The Feminists on Bill: Can't Help Lovin Dat Man

By Stephanie Herman
Originally published in Internet Herald

The sons of the patriarchy are at it again, brazenly contributing to the "backlash" with their harsh criticisms of feminist organizations like NOW. Actually, these flimsy criticisms involve nothing more than the feminists' failure to call Bill Clinton on his alleged dalliances into the realms of adultery and sexual harassment, but are these mean-spirited criticisms warranted? Maybe the feminists are just really busy right now.

Checking the URL of "" on the world wide web, we find the NOW feminists are quite focused on marketing a series of feminist products (that's femiNIST) replete with some pretty catchy and enlightened slogans poised to alter the ideological pH of the nation! And who are we to say these efforts are any less important than an occasional hypocrisy check?

Consider one of their flagship products, for example, the NOW Darwin fish bumperplate and/or lapel pin. For five dollars every feminist can " that you know 'only the strong shall survive' and that you have a good grasp of Evolutionary Theory. Let the other fish in the pond feel your presence on the road." While it's not entirely clear how the Darwin fish promotes the ideal of gender equality, certainly the NOW feminists are convinced that this fish is the ultimate political statement, cleverly usurping the sexist and oppressive symbol of Christ's "fishers of men." They'll have to make some room among the reactionary daisy appliques and pro-choice bumper stickers, but their hope is that the Darwin fish, placed conspicously on the rear-ends of those small red feminist compacts, will cause everyone on the right side of the pond to think twice before believing in God. Now, if only there were a bumperplate we could display to prove we have a good grasp of calculus, chemistry or chaos theory...

It's clear the NOW feminists are on the right track here, and they haven't forgotten the effective and time-honored tee-shirt "with a message." Of course, NOW markets many shirts, but one in particular is the epitome of enlightened pith: "Hate is Not a Family Value." The NOW feminists, in a rather inventive marketing blitz, have emphasized the word "Not" with a well-placed underline, "for those out there who need to be convinced." Leave it to the feminists to commandeer the full power of the underline, at the expense of all those tiresome idealogues who exhibit emphasis with their words rather than their punctuation.

And the NOW feminists know better than to ignore the infinite possibilities of persuasion through check-writing -- thanks to some innovative new designs, NOW feminists can happily scribble out their DNC donations on checks that sternly demand "Equality for Women." Perhaps, though, the NOW feminists didn't realize that Bill Clinton doesn't actually endorse the checks himself.

Oh sure, they know Bill's not perfect. And NOW feminists don't support him in every criminal act or politically disingenuous behavior. They certainly felt the sting of betrayal when Bill signed the Welfare Reform Act, and weren't afraid to express their pain, with all feminist appropriateness, in the National NOW Times: " some ways it feels like Clinton came around and sweet-talked us in 1992 and then didn't respect us in the morning." But the love, however obsessive and unhealthy, is still there, especially in February, the most romantic of months.

Which leads us to another reason feminists are just really busy right now; over at, they just finished up with the big push to publicize V-day. V-day lines up rather loosely with Valentine's Day, but in a broad feminist stroke, the letter "V" is also designated to represent the last word in the slogan "Stop the Violence." (And if you think it might stand for "Vagina," that's OK, too.)

The dot-com-feminists have a nice, if abbreviated, line of V-day products, including the button that reads "Vagina Friendly" for a mere $6.55, as well as V-day tee-shirts and lapel pins. They're also quite busy promoting the soft-copy edition of Eve Ensler's play, The Vagina Monologues. Gloria Steinem, with the likes of Susan Sarandon and Glenn Close (who else?) gave a benefit performance of the play on Valentine's Day at the Hammerstein Ballroom in Manhattan. With such an intense focus on vaginas, it's really not too surprising that dot-com-feminists, as well as celebrity feminists, wouldn't be all that critical of Clinton's alleged behavior toward Lewinsky -- to the President's credit, these allegations didn't involve vaginas at all! Though, you would think the allegations that President Clinton and Vernon Jordan like to talk "pussy" while playing golf (according to Mike Wallace, anyway) might prick the dot-com-feminists' ears.

But surely one can sympathize with NOW and dot-com feminists, who are faced with the daunting job of counteracting the radical right wing, not to mention violent criminals, with intensive, time-consuming tee-shirt, lapel pin and bumper sticker campaigns, all the while trying to promote the noble vagina. How on earth could these feminists find the time to criticize Bill Clinton? There are, after all, many more words out there to underline.