[Added Thursday, Aug. 18: Many readers have had extremely unhappy reactions to this post. Some parts, as it was written hastily, were more sloppy than not. I would like to try to clarify that muddiness, in addition to apologizing to Juanita Broaddrick specifically, here.]
Buzzfeed has a long, interesting interview with Juanita Broaddrick, the woman who says Bill Clinton raped her in an Arkansas hotel room almost 40 years ago. Maybe this case has always bugged you too, because we are supposed to believe women when it comes to rape. (For the record, I don’t “always” believe women. I think some women are messed up, and some women lie.)
Why did Juanita Broaddrick change her story? ask people who otherwise would automatically answer “rape survivors do that sometimes.” (When Paula Jones’s lawyers came knocking, she told them that nothing had happened, she says, because she wanted it to go away.)
Why is Juanita Broaddrick so cozy with all the rightwingers? they ask. (Because she hates Hillary Clinton, because she believes that she tried to silence her.)
And … that’s pretty much all the “I don’t believe Juanita” crowd has. Her friends found her with bruised lips, crying, right after the rape allegedly occurred. That’s what we call “contemporaneous evidence” when we believe women.
Here are a few quick thinkerings, which you may or may not disagree with, quite loudly!
- I can absolutely see Bill Clinton doing this (then, not now) and not even thinking of it as rape, but thinking of it as dominant, alpha sex. I can see a LOT of men doing that during that time period, before we started telling them in the ’80s, “hey, that is rape, do not do that.” I can see YOUR NICE GRANDPA doing that, back then.
- In the Buzzfeed piece, Broaddrick’s precocious 13-year-old grandson — who sounds like a really sweet young man — has learned this year about his grandmother’s “complicated” past, thanks to overheard conversations and gaps filled in by Google. He says to force sex on a woman means you are an “evil” person. I don’t think this is true. I think you can do something horrible, realize later that it is horrible, be ashamed forever and try to keep it secret and never do it again. (Especially if you’re, say, a teenager whose impulse control is still years away from being properly developed.)
- “Rape is about power, not sex.” For those for whom it’s about power, those are the serial rapist guys, and they hate women and want to punish us. But I don’t think that’s in every case. I think good men can rape, and be sorry, and not do it again. This is very bad feminism.
- While I (sort of? am leaning toward?) believe Juanita Broaddrick, her characterization of Hillary Clinton sounds irrational, maybe induced from PTSD:
Soon after, Broaddrick says, she ran into Hillary Clinton at a political rally Broaddrick had promised friends she would attend. Hillary shook her hand and thanked her for everything she had done for Bill. To Broaddrick, the gesture felt like a threat to stay silent. As attorney general and later governor, Bill Clinton was “the main person that regulated my business and my income,” Broaddrick said. “After she said what she did to me, I just thought, I will keep quiet.”
There is simply no reason Hillary Clinton would have known jackshit about it; Bill Clinton was always lying to her, and she loved him, and she kept believing him when it was long past silly to do so. “Honey, I raped that nice lady” isn’t a thing he would have opened up to her about, and “thanks so much for the campaigning you did for my husband” just doesn’t sound like a threat in any possible universe.
- Just because Broaddrick seems irrational about Hillary Clinton’s response doesn’t make her irrational about the rest.
- To sum up, I think Bill Clinton could very well have raped Juanita Broaddrick; that it doesn’t make him an evil man, or irredeemable (I’m Catholic; we’re all forgiven, if we’re sorry, and Broaddrick says Bill Clinton personally called her up to apologize). It doesn’t even necessarily make him a bad feminist — you know, later, once he stops doing that.
- I don’t necessarily believe the woman who says Donald Trump raped her when she was a 13-year-old girl. (I’m pretty sure he did rape his wife though, seeing as how she said so under oath.) It doesn’t seem in character — to me — that he would threaten to have her disappeared. It seems a lot more Trumpy that he’d send her off with a “good girl” and a smack on the ass, assuming she’d be grateful to have hosted Trump’s magnificent schlong.
How’s that for fair and balanced?