Gloria Steinem Stands By 1998 Op-Ed Defending Bill Clinton

Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem wrote an essay in 1998 which defended former US president Bill Clinton from accusations against sexual harassment. Now that essay has come under scrutiny again, and the feminist has refused to apologise for what she wrote. However, she does say that she wouldn’t write the same thing again.

Her essay had been titled ‘Feminists and the Clinton Question’. Steinem refused to condemn Clinton over sexual harassment claims from former Arkansas state employee Paula Jones, who had sued him for summoning her to his hotel room. Jones said that Clinton had touched her inappropriately an demanded that she perform oral sex on him.

In her essay, Steinem wrote that Clinton seems to have made a clumsy sexual pass, then accepted rejection. She added that “there seems to be little evidence” that Jones was negatively impacted by the incident.

Now, Steinem’s essay is being held as the class example of slut-shaming and victim-blaming.

“We have to believe women,” said Steinem. “What you write in one decade, you don’t necessarily write in the next. But I’m glad I wrote it in that decade … Because the danger then was we were about to lose sexual harassment law because it was being applied to extramarital sex, free will, extramarital sex, as with Monica Lewinsky,” she said                            

Paula Jones, in spite of all the pressure on her, said very clearly, ‘He said to me, I wouldn’t want you to do anything you don’t want to do.’ That was part of her testimony.”

“The problem at the time was, the sexual harassment law was in danger,” Steinem said. “If Clinton had resigned, that would have endangered the law.”

The media has reopened allegations against Clinton after the slew of allegations about Harvey Weinstein prompted women to come up and speak about their experiences.

Also Read: Feminism Is When Gender Doesn’t Dictate Choices: Swara Bhaskar

Picture Credit: Biography.com