"A Specter Is Haunting the Clinton Presidency:"
Bill Clinton vs. Sexual Harassment Laws
by Steve Sailer
Last updated on December 7, 1992, but nobody wanted to publish it then. Finally in 1998, the conventional wisdom has finally started to understand the logic of my 1992 critique of sexual harassment laws.
|A specter is haunting the Clinton Presidency, one that the President-
Elect needs to defuse immediately.
The move to drive liberal, pro-feminist Republican Senator Robert Packwood from office as retribution for his quarter century of goatish solicitations of female employees and lobbyists would appear to only solidify the Democratic domination of Washington, but a precedent is being established that could eventually shake the Democratic establishment. Many Democrats luminaries are in danger, not because they are Packwood-style mashers, but because the definition of sexual harassment being wielded against Packwood -- "making unwanted sexual advances toward those working for him or with him" -- is so broad that a substantial fraction of all men would be implicated, assuming the office Christmas parties I've attended are representative.
Now, most Americans' attitude toward sexual harassment is that they know it when they see it. Everybody would include the quid pro quo, "Sleep with me or lose your job," whether spoken or unspoken. Many would target physical advances, especially Packwood's pawing, slobbering, chase 'em around the desk style reminiscent of a '50s sex comedy's Dirty Old Boss. Many Americans would also be hard on adulterous advances, although journalists have been reticent on this aspect of Packwood's delinquencies.
Yet none of these characteristics are necessary under the modern strict constructionist formulation of the crime. For example, Anita Hill never alledged any quid pro quo, physical contact, or adulterous intent.
Further, most Americans would probably censure the industrial scale lecher. Some might distinguish between sexual and romantic advances, although others might find that naive, requiring Godlike insight into the human soul. A more workable distinction might be between flirtation and indecent proposals, although once again the line would be hard to draw. Likewise, some would castigate boorish, Marlon Brandoish advances, but exempt debonair Cary Grantish passes. Others might find this distinction a matter of taste. Many would single out recurrent advances, although others would have a hard time distinguishing between the chronic harasser and the lovelorn swain. Yet, none of these exacerbating factors, subjective as they are, are required under the fundamentalist proscription. A further oddity is that no advance no matter how obnoxious is prohibited as long as it ultimately turns out to be wanted.
The word in the orthodox description that expecially troubles Americans (and baffles Europeans) is "unwanted." Logically speaking, we could, like the Khmer Rouge in the Year Zero, try to abolish all sexual advances, unwanted and wanted. Given enough secret policemen, it might almost be doable. But to try to eliminate just the advances that turn out to be "unwanted" while preserving the "wanted" ones, requires not just a police state but a time machine. (Possibly, some of the formulators understood this, and simply intended to discourage all male advances. For example, the pioneering theorist, Professor Catharine MacKinnon, has avowed that she thinks all heterosexual intercourse is either rape or prostitution.)
Trust me, few guys like getting rejected. It's just that no advance is wanted or unwanted until it's made. Unwanted sexual advances are the price we all pay for the survival of the species. Maybe I'm just biased; see, my all time personal favorite office sexual advance was the one my Dad made my Mom in 1946. Still, I suspect that women today are probably more dependent on meeting men at work than in 1946, and thus are even less interested in outlawing wanted advances
Surveys report that a large minority of American women say they have been sexually harassed. What these confirm is that the majority of women don't take the fundamentalist definition seriously, otherwise the surveys would find not 30% or 40% agreement, but virtually 100% . What self respecting woman would admit that no man had ever made an unwanted sexual advance toward her? She'd be admitting either that no man's ever made her a sexual advance or that she's never met a sexual advance she didn't like.
Unfortunately for the honchos of the Democratic party, the truest believers in the nefariousness of unwanted sexual advances are politicized liberal career women in the media, the law, academia, government work, and politics; in other words, exactly those women toward whom so many liberal politicians have made so many on-the-job passes, wanted and unwanted, over the decades. Democrats have made much political hay out of sexual harassment since Anita Hill, but the old boys are about to be hoisted by their own petard.
Senator Kennedy, of course, has dug himself into a hole so deep over the years that there is almost a Falstaffian grandeur to his predicament. A far more intriguing potential target, though, is Bill Clinton.
I know of no evidence whatsoever that Clinton has ever made "unwanted sexual advances to women who worked for him or with him." Yet, if I was an investigative reporter wishing to make a name for myself as the Woodward/Bernstein of the 90's, I'd be highly intrigued by these facts: Governor Clinton has for many years presided over thousands of female state employees. By his own testimony, he has not always paid strict attention to his marriage vows. Finally, he is widely reputed to be a man like any other man, only more so.
On the other hand, Mr. Clinton is younger and more Kennedyesque than the hapless Mr. Packwood, so a higher proportion of any propositions he might have made would have ultimately proven to be "wanted," thus letting him off the hook, according to the fascinating logic of current harassment theory. Yet, not even Warren Beatty has a career batting average of 1.000. So, all in all, it seems likely that some enterprising reporter is going to think it worth his while to go Pulitzer hunting among the secretarial pools and law offices of Little Rock. I'm sure they've been raked over before by journalists, but they were looking for the wrong kind of woman. Far more scandalous in today's environment would be the story of the woman who didn't commit adultery with Bill Clinton.
Most likely, the reporter won't find anybody who'll say anything. Quite possibly, there is nothing to be said. But if there is, at any moment over the next four years a vast brouhaha may erupt. While initially amusing to contemplate, the thought of a Watergate-like paralysis of the executive branch, followed by an Al Gore Presidency and a retributive Democratic attack on every Republican who has ever winked at a pretty girl, is not.
If Mr. Clinton has any secret worries on this score, he should act now. A vague confession and apology would cause a short flurry of tsk-tsking, but the ultimate loser would not be the President but the expansive definition of sexual harassment. The fundamental political flaw with the demonization of "unwanted sexual advances toward someone who works for or with you" is that, if the office Christmas parties I've attended are representative, scores of millions of American men are guilty of this heinous offense (as are millions of American women).
As a parallel, consider how the short-lived marijuana witch hunt of 1987 was declawed. When Judge Douglas Ginsburg's nomination to the Supreme Court was deep-sixed by his admitting to having smoked the demon weed, it briefly seemed likely that by the logic of the scandal much of an entire generation would be permanently disqualified from high office. Fortunately, due to the immediate 'fessing-up of younger Presidential candidates like Al Gore and Bruce Babbitt, this potential inquisition sputtered out. Of course, it flared up again farcically in 1992 when Governor Bill confessed that he had toked, but never inhaled.
Which is another reason why I'd like to see Mr. Clinton address the subject of any past indiscretions: not only would it be good for the country, but judging from his previous equivocations, we can expect another doozy.