.

Feminists have commented on this proven abuse of women.  Their objections have been ignored.

So what is it that feminists are being asked to do -- ignore the proven abuse of multiple women by Mr. Starr, demand the removal of the President of the United States without proof that he has done anything illegal or immoral, and bash Hillary Clinton because she chooses to believe the man she has spent most of her adult life with rather than those who are his declared enemies.

How stupid does the right wing think we are?

Gina Guest, 1998


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