When I read that Gloria Steinem had boarded the Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck —which she had helped start rolling when she tossed her alleged principles into the crapper to make excuses for Bill Clinton ; my favorite was when she shuffled off her previous position on inequalities of power making genuine consent impossible to say that every boss has a right to hit on a female subordinate once—I really didn’t want to revisit the topic. Her defense of Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal almost literally made me ill, and you know how Sauce Bearnaise syndrome works. (Don’t you?)
The aging feminist icon told The Guardian that she would not write the infamous May 22, 1998 New York Times column today, but that she does not regret writing the column then, because “What you write in one decade you don’t necessarily write in the next. But I’m glad I wrote it in that decade.” Translation: Outrageous hypocrisy you can get away with in one decade won’t always fly later.
Especially when it enabled two decades of sexual harassers, abusers and rapists with power who brutalized countless women, right, Gloria?
But Gloria’s credentials as an ethics corrupter needs to be renewed, and I am grateful to Jonathan Turley for taking the time when my queasy stomach couldn’t handle it. I couldn’t say it any better than the professor, who wrote in a blog post today (read the whole thing, here):
…Steinem’s current position is as opportunistic and transparent as her 1998 column…In that column, she said that it was not sexual harassment for Clinton as Arkansas attorney general to allegedly sexually assault multiple women or, as President, making advances on women working for him. At the annual comedy benefit for the Ms Foundation for Women, Steinem held forth on her rather contorted (and distinctly unfunny) logic:
What? I am not even sure what Steinem means by “there’s probably more known about other women now.” The column was written on March 22, 1998. That was after all of the women had come forward or been named from Broaddrick to Flowers to Jones to Willey to Tripp to Lewinsky. It was after after Clinton declared “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.” It was after Hillary Clinton denounced these women as little more than “bimbo eruptions.” It was after the Starr report detailing these accounts. Indeed, she wrote the column just before impeachment. In other words, Steinem rationalization is . . . Clintonesque.
Among the allegations that Steinem knew about at the time was the claim of rape by Broaddrick… that respected investigatory journalist Lisa Myers and others found credible. …Of course, such open hypocrisy will have little effect on Steinem or her followers. Indeed, the adoring crowds still following Clinton demonstrate the ability of people to rationalize conflicting positions. The same phenomenon is apparent in the Roy Moore controversy with people struggling not to believe a remarkably broad collection of women, former neighbors, former colleagues, and security officers.
Steinem once said that “Women may be the one group that grows more radical with age.” Perhaps so, but in Steinem’s case, the same cannot be said for honesty.