"It's important to understand that we will live with a fair amount of pain for most of our lives. If your first priority is to live a painless life, you will not be able to help yourself or other women. What matters is to be a warrior. Having a sense of honor about political struggle is healing." - Andrea Dworkin

April 1999
Vol. 1 - #2

Said It: Feminist News, Culture & Politics   in this issue:

Presidential Rape: The Making of a Non-Scandal

America's Shame and the Scapegoating of Monica Lewinsky

Go Mary!

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America's Shame and the Scapegoating of Monica Lewinsky
by Adriene Sere

Monica is a regular person. She is a regular person who did what most women in this country do or have done at some point in their lives: She gave sex in exchange for love, for acknowledgment, for approval, for an association with power.

Bill is a person, too. He does what most men in this country do: He views women as objects, some of the time if not all the time, in specific circumstances if not all circumstances. He is somewhat uncommon in that he is very likely guilty of rape, flashing, and serial sexual assault. Without a doubt he used his position as an elected official to obtain "consentual" sex from someone who was not in a position to say no.

Monica was 22. She was not elected by the American people to political office. She is not accused of rape. She did not sexually exploit someone with less power than herself. She did not even break her marital commitment to another. She behaved in a way that was immature, manipulative, and frantically irrational--behavior that was a nuisance to those who dealt with it directly.

Bill was 50. He was elected by the American people to a powerful political office. He broke his marital commitment to another--hundreds of times. It is not known how many times this "sex" was consentual, and how many times it was forced. Most Americans believe he is guilty of force--of rape, of flashing, of groping women subordinates whom he tricks into being alone with him through the use of his public position.

Supplied with these facts and scenarios, which of these two people--Monica the intern or Bill the President--does America try to destroy? Which person does America most fiercely denounce? Which does America choose to blame, to hate, to mock, to dehumanize? And which of these two people does America forgive, protect, empower, pay a salary to, make excuses for, begrudgingly embrace as "flawed?"

America is a coward. America is a country that projects its depravity onto a young woman who closely followed the script that this country lays out for all those born female, wedding rings and candlelight dinners aside.

This, America, is a male supremacist country whose major economic industries include pornography, pimping, and military weapons production. This is a country whose unifying culture is evening sleaze sitcoms, Jerry Springer talk shows, and Laura Schlesinger radio. This, America, is a country that will not put a woman on the front cover of a popular magazine unless she is half-stripped and made sexually accessible to anyone who looks. This is a country that will not let a woman be a movie star, or a popular singer, or a model, unless she perpetually gives America a piece of her ass, and promises she will not be sexually self-possessed until she is too old for any man to care.

America is a pimp. This is a country which, in the name of family values, threw thousands of single mothers and their children into desperate poverty specifically to pressure mothers into otherwise unwanted sexual relations with men. This is a country which had for centuries forced women to give men sex in exchange for a place to stand on this earth. This is a country which still, in modern times, wants women to accept that they will be raped if they are alone in a room with a man. This country has not known since the beginning of colonial times what dignified sexual relations between women and men could be. It is a country which, because of its historical and ongoing oppression of women through sex and marriage, has made sustained dignity and equality in sex between women and men almost impossible.

America claims to be appalled by the likes of Monica Lewinsky, the young woman who did not rape, exploit, trick, break marital vows, or lie in front of the cameras to the electorate. America claims that Monica's crude and aggressive attempt to give sex in exchange for something else offends its sensibilities. America maintains that Monica is a distasteful exception to its moral standards.

The truth is, America is ashamed of itself, and for good reason. But America, which has rallied in support of a president it believes to be guilty of repeated sexual assault, does not want to look in the mirror. It does not want to look at, challenge, let go of, its political organization of sex, the oppression that perpetuates it, the oppression that is perpetuated by it. America would rather continue to destroy a young woman who doesn't stand a chance in fighting back, and force her to apologize to the country for the "pain" she caused.

Such pain. America's fists are apparently tired and aching. America is sick to death of "Monicagate," it moans, as if its sadistic indulgences were caused by the target herself. America wants a break after pummeling this young woman. America wants to get back to the business of this country. America has important business to carry out: military weapons production, imperialism, proliferation of pornography. The very same sort of business that its leader carries out behind closed doors, on America's payroll, in America's name.


Copyright 1999 Adriene Sere - All rights reserved by author.
All work contained in Said It is owned by the respective contributing authors or artists,
including all copyrights contained therein, and may not be copied, reprinted, or otherwise used
in any form without the express written permission of the copyright holder.

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