As the wave of scandals in Hollywood continues to unfold, here's a flashback to what Gloria Steinem, a professional feminist (and the beneficiary of a Harvey Weinstein endowed chair at Rutgers), considered acceptable behavior.
And what the New York Times felt was appropriate enough to print.
"Let's look at what seem to be the most damaging allegations, those made by Kathleen Willey... even if the allegations are true, the President is not guilty of sexual harassment. He is accused of having made a gross, dumb and reckless pass at a supporter during a low point in her life. She pushed him away, she said, and it never happened again. In other words, President Clinton took "no" for an answer."
Here, by the way, is Gloria Steinem's idea of a "dumb" pass.
In an interview broadcast Sunday night on CBS' "60 Minutes," Willey said she and Clinton were in his private study off the Oval Office when Clinton embraced her tightly, kissed her on the mouth, fondled her breast and then placed her hand on his genitals.
According to Gloria Steinem, this isn't sexual harassment, it's a "pass".
Paula Jones essentially said the same thing. She went to then-Governor Clinton's hotel room, where she said he asked her to perform oral sex and even dropped his trousers... As with the allegations in Ms. Willey's case, Mr. Clinton seems to have made a clumsy sexual pass, then accepted rejection.
As opposed to going on to full rape?
Now note the similarity between Bill Clinton's actions and those of the celebrities being condemned now. Did they just make clumsy passes? Or was Gloria Steinem covering for Bill Clinton?
If all the sexual allegations now swirling around the White House turn out to be true, President Clinton may be a candidate for sex addiction therapy. But feminists will still have been right to resist pressure by the right wing and the media to call for his resignation or impeachment. The pressure came from another case of the double standard.
For one thing, if the President had behaved with comparable insensitivity toward environmentalists, and at the same time remained their most crucial champion and bulwark against an anti-environmental Congress, would they be expected to desert him? I don't think so. If President Clinton were as vital to preserving freedom of speech as he is to preserving reproductive freedom, would journalists be condemned as "inconsistent" for refusing to suggest he resign? Forget it.
So there was nothing wrong with defending Bill Clinton as a feminist even if he assaulted women.
We've heard a lot of lectures from feminists about toxic masculinity. But maybe the real issue is toxic feminism.