By Craig Hardegree | 

At the heart of one of the most reprehensible and savage aspects of Sharia Law is a basic fundamental concept: it’s all the woman’s fault. It’s a testosterone-absolving macho-excusing male-exonerating belief which Sharia holds in common with Evangelical Law. And Vatican Law. And Jewish Law.

It’s why a young Muslim girl who is gang raped must be publicly flogged or caned until she bleeds through her clothes and is left with permanent scarring — it’s her fault that she caused the poor weak men to rape her. Had she been more properly covered, they wouldn’t have been enticed by her wily womanly wares; had she been in the constant company of an adult male relative, they wouldn’t have had the opportunity to assault her. It’s all her fault.

It’s why Jewish Levitical Law — cherry-picked portions of which also inform Evangelical Law — requires that a priest’s daughter who becomes a whore must be burned to death, without any prescribed punishment for the men whose sexual escapades with her resulted in her unfortunate label.

It’s why society is skeptical of an allegation of rape by a young lady leaving a bar after showing cleavage and shaking booty — maybe she “asked for it.”

It’s why politicians who want to ban abortions except in the case of rape, want to make sure the law distinguishes between “legitimate rape” and some other type of rape that is the woman’s own fault.

The unequal standards begin at an early age in our society. A young lady in high school not part of the “in” crowd seeks to gain acceptance by being more accessible to popular guys on the football team. The guys end up high-fiving, hootin’ and hollering about another notch on their belts, while the young girl becomes known as a “slut,” ridiculed and demeaned by both the guys whose conduct created her reputation and the “good” girls whose social standing insulated their escapades from the same level of scrutiny and ridicule.

In the Eighties we had a spate of women whose lives were ruined by their entanglement with powerful men.

Jessica Hahn was the young church girl associated with TV evangelist Jim Bakker. After a time of humiliation for both, she turned to a porn career, he returned to TV ministry.

Donna Rice accompanied Gary Hart to Bimini. She did end up with a successful career, running her own nonprofit advocating for a safer internet. But her name is forever associated with her shame, while Hart is the US Ambassador to Ireland.

And it doesn’t even have to involve sex. Fawn Hall was Oliver North’s secretary. Together they destroyed Iran-Contra evidence, but today she leads a quiet life off the radar, post-rehab for drug addiction, while North enjoys success and respect.

Today’s Judeo-Christian law and enlightened American society would never stand for the public flogging of a woman. But in our primitive Neanderthalish thinking, we are no less savage in our destruction of women than the backward societies who subject them to corporal punishment and we are no less hypocritical in our unequal application of “moral standards,” than the savages who commit “honor” killings of women who have “defiled” the “honor” of men by lying with menfolk whose own sexual escapades are ignored or applauded.

I don’t know Rosario Dawson. Never heard of her until yesterday. Apparently she’s an actress who is a huge outspoken Bernie supporter. On Saturday as she introduced Bernie at a Delaware rally, she complained about what she feels is bullying by some of Clinton’s supporters against some of Bernie’s female supporters. She then added, “I’m with Monica Lewinsky on this — bullying is bad.”

Much of the attention on this incident has focused on Bernie’s failure on the Sunday talk shows to condemn Dawson for this offense, without really specifying the offense. But just in the context of comments I’ve read, most see this as an obvious affront to Hillary.

Maybe. But Hillary was a completely blameless victim those long years ago. She wasn’t subsequently shamed into oblivion. She didn’t have a part in the affair. She has no reason to hang her head.

Penitent Magdalene by Antonio Ciseri. 1864. Oil on canvas.

The real offense here is to Lewinsky in particular and all women in general. This is about more than the political horse race and whether Bernie should have made a more forceful statement. This is about us. About our twisted and perverted moral values that allowed the female half of the consensual affair to be the butt of jokes and cause of smirks and subject of smears, while we collectively rehabilitated the character of the macho half of the consensual affair, cheering him to ever greater heights, rewriting his legacy.

There are thousands of anti-bullying groups and spokespeople, many much better known for championing this issue than Lewinsky. Dawson invoked her name purely in a sideways attempt to sully Hillary with it.

But the fact that we all understood what she was doing, is just as problematic. All through this campaign, Bill Clinton’s name has been brought up by both Hillary supporters and Bernie supporters in debates over the economy or jobs or NAFTA or the crime bill. His name is easily invoked for substantive argument without also evoking salacious memories of a sex scandal. As a society, we long ago moved on from associating his name exclusively with sex.

But Lewinsky is still saddled with the ridicule and shame. All the flaws and sins and shortcomings of Clinton; and Newt who led the impeachment while having his own affair; and Livingston who resigned over his own affair after replacing Newt; and Ken Starr and Bob Barr who sadistically exploited her most intimate and private thoughts in their single-minded quest to destroy Clinton and who allowed “evidence” they subpoenaed to end up in a humiliating online auction.

All of this was put on Lewinsky, the sin-eater for whole rotten mess.

Bill Clinton should be ashamed for never fully shouldering half the responsibility, choosing rather to continue leaving the impression that she laid it all out in front of him “like a buffet” [her words], leaving him powerless to resist. Rosario Dawson should be ashamed. Bernie should be ashamed.

But mostly, we all should be ashamed.


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