Standing By My Shitty Man

It’s been a difficult couple of years for women and for liberals. For those of us who are liberal women, it’s been downright excruciating. Watching the recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearings where Dr. Christine Blasey Ford offered pained, dignified testimony about the sexual assault she suffered in high school was particularly wrenching. Witnessing the transmogrification, under questioning, of Judge Brett Kavanaugh into an angry, sniveling partisan bully was jarring and surreal. Then the current president, with his preternatural talent for making any bad situation worse, showed up to our national dumpster fire with his usual contributions: A can of gasoline and a cord of well-aged wood. Trump’s been a walking, talking blowtorch for so long that the sight of him at a rally mocking Dr. Ford and spouting cruelties couldn’t really surprise me, but I admit that the women gathered adoringly around him that night waving their pretty, pink signs did. At first. Until I remembered Juanita Broaddrick.

You might, despite recent attention she’s received, have forgotten about Juanita Broaddrick. She is the woman who accused our boy Bill. Not of harassment. Not of drunken, youthful attempted rape. No, she accused Bill Clinton of forcibly raping her while he was the attorney general of Arkansas.

I had no trouble believing Dr. Ford’s allegations despite the gaps in her memory.  I was glued to the news all day every day once her story broke, unable to focus on anything else. I lost sleep. I cried for her. I admired her courage in coming forward. But, despite having voted for Bill Clinton twice, I only recently read Juanita Broaddrick’s allegations against him. I was dismayed and ashamed to find them easier to corroborate and more richly detailed than Dr. Ford’s recollections. I can have no trouble believing Juanita Broaddrick.

I’ve had to admit something humiliating to myself: it was never really that I didn’t believe Bill Clinton’s accusers. They were plentiful. So plentiful that his team had a dedicated, sexist, derogatory term for the surfacing of women with claims against him of one sexual nature or another: bimbo eruptions. Thanks to White House intern Monica Lewinsky’s testimony, we know that Bill Clinton, while leading the Free World, used the Oval Office to ejaculate onto her blue dress and insert a cigar into her vagina. To be honest, I didn’t, at any time, find it far-fetched that Bill Clinton was not merely a compulsive philanderer but also a sexual predator. The brutal truth is that if Bill Clinton was a sexual predator, I didn’t want to know. I didn’t want to be responsible for knowing. My outrage has been a partisan, tribal, hypocritical outrage. 

I didn’t cry for Juanita Broaddrick, didn’t lose sleep over her, for probably the same reason those women at the Trump rally didn’t lose a moment thinking about Christine Blasey Ford: because the man Juanita Broaddrick accused was on my team. He did things in the political arena that I liked, stood for things that I valued. He was wearing the blue jersey, and I wore it with him.

I’ve wondered since 2016 how women could have voted for a man who bragged about grabbing a woman’s pussy against her wishes; a man who, at fifty-eight, mused on The Howard Stern Show about the eighteen-year old Lindsay Lohan that, because of her wreck of a father, if you could get past her freckles, She’s probably deeply troubled and therefore great in bed? How could they disbelieve all those women who came forward willing to testify to Trump’s abysmal treatment of them? And, more recently, how could the women holding the pretty, pink signs disbelieve Dr. Ford?

Now, I realize, they may not have disbelieved Dr. Ford at all. They may, as a group, have been like those Republican women who said on CNN, sans denials, of the Ford/Kavanaugh situation, Tell me what boy hasn’t done this in high school. Please, I would like to know. And, I have no sympathy. They may, as a group, have been like me and Hillary and all the blue, blue women who voted for Bill Clinton and revered Bill Clinton regardless of what we’ve had more than ample reason to believe he’s done. Maybe, like us, instead of standing with other women, they were just standing, cheering, by their shitty man.