President Clinton makes a statement of contrition from the Rose Garden on Dec. 11, 1998, just minutes before the House Judiciary Committee voted to impeach him.
AP Photo/Greg Gibson
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Bill Clinton: A Reckoning

Feminists saved the 42nd president of the United States in the 1990s. They were on the wrong side of history.
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Believing women about assault—even if they lack the means to prove their accounts—as well as understanding that female employees don’t constitute part of a male boss’s benefits package, were the galvanizing consequences of Anita Hill’s historic allegations against Clarence Thomas, in 1991. When she came forward during Thomas’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing and reported that he had sexually humiliated and pressured her throughout his tenure as her boss at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, it was an event of convulsive national anxiety. Here was a black man, a Republican, about to be appointed to the Supreme Court, and here was a black woman, presumably a liberal, trying to block him with reports of repeated, squalid, and vividly recounted episodes of sexual harassment. She had little evidence to support her accusations. Many believed that since she’d been a lawyer at the EEOC, she had been uniquely qualified to have handled such harassment.
 
But then something that no one could have predicted happened. It was a pre-Twitter, pre-internet, highly analog version of #MeToo. To the surprise of millions of men, the nation turned out to be full of women—of all political stripes and socioeconomic backgrounds—who’d had to put up with Hell at work. Mothers, sisters, aunts, girlfriends, wives—millions of women shared the experience of having to wait tables, draw blood, argue cases, make sales, all while fending off the groping, the joking, the sexual pressuring, and the threatening of male bosses. They were liberal and conservative; white collar and pink collar; black and white and Hispanic and Asian. Their common experience was not political, economic, or racial. Their common experience was female.  
 
For that reason, the response to those dramatic hearings constituted one of the great truly feminist events of the modern era. Even though Thomas successfully, and perhaps rightly, survived Hill’s accusations, something in the country had changed about women and work and the range of things men could do to them there.

But then Bubba came along and blew up the tracks.
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