I’ve been watching a lot of the post-election coverage, and much of it is focused on why Clinton lost. It must be sexism, I’ve heard many say. Malcolm Gladwell, an author I absolutely love, claimed that it was because people didn’t like ambitious women.
I wish someone had just asked me.
I could have told them.
I love writing posts on how to help your marriage, and on how to build a great sex life, but every now and then, as my long-time readers know, I just like to rant a bit. And so today I hope you will all excuse me.
I don’t want this to be a political piece so much, because to me this isn’t about Democrats and Republicans as much as it is about marriage and our dating culture. And I have a LOT to say about this. (And I’ve already written about how I understand why women couldn’t vote for Donald Trump, too, and that the man is a pig when it comes to women! I do get it. I just think this has more to do with marriage, and warrants its own post).
“Is it too much to ask that a guy doesn’t use porn?”
Let me start with a story. It was 1994, and I was sitting in my graduate student office at Queen’s University. An undergrad came in to get help on an essay she was writing. We ended up talking and she started tearing up and telling me about her boyfriend. They had been living together for a year, but he had all kinds of porn magazines all over the place. She didn’t like it, but what could she say?
All the guys she knew used porn.
And so she figured she must be a prude. Why couldn’t she just get over this? It was going to be impossible to find a guy who didn’t use porn, so she had better get used to it.
That conversation broke my heart.
Women have a unique experience that men just don’t have.
We worry that we will not be the sole object of our husband’s sexual attention, because naked women are on display everywhere–and many men look. And so we feel insecure. (I am not saying that women don’t look or that women don’t have affairs; only that the situation is heavily tilted in one direction).
Then there’s the feminist revolution, which somehow succeeded into making women sexual objects even more than they were before and calling it female empowerment.
Now that couples can have sex with zero risk of a baby (because she can always get an abortion), then sex becomes responsibility-free.
In economics what’s happened is that the “price” of sex has come down. In order to have sex several decades ago, people had to get married. Today you don’t even have to buy anyone dinner. The hooking up culture has become so commonplace that people don’t even know how to date anymore. By trying to free women from the strains of patriarchy, feminism inadvertently gave men what some of them always wanted–sex with no strings attached–without really giving women anything in return.
So you have these girls who grow up yearning to find real love–a man who will adore them, who won’t look elsewhere and who won’t check out all these other naked women, but will honestly commit for the rest of his life–but they’re lost.
How does true love happen in today’s culture?
That may be what we want, but that’s not what most women are getting (and I’m quite aware that women are often the driving force behind having sex casually. But deep inside, most still yearn to get married and have that lifetime commitment).
And we sense that things have gone off kilter. When you interview college-age females, there’s so much depression and anxiety because relationships aren’t working out well. How do you find real love when sex has been so degraded?
That’s what life was like when I was in grad school, too.
And then Bill Clinton became president.
We all knew about the affairs. They had been covered during the 1992 election. But because he was a Democrat, many feminists vouched for him. I remember an interview I heard during the 1992 campaign when Naomi Wolf, a woman I very much admired then, said that the tapes of conversations between Bill Clinton and Gennifer Flowers (the woman with whom he’d had a 12-year affair) made her respect Clinton more, because he talked to Flowers like she was an equal.
But what about Hillary? I thought. Who cares how he treated his mistress if he’s having an affair on his wife? Shouldn’t Hillary count? Why are we so quick to say that affairs don’t matter? What does that tell young girls who are just wanting to know that marriage for life is possible?
But Hillary stayed with him, despite the rumours.
Over the next few years that trickle of rumours escalated until it turned into a deluge.
Rape allegations. More affairs. More sexual assault allegations. And then Monica Lewinsky.
I was 27 when the Monica story broke. She was 21. Clinton was 52. I remember sitting in church one Sunday and looking around to try to identify men who were around 52. Then I tried to imagine anything sexual with them. GROSS!!!! Did people not see how disgusting this was? Did no one actually bother to think about what 21 and 52 means? What that says about Clinton as a person? Does he still “respect” women, Ms. Wolf, if he’s getting it on with his intern?
Hillary, of course, denied that the stories were true. We later found out that she had deliberately hired people to destroy the women’s reputations who were accusing Bill of rape or assault, or even just an affair. She eviscerated them in the press, because she needed to keep Bill’s reputation intact.
And so, after learning that her husband was a rapist, that he had used a 21-year-old intern, that he had had numerous affairs, what did Hillary do?
Absolutely diddly squat.
She stayed with him.
And that’s when she lost my generation of women.
We’ve learned since that Bill Clinton has had more affairs. That he has flown to convicted pedophile’s Jeffrey Epstein’s island 26 times, where underage children were being used as sex slaves. And Hillary? She keeps staying with him.
When the most powerful woman in the world can’t get her husband to love her unconditionally and be faithful to her, then what does that say for the rest of us who simply dream of it?
When the most powerful woman in the world doesn’t stand up for herself but lets her husband have dalliances with no consequences, what message does that send to women who actually think their husbands SHOULD stay faithful–that affairs actually matter?
Look, I completely believe in second chances and in forgiveness.
I have known so many marriages that have come back after affairs, and that have turned around, and that have been stronger than ever. But those marriages have come back not because the women said, “it’s okay, I forgive you.” It’s because they said, “this is serious. We need help. You will not continue to treat me this way. I don’t want to lose our marriage, but if we’re going to stay together, then it has to be a marriage–a real one.” And they’ve fought for it.
They’ve gone to the counsellors. They’ve arranged for accountability. They’ve worked on their own issues. And they’ve set clear boundaries that say, “no more of this.”
But when you paper over affairs again and again; when you stand by as your husband sexually assaults women; when you do nothing when your husband sexually harasses women at work–then you are the problem.
In fact, I have an easier time forgiving Bill than I do Hillary, which I know is actually quite sexist in my own brain. She turned her back on women like that young student in my office, who wondered if she was crazy for just wanting a guy who didn’t look at porn. Was that too much to ask? By ignoring Bill’s sins, Hillary told her, very emphatically, yes. It was too much to ask.
The sexual empowerment movement made the price of sex so low that now it’s hard to find love.
But then Hillary made the price of marriage low.
You no longer have to promise fidelity. You just have to promise, “I’ll keep you by my side, most of the time.”
If Hillary had dumped Bill after the Lewinsky scandal, I think there’s a much greater chance that she’d be president today, because she would have shown that she understood how women felt. She would have shown some solidarity with those of us who just want a guy to love us forever. But she didn’t, because she showed that her own marriage was simply a sham, arranged so that she could get what she really wanted: Political power. And for those of us who really want a super strong family and to be loved, that makes no sense whatsoever.
I don’t know where that girl is today who sat in my office crying over her boyfriend’s Hustler magazines.
But I know many of you are in the same place as she is. Is it so wrong to just want a guy to love you? Is it too much to ask that he remain faithful, that he not text other women, that he not check other women out in public? Is it too much to ask that you’ll be his sole object of sexual attention?
No, it isn’t. We ARE to love each other unconditionally. We are called to faithfulness to our spouses, and the Bible gives NO excuses for messing up. 1 Corinthians 10:31 tells us that there are no temptations that can’t be overcome with God’s help. There is no “boys will be boys“. There’s only “boys choosing to be boys”.
And I have a great guy who has never, ever given me even a moment to doubt him. True love is possible. I see it everyday; I pray and believe it for my daughters; I know so many, many faithful men.
Yet increasingly, I think these faithful men are in the minority. We see far too many pastors fall in sexual sin. We hear pastors spreading that boys will be boys message. We hear about how hard it is to fight against porn.
And there’s a part of each woman that dies inside every time she hears that, who wonders, “really? Can’t I ever, just once, be enough?”
We know, too, that the problem does not just lie with men.
The problem lies with women as well, because what would happen if every woman just said “No”? If every woman in a dating relationship just had zero tolerance for porn or affairs, then men would step up the plate (the same goes the other way, too). Instinctively we know, just like that undergrad student did, that the more women give guys passes because “boys will be boys”, the more boys will act that way. And when high profile women do it? It makes it even worse. It defeats the girls who would have demanded better. It tells everybody, “all guys do this.” So what’s the sense in trying to wait for more?
That’s why women my age don’t like Hillary Clinton. It’s not about politics. It’s about love.
We may disagree with her on policy issues (which I certainly do). But we dislike her because she torpedoed girls’ dreams of real love. And you don’t take that away from a whole generation without paying the price.