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The Essential Ellen Willis$
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Ellen Willis and Nona Willis Aronowitz

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780816681204

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816681204.001.0001

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Villains and Victims

Villains and Victims

(p.346) Villains and Victims
The Essential Ellen Willis

Nona Willis Aronowitz

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter examines the villain vs. victim card used in the debate over sexual politics in America. From the beginning conservatives used Paula Jones’s case not only to attack Bill Clinton but to accuse feminists of a hypocritical double standard. With the breaking of the scandal involving Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, conservatives intensified their demands for feminists to attack Clinton the same way they attacked Clarence Thomas, who was accused by Anita Hill of sexual harassment. Despite the fact that Lewinsky had been over twenty-one during the (then still alleged) affair and had not complained of harassment or indeed complained at all, right-wing champions pronounced her a victim of at best exploitation, at worst child-molesting. The conservatives assert that “the personal is political,” a slogan that has increasingly come to mean that all personal behavior is subject to political judgment, that there are now feminist rules both men and women should obey. Accordingly, feminism, insofar as it deals with personal life, has largely abandoned politics, which seeks to affect social structures, for moralism, which aims to control individuals.

Keywords:   sexual politics, conservatives, Paula Jones, Bill Clinton, Monica Lewinsky, Clarence Thomas, Anita Hill, sexual harassment, feminism, moralism

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