Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Liberal Misogynists?

Some conservatives have recently tried to defend Rush Limbaugh's attack on Sandra Fluke by essentially saying certain liberals are just as misogynistic.  In my opinion, that is rather a pathetic way to defend Mr. Limbaugh's words.  It reminds me of when I was an elementary school teacher where kids would sometimes defend their own breaking of the rules by saying other kids did the same thing.  Two wrongs certainly don't make a right. I thought that was generally accepted.

Nonetheless, I do appreciate these conservatives bringing attention to the sexist attitudes of some liberals.  That is something that rarely gets mentioned in the media.

In some ways, one might expect so-called "liberals" to be light years ahead of conservatives on gender equality.  The women's movement is typically more closely aligned with Democrats than Republicans.  People advocating "traditional" gender roles (e.g., women staying home to tend the home and family while men alone are responsible for breadwinning)  tend to self-identify as conservatives. 

Despite what you might expect, however, I have not perceived the left to be more evolved on gender issues. 

It was Bill Clinton who married the nerdy brain with Coke bottle glasses because he saw beyond appearances and he realized they made a good team.  He campaigned for president by touting his wife's intellectual and political gifts: "Two for One."  But it was also Bill Clinton who was apparently a serial philanderer humiliating his wife over and over again throughout their marriage.  Cigars and pizzas in the Oval Office with a young intern doesn't exact scream "I respect women as equals."  But maybe that is just me.

Unfortunately, President Clinton is not the only Democratic president in recent memory to cheat.  We know that JFK and FDR also broke their wedding vows.  FDR had several long-term affairs.  JFK had numerous sexual relationships both before and after his marriage.  Both men had vibrant, extremely intelligent and devoted wives.  Such betrayal is just incomprehensible. 

More recently, former senator John Edwards forever disgraced himself by lying about having cheated on his wife and having fathered a child out of wedlock.  Not only was his wife a brilliant lawyer and activist, she was also a devoted mother of four children.  She wrote touchingly about her struggles after her first son died in a tragic car crash.  Sadly, the fact that John Edwards had betrayed his wedding vows became known publicly while Elizabeth Edwards was struggling with stage IV breast cancer.  Her final months were hardly the peaceful end that you would hope for someone with a terminal illness.

In France, in the mid-1990s, the funeral of Socialist president Mitterand was appalling as his wife and his long-term mistress stood side-by-side on apparently equal footing.  That is not my vision for the phrase "Liberté, égalité, fraternité."

Some may believe these examples of liberal politicians cheating on their spouses are simply personal matters.  Some may argue such betrayals are irrelevant to one's attitudes on gender equality.  I strongly disagree.

If a man treats with such disrespect the one woman who is supposedly closest to him, I think that says a lot about his attitude towards women generally.  Moreover, to the extent one is a serial philanderer like Clinton or Kennedy, I think a much more dire assessment is warranted.  If a man engages in sexual activities with numerous women that suggests he is using them for his own pleasure in one specific way.  It suggests he views them as sexual objects and not seeing them as whole individuals. 

In that sense, it is quite reminiscent of Mr. Limbaugh's descriptions of sex being "recreational" and a type of "social" activity.  Perhaps we aren't that surprised to hear such attitudes from a man who coined the phrase "feminazi" or told us that feminism was a plot to "allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream of society."  But when such attitudes seem to be exhibited by men who have purported to defend the poor and other vulnerable people in society, it is quite disappointing. 

Matthew 5: 27-28

You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

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