Clinton, Clinton-haters and Juanita Broaddrick

Over at Orcinus, David Neiwert is busily ripping apart the “Bush haters are even more kookoo than Clinton haters” idea that the righties have been echo-chambering lately. David – a former MSNBC writer/producer – argues, persuasively, that the two things are not comparable; the right-wing ownership of cable news and talk radio guarantees that “Clinton-hatred,” no matter how insane it got, was treated with far more respect – and broadcasted far more widely – than it deserved.

I do have a couple of nits to pick with David’s argument, however.

First, David’s list of Clinton-hater charges against Clinton omits the whole Monica thing. But the Monicatastrophe is a major part of the anti-Clinton canon, and really can’t be skipped.

(Digression: Conservatives – in a transparent bit of partisan special-pleading – often say that they don’t object to Clinton having sex with an intern; what they object to is his lying under oath. Personally, I think just the opposite is true. That Clinton would break his marriage vows – and break them, furthermore, with an intern half his age, in a situation in which the power dynamics were so ridiculously unequal – speaks poorly of his character. (What kind of an asshole betrays his wife with an intern? Jesus.)

On the other hand, given the context, I think Clinton’s lie under oath is pretty understandable. First, the lie came up in the context of attempted, blatantly partisan, entrapment, which rather undermines the prosecution’s moral standing to ask questions at all. (It’s hard to feel that lying to a corrupt justice system is that big a sin). Second of all, attempting to cover up a tawdry, assholish affair seems like a reasonable thing to do, given that the alternative was to cause enormous damage to the well-being of the entire Democratic party, not to mention Clinton’s wife and child. End of digression.)

Secondly, regarding Juanita Broaddrick (the woman who claims that Clinton raped her in 1977), David writes:

This accusation was raised in 1999, after the impeachment fiasco, by an account of a woman named Juanita Broaddrick who said she had been sexually assaulted by Clinton in 1978. She told her account for a writer on the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page (after NBC News, which originally interviewed her, sat on the story — for good reason). The charges gradually evaporated as it became clear that Broaddrick (who had previously filed an affidavit denying any sexual contact with Clinton) was not a reliable witness, and may have had a profit motive for changing her story. The facts of their encounter have never been definitively established, but there is no sound evidence to suggest that any encounter he may have had with Broaddrick was not entirely consensual.

The charges didn’t “gradually evaporate” – they simply had nowhere to go. From her first interview, it was clear that Broaddrick’s story could not be proven or disproven, and it was years too late for a trial. That’s where Broaddrick’s story stood in 1999, and that’s where it stands now.

Nevertheless, Broaddrick’s claim is stronger than David’s account admits. NBC interviewed several people who saw Broaddrick’s facial bruises in 1977, and who remember Broaddrick telling them that Clinton (who was at the time the Attorney General of Arkansas) had raped her. And NBC’s investigation was able to verify several other aspects of Broaddrick’s story.

It is true that Broaddrick had filed an affidavit denying any sexual contact with Clinton; what David doesn’t mention is that she filed the affidavit to avoid being used as a weapon against Clinton by Paula Jones’ lawyers. Under the circumstances, I think it’s perfectly understandable that Broaddrick chose not to cooperate with Jones’ lawyers, and that hardly proves that she’s “not a reliable witness” in general. (And if having told a lie once – even in understandable circumstances – does make one permanently unreliable as a witness, then why is David so willing to take Bill Clinton’s word?)

As for Broaddrick’s “profit motive,” I have no idea what David’s referring to – and since David doesn’t provide any links or evidence to support his claim, I can’t take it seriously.

* * *

There’s a big difference between a court of law and a personal opinion.

For all legal purposes, Bill Clinton is not a rapist. He has never been found guilty of rape in a court of law – he’s never even been charged.

My personal opinion? There’s no way to know for certain. Reading Broaddrick’s NBC interview, I think she tells a credible and realistic story. I don’t know if she’s telling the truth – but in my heart, I suspect she is. Sorry, Clinton-lovers.

UPDATE: Links to the Broaddrick transcript keep on dying, so in case the above link dies, here’s an alternate link.

SECOND UPDATE: Okay, with the help of the discussion in the comments, I’ve figured out what’s bothering me about the inclusion of Broaddrick in David’s post.

You might or might not believe Broaddrick’s story – it’s a question that reasonable people can disagree on. You might even say that it’s impossible to know for certain either way, and I’d agree with you.

But Broaddricks’ story does not belong on a list – to use David’s words – of “afactual rhetorical turds.” To put it on such a list – right after a piece of genuine paranoid nonsense like the “Clinton body count” – implies that taking a woman’s accusation of rape seriously is the equivilent of believing in utter nonsense like the “Clinton body count.”

Needless to say, the two are not at all equivilent. A woman’s story of being raped is not beyond skepticism; but neither should it be dismissed as an “afactual rhetorical turd.” Everyone – and in particular, progressives and liberals – should take accusations of rape seriously. I’m not saying that David doesn’t take rape seriously. I am, however, saying that David was mistaken to lump Broaddrick’s story along with the nonsense that comprised the rest of his “rhetorical turds” list..

UPDATE, January 2016: Vox has a good summary of the Brodderick story.

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76 Responses to Clinton, Clinton-haters and Juanita Broaddrick

  1. 1
    Stentor says:

    … given that the alternative was to cause enormous damage to the well-being of the entire Democratic party …

    Certainly Clinton thought so, but I’m not so sure. I think the Democrats, and especially Bill himself, would have come out looking better if he had owned up to what he did and asked for forgiveness right away. The Republicans would have saved even more face, since Clinton’s cover-up gave them the opportunity to descend even farther into absurdity in their hatred.

  2. 2
    A. says:

    Ever since hearing about the Juanita Broaddrick case I can understand Kenneth Starr a tad better. I think the more you dig into what Clinton did to or with women the more you feel that this man got away with way too much and that should make one angry and frustrated. I find Ms. Broaddrick´s story very credible, too. I also read the open letter by her to Ms. Rodham Clinton where she suspects Ms. RC of being aware what her husband did to her. I wonder how this case will be followd up. I wonder how that will reflect on Hillary RC. I wonder if feminists will go into discussion about it even if that means putting a shadow over Hillary´s head – with speculations about her possible candidacy not something you would want out there in the limelights.

  3. 3
    David Neiwert says:

    Sorry, but Broaddrick’s story evaporated because once you started digging into the facts of the matter (as we did at MSNBC, of course), it became clear she was not the least credible.

    The core facts of the incident, beyond Broaddrick’s Rashomon-like telling, are this: In order to get bumper stickers, she phoned Clinton at his apartment and set up a one-on-one meeting at HER hotel. Her roommate was out of the room to “go shopping.” The venue of the meeting “changed” to HER ROOM. Moreover, other clinical data, as well as witness accounts, strongly suggested that whatever sex they had was consensual.

    And finally, just which version were we supposed to believe? Her 1992 deposition, or the version she told once the Clinton-haters had made a national campaign out of smearing him?

    People who dug into Bill Clinton’s past, particularly his dealings with women, know this: He was (and still is) a very attractive man with a great deal of power and charisma. Unsurprisingly, a lot of women threw themselves at him, many of them of obviously questionable character. Clinton, to his ill credit, was not prone to refusing them.

    But to leap from that to an accusation of rape is, frankly, beyond the pale.

  4. 4
    John Isbell says:

    Nothing I’ve seen in Clinton’s actions or demeanor suggests a person who would brutally force someone weaker to submit to a rape. Drop his pants with an intern in the Oval Office? Sure, which is revolting. Drop his pants to harass Paula Jones? We saw a lot of Clinton, and that doesn’t fit what I’ve seen.
    OK, that’s personal impression (and yes, on balance I like Clinton and want to defend him, despite Rwanda, sanctions, and the War on Drugs). I’ve also read that Broaddrick sent Clinton love letters, in essence, and a threat, after the incident. If so, I feel that those should be part of any assessment of her case, as here. At least any impartial one. There may be a compelling explanation for them.

  5. 5
    Ampersand says:

    David, I’m not saying I don’t believe you. Rather, I’m in a “Rashomon-like” state of not knowing what to believe, because once again you don’t post any links or sources to support any of your statements.

    You still haven’t said what evidence exists that Broaddrick had a “profit motive.” Now you’ve introduced all these new claims – the bumper stickers, that meeting in Broaddrick’s hotel room was her idea, clinical data (what clinical data exists after 30 years?) and witness accounts (which witnesses? Where can I read about them?) – and you haven’t provided a clue or a link as to where ANY of this alleged information comes from.

    I’m not as close-minded as you may imagine; I’d be happy to read and consider evidence showing that Clinton is probably innocent. But I do require reading the evidence for myself, not just taking your word that it exists.

    As for the affidat (in 1998 – not 1992, as you mistakenly wrote), I note again that you don’t apply to Clinton the standard that you’re applying to Broaddrick (the “if you’ve ever lied, everything else you ever claim we should assume is a lie” standard). Maybe you find it totally bewildering that a rape victim might sign a false affidat to avoid being dragged into a civil suit in which she would be dragged over the coals and publicly humiliated, but that same person might be frightened of lying to a federal grand jury. But I trust most Alas readers don’t find the idea that bizarre. Rape victims sometimes have very good reason to fear being “re-victimized” in court, and lying to avoid being attacked on the stand in the Paula Jones case is totally understandable.

  6. 6
    Ampersand says:

    John, my comment to you is similar to my comment to David: If you want to introduce new evidence to be considered, please indicate where the rest of us could read that evidence for ourselves.

    I’m hardly an expert on this case, but I’ve read a fair amount about it, and this is the first time I’ve heard of the “love letters.”

    Also (posted mainly so I can find the link easily later, not because it’s relevant to John’s post), here’s a collection of newspaper articles on the case. This was compiled by a rabid Clinton-hater, so naturally some of the articles are total crap; but he also included a couple that are worth reading, such as the Washington Post’s account.

  7. 7
    Amy S. says:

    “Nothing I’ve seen in Clinton’s actions or demeanor suggests a person who would brutally force someone weaker to submit to a rape…”

    Actually, it’s the very fact that so many rapists are charming, affable, kindly people… in public that makes it possible for them to get away with private outrages. They even fool their close friends, their families, their co-workers. Considering that all these people have been considerably closer to Clinton than John has, I fail to see how “what he has seen” of Clinton’s character has all that much to do with whether or not the man raped Broaddrick.

  8. 8
    David Neiwert says:

    Barry, I’m mostly running off my recollections, and for the most part that’s the best I can do. I happened to have worked on MSNBC’s end of the story a bit, and was closely acquainted with the holes in Lisa Myers’ story, of which there were many. There were very good journalistic reasons to hold that story, because Myers had done shoddy legwork and completely neglected to examine Broaddrick’s story closely. She mostly took the interview and searched for corroboration, while any reporter worth his or her salt would have carefully examined both sides. Not that such standards seem to be in vogue any longer. And as it happens, when NBC’s legal started looking into it, there were serious problems with her story, including her alleged reasons for the tete-a-tete and the circumstances under which it was arranged.

    Again, I haven’t any documentation of this, though I believe it probably exists somewhere. You should at least check out, first, what Lyons and Conason had to say about Broaddrick in The Hunting of the President (pp. 60-64). Add to that what Sidney Blumenthal has to say about her tale in The Clinton Wars.

    But let me put it to you this way: There are many ways of pursuing and digging up details in pursuit of the truth of a story well beyond the first interviews. They are not reliant in the least on court proceedings. Ask any investigative reporter. Broaddrick’s inability to pursue the matter in court is ultimately irrelevant, given the fact that many news organizations in 1999 were fully devoted to digging up any quotient of dirt on Clinton. If there had been any substance to the story, I can assure you it would have been pursued to the ends of the earth.

    Incidentally, I completely agree with you WRT the affidavit Broaddrick signed (she did also deny the charges in a civil deposition, BTW, which I thought had occurred earlier, when the accusation first arose, but I could be wrong about that). Of course, I’ve dealt over the years with multiple criminal cases in which the victim at first lied to investigators, out of a broad panoply of reasons. These include rape and hate-crimes victims.

    And I agree with you that Broaddrick appeared credible for the most part. Indeed, I too went into looking at the matter as having a high likelihood of being true — though I must note that on multiple viewings of Broaddrick’s interview (I had to edit and splice it for the Web site) I picked up on several signs she had been coached.

    The more everyone looked into it, the problems with her story increasingly made it appear she was at best wholly unreliable (it’s perhaps worth remembering that if she indeed lied in that civil deposition, she had committed the same ‘crime’ for which Clinton was impeached) and at worst out to cash in on the Clinton-bashing phenomenon. Most of all, there was substantial evidence that Broaddrick and Clinton’s contact was entirely consensual. The two weighed out roughly even, if not slightly in Clinton’s favor, at least IMHO.

    As for a profit motive: I need hardly remind you that Clinton-bashing had evolved into a highly profitable cottage industry by 1999. (One need only recollect the money thrown Paula Jones’ way, at least until they were done with her.) Mrs. Broaddrick was financially well off (though it turned out that she indeed had financial problems in 1998), but that never precludes one from wanting to become even wealthier.

    In any event, I learned long ago that you don’t call someone a murderer simply because you suspect they might have killed someone. And you don’t characterize someone as a rapist unless they’ve actually been convicted of it. It’s a basic law of truthfulness and fairness. And Republicans violated it by regularly claiming that the president was a rapist.

  9. 9
    Ampersand says:

    David, I’ll try to read the two sources you suggest before I post on this further. And I certainly agree with you that to call Clinton a rapist – without noting that the charges have never been proven in court – is irresponsible.

    On the other hand, I also think it’s highly irresponsible of you to imply on your blog that Broaddrick made up her story for profit – a charge that you’re obviously unable to provide even a shred of support for. You should be as willing to grant Broaddrick a presumption of innocence as you are Clinton.

    Too many journalists are willing to make character attacks on alleged rape victims without any evidence – which is one reason rape victims in this country are so hesitant to come forward with their stories. It’s possible to be skeptical about Broaddrick’s story without making unfounded, unsupported attacks on her character. I’m disappointed you didn’t take that road.

  10. 10
    David Neiwert says:

    Sorry, but I think the observation that “she may have had a profit motive” is a perfectly accurate way to explain why people who examined her charges had grounds for skepticism — just as, say, your statement saying she seemed credible (which by extension says you believe Clinton may be a rapist) is reasonable. I, of course, draw the line at leaping to conclude definitively (as, say, Chris Hitchens and Andrew Sullivan and Ann Coulter all did) that Clinton indeed was a rapist.

    If I had tried to claim that she clearly had a profit motive, that would be one thing. I didn’t. I simply pointed it out as a possibility, and even then only in the context of explaining why there was skepticism.

  11. 11
    Ampersand says:

    David, here’s the complete sentence you wrote:

    The charges gradually evaporated as it became clear that Broaddrick (who had previously filed an affidavit denying any sexual contact with Clinton) was not a reliable witness, and may have had a profit motive for changing her story.

    To me – and maybe I’m misreading this, English isn’t always the clearest langauge – this makes it sound as if “it became clear… that Broaddrick may have had a profit motive.” That’s stronger than just saying that it’s theoretically possible she had a profit motive; it’s implying that there’s some particular reason, that became clear over time, for suspecting Broaddrick of having a profit motive.

    But on second reading, I have to admit that it’s possible that you meant the “it became clear” to apply only to the first half of your sentence, and not to the second.

    In any case, I still think your post doesn’t make much sense. It was clear from the moment the story broke that Broaddrick was contradicting her earlier affidat; it was clear from the moment the story broke that someone could, in theory, have a unproven profit motive. (In fact, Broaddrick never cashed in with a book deal or by selling her story to tabloids, which suggests that whatever motivated her, it wasn’t profit).

    * * *

    In the end, the situation is, as you said, “Rashomen-like.” I acknowlege that reasonable people, like yourself, can disbelieve the Broaddrick charge, saying in effect “there’s no way to know for sure, but I don’t find her story credible, and don’t believe Clinton is a rapist.”

    But the opposite is also true: Given her supporting witnesses and the strength of her story, reasonable people can also say “there’s no way to know for sure, but Broaddrick’s story seems credible to me, and contemporary witnesses support her account; I think it’s likely that Clinton did rape Broaddrick.”

    I think that’s what really bothered me about your post: including Broaddrick’s story on a list of “afactual rhetorical turds” implies that taking a woman’s accusation of rape seriously is as ridiculous as believing in utter nonsense like the “Clinton body count.” The two things are not at all equivilent, and I think you were mistaken to put them on the same list.

  12. 12
    David Neiwert says:

    Well, the “afactual rhetorical turd” wasn’t Broaddrick’s story per se, but the definitive claim by Republicans that “Clinton was a rapist.” That simply isn’t a known fact, nor even a provable one. And if it is untrue, it is the lowest kind of smear.

  13. 13
    David Neiwert says:

    Let me qualify that last sentence a little further: Absent that proof, it is the lowest kind of smear.

  14. 14
    Julia Grey says:

    Can I just ask, why DID Broaddrick come forward?

    I tend to think that Clinton at least THOUGHT his encounter with Broaddrick was consensual, just as he apparently mis-read Paula Jones’s coyness in that hotel room. She made clear in her deposition that he had been trying to nuzzle her neck — among other things — and she didn’t make any overt objection until he actually opened his fly.

    I believe that the evidence clearly shows that both Jones and Broaddrick were looking for a special relationship of one sort or another with a powerful man (just as Katherine Willey was), but they didn’t particularly like the no-nonsense sexual response they got to their “invitations.” They wanted romance and power and got sex and swift dismissal instead.

    I think Clinton’s routine sexual response to these kinds of random opportunities was straightforward and even a little rough because he had discovered that a lot of women seemed to like it that way (wanting to believe they were “swept off their feet,” so to speak) AND because he found out that just “going for it” directly was a very efficient way of getting to the sex with a woman who appeared to be willing. He didn’t have a lot of time to waste when he was on a political schedule!

    It was only after these women thought about their encounters later (as Linda Tripp’s testimony made clear in the case of Katherine Willey) that their disappointed ambitions caused them to decide that Clinton’s no-frills, swashbuckling sexual style had been “inappropriate” in some way.

    This theory takes into account both the apparent “credibility” of these women — they convinced themselves that Clinton’s subsequent cavalier attitude toward them proved the truth of what they now believed about what had happened — and Clinton’s apparent belief that he had not done anything these women didn’t signal by their behavior (like Broaddrick’s invitation to “continue the conversation” upstairs in her room) that they were offering.

    None of this reflects well on any of the players, least of all Clinton, who obviously made indiscriminate use of his sexual opportunities from various hopeful or downright calculating women. But it does explain how Clinton is not a “rapist” even if all these women are telling what they believe is “the truth.”

  15. 15
    Ampersand says:

    Julia, where are you getting this stuff from? Either you’re using some source I haven’t seen – in which case, please let us know what your source is – or you’re not actually familiar with the Broaddrick case. (I’m not going to comment on the other cases you cite, since I’m not familiar with them).

    For instance, you refer to “Broaddrick’s invitation to ‘continue the conversation’ upstairs in her room.” But according to Broaddrick’s account in her NBC interview, it was Clinton’s suggestion to meet in her room, not hers. (According to Broaddrick, Clinton made a request to change the meeting to her room so he could avoid talking to the press in the coffee shop). Your account of what happened is totally at odds with Broaddrick’s.

    “I believe that the evidence clearly shows that both Jones and Broaddrick were looking for a special relationship of one sort or another with a powerful man (just as Katherine Willey was), but they didn’t particularly like the no-nonsense sexual response they got to their ‘invitations.’ They wanted romance and power and got sex and swift dismissal instead.”

    Say what? Do you have any evidence at all to support these contentions about Broaddrick?

    Look, suppose a successful male businessman accepted Bill Clinton’s invitation to chat. Would anyone find it strange or suspicious that successful businessfolks would like to talk to their state’s attorney general? Of course not – businesspeople look to lobby politicians all the time, and the more “buddy-buddy” the relationship can be the better. (Look at Ken Lay’s notes to Dubya).

    But because a successful female businesswoman agreed to meet with a powerful politician – something male businessmen do all the time – you leap to the assumption that she must have been seeking romance and sending sexual messages. That’s just sexist bullshit.

    It was only after these women thought about their encounters later (as Linda Tripp’s testimony made clear in the case of Katherine Willey) that their disappointed ambitions caused them to decide that Clinton’s no-frills, swashbuckling sexual style had been “inappropriate” in some way.

    Again, this is nonsense as applied to Broaddrick’s story. According to her story, she immediately identified what happened to her as rape; and she told friends she had been raped at that time. Do you have any evidence whatsoever to support your theory that Broaddrick’s accusation of rape is an example of an after-the-fact rethinking?

    Look, unless you know of some evidence I haven’t read, there’s simply no evidence to support your version of events.

  16. 16
    Raznor says:

    Ah, here’s a benefit of coming into the conversation late. Any problems I had with say Julia Grey’s post was already neatly taken care of by Amp, so I’ll go on with my other point.

    Ampersand, you said, “And if having told a lie once – even in understandable circumstances – does make one permanently unreliable as a witness, then why is David so willing to take Bill Clinton’s word?” But the situations aren’t exactly parallel. Bill Clinton’s specific lie in question was involving Monica Lewinsky, whereas Broaddrick made a claim on an affidavit, then later negated that very claim. This doesn’t mean that Broaddrick was lying when she negated her claim, nor does it mean that her initial affidavit was not justifiable given the circumstances, but it would provide a problem if one was to attempt to prosecute Clinton in court. In that sense, it would greatly diminish Broaddrick’s credibility as a witness.

    Which is not to assume anything. I prefer to neither assume Clinton raped Broaddrick, nor Clinton didn’t rape Broaddrick, since at this point, there’s nothing we can do about it either way.

  17. 17
    Raznor says:

    Addendum to post:

    I should add that I’m not extremely familiar with the case, in fact the first I really read of it was your post, so if I made any incorrect assumptions above, please correct.

  18. 18
    Avedon says:

    Well, I don’t like Clinton very much, but I do want to point out that most of these things – Lewinsky etc. – happened after the right-wingers had already been holding Clinton up as the devil for several years. Which is what makes the Clinton-haters so much worse and more pathological than Bush-bashers: The latter hated Clinton before they had anything to pin on him, while Bush-bashers hate Bush for things he’s done.

    As to whether rape was Clinton’s style, I have to say that the women over here who dated him or knew him when he was at Oxford (and his former housemate, Mandy Merck) paint a picture of a man who would never force himself on someone. They still speak well of him – including the ones who have turned out to be Tories. Mandy says Clinton was the first person she trusted enough to come out to. I know some of these people personally and they instantly dismissed the idea of him raping anyone because that was just plain not like him. It’s all very well to claim that “most rapists are charming” (I’m not sure if this is really true, though), but the fact of the matter is there don’t seem to be a lot of women running around this island complaining about how Bill got pushy with them &etc. – nor even complaints that he got what he wanted and then dropped them. They tend to portray him as a gentleman.

  19. 19
    Julia Grey says:

    Look at a couple of things to get a handle on this story:

    Broaddrick claims that when she called Clinton that day he invited himself up to her room “because there were too many reporters in the lobby/coffee shop.” Why would there be a lot of reporters in a venue that was hosting a nursing convention? Why would he need to avoid reporters at all, under the supposedly innocent circumstances of their meeting? Is Broaddrick claiming that the nursing convention was crawling with reporters who were following the Attorney General around and yet did not notice his departure for the private rooms of the hotel and his absence for, according to her own statements, over 1/2 hour?

    She “could not remember” the exact date or even the time of day when this horrible assault occurred, when it is reasonable to believe that something so stunningly awful would be perfectly emblazoned on her memory in all its particulars.

    What was the business Juanita needed to discuss with the Attorney general/soon-to-be Governor? Was it related to some health violations that had recently been discovered at her nursing home? Did she hope to get some kind of favor from him? If so, things may not have gone exactly as she hoped in more ways than one.

    The nurse/roommate (gal named Rodgers) who was “out shopping” but came back in time to witness the supposed results of the attack — and thus was said to have “partially corroborated” Broaddrick’s account of the incident — herself had reason to deeply, deeply hate Bill Clinton: he commuted the sentence of a man who murdered her father. Many people believe that she is the source of the whisper campaign as the 1992 presidential campaign got underway, the whispering that got one Philip Yoakum, protege of Sheffield Nelson, one of Clinton’s most virulent enemies, involved in the matter.

    Yoakum wrote a letter to Broaddrick which outlined the accusations and got her husband all in a lather, in which he claimed that he “understood” why Braoddrick hadn’t come forward, and pledged to keep her name out of the press. But of course he or someone else leaked her name. At which point Broaddrick either had go with the “rape” story or admit to her second husband that she had had sex with Clinton voluntarily.

    This is, I think, the crux of the matter for both Jones and Broaddrick: they’d both had private hotel room encounters with Clinton which they had to explain to their husbands. Jones could get away with saying that Clinton made a crude offer, which she refused. But Broaddrick had already told Rodgers the “he forced me” story which was now making the media rounds, so she had to stick to it.

    Broaddrick’s sexual encounter with Clinton WAS probably an unhappy one from her point of view, and she might have told Rodgers about it in a teary and accusatory tone because she felt used and summarily discarded, not because he raped her.

    Here’s another possibility: if it was clear to a returning roomie that something illicit had happened, a woman who was currently married (and also having an affair with the man who would become her second husband) might very well tell said roomie that the sex she smelled in the air and saw in her disheveled friend had been forced upon her.

    Broaddrick’s first husband, to whom she supposedly went home that very day in a rush, leaving the conference before it was over (although records seem to show that she stayed for all of it) said that he never noticed any mysteriously fat, bruised upper lip on his wife. Which might mean only that the “bruising” was considerably less than Broaddrick and Rodgers imply, or that Broaddrick’s first husband is willing to discredit her. Not unheard-of in cuckolded husbands, I understand.

    I take the concern about sticking to the story for a husband’s sake partly from this part of the (unsigned) letter Yoakum wrote to Broaddrick after he and Nelson had approached her in 1992 about the whispers they had heard (and secretly taped the conversation!):

    We both simply asked you if you were interested in coming forward, if for nothing else, just to release you from the guilt you said you had been carrying for fourteen years. And you mentioned that, if you did come forward, that it would truly convince [husband’s name] of your innocence in the matter and also it would help to set his mind at rest.

    Later that evening I had a telephone call from [husband’s name] and he asked me if Sheffield had made a recording of our conversation and I said no [LIAR]. … [Husband’s name], in no uncertain terms, threatened that I would be held personally responsible for the release of this information. …

    As I have stated above, I am not going to release the tapes and other back-up materials, and you can live your life without the fear of me ever doing so. However, for my own protection I have made copies of the tapes and everything else and given them to both my attorney and Sheffield. These tapes and materials will be held forever, for posterity, and they will never be released unless I am forced by you to have to release them in court or to the press or also, in light of [husband’s name]’s threats, in the event harm should ever come to me or my family. I gave Sheffield his copies of everything without any restrictions, so that he could use them any way he might choose.

    So, let’s look at this scenario: Yoakum approaches Broaddrick privately and asks about the rape story Rodgers told him and Broaddrick confirms it because she knows Yoakum is in contact with her husband. Yoakum records that conversation, so he’s got something he can bring out against her later “if something happens.”

    Broaddrick says she was NOT raped in her affadavit for the Jones case, but when it comes to facing down Ken Starr, she knows that tape is out there with the rightwing goon squad, and she fears they will use it and prosecute her for perjury if she continues to say nothing happened — not to mention that her husband’s doubts about the whole thing must have been reaching critical mass right about then. What woman WOULDN’T go back to the rape story under the circumstances?

  20. 20
    John Isbell says:

    Amy S., you’re completely right, I know almost nothing of Clinton beyond the TV (I know one young woman intern for a Maine Congressman, who in fact looks oddly like Monica Lewinsky, who met him recently, and called him magnetic). That’s why I pointed out that these were my personal impressions. Avedon has something more substantial, which I value.
    Ampersand, reading this thread I decided a) that it was in Blumenthal and b) that it was probably Kathleen Willey. Monica happened, but I’ve tended to lump the other charges together as driven by the right. Here’s a famous one: “he apparently mis-read Paula Jones’s coyness in that hotel room.” Do we have evidence beyond Jones’s testimony that anything whatever happened here? Anyway, I’ve dug out Blumenthal and I’ll index-hunt (Broaddrick, 541-543):
    No, no love letters. The GOP handlers of her story, Yoakum and Nelson, are quoted saying they don’t believe it. Blumenthal states that Broaddrick’s three witnesses were her husband, and two sisters whose father’s killer Clinton had pardoned. That’s all that’s new.
    Willey (438). It’s her: letters signed “Fondly” and “Your number one fan”, and one saying she was “not to be trifled with”, all after the alleged incident. Certainly part of that story, IMO.

  21. 21
    John Isbell says:

    Perfect update, Amp, IMO.

  22. 22
    Ampersand says:

    Julia wrote:

    She “could not remember” the exact date or even the time of day when this horrible assault occurred, when it is reasonable to believe that something so stunningly awful would be perfectly emblazoned on her memory in all its particulars.

    To quote Kynn Bartlett, “I always forget that there’s a rulebook which says how women should act before and after a rape. Clearly, if she isn’t following the rules, she must not have been raped. After all, everyone KNOWS there’s only one way to deal with something like this. If, say, your coping mechanism isn’t fully in line with (mostly male) expectations, then there was never a rape.”

    As for the rest of your post, it’s possible that things happened as you describe (although you forgot to mention that several witnesses remember seeing her bruises). But it’s also possible that Broaddrick was telling the truth. I don’t think we’ll ever know for sure.

  23. 23
    Julia Grey says:

    Which witnesses remember seeing her bruises? Her husband and the two sisters (Lewis and Rogers) whose father Clinton pardoned are the only ones I remember.

  24. 24
    Julia Grey says:

    Also, her inability to remember the date is just one among several other odd or worrisome circumstances surrounding her story. I’m not assuming there is only one way to react to rape, or that women will always remember the day a rape happened, but put together with these other significant questions and details (like the supposedly reporter-clogged coffee shop), it seems…convenient.

  25. 25
    Raznor says:

    Hypothetically,if this were brought to court,and if I were a lawyer defending Clinton, I don’t think I’d even use the fact that Broaddrick couldn’t remember the date of the event as a way to discredit her story (although if no date could be given at all, that alone could create reasonable doubt). The thing is, I’d imagine a terrible event, that long to come forward with it, it’s only natural that she would want to distance herself emotionally from it as possible. Hence it would be only natural to forget details of it, if you wish to forget the incident in whole.

    I mean, of course there are holes in the story, that’s why it can’t be proven, there’s plenty of points where things could go alternate ways. I really don’t think finding plausible explanations, at this point, is very useful.

  26. 26
    David M. Chess says:

    Jesus betrayed his wife with an intern??? I’m gonna hafta read them Gospels more carefully next time…

  27. 27
    Martin Wisse says:

    “But Broaddricks’ story does not belong on a list – to use David’s words – of “afactual rhetorical turds.” To put it on such a list – right after a piece of genuine paranoid nonsense like the “Clinton body count” – implies that taking a woman’s accusation of rape seriously is the equivilent of believing in utter nonsense like the “Clinton body count.””

    I disagree. Yes, rape accusations have to be taken seriously, but *unfounded* rape accusations
    should not. The “Clinton is a rapist” meme was and is just another bit of right wing idiotry, just as much as the “Clinton is a murderer” meme is.

  28. 28
    Ampersand says:

    I’m not sure what the word “unfounded” means to you, Martin, but my dictionary says it means “groundless.” Unless you assume all women who say they’ve been raped are liars, which I’m sure you don’t, the Broaddrick accusation is not unfounded. “Unfounded” is not the same as “unproven.”

  29. 29
    A. says:

    Susan Faludi made a good point in a article:

    “If the media — and the Republicans — were focusing on this as a way to express concern about women’s rights, this would be a forum for advancing feminist concerns more generally, but that’s not what’s going on here. Juanita Broaddrick, like Monica Lewinsky, like Paula Jones, are women who are being used by Clinton-haters to further an agenda that has nothing to do with women’s rights. And if they can attack feminists in the process, then it’s a two-for-one deal for them. What people seem to be ignoring is: Why was Juanita Broaddrick afraid to speak up 21 years ago? Because in the conservative social climate then, a woman who said, “I was raped” or “I was molested” or “I was thrown out of my job because I was pregnant” was just not believed. What is it that changed that climate? It’s the work of feminists. To hold feminists up as having feet of clay is a little ironic, to put it mildly.

    If true, it’s horrible. But so far the information seems to be coming out of the same attack-dog cabal of right-wingers. So until one sees the fullness of whatever is out there about this case, you’re reluctant to leap up and become hysterical.”

    It is scary to think we might cry out loud “it´s all the idiocy of right wingers” and silence voices of feminists who hence do not dare to throw an outraged look on this case – so nobody can accuse them of having fallen for the trap.

    You are right, we will never know the truth. Statistically spoken though it is very unlikely Ms. Broaddrick´s accusations are false.

  30. 30
    Raznor says:

    Statistically spoken though it is very unlikely Ms. Broaddrick´s accusations are false.

    Everything up to that statement in your post was excellent, but this is really a non-sequitur. It’s not that these statistics don’t have their value, but they’re near-useless in determining the merits of an individual case.

  31. 31
    Erica says:

    I never knew all the stuff posted above about the Broderick story. The one thing I heard which I thought was bizarre was that her twenty-something son said he knew the story was true, because Mom had told him 10 years earlier. What kind of Mom would tell her teenage son she had been raped by a very important person decades before? When does that conversation occur? At the dinner table? Actually made me think maybe the story is true–if it is true that you have to be a little nutty and a little slutty to be a victim of date rape.

  32. 32
    Amy S. says:

    “…Actually made me think maybe the story is true–if it is true that you have to be a little nutty and a little slutty to be a victim of date rape.”

    Ho ho ha ha hee hee heh heh haw haw, Erica.

    Shit. Who the fuck writes your monologues ? The editorial staff at *National Lampoon* ?

  33. 33
    Erica says:

    All I meant Amy is that women who are not as self-possessed, confident, whatever, the weakest, most vulnerable and confused, tend to be preyed upon by victimizers–especially where there is no alcohol, no drugs, and the alleged victim is neither young nor inexperienced (i.e., married with children). How does an experienced woman in broad daylight in a semi-public place, with no drugs or alcohol get raped??

    So what I was saying was a Mom who shares her sex life with her teenage son–the age when he is becoming a man sexually–and telling him that male sexuality is bad and that a powerful man did a bad thing to her–you have to be emotionally dysfunctional to do that. As I recall it, the son said he was the one who urged his Mom to tell all to Ken Starr. If this is true (and many of the posts above suggest that it is not)–it would make sense, in that Mom, by telling him a bad man did a bad thing to her, put him in the position of wanting to rescue her, to tell the big authority Ken Starr. The alleged fact that her first husband abused her also suggests some pathology–which is not the same as “fault.”

    Same seems to be true for Paula Jones. She said that ever since Bill dropped his pants, for the next 12 years she couldn’t enjoy sex with her husband. If that’s true (and there are reasons to believe it’s not–she made it up at the last minute in order to establish damages)–if it is true, then she’s an emotional basket case. That would make her claim more, rather than less credible, because emotional basket cases are more likely to be victims (excluding situations with drugs and alcohol, and excluding young or inexperienced girls).

    That’s all I was saying. As far as I’m concerned, we’re all a little nutty and a little slutty. Who cares?

  34. 34
    Amy S. says:

    Dear God, (or Amp, or whoever’s in charge)

    If it’s cardiac arrest or perhaps a nice brain embolism that’s gonna’ get me, can you please arrange for it to take place, oh… about forty seconds ago ?

    Warmest regards,

    Amy S.
    (not nutty, not slutty, and not even remotely interested in attempting reasoned discourse with anyone who entertains that particular fantasy while discussing rape or anything else)

  35. 35
    Raznor says:

    I’m reminded of the headline from the Onion Our Dumb Century: “Double Standard Conveniently Classifies All Women as Virgins, Whores” Or something like that.

  36. 36
    Erica says:

    I was assuming common familiarity with what I thought was a famous phrase–David Brock’s phrase about Anita Hill, being “a little nutty and a little slutty.” Perhaps borrowing it for different meanings was too offensive. It’s not my phrase. Though I am a Neanderthal–I still think victims of sexual assault–perhaps I should limit it to my (younger) self only–are dazed and confused, looking for love and confusing it with sex. (I say younger because I’m way over the hill age-wise now.) And I wouldn’t promote 12 years or decades of victimhood as something women should aspire to, which is part of the message of Paula Jones and Juanita Broderick. The trick, whether the crime is sexual assault or any other hardship, loss, tragedy, is to overcome it. I certainly plan to tell my daughter to learn to protect herself–by number one, staying away from alcohol and drugs, and number two, staying active in sports, and . . . other things too detailed for this. But I have a son too, so I cannot sign on to the idea that boys are rapists and girls are victims. Sorry, but I think getting through adolescence in one piece, having your own ambitions, preserving your mental health, is the best protection against sexual assault, though not necessarily perfect. Sorry again, but I think these ladies had some deficiences in these regards, and again, it’s not their fault. When I say we’re all a little nutty and a little slutty I mean we’re all a little mixed up, but so what. Whatever–this is well beyond talking about Bill Clinton. Whatever his faults, I’d take him any day over George Bush (ugh!)

  37. 37
    Amy S. says:

    Are you there, God/Amp ? It’s Me, Amy S. !!!

  38. 38
    Lynn Gazis-Sax says:

    I see Amy S. is throwing up her hands, but I’m going to respond to Erica anyway.

    All I meant Amy is that women who are not as self-possessed, confident, whatever, the weakest, most vulnerable and confused, tend to be preyed upon by victimizers

    On the one hand, Erica, I think it’s safe to say, of any crime, against men or women, that the people most likely to be victims of crime are those who are either young and inexperienced, or in some way weaker (whether that means less prudent, less physically able to fight back, or in a worse position to get assistance from other people).

    On the other hand, you seem to be saying that this is particularly true of rape victims and women who are victimized by men, in general, and I seriously doubt that is true. I also don’t think that being strong, smart, self-possessed, confident, sober, whatever, is exactly overwhelming security against crime (whether that crime is rape or some other crime). At some time in our lives, most of us, even the strongest and most self-possessed, face some form of crime against our person or property.

    I still think victims of sexual assault–perhaps I should limit it to my (younger) self only–are dazed and confused, looking for love and confusing it with sex

    Well, this certainly wasn’t true of me, the one time I was forcibly groped. I wasn’t looking for love; I was looking to take a quick shower, by myself, in my own home. I’ll admit to being young, naive, and unsure of how to defend myself once I discovered I had uninvited company, but looking for love didn’t figure into the situation at all.

    But I have a son too, so I cannot sign on to the idea that boys are rapists and girls are victims.

    Is anyone asking that you sign on to that idea? Most boys aren’t rapists.

  39. 39
    A. says:

    Erica, your words sound strange to me.

    [quote]So what I was saying was a Mom who shares her sex life with her teenage son–the age when he is becoming a man sexually–and telling him that male sexuality is bad and that a powerful man did a bad thing to her–you have to be emotionally dysfunctional to do that. [/quote]

    First of all a Mom who does that is not sharing her SEX life. She is sharing an experience with him where she lost control over her sex life. And why do you believe that she told him all male sexuality is bad? Don´t you think it could be raising his awareness that having a sex life comes with responsibilities? That if you want a fulfilling sexuality and a good partnership you need to respect the person you want to have sex with and don´t force it on her? Why would the son identify with the perpetrator, just because he is male? I believe he would probably rather become an advocat against rape and a spokesperson for survivors of rape (as seems to be the case when encouraging his mother to unbreak her silence).

    And I wouldn’t promote 12 years or decades of victimhood as something women should aspire to, which is part of the message of Paula Jones and Juanita Broderick.[/quote]

    Most rape victims consider themselves survivors and not victims. So we are speaking of years of survivorship and not an aspiration of victimhood. It wasn´t the survivors fault or choice to get victimized, but it is them who have to deal with the often long lasting effects. Don´t you think you would want justice for everything you had to go through? Don´t you think it would make you angry that someone made a decision on your life and just gets away without ever having to pay for it? Your life is being interrupted, the victimizer just moves on?

    [quote]I still think victims of sexual assault–perhaps I should limit it to my (younger) self only–are dazed and confused, looking for love and confusing it with sex. (I say younger because I’m way over the hill age-wise now.) [/quote]

    I am confused. Are you speaking of personal experience? If so maybe you should look into the damage it has done to you, maybe you´ve never dealt with it on a healing path and that´s why you feel resentments against women who publicly speak about being assaulted? That´s just an assumption of course.

  40. 40
    Jimmy Ho says:

    Lynn Gazis-Sax wrote: Most boys aren’t rapists.
    True, but most rapists are men, and it won’t get any better if boys aren’t systematically taught that “no means no” and that alleged animality (the disgusting “I couldn’t resist when I saw that skirt, why did she have to wear it“) can never be an excuse.

  41. 41
    Erica says:

    Wow. First, I guess its a given that it’s OK to have this discussion “off-topic” –I’ve never commented on a blog before and I feel like I’m trespassing, since we are no longer talking (directly) about the subject. Second, I’m glad somebody articulated a response, because Amy’s visceral response left me wondering.

    I guess I’ll start by what seems to be the easiest point. I don’t know if I’m right or wrong, but I think it would be a form of child abuse to talk to my son about my sex life, especially at an age when he is becoming a man, and especially to tell him ugly things. I’m not a shrink, so maybe I can’t explain why, but in my gut, if that’s what Ms. Broderick did, then I think that’s all fucked up (hoping bad language is not offensive–I’ve already used “nutty and slutty” so I guess this couldn’t be as bad).

    Second, about victims of crime in general. Perhaps this is an analogy (or perhaps not): years ago my husband bought two expensive bicycles in a row, and each was stolen because he didn’t lock his bike, because he didn’t think people would or should be stealing them (believe it or not). Well you can increase or decrease the probability of being the victim of a crime by taking certain precautions. They are not foolproof, they just reduce the probabilities. Based maybe too much on my own history, I think being drunk or stoned and sexual assault go together like what, a horse and carriage? It does us less good to cry foul after the fact and suffer the damage, or bemoan the fact that for boys sex is just sex, and women don’t get there until they’re 40, then to prevent it in the first instance. I think my husband made himself a victim of bicycle theft by his own actions also, I wasn’t intending to suggest that rape victims are special in that regard.

    As for being confident, sober, etc.: I think you learn, after a certain amount of experience, how to protect yourself, and if you haven’t learned that by the time your 30ish (the age of the women in question, I believe) then something is wrong. I believe that the victim of William Kennedy Smith was raped, but I also believe that any woman taking a walk on the beach at 3:00 a.m. with no pantyhose or panties on, thinking she will be having a discussion about her son’s medical condition, well there’s something wrong there. I think the verdict of not guilty was also correct, despite the fact that she was raped. A man does not deserve 24 years in prison under those circumstances.

    As for my own experience, well, I wouldn’t know where to begin without going on forever. I was incredibly promiscuous, raped more than once . . . what can I say, there are too many details. The effect was that I didn’t like sex. For reasons I can’t explain, I never disliked men, and I never stopped being attracted to men, though I also experimented with women. When I met my husband, it was “love at first sight” or more like an incredible lust and attraction, a feeling of profound comfort and safety, and desire to be close. He worked with me for years, until I got over my past. It also helped that after I met him, I began a life of my own, a career of my own, and developed a self of my own. I feel like I cheated myself by abusing myself. I don’t feel like it’s anybody’s fault but my own.

    On TV last night somebody said the prosecutor in the Kobe Bryant case said she didn’t want any older ladies on the jury, because they tend to be judgmental, and tend to think things like, what was the girl doing going up to a man’s room late at night. Well I guess I’m that judgmental old lady. (Not that I would apply that to a 19-year old.)

    As for boys being rapists, this is what I think: I think male sexuality is different from female sexuality. I think young boys have a natural tendency to be aggressive, even to be what we would call assaultive. I don’t think they should be called rapists for that. I also don’t think it’s comprehensible (at least it wasn’t to me) to young girls, because we are built so differently. Maybe each girl has to learn for herself, but this mother thinks it is legitimate to say, if you dress like that, there may be consequences. It’s not that it’s OK for a man to say she asked for it by wearing that skirt, it’s like locking your bicycle, it does in fact reduce the probabilities, unless you already understand what the boys will be thinking, which you don’t, because all you’re thinking is you want to wear the latest styles and be cute, and you simply are not feeling the lust, certainly not for intercourse, that the boys are.

    As for teaching boys, we have to (I believe) leave that to their fathers, and trust in their decency.

    Is it worth going back to the original point? This judgmental old lady thinks the ladies in question, Ms. Broderick and Ms. Jones, bear some responsibility for what happened to them (if it happened); and if it did happen, it reflects a degree of emotional vulnerability that I recklessly called “nutty and slutty.” When older experienced ladies get assaulted with no drugs or alcohol, well, there’s just something wrong with that picture.

    I’ve read that something like 87% of all women report that they have been a victim of sexual assault at some time in their lives. I don’t want my daughter to be among that 87%. We have to protect ourselves first and foremost.


  42. 42
    Raznor says:

    Hmm. Long well thought out post there. A couple points to consider there:

    First, often rapists or other forms of criminal are called predators, and I find the analogy to be apt. Like predators they seek the easiest prey they can find, and exploit whatever weakness they can. So to this end, in the case of rape, it would be possible for a woman to protect herself and not be satisfactory prey, but so long as there are predators, there will always be prey. And no matter how strong an individual is, there will always be times where they are vulnerable to attack.

    Of course the saying holds true that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, but to focus on helping women prevent rape while ignoring helping them survive, and to educate men so that they don’t rape women will not help things on the whole. And to say that a victim is at fault in a rape is disgusting. If you’re an overbearing asshole, that may cause someone to beat you within an inch of your life, and maybe said assaulter would not have done so if you weren’t an ovebearing asshole, but it doesn’t make it at all justified. And I don’t care if a woman decides to go skinny-dipping in broad daylight in front of a frat house on Beer Tuesday, she still doesn’t deserve being raped. And even if she does bear some responsibility, she’ll already have paid for it tenfold.

    As for the sex life, surely parents should let there kids know there’s some sex life that they share, or do you think that a child should believe they were brought in by a stork until they’re 18. Besides, to tell your teen son you were raped is no more abuse than telling him you were attacked, or you were abused as a kid, or you lost your arm in Nam. These are all unfortunate incidents that make a person who he or she is, and if a parent/child bond can’t handle that, I don’t know what can.

    Anyway, there’s my spiel.

  43. 43
    A. says:

    Erica, what you are doing is projection. You draw conclusions from your own experiences to what must have been the case with other women and you do it to get a feeling of control. You were a victim once but you blame it on your personal behaviour. Now you behave correctly according to the laws of how not to get raped (but they unfortunately do not exist, how else would you explain the rape of i.e. perfectly well dressed 80 year old women?) and think it will never happen to you again. That gives you the security you need to go on with a normal life. But why don´t you put the blame to whom it belongs to, the men who raped you? Because you were “nutty and slutty” and boys in general have a different sexuality??? Holding on to that argument is exactly what prevents change in our societies.

    Raznor, great post!

  44. 44
    Erica says:

    At the risk of hashing this out too much:

    Kids don’t want to know their parents are sexual beings. Its different from anything else. Would you have wanted your father to talk to you about his sex life? Would you want your husband to talk to your daughter about his sex life? Of course not. That would be child abuse. It’s no different between mothers and sons. Nor is it OK to put the son in the position of Mommy’s rescuer, especially in a matter so intimate. Your son is not your husband and shouldn’t be placed in that position. If that’s what Ms. Broderick did (and again, this is a very hypothetical discussion, because many of the posts above suggest an entirely different history)–if that’s what she did, she is a nut-case. If she is a nut case, she probably gave all kinds of mixed messages, didn’t know herself what she wanted, and put herself in a position to be violated. It doesn’t make the violation right (again, if it occurred at all) but it is relevant to assessing Clinton’s behaviour. I’ve always thought that we need 45 different words for rape, like the Eskimos have 45 different words for ice and snow. It would seem that even considering things most favorably to Ms. Broderick (a highly debatable point of view), we’re not talking the 20 years in prison kind of offense, by a long ways.

    As far as my point of view being dictated by wanting to be in control, you may have a point–ask my husband, he also accuses me of wanting to run everything (and he’s right). But seriously, it has nothing to do with that. It has to do with being lucky, with fate falling my way without my deserving it, i.e., of truly being over the long ago past. When I see these women on TV crying about something that happened to them years ago I have no sympathy, and I don’t believe you can still be suffering in that way all those years later. I do believe it changes you forever and irreovably, but that’s different from mourning and crying for decades.

    Maybe its because I’ve never felt capable of changing society, only try to solve my own problems. I think you can get over it because I did, and that makes your life more productive and certainly makes you happier. Get a job that you love, fall in love, have beautiful children, and what happened 30 years ago is another lifetime.

    I also agree with those who said that Clinton just doesn’t seem like a rapist kind of guy. Nor do I find Hillary a mystery at all, another subject touched on above.

    Thanks for the discussion. It’s been interesting.

  45. 45
    Fraser says:

    On TV last night somebody said the prosecutor in the Kobe Bryant case said she didn’t want any older ladies on the jury, because they tend to be judgmental, and tend to think things like, what was the girl doing going up to a man’s room late at night. Well I guess I’m that judgmental old lady. (Not that I would apply that to a 19-year old.)>>

    It is entirely possible for someone to go up to a man’s room for illicit purposes and still get raped.

    A woman could ask a man up to her room for a blow job, then he decides to get more. She could be even willing to have sex, then the man does something that changes her mind (“I knew when i saw you across the room you were a ho’–let’s do it, slut!”). Or she simply changes her mind anyway (she can’t cheat on her husband, whatever). In all those cases it would still be rape, regardless of whether you’re judgmental of her sex life or not.


    Actually it does not reduce the probabilities–studies have found no correlation between dress, looks, “slutty” behaviour, etc. and rape.

    And while I agree all men are not rapists, saying that we’re all stuck with “a natural tendency to be aggressive … assaultive” and that sometimes we can’t control ourselves faced with a sexy girl, even though it’s wrong and you disapprove–sorry, that sounds pretty close to calling us rapists (and to the It’s The Woman’s Fault argument).

    Nuns get raped. Wives get raped. Women get raped with blunt objects. Some rapes are planned out meticulously in advance. None of this fits in with your concept rape resulting from some innate adolescent drive for sex.

  46. 46
    Erica says:

    Gosh golly gee. I don’t know what studies show, but I would venture to guess that 90+% of all sexual assualts involve drugs or alcohol. A girl who gets stoned at a party with a lot of horny guys who are also stoned is at a considerably higher risk of rape than a nun in a convent. Take the drugs away from the girl and take the girl away from the party and you’ve just taken a sensible precaution that reduces the risk of sexual assault considerably. Similarly for the boys–take the drugs away from the boy and the boy away from the party, and you’ve also reduced the risk. Or how about bars? They can be dangerous places for young women. Don’t go to bars, and you’ve also considerably reduced the risk. And never ever ever ever ever hitchhike. It’s also foolish to say that an older woman is at the same risk as a young attractive woman. I couldn’t be promiscuous if I wanted to be, at my age.

    I was never talking about the psychopath who cuts the screen and rapes an 80-year old with a knife. I would venture to guess that is a very small proportion of the 87% (or thereabouts) of all women who report that they have been the victim of sexual assault at some time in their lives. We’re talking about the kind of rape that goes on all the time, not the kind in the newspaper. That’s a different category all together. If there was any suggestion that those people deserve anything less than torture, that impression was never intended.

    I resist the notion that girls are helpless. This is not Afganistan. It does no good to treat sexual assault as if it’s a bomb that falls from the sky without warning, and there is nothing that can be done to prevent it. There is plenty that can be done, though like everything else, there are never any guarantees. For better or for worse, for right or for wrong, going to a man’s room late at night is a risk. The same for meeting a man in a hotel room, whether or not men do it all the time.

    Other strategies are more indirect. I have read that studies show that girls who are athletic delay their first sexual experience by as much as two years over girls who are not, and then have fewer partners. Girls who are close to at least one parent (and it doesn’t have to be Mom) have later sexual onset. Both of these things have to do with self-esteem. Promiscuity for girls is a form of intentional self-abuse. I think the later you wait (within limits of course) the better your judgment, and therefore the lower your risk.

    As for why boys do what they do, my theory is really just a theory, since I am not a man. But there did come a time in my life, around the age of 40, maybe late 30s, when sex had nothing to do with love, I could be angry at my husband, feel distant from him, whatever, and still have great sex. There was a period of several years when I was so horny I could have done it with sheep (see what you have to look forward to ladies). Aha, I thought, that’s the way boys are at 18. Men are also more aggressive, more visual (those sexy clothes again), at a young age subject to peer pressure, our culture doesn’t teach sex, they’re clueless without experience, they’re very horny, add alcohol and drugs, and voila–87% of girls get assaulted. I don’t know, what do you think the reason is?

    At the same time, maybe because it is so common, it’s not the hard-time-in-prison kind of offense. It’s not just the safe distance of 30 years. I was living in Boston when the New Bedford case, the one they made the movie about with Jodie Foster happened. I was going to bars, picking up men, putting myself at risk. And I thought the verdict was very unfair. Those boys did hard time. The victim was the only female in a rural bar late at night, getting drunk and dancing to the jukebox. The young boys who assaulted her went away for a very long time. I was appalled. I felt really bad for the boys. Even when I was young I thought the girl was partly responsible.

    There has to be a solution to this problem that does not say boys are evil and the answer is vengence. And girls have to take some responsibility for what happens to them.

    Best regards.

  47. 47
    Raznor says:

    See, here’s the thing, Erica. When we say rapists should be punished, you say we shouldn’t blame all boys/men. We’re not blaming all men. We’re only blaming the subset of men who happen to be rapists. Thus you’re accusing us of the generalization you yourself are implicitly making.

    Let me put it another way. If I say a 7 foot tall person killed my friend, I’m not saying all 7 feet tall people are murderers, I’m saying that this specific 7 foot tall person is a murderer. If I want to look at what psychologically makes this 7 foot tall person a murderer, I don’t try to understand the world through the eyes of a 7 foot tall person and say I’m done.

    And while we’re on the subject of psychology, sure many if not most promiscuous people have low self-esteem, but I think that saying that they’re going through self punishment is a mischaracterization. Rather they do what most people with low self-esteem do, seek outside acceptance and approval. This can take the form of promiscuity, but it can also take other forms.

    Thirdly, sure if a woman never drinks, does drugs, or goes to bar she’d be less likely to get raped. Also if she didn’t go to the beach. Also if she never went to work. And hey, if she just locked herself in the house, she’d be really safe. So, what’s the point? I’m reminded of a possibly old saying I heard once from a teacher in middle school, “A ship would be safe if it never left the harbour, but that’s not what ships were built for.”

    So there, there’s spiel number 2.

  48. 48
    bean says:

    First, let me start by saying that my parents talked openly with me about sex — including the fact that they had sex. I never got the graphic details — they’re not necessary. Far from being abuse, I think it actually gave me a far, far more healthy attitude towards sex. Sex is a natural, pleasurable, and even loving thing that people engage in. I’m not talking pornography here, I’m talking sex. Besides which, studies have shown that children whose parents who talk more openly about sex tend to have far healthier attitudes about sex, tend to wait until they are somewhat older than their contemporaries to have sex, and are more likely to engage in safer sex.

    That said, I must repeat what A. said. Broaddrick wasn’t speaking to her son about sex — she was speaking to him about rape. Rape and sex are not the same thing. Rape is a traumatic event which will impact one’s life forever. That’s not about being a “victim” — that’s reality. A survivor will recognize that it impacts her life, the real victims are the ones who try to ignore and/or dismiss it. Would one think it abusive for a mother to tell her son about being in a concentration camp? Would one think it abusive for a mother to tell her son about being the victim of a drunk driver? All of these things (and more) can profoundly impact a person’s life, and therefore the lives of those around them. Being honest about it, talking to your loved ones honestly is not abuse — it’s having a trusting, loving relationship.

    And I’d better end my post here before I really go off. I’ll just end by saying how it’s ever so nice to hear that I must be a bit “nutty and slutty” to have been raped at the age of 15 by a 20-year-old man at a party with plenty of people in the next room. It’s ever so lovely to hear the typical misogynist bullshit about how it must have been my fault because I went to a party (heavens forbid) and couldn’t get the guy off of me (and no, I wasn’t even kissing him — I tried to push him off the second he even tried kissing me; and for the record, I didn’t go into the room with him — he forced the door open despite the fact that I had pushed a bed in front of it. Not that that matters, because even if I had been kissing him, my saying NO over and over again sure as fuck should have been enough). Oh, and I guess I must be even worse, because I didn’t tell anyone about it for years. Maybe that means it didn’t happen. Of course, I can remember the date — but, really, the only way I can remember the date is that I remember I had gone to the party after having a huge blow-out fight with my boyfriend-at-the-time because he went with some other girl to a 4th of July party. Remembering that, I remember that the date I was raped was July 5, 1986. But if you asked me the address of the house it happened at, I wouldn’t have a clue. Does this discredit my story? Ugh.

  49. 49
    Erica says:

    You guys are real night owls.

    Re the ship never leaving the harbor: I have no problem recommending a sober life, especially to kids, especially to my own kids. The ship can leave the harbor and see the whole world without drugs and alcohol.

    Re the 7-foot man: The Kobe Bryant case is special only because it is Kobe Bryant. In other words, that kind of stuff goes on every day of the week, in cities and towns and hotel rooms all across the country. If all the men who did that were prosecuted, a large proportion of our young men would be doing hard time. Precisely because it is so common, that solutioon is not just. I am glad to know it would never be you. The Kobe Bryant prosecutor is looking for you to serve on her jury.

    Re parents and sex: I never said parents shouldn’t talk to their kids about sex. I said they should talk to their kids about their own sex life, especially not to a child of the opposite sex. Among other reasons, we’re getting into the incest taboo here.

    I am so sorry what happened to Bean. I hope a subsequent victim has cut off the bastard’s dick. Or that he’s gotten VD and gone insane. Or prosecuted for rape and now the victim of prison rape. Maybe however he’s moved on, married with kids, treats women decently and would never do that again. You’re the only one left suffering.

    Here’s a story that will probably piss you off but I’ll tell it anyway. Laurie Segal, a remarkable writer of children’s books, wrote an essay which was published in Harper’s Magazine a few years ago. It was called “My Grandfather’s Walking Stick.” Her grandfather was a Jew in Nazi Germany during Kristalnacht. The essay was a story about how her grandfather’s history of what happened to him that night could not possibly have been true. He had re-written it to make it much more benign. Nobody had done bad things to him, especially not the people he knew. The grandfather had to have known his story was not true, but he didn’t. In his heart of hearts, he believed his revised version. He adopted this revised version in order to retain his faith in humanity, i.e., in order to survive, and to be able to be happy. I think that’s one way victims of trauma survive. The other is to repress the memories, bury them deep, forget forever. That was my technique. You have to move on. After all, living well is the best revenge.


  50. 50
    Fraser says:


    It doesn’t matter how “slutty” you are, rape is still rape. Those guys deserved what they got.
    You say you’re less likely to be raped because you’re too old to be promiscuous. Guess what, lots of good girls get raped, including several of my friends. One was alone in a room with a guy she worked with, he took advantage. Not a sociopath, a respectable ROTC student, but it sure as heck wasn’t because she was waving it in his face.
    You appear to be saying that precisely because this kind of rape is so common, therefore it should be more acceptable (“If all the men who did that were prosecuted, a large proportion of our young men would be doing hard time.”), and deserve less punishment. In other words the traditional “he’s a nice guy, not a monster, why should he be punished for one little mistake?”
    Even if we assume that most rape is caused by being young and stupid and having low impulse control when confronted with a sexy woman, so what? That’s no more an excuse for a brutal act (and rape is brutal, even if done by nice guys and nonsociopaths) than a guy with low impulse control stabbing someone because they got into a bar argument.
    I will agree with you going up to some guy’s room when you don’t know him is a bad mistake, but the same can be said of a lot of crimes? Many con jobs hinge on people stupid or greedy enough to think they can really get something for nothing–should that be a mitigating factor? If someone foolishly walks into the bad part of town and gets mugged should we decrease the mugger’s penalties because the guy (or woman) in question was a moron?

  51. 51
    Fraser says:

    Getting back to Clinton for a second, one thing I’ve noticed about conservative discussions of the Broadrick case is that the mere fact some of us (me included) are saying “Well, it could have been rape,” no matter how many qualifiers are included, is taken in itself as PROOF of Clinton’s perfidy (Since the mere fact we think it’s possible proves what a low opinion we have of the man).

  52. Erica, Did you just use the “the rape was all in your head” excuse?

    Surely that can’t be what you meant to say.

  53. 53
    Fraser says:

    Getting back to Clinton for a second, one thing I’ve noticed about conservative discussions of the Broadrick case is that the mere fact some of us (me included) are saying “Well, it could have been rape,” no matter how many qualifiers are included, is taken in itself as PROOF of Clinton’s perfidy (Since the mere fact we think it’s possible proves what a low opinion we have of the man). >>

    The point I was just trying to make, which I’m not sure was clear that saying someone might be capable of rape is hardly the same as “he’s a rapist.” Anyone with even a little experience of the world has seen how many seemingly respectable people have double lives or horrible secrets, so saying “Yes, it’s possible” isn’t proof of anything, just an acknowledgement of human nature (I’d say the same about W, frankly).

  54. 54
    A. says:

    Erica, are you for real?
    If your email addy is I would gladly hook you up with someone who would be happy to send you studies that show that 90+% of all rapes DON´T involve drugs or alcohol. But I don´t know if that would be of any use, you seem to be so set on your own perspective to justify your life and your improvements that numbers probably won´t reach you. But apart from that: even if you were promiscuous in your Youth, you didn´t deserve to be raped. It wasn´t your fault. The choice was taken away from you. And you can stop feeling guilty, whatever you´ve done may not have been the creme de la creme decision, but that doesn´t excuse anybody else´s misbehaviour (the word seems just too mild in this context). Why I guess you feel guilty? Because you try so hard to have your construction of truth out there as a weapon. If it works for yourself, fine. But for an open exchange you may want to have a look at reality – the internet gives you full access to studies, statistics and stories of women and children who were raped. And you should look into your strategy of repressing your memory and forget aobut it forever. But maybe you just do that because you believe everybody thinks like you and believes you were a slut. Surprise, not everybody. So stop being your own enemy and stop being an enemy to the victims and survivors of rape who did not have a choice.

    bean, my sympathy.

  55. 55
    Lynn Gazis-Sax says:

    Re: the ship never leaving the harbor.

    Once, when I was in college, some guy wrote a letter to our college newspaper, in which he said that the solution to rape was for women to change their ways, be more careful, and not go out alone at night (he forgot about date/acquaintance rape, but never mind – I’ll get to that in my next comment).

    Now, a young woman (including a sober one dressed in a non-slutty manner) getting raped when walking alone, at night, across a college campus is not exactly “man bites dog” news. And, it’s true, my risk of getting raped in exactly that way would have been somewhat less if I never crossed that college campus alone at night.

    Thing is, my ability to get an equal education would also have been significantly less. The rape escort service ran till midnight. The prime hours to use the computer center, if you wanted short queues and lightly loaded computers, were after midnight. Why shouldn’t I have those hours, as well as any man? This particular ship wasn’t willing to stay in the harbor, if it meant unequal access to learning about computers.

    After I graduated, it being a recession, I took the swing shift computer operator job that was open, and the apartment in the neighborhood that I could afford, and rode my bicycle, again alone at night, every day home from work. Sure, I could have lived with my grandparents, argued with them regularly about politics, seen my boy friend under their chaperoning eye, and perhaps borrowed money for a used car so I didn’t have to be out alone at night. I preferred to pay my own money for my own bicycle and place, have my boy friend (whom I had known for a year and half) over to my place unchaperoned. All of which I did, and didn’t get raped for it.

    And if I had gotten raped on any of these occasions, either because going out alone at night proved dangerous, or because the boy friend that I’d known for a year and a half nevertheless proved to be not the man I had thought him to be, I’d still have been entitled to make the choices I made, and I wouldn’t think I was wrong to have wanted my independence.

    Sure, there’s lots of risks I’d advise a young women not to take, but there are, yes, some things which might make you somewhat more likely to be raped, that are still worth doing. And getting the education and experience to find a decent job in the computer field was surely one of those things.

  56. 56
    Lynn Gazis-Sax says:

    Re: sluttiness and getting raped.

    OK, let’s say I assume, for the sake of argument, that Erica is right, and that being “slutty” makes me more likely to get raped (maybe only slightly more, maybe significantly more, never mind which, for now).

    In such a situation, do I, personally, want to dress and act in such a way that I won’t be seen as “slutty” and therefore someone who can be raped? Certainly I, personally, would want that. Would I see making myself as “non-slutty” as possible, and advising my own kin to do the same as a remotely adequate response to rape? No way.

    After all, why, if men are raping “slutty” women, are they doing so? Is it because they can’t help it, poor things, being hormone-driven? Hardly. No matter how young, impulsive, and horny a guy may be, he’s perfectly capable of not forcibly compelling a woman to have sex with him. It’s a choice he makes, which many, many young and horny men (even when frustrated by encountering unwillingness in women from whom they expected something else) don’t make. And, if he is indeed more willing to rape a “slutty” woman, it is because, after all, he either considers himself that much more entitled to rape her, or that much more likely to get away with it. You can be sure that if that “slutty” woman proved to be armed with a gun, he’d quickly discover that he could stop whatever he was doing real fast.

    Now, we don’t live in Lake Woebegone, and it isn’t possible for everyone to be above average. In a world in which men feel entitled to rape “slutty” women, someone will always be assigned the role of the slut. If I get to play the “virgin” role, it’s only because other women are beating me out for the “slut” role. And even if we were all to dress in burkas, it would still be the case that someone, perhaps the woman in the most risque burka or the one who dared to smile at a man, would get to be the “slut.”

    So, collectively speaking, trying to avoid rape by not looking too slutty is a losing game. The only way to win collectively is to establish that everyone, including the woman who goes to a bar full of men, alone, and gets drunk and dances, is entitled not to get raped, and any man who rapes her deserves to do time.

    Which is, frankly, the just thing in any case.

    Why such a standard in any way should be seen as denigrating male sexuality, I can’t imagine, since most of the men I’ve known have proved quite capable of living up to it, regardless of how horny they may have been.

  57. 57
    Lynn Gazis-Sax says:

    Finally, since Erica has said what she feels got her into trouble in her past, and what she learned from it, I’ll tell what I think got me into trouble, and what I learned.

    I was stone cold sober and looking for neither love nor sex at the time of the shower incident. I was also young and naive, and I did make mistakes. The “friend” who groped me in the shower (against my express wishes and despite my pushing him away) had repeatedly pushed my limits in the past, pressuring me both about my not wanting to get high with him and about my not wanting to have sex with him. He also tried to tell me what to wear (the most revealing clothes possible). My mistakes were, first, that I was too nice, and second, that I trusted his apologies.

    I thought I was OK, because I was, in fact, wearing what I chose, and not the revealing clothes he would have chosen for me, was successfully turning down drugs I didn’t want to take, and because, after all, when he pressured me unreasonably, he apologized often enough that I thought he meant it, and that I was getting my point across.

    I also didn’t realize that other women where I lived were also being harrassed by him. I initially kept the shower incident to myself, thinking it was personal and that I must somehow be at fault, but one evening some others at my house started a discussion about his behavior toward women in general, and a man asked, why don’t women just say no to him? So I said, he doesn’t stop when you say no, and I told my story, and he was promptly barred from the house (not being, after all, a student as we were).

    The things I learned were: First, don’t count someone as a friend who disrespects you. Second, don’t assume you’re alone in being harrassed. And if you find yourself thinking you must have been at fault, remind yourself that your body is your own, and no one has the right to tell you otherwise.

    That is my way of moving on from the past, and it suits me fine.

  58. 58
    Raznor says:

    Good pair of posts, Lynn. That was pretty much what I wanted to say, but couldn’t figure out how.

    Erica, as for the Kobe Bryant – who said anything about Kobe Bryant? I was just mentioning that an arbitrary trait of a criminal is not a good way to define that criminal. I could have replaced “7 feet tall” with “blond hair” or “green skin” and it wouldn’t make too much of a difference.

    This is a very personal issue for a significant number of people posting here. I was more comfortable thinking that it wasn’t, but nobody died from discomfort, and if it means I’m more aware of how rape effects people I know and care about, then I’m better off for it. So I’d like to just take this moment before posting to thank everyone who’ve boldly given their personal stories for helping to educate me.

  59. 59
    PinkDreamPoppies says:


    If you had written this series of posts about nine months ago, I probably would have agreed with a lot of what you said. Over time, though, my opinion has changed drastically (in large part because of this very blog and dicussions in its comment threads), and I’d like to take a moment to write about what made my mind change.

    I used to have an idea of male sexuality similar to the one that you seem to have. My theory went that men were biologically “wired’ in a way that is different from the way in which women are “wired”; men, in my way of thinking, were naturally more aggressive, more assertive, less able to control their raging hormones, and more horny. I based this on a lot of things ranging from the fact that I’d never seen a girl play a really aggressive sport like football to the fact that I’d never heard a girl boast about how often she masturbated. The more “masculine” guys I knew, the burly guys who drank a lot and pushed people around and otherwise acted like the “men” on television, were also the ones who were most likely to be accused of rape.

    I thought that girls who dressed in a “slutty” way didn’t necessarily deserve to be raped, but they certainly weren’t doing anything to keep it from happening. Another way to put it might be that they weren’t “asking for it,” as the saying goes, but they were raising the subject for the asking. I based this theorum on my own reaction to girls who dressed in “slutty” clothing (I wanted to have sex with them), and my observation that the girls who wore “slutty” clothing were also the girls most likely to say that they’d been raped.

    So, the “manly” guys, by my observations, were more likely to be rapists while the “slutty” girls were more likely to be rape victims. Thus, those “manly” men couldn’t help themselves but to rape the women who tempted them. When I factored into my theory that most of those people seemed to be into drinking and taking drugs, I came up with an equation that went a little like: guys who had a lot of testosterone + girls who showed off their bodies + drugs + alcohol = rape.

    Then things started to happen… I found myself in the position of being very close friends with a woman who had been raped by her husband. It was an internet friendship, but I was no less effected by it. She spoke to me shortly after he did it and almost none of what she said fit in with my view of rape and rape victims. Eventually a part of my mind fell back on the idea that she’d been drinking, he’d been drinking, and … Something. I don’t know. A fuse was blown the moment she told me that her husband had raped her, but my mind wasn’t quite ready to acknowledge it yet. Just because a significant portion of my mental “house” had ceased to have power, I didn’t think it was necessary to venture into my basement and examine the way things had been strung together.

    After that I started meeting more women who had been raped. Curiously enough, almost all of them had been raped while in their late twenties or early thirties, while they were sober, by people they knew and trusted, and when they were in comfortable and safe environments. Many of them were athletic, as well. I stumbled across this weblog (shortly after I stumbled across the entire concept of being a part of the progressive movement after I’d spent so much time being a conservative, but that’s a different topic entirely) and was fairly shortly ripped to shreds by bean (thanks, by the way) for some comments I made, was politely rebutted by Ampersand (also thanks, by the way), and stuck around to find out more about this whole feminism thing. I also started dating a young woman quite seriously.

    The most important thing, though, was that I started thinking about myself. Once I had deconstructed the myth of the uncontrolable male, I was able to deconstruct a number of other myths.

    The first thing I thought about was that I’d been tempted in the past to kiss a woman or grope a woman or have sex with a woman who didn’t want me to kiss/grope/have sex with her. Because I’d been tempted to commit sexual assault and rape, I reasoned, there must be a part of my male mind that was naturally inclined toward rape.

    Um. Uh. What?

    I’m also tempted to steal, lie, cheat, hurt, and kill. I don’t get some sort of pass when I do those things, so why would I get a pass if I decided one day to grab a woman’s bottom who didn’t want me touching her there? Because I’m a guy?

    Let’s assume for a moment that men really are genetically more inclined to try to force sex with an unwilling partner than are women. Okay. So? People are also inclined to physically assault people who wrong them and defecate whenever they feel the need to. We have a term for not beating up others and not defecating in a hotel lobby because our bowels are full; it’s called being civilized. Children are potty trained, taught to not beat each other up, not to lie, not to steal, not to cheat, and not to interrupt while other people are speaking. I’ve yet to see someone argue that guys should be allowed to urinate in public because people are genetically inclined to urinate when the urge strikes them.

    Perhaps, then, sexual urges are different for men, are less controllable than the need to urinate? It doesn’t take too much thought to dismiss this one. When was the last time you saw a man masturbating in the mall corridor? Personally, I’ve never seen it happen but I can guarantee you that there are a very large number of men who have been walking around in the mall and have really wanted to have an orgasm. If it’s not okay to masturbate in public, if the expectation is that men can control their sexual urges long enough to drive home, why is it okay (or at least “understandable”) for men to not control their urges and rape women?

    Certainly it has something to do with the woman’s appearance, right? Well, no. If I said that it was a bit more understandable for a man to rape a woman if she was walking around in nothing but a bra and panties, I’d also be saying it was a bit more understandable for a man to masturbate in front of the Victoria’s Secret store display. Because the urge to masturbate and the urge to have sex are the same urge: the urge to have an orgasm. Guys who complain that they “haven’t scored in so long” aren’t having an urge for sex that’s not being fulfilled by their masturbatory habits; they’re wanting companionship, or conquest, or simply a change in the routine.

    But hey, even if the masturbatory urge and the sexual urge are two different things, why should the conquering of one urge be considered insurmountable? Toddlers can be potty trained, I don’t see why men can’t learn how to just not have sex if their potential partner doesn’t want to have sex with them.

    On a related note: burkhas aren’t exactly the most salacious things in the world, and yet rape is still rampant in parts of the world in which women are required to wear them. So maybe it’s the circumstances the woman puts herself in, or is put in? First of all, those are two different things so I’ll address them in turn.

    Take a the proverbial girl wearing a sexy dress in a seedy part of town at midnight. If she gets raped, did she deserve it? No. A sexy woman in a sexy dress at night, or even a stark naked woman drunk in a bar at night, does not deserve to be raped. These situations should not be viewed as extreme circumstances under which the male mind is incapable of controlling itself. Those are not life-or-death situations; people are not insects that will die if they don’t mate so any man who sees a woman in a sexy dress in a seedy part of town and wants to have sex with her is not going to suffer by waiting until he gets home so he can masturbate.

    Blueballs? Just to clear that up, just in case it needs clearing up: blueballs is rare, is a result of extremely prolonged stimulation, causes no permanent damage, and the pain caused by it is not alleviated by orgasm (in fact, if I remember correctly, orgasm is impossible).

    Okay, so is that woman in the sexy dress doing everything she can to prevent being raped? Yes. Why? Because she shouldn’t have to do anything in order to not be raped. And no, that’s not an unrealistic, utopian view of the world. There is an expectation that people should be able to walk down the street at night without being shot, why is there not an expectation that women should be able to do whatever they want to do without being raped? (Interestingly enough, there’s no feeling that men wearing sexy clothes in seedy parts of town are tempting people to rape them.)

    But what’s about your husband who didn’t lock up his bicycles and they ended up stolen? Isn’t he at fault, at least to an extent, for his bikes being stolen? No. Not legally and not morally. Leaving oneself open to attack of any form (theft, assault, etc.) does not make one culpable for said attack.

    Morally, the decision to steal your husband’s bike was not a decision your husband made or had a hand in because your husband did not steal the bike. Did he contribute to it through his negligence? Perhaps, but he cannot be faulted for not locking up his bicycle because there was not a guarantee that his bicycle would be stolen.

    Legally, your husband isn’t at fault for his bike being stolen because, again, he didn’t steal it. If you left the front door of your house wide open while you were on vacation, it would still be against the law for someone to walk off with your television.

    (As I recall, rape is the only law in which mitigating factors between the accused and the victim can result in the charges being dismissed. Even in murder cases where children kill abusive parents, unless it’s in self-defence, the children are, I believe, still convicted of manslaughter.)

    But all of this misses the point: a woman wearing a sexy dress is not equivalent to an unlocked bicycle or an open door. It doesn’t matter where she is or what she’s doing or what she’s wearing: there are no acceptable circumstances under which a woman (or a man, for that matter) may have her (or his) body violated against her (or his) will. And yes, I mean that to include circumstances like a super-model giving a lap-dance to a known sex-offender while they’re both on crack and sipping Jack Daniels. If he has sex with her and she says no and resists him, crack, jack, and record be damned: he raped her, and he deserves to be punished for it.

    Because men can control their urges. Because women have the right to be women.

    I meant this to be rational and well-stated, but I’ve decayed into ranting. There’s a lot more that I’d like to say, especially about the contributions our culture makes toward the high incidence of rape, but I need to take a few no-keyboard minutes first.

    Just real quick: our society promotes an image of masculinity that encourages men to not control their sexual urges. It creates a mythical other-world in which a lone woman drunkenly dancing in a rural bar is seen as fair game rather than a human being with a right to chose her circumstances. She chose to be in that situation, she should also be able to choose how the situation develops and ends.

  60. 60
    PinkDreamPoppies says:

    Wow. Sincerest apologies for the length of the above post.

  61. 61
    Ampersand says:

    No apology necessary. Thanks for the great post, PGP.

  62. 62
    Hestia says:

    Great post, PDP, especially this part:

    Okay, so is that woman in the sexy dress doing everything she can to prevent being raped? Yes. Why? Because she shouldn’t have to do anything in order to not be raped.

    With minor editing, you could send it out to feminist publications.

  63. 63
    Fraser says:

    PDP, thank you for spelling that out so well.
    Though I’m rather surprised to learn masturbating a lot is something to brag about–I’d always understood it as a sign of embarrassing wimpy girlessness (not that I’d know from personal experience, of course).

  64. 64
    Jimmy Ho says:

    PinkDreamPoppies, since last week, I have been feeling so frustrated not to be able to articulate a rational response to Erica (because of too much passion, and a serious lack of writing skills in English) that I am really grateful to you for expressing the essence of what I meant to say.

    As an aside, you wrote:
    Over time, though, my opinion has changed drastically (in large part because of this very blog and dicussions in its comment threads)

    When I started reading what had yet to become Alas, a blog, I certainly had already ideas and feeling that would’ve made me strongly disagree with the opinions expressed by Erica, but I was unable to think coherently about feminist issues, mostly because I shared a common belief among European leftists, that women issues are only a part of social change that should not be separated from the rest, as this would be a threat to universalism.

    Well, to make it short, Amp post after Amp post (and more recently, Bean post), I became conscious of the diversity of feminism, and of the fact that “even” radical feminism was not necessarily the dangerous relativism I thought it was. Ampersand also gave me the closest illustration of what it takes to be a male feminist. His way of argumenting and analyzing made me change my mind on many crucial issues. It influenced me to the point that I am seriously considering joining Mix-Cité, a French mixed feminist organisation, while it is now trendy to caricaturate feminism as “men-bashing”, even among lefty intellectuals (the saddest case being Elisabeth Badinter, who declared that she was no longer to be associated with “the movement”; at least, Gisèle Halimi made the severe rebuttal I was hoping for).

  65. 65
    bean says:

    PDP — you’re post, rather than being too long, is eloquent and moving. I am so very sorry that your friends have endured rape, but I am so very glad that you were able to change your mind about rape because of their experiences. And, I’m glad to have some small part in that, thanks for letting me know.

  66. 66
    Jimmy Ho says:

    In my comment above, I mentionned French intellectuals Elisabeth Badinter and Gisèle Halimi, but I am not sure if those names speak to people unfamiliar with French feminism (while active in American feminism). Sorry. Eventually, I’ll try to find some English links.

    By the way, putting up PDP’s post in the main feature was a great idea. I reread it and caught a few things I had missed the first time.

    (I also realise that I sound a bit like a naive neophyt; of course, aknowledging what I owe to Amp and Bean does not mean that I agree with them all the time. Hopefully, I didn’t lose my critical mind)

  67. 67
    Amy S. says:

    Since meeting Amp, I try to keep my use of cusswords online down to less than six per average paragraph. :p

    BTW, good job, PDP. You, too, Lynn. I’m sorry I didn’t have the energy for more than a few rah-rahs.

  68. 68
    bean says:

    Thanks to you, too, Jimmy. It’s ok that you don’t always agree with me — believe me, Amp & I disagree all the time. ;)

    And thank you to Lynn, those were some really great posts, and I very much enjoyed reading them.

  69. 69
    Ampersand says:

    No, that’s totally untrue – we never disagree.

  70. 70
    bean says:

    Sure we do — that is, until you finally come around to my way of thinking. :p

  71. 71
    HH says:

    Re: the “love letters” – This refers, I believe, to a false Washington Monthly piece which claimed she wrote a letter to him (or the “love letters” Willey wrote)… in fact, it was the other way around. Clinton wrote the letter and the Wash. Monthly sheepishly corrected.

    David Brock and Blumenthal’s accounts have been widely disputed.

  72. 72
    Arny from CA says:

    Clinton-hater is now busy defending what Mr. CA had done. A president can be a rapist. And a groper can be a governor.

  73. I’d like to go back to the “clinton body count”.
    Snopes attacks a straw person. To infer is not to imply. The claim isn’t that clinton shot all those people. The claim isn’t that clinton had a personal assassin who shot all those people. The claim is a more limited one: A bunch of people who were clinton associates were found dead with bullet-sized holes in their heads. That’s a true claim, and an interesting factoid. Based on the snopes data, some of which was new to me, I noticed a pattern. Clinton knew a lot of lawyers who committed severe ethical violations, were depressed about it, and killed themselves.
    Two possible explantions:
    A)As a gregarious law prof, AG, and governor, clinton knew a lot of lawyers. Lawyers are far more prone to depression than other folks. Depressed people are more likely to act in irrational ways, and are more likely to kill themselves. Statistical manipulation can make this seem more significant than it is.
    B) Clinton was part of a culture that taught legal ethics as “what you can get away with”,
    an arrogant bully who lied, stole, abused authority, treated women badly, treated citizens badly, was corrupted by power, had emotional needs that could never be satisfied, and fell tragically. In the end, some of these people felt that killing themselves was the last resort to claim a shred of dignity.
    As a depressed lawyer, who tries to speak truth to power, these things concern me,as they concerned Linda Thompson.
    I knew Linda slightly when she was an inianapolis lawyer. She was delusional, or had a funny sense of humor, but she was also a keen observer of routine injustice in our local power structure. Many of her clients were poor blacks who had had their rights violated. In another case, she represented the family of a man who died in police custody. When you do this kind of work, you start taking notes and looking for connections. Linda was encouraged to leave town, and I haven’t kept up with her. But her allegations that serious wrong-doing was being covered up was vindicated, and Clinton has been disbarred. A few of the specific practices she objected to have been stopped – my roommate joell was a plaintiff in the case that ended the drug roadblocks – but the culture of arrogant lawyers systematicly violating people’s rights continues.
    Is this just paranoid nonsense?

  74. Avedon: The “clinton-haters” point to five cases of clinton sexual activity that left the women involved upset (whether or not these were rapes.)
    Broaderick is one, another was at oxford. Do your sources have any new (to us anyway)info on that incident?

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