In her New York Times op-ed, “I Believe Tara Reade. I Am Voting for Joe Biden Anyway,” Linda Hirshman blurts out what many suspected all along: ideology and politics trump all for feminists.
From Teddy Kennedy to Bill Clinton to Joe Biden, raw political considerations confer absolution upon their sins. That’s the upshot of Hirshman’s argument. Her rallying cry might as well be: Our creeps are better than your creeps. Why? Because they support the killing of unborn children. The journalist Nina Burleigh captured the grotesqueness of feminism’s politics with the line about Bill Clinton: “I’d be happy to give him [oral sex] just to thank him for keeping abortion legal.”
Now the voice of degrading feminism, supplied by Hirshman, says that sexual assault is worth overlooking for a political victory that protects abortion: “Compared with the good Mr. Biden can do, the cost of dismissing Tara Reade — and, worse, weakening the voices of future survivors — is worth it.”
For all of feminism’s recent puritanical pretensions, which have underpinned the MeToo movement, it remains wedded to libertinism.
Hirshman tries to cast her argument in terms of high-brow utilitarianism:
Utilitarianism arose from the Industrial Revolution, a time of terrible economic inequality and abuse. It was intended to make a moral claim for the equality of all creatures who can feel pain and experience pleasure. Weigh it: Won’t the good for all the Americans who will benefit from replacing Donald Trump with Joe Biden, including the masses of women who will get some crumbs, count for more than the harm done to the victims of abuse? Utilitarian morality requires that I turn my face away from the people I propose to sell out: Monica Lewinsky, Tara Reade.
Such reasoning should make all women question feminism’s claim to a monopoly on what’s “good for women.” At this point, the “good of women” is just a euphemism for the perverse political predilections of a feminist elite.
Hirshman likens voting for Biden to swimming away from a shipwreck. One of the horrors from which she says she is fleeing is Mike Pence’s propriety — that he won’t dine alone with a woman and that he refers to his wife as “Mother.” In other words, feminism feels more comfortable with lechers than gentlemen. The lechers, for one thing, having already degraded women, won’t hesitate to degrade them further through abortion.
Hirshman recalls and sympathizes with Gloria Steinem’s utilitarian bargain in saving Clinton by tossing Monica Lewinsky under the bus:
Contemplating the act makes me feel a little like Gloria Steinem, circa 1998. I was so sure I’d never do what she did, and I still think saving Mr. Clinton for two years at the cost to Ms. Lewinsky was a terrible move. Denigrating Ms. Lewinsky denied all women’s vulnerability to powerful men, and replacing Mr. Clinton with another Democratic centrist, Al Gore, would have been a perfectly acceptable outcome. But it also makes me remember why Ms. Steinem did it. The other side at the time, embodied by the special counsel Kenneth Starr, was so awful. Mr. Starr’s censorious Republican Party seemed to pose much more of a threat to women’s interests than Mr. Clinton’s libertinism did.
There you have it: for all of feminism’s recent puritanical pretensions, which have underpinned the Me Too movement, it remains wedded to libertinism. It will take Teddy Kennedy over Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton over Ken Starr, Joe Biden over Mike Pence.
Hirshman says she is not fooled by pigs who pretend to be friends of feminism: “I know how supposedly ‘liberal’ men abused the sexual revolution in every imaginable way. I am unimpressed by their lip service to feminism, their Harvard degrees or their donations to feminist causes.” But she is rewarding them anyways.
Hirshman says very little about Biden, except that he is a “relic of the good-old-boy Senate years” and “seems positively benign by comparison” to Trump and Pence — a remarkably easygoing assessment for somebody she considers a sexual assailant. Left unsaid in the article is the lengths to which Biden went to inoculate himself against the Tara Reade charge. He spent the months preceding the charge courting feminists. He genuflected before the Me Too movement, talked up his past as a champion of women, and perhaps most importantly changed his position on the Hyde Amendment. He thereby entered that club of tainted pols feminists will always protect.