' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Bill's affairs don't make Hillary less a feminist

Monday, October 3, 2016

Bill's affairs don't make Hillary less a feminist

Bill Clinton was a philander. Old news. Now the news is that his wife Hillary is anti-feminist because she a) did stand by her man and b) wasn't nice to the women Bill was fooling around with. Because Hillary wasn't nice to them during the election campaigns and his presidency, Trump's surrogates are trying to shame her into not being a feminist.

Please. Don't insult my intelligence. Trump spokesman Rudy Giuliani and others of the Trump campaign who are trying to make an issue of Hillary's behavior toward other woman who slept with her husband may speak to the audience who already hate Hillary, but the argument is falling flat.

Not being nice to the woman who is sleeping with your husband--no matter how it was initiated--is what we humans do. We protect our own interests, our own marriages, our men from rivals. Instinctively, we pounce to trash the
other woman who is taking our sexual partner away from us. We know that sex is a strong kind of glue, and if our partner is sleeping with someone else, we know the connection he feels toward our own family, our child, may be in jeopardy. Why there might be a child born of that liaison, and then what? How will my own interests and children be protected?! What if he deserts me and our brood! 

Send us back to the cave, and I dare say we might simply drive off the invaders. Today we usually resort to words, but what we don't do is invite them in for tea--unless we want our husbands to have an affair so we are free to have our own. Or our own marriage is simply a formality, a vestige of a past. The "open marriages" of the Seventies and Eighties that garnered so much publicity led to the breakup of a great many of those marriages.

I come to this story as the other woman in an affair that I had with the man who would become the father of my daughter, a daughter we--I--later surrendered for adoption. After our daughter was relinquished, I sat through a miserable dinner with his brother who basically treated me with disdain and spoke only to the father of my child, telling him how he must dump me and stay with his wife. One of the most humiliating couple of hours of my life. To him, I was just a young blond bimbo--Patrick was 14 years older than me--who should be squatted away like one gets rid of an insistent fly. He had no idea he was the uncle of my child, for he did not know about her--no one did. What Patrick's wife said about me could not have been pretty. So it goes was my attitude then, and is today.

After hearing Rudy Giuliani try to disparage Hillary as anti-feminist yesterday--because she wasn't nice to the women Bill dallied with--my bullshit-meter hit tilt. This is the man whose second wife found out he was divorcing her for the woman he was having an affair with when he divulged the news in a press conference. Today the story was on the front page of the New York Times--How Hillary Clinton Grappled With Bill Clinton’s Infidelity, and His Accusers. The story says that Hillary said some not-to-nice things about Bill's women overheard by others, that she sent some nasty emails about them, but that the Bill Clinton campaign was the guiding hand behind any smear job on the women. Apparently it got rough sometimes. Even an investigator was hired to dig up dirt on them. Of course that's ugly. But this happened in the middle of the campaign for president. Campaigns for political office are not sweet simple matters. Flinging dirt around goes back to Jefferson's time, when his liaison with Sally Hemings was trumpeted in a campaign song initiated by supporters of his rival John Adams. The campaign of 1800 was as brutal and merciless as today's; the only difference was that the candidates themselves did not dirty themselves by openly participating.

So do I think any less of Hillary as a feminist? Not at all. She did what most women would have done in the middle of a presidential-election campaign--or no campaign at all. Those who are trying to make hay over this issue--and it will come up again, make no mistake--will feed the Hillary haters and make the media quack, but for the rest of us, a big yawn. I was a Hillary supporter before and continue to be. I believe she will do more for women than any other candidate we have had in the office of President. She is likely to tackle gender equity for women and men doing the same job. And she will appoint Supreme Court justices who support choice--that means abortion--for women, when Trump will do just the opposite. He's even recklessly said he would consider criminal charges against women who have an abortion; his list of Supreme Court justices are anti-abortion and could make it even more difficult for women to get an abortion in those states where it is already restricted.

I know that some readers here are anti-abortion, but we have made our position clear in the past. First Mother Forum is pro-choice. If I had not had my daughter and given her up for adoption, it is entirely possible I would have had a daughter I kept, a daughter that did not bear the onus of being relinquished and adopted. If I had not given up a daughter, I would not have such an aversion to the thought of ever having another child. Losing a child to adoption is a scar that runs deep and never fully heals. Losing a child to adoption dramatically altered the course of my life, a life I would wish on no one. As someone once said of me--You don't want to end up like Lorraine.

Perhaps I feel an emotional connection to Hillary because I too have weathered discrimination because of my gender. I have been told I couldn't do this or that because I was a woman, starting with my parents. I broke through a glass ceiling on a newspaper where I was the only woman working the metro beat, and not relegated to the women's department. But when I became pregnant, I had to quit that job and find another in another city after I had my daughter. I have been called strident and pushy, adjectives typically reserved for women alone, while men are aggressive and bold, and not negatively. Strident was reserved for this blog, and is the reason Hole In My Heart was not published by a major publishing house. I know this because I was told by someone who was in the meeting when this happened. I see how, having been married to someone in the same profession, one's own accomplishments are sometimes slighted or even attributed to the man's simply because. I have heard my husband complimented for something I wrote in the local paper. (Happily he corrects them.) I had to stand up to family criticism--not from my immediate family--for keeping my own name back in the day before Hillary tried to do the same.

My emotional connection to Hillary is emotional and strong. I met her once when she was a senator, but it was brief, no more than a hello. I didn't have a camera and take a selfie with her. I wish I had. Don't tell me she is an anti-feminist because she wasn't nice to the women who were sleeping with her husband; don't drag her down because Bill was a philanderer. Hillary is my candidate and as I type this I have the Woman Card, the official Hillary for America Card, propped up against my computer.--lorraine

Comments that disparage Hillary, or wish to argue the abortion question, will not be posted. On Facebook I have studiously avoided posting comments about Trump on the pages of his supporters; but some have not accorded the same civility at my page, thus I have deleted comments, stopped friends of friends from commenting, and blocked some people. Same rules as here apply at Facebook.

How Hillary Clinton Grappled With Bill Clinton’s Infidelity, and His Accusers

Living History 
by herself
Hillary Rodham Clinton is known to hundreds of millions of people around the world. Yet few beyond her close friends and family have ever heard her account of her extraordinary journey. She writes with candor, humor and passion about her upbringing in suburban, middle-class America in the 1950s and her transformation from Goldwater Girl to student activist to controversial First Lady.

The nuanced, definitive biography of one of the most controversial and widely misunderstood figures of our time: the woman running a historic campaign as the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee—Hillary Rodham Clinton.

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  1. Giuiliani and Trump, two old horn-dog pots calling the kettle black. They have no right to criticize anything in the Clinton's marriage, and for those sexist, racist, xenophobic old farts to think they can they can decree who is and is not a feminist is beyond ludicrous.

  2. Good,, NO, EXCELLENT blog, Lorraine. I've been in the other woman's shoes as well. It doesn't matter what the circumstances are...I felt the guilt and the sadness. I married the man. We are still married 27 years later, but we had to deal with a lot of baggage and learn to stop blaming. To me, our situation is the exception that proves the rule because, believe me, that path is a minefield. The old double standard seems to be the meat and potatoes of the Republican campaign. I am also a Hillary fan from the moment the Clintons came on to the national scene. She was obviously one of his biggest assets. She is also a woman who decided to forgive. That takes a strength of character few possess. Thank you for this blog.

  3. Love this post, Lorraine. Absolutely to everything you said.

    "Perhaps I feel an emotional connection to Hillary because I too have weathered discrimination because of my gender. I have been told I couldn't do this or that because I was a woman, starting with my parents." Me too. I think that's why even when I don't like every policy or choice of hers (does anyone ever like everything another person does?), I'm still firmly Team Hillary. I know what it's like to develop an off-putting personality because you have to work ten times harder, be ten times tougher, and never show a single emotional crack in your facade in order to compete with the men. I get her.

    And I'm very upset that the obvious sexism that has been at times only an undercurrent in this election has been slammed to the forefront with blaming Hillary (and doubling-down on that blame) for choices her husband made. It's absolutely maddening, and I cannot fathom how any woman can support Trump. I am decidedly liberal, but political leanings aside, he is absolutely reprehensible.

    I'm looking forward to bringing my girls with me when I vote on Election Day. They always come with me, but this time, it's going to be so very special casting a vote for a woman for President with my little girls at my side. I am not a crier, but that might just get to me a little.

    1. We get mail-in ballots. I know I will cry. Hubby is expecting it.

  4. I love this argument I hear from some women about how it is antifeminist and goes against solidarity for Wronged Woman to be angry at Other Woman for being involved with her man. What about the solidarity Other Woman failed to show Wronged Woman from the word go? I've been Other Woman a few times myself. Not proud of it. Some of those were supposedly "open marriage" situations, and I did talk to the wife each time, but that's always awkward and goes nowhere, and that's when the marriage doesn't wind up broken up. In other cases it was flat out poaching and I wouldn't have expected the wife to be happy with me. All I can say in my defense is I was younger and dumber. And it was never about doing anything for her, it was always about me and what I wanted. This isn't something to celebrate or encourage. If I'd gotten my ass kicked, I'd have deserved it.

    And yes, the man's 50% responsible for straying too. I have also been Wronged Woman a time or three. I get why WWs would want to stay. They think his behavior's an aberration, they think that if they just change something he'll stop doing it and then things can go back to what they were. Nope. What he's doing is who he is, and he'll only quit if he thinks he has a good enough reason. Point is, he's not there yet, and we should ask ourselves why that is instead of taking it for granted that this is just a temporary mistake.

    Maybe Bill is doing better now. I hope so.

  5. I strongly relate to the gut feeling of never wanting to have child after having gone through and continuing to go through the hell of having had my child taken from me because of my age and the circumstances. I was in the sixth grade, didn't know what sex was, and thought my baby was a miracle because god must really love me to give me a baby so young. Having said all of that, the thing I like LEAST about Hillary Clinton is the attitude she had toward Monica Lewinsky and Bill's other flames. I've been characterized as a bimbo, a slut, etc. and I was a statutory rape victim whose victimization was ignored by the system. As an abused girl, I went on to find myself in adulthood in "committed" relationships where I discovered my "partners" had ladies on the side and in that way, I experienced the Hillary experience and I chose to put the label where it belonged, on the guy. I will vote for Hillary without hesitation. But, I will not support her attitude toward Bill Clinton's "conquests." Power differentials were involved in Clinton's extra-marital affairs and for that reason alone, I see Hillary Clinton as kicking down at the weaker parties. I have never met Hillary of course. And I've never been in Monica Lewinsky's shoes but I've been shamed publically as Monica Lewinsky was shamed publically and shamed by higher status supposed righteous religious women protecting boyfriends and hubbies in the same way Hill protected Bill. I am not looking for a saint to lead our nation.

    1. I agree, Lewinsky was vulnerable and these things are never "pretty" for anyone. Much as it's understandable that WW is angry and has a case against both her partner and the OW, I also think it's necessary and indeed feminist to deconstruct all the systemic reasons that complicate things further - there are usually underlying dynamics that cast a woman in the OW role, and always when she is a child. I'm so sorry you had to experience this childhood trauma! We can't have saints to lead our nation but we deserve everyone to work on managing their own projections, privilege and bias so that we can start to support and trust each other; so that communication becomes less of a power struggle and more about creating understanding and safe agreements, which build self-esteem and good decision-making skills for those who are vulnerable so that a more lucid and healthy community can unfold. We're heading for apocalypse if he manages to get elected.

  6. I am sure that I was called or at least thought of as "that slut" by Patrick's strictly Catholic family. His brother was a deacon in the church and his mother was the local bishop's secretary! And in another context, several years later, I was sexually assaulted by someone I had dated and tried to break up with. Because of that, I did not even bother going to the police. Yes, I was in the weaker position in both instances.

    Yes, power differentials were involved in Bill's selection of women, but I think Hillary's reaction and that of the campaign would have been the same or nearly so, within their power to shame the woman. Gennifer Flowers who later posed nude for Playboy was an easy target, I will admit.

    For the longest time, Bill denied he was having sex on the side with Monica L, and Hillary may have bought that. We believe what we want to, and she might have thought that the "bimbo eruptions" were over. And along comes this girl... Because the status was different does not change the basic fact: Hillary was protecting her turf. Mostly I remember Maureen Dowd writing really terrible columns about both Hillary and especially Monica, not what Hillary said about Monica. Dowd's columns in the Times are syndicated and were seen all over the country. They, more than anything, drove the public perception of Monica, and the public was lapping up the scandal that the Republicans--many of them with their own affairs on the side--were making the most of with their long-drawn out investigation. I always felt sorry for Monica and turned my anger at her so-called friend, Linda Tripp, who betrayed Monica's confidence. To me, she remains the real villain.

    Warren Harding had a known mistress, Nan Britton, but died in office when he was hugely popular; only later did his reputation take a hit with the Teapot Dome scandal. DNA has since proved the Britton's child was fathered by Harding.

    1. One of my biggest feminist issues was the pernicious double standard that has been applied to women since Eve.

  7. Linda Tripp was the real villain and a cause for local infamy here in Whippany, NJ. She went to the same high school as me but i did not know her as she was a few years behind. My mother knew her mother who was an obnoxious bitch on the local school board and my mom was a teacher.The rotten apple did not fall far from the tree. My husband made a mock postcard that featured "Whippany, Home of Linda Tripp" at the time. Some claim to fame....or shame!

    1. Thanks for the reminder about Linda Tripp.

  8. Thanks, Lorraine, for maintaining FMF as a T-free space: such a relief!

  9. and not only this: "one's own accomplishments are sometimes slighted or even attributed to the man's simply because," but her qualifications are continually confused with Bill Clinton's presidential tenure, just as she pointed out in the debate: in the end she will be blamed for everything that ever happened! I am so incredibly happy that my daughter will witness the first woman presidential candidate during the election that is the first she is old enough to remember.

  10. I knew there was another major sex scandal among the lineup of presidents (other than Kennedy, we wrote a blog about one of the women). Grover Cleveland. According to a recent book that put some bones on a story that long circulated, Cleveland, when he was 37, sexuall assaulted Maria Halpin, a sales clerk, he had been courting for several months. After dinner, he escorted her back to her place and assaulted her, telling her that he would ruin her if she told anyone, she noted in an affadavit. She became pregnant, and gave birth in a home for unwed mothers in Buffalo. Cleveland named the son Oscar Folsom Cleveland, after his best friend in a law firm, and placed the child in an orphanage asylum. Halpin was sent off to a psychiatric asylum, but quickly released when it was apparent there was nothing wrong with her mentally. Seven years later Cleveland became mayor of Buffalo, and a year later, the governor of New York. He ran for president a "Grover the Good" and is he only president to serve two non-consecutive terms. His reputation for honesty and huge.

    When his rivals for election got out the story about the illegitimate son (he married the daughter of the person who he named the son after), the Cleveland people started a smear campaign against Halpin, and stated that he named the son after himself as a favor to his father-in-law who was married at the time of the conception, and that he, Grover, was the only bachelor among Halpin's many callers, aka lovers. The book, A Secret Life: The Lies and Scandals of President Grover Cleveland (2011) says this smear campaign was all a lie. Halpin died nearly penniless.

    The author writes: "My research has established that this time-honored version of the Cleveland scandal is fundamentally dishonest—almost entirely a fairy tale. Maria Halpin was no harlot. She was a widow with two young children, a church-going woman held in high esteem by all who knew her. From everything I could discover about her life, she was what in the 19th century would be termed a chaste woman." Cleveland's disinterest in the child was credited to his doubts about paternity.

    The book came out in 2011; when I first heard of this scandal doing research for something else, the story even then in Wikipedia was that there was doubt about Cleveland's paternity. What a bastard he was! Interestingly, there is no mention of this child or the scandal at all in the current Wikipedia account of Cleveland; I remember, however, reading about it there when I first learned of it. The entry said that that there was some doubt about the paternity of the boy he named Oscar Folsom Cleveland. But now, not a word.

    Warning: Powerful men get away with smearing the woman.

    Who is scrubbing the Cleveland entry? Halpin suffered much worse than Lewinsky.

  11. I recall a reading about a jingle recited during Cleveland's campaign "Ma, ma, where's my Pa? He's in the White House, ha, ha ha." Just a joke, not a serious threat to Cleveland's candidacy.

    I think people are more likely to react negatively to sex scandals today than they were in the 19th Century, or even the 20th century. Sexual harassment, for example, used to be treated as a joke, now it can be worth $20 million to the victim. This reflects the increased power women have. Certainly Trumps' shabby treatment of women is hurting him with many women.



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