Kathleen Parker

When Freud asked "What does woman want?" he was justifiably stumped.

Let me take a stab: Women want what women want when they want it. Exactly their way, to sum up. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

As evidence we submit Arnold Schwarzenegger. Yes, Schwarzenegger the muscle-man movie star who may or may not have had group sex in the '70s, who may or may not have groped women, who may or may not have had an extramarital affair. (And who, as a candidate for California governor, when and if the recall election is held, has a woman problem.)

Among the better-known stories, by now familiar, Schwarzenegger told Oui magazine in 1977 that he had group sex with a woman and several other body builders in a Gold's gym. When the story was recirculated recently, Schwarzenegger claimed he made it up.

"Did I say crazy things? You are absolutely correct. It was the '70s, and we promoted bodybuilding," he told The New York Times. "We tried to get attention and headlines and I would say things that many times were exaggerated and untrue, just to get the headlines. But the fact of the matter is, you've got to forget about the '70s. I was a different person then."

So were we all. Point accepted. There ought to be a statute of limitations on the crime of acting stupid while young. For the sake of discussion, let's stipulate that what anyone did in the '70s short of a capital crime is now forgiven.

That still doesn't solve Schwarzenegger's woman problem, as he made some of his less-attractive remarks about women as recently as this summer. In a July interview with Entertainment Weekly about his new movie, "Terminator 3," Schwarzenegger said the movie was fun: "How many times do you get away with taking a woman and burying her face in a toilet bowl?"

Mmmm, not very often, I'd guess, especially when you're running for governor.

Indeed, a recent Field Poll found that Schwarzenegger is trailing Lt. Gov. Cruz M. Bustamante, a Democrat, by 13 points among women voters. Meanwhile, some women's groups, including the Feminist Majority Foundation, have launched campaigns to thwart Schwarzenegger.

On Sunday, a women's peace group that calls itself CodePink, a pink-painted pinkie poke at the Bush administration's color-coded terror alert system, protested outside the California Republican Party's Fall Convention where Schwarzenegger was meeting. They brought signs and banners reading "Groper for Governor" and "Sexual Misconduct is not a Family Value."

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
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