Feminists Vs. Chandra

Posted: Jul 19, 2001 12:00 AM
Remember when the feminists marched around Washington in 1992, the vaunted political "Year of the Woman," pledging to ruin the political careers of insensitive male officials who "just don't get it"? Have all of those women now disappeared like Chandra Levy? Despite their manifest disagreements on life and family issues, feminists and social conservatives could be united in their disgust at the way women are treated by lecherous, usually adulterous men in positions in power. But all the old rhetorical fire that feminists used against Clarence Thomas, against Senator Bob Packwood, and even against the late Senator John Tower in their early-'90s heyday, has vanished. Miss Levy, a young woman who was used as a plaything by a married congressman twice her age, is missing, but the feminists have no outrage for the manipulator who lied about the affair and worsened the chances of finding her. Here's a futile gesture: Try finding any disgust -- or any comment of any kind, for that matter -- about Congressman Gary Condit on the National Organization for Women's Web site. They have an "Outrage of the Week," but Condit has yet to win the citation. Remember Barbara Boxer and her fellow feminist members of Congress marching around the Senate demanding Clarence Thomas's Supreme Court nomination be denied? Boxer spent the last few weeks declaring her support for Condit doing his own thing his way and suggested that punishment is "purely up to his district." Now -- finally -- she's demanding that Condit cooperate. What a notion. For two-faced feminism, the harshest example is Texas windbag Molly Ivins, who proclaimed on CNN's "Reliable Sources" the oh-so-compassionate position that Chandra's life wasn't worth much: "I'm sure it is very sad that Ms. Levy is missing, but it's not going to change people's lives." She called the Chandra hubbub a "disgraceful performance" for the press, even a national menace, since "we had the same problem during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Two-thirds of the world's economy collapsed while the press was simply obsessed with Ms. Lewinsky." Comments like these reveal Ivins as a "humorist" not because she's funny, but because she's so ridiculous you can't possibly take her utterances as anything but a joke. In 1991, Ivins found it "depressing" that Republicans would put Anita Hill through the agony of proving her unsubstantiated charges. Back then she didn't fear the world economy would collapse because the press disgracefully obsessed over Anita. Obviously, her feminism has very distinct limits. It drops off dramatically at the Republican party line. On television news, the Big Three networks have shown a similar double standard. Amazingly, they've ignored Condit's Democratic affiliation in 92 percent of their stories, as if this fact is suddenly irrelevant. But they had different rules in 1992, when they pounced immediately on the party ID of Senator Packwood. On Nov. 23, a day after the Washington Post first revealed claims by several women that Packwood plastered them with unwanted touching and kisses, all three broadcast network evening shows ran full stories which identified Packwood as a Republican. This year ABC's World News Tonight took until its seventh story to identify Condit as a Democrat, but Peter Jennings pinned Packwood in his very first report in 1992: "Several women's groups are calling for a full Senate Ethics Committee investigation into the conduct of Republican Senator Bob Packwood of Oregon." NBC reported 12 Condit stories before attaching their first party label, but in 1992, Tom Brokaw announced in his first story: "Oregon's five-term Republican Senator Robert Packwood issued a statement through his office ..." Incredibly, the CBS evening news crew has spiked the Levy story entirely on the weekdays, and their first "Democrat" labels for Condit have just popped up on the weekend news, months into the controversy. But a day after the Post's Packwood expose, reporter Bob Schieffer was announcing, "For Oregon Republican Bob Packwood, the November election was sweet ... But suddenly, it has all gone sour over allegations of sexual harassment." And how things have gone sour. It was one thing when feminists and their media lapdogs threw their whole believe-the-woman, sexual-harassment jihad out the window for Bill Clinton, the man who would keep abortion legal and profitable for them. But now Chandra Levy is missing, and all theorists like Molly Ivins can muster is how ridiculous it is that the value of her life could be compared to really important crusades that "change people's lives," like campaign finance reform. Feminists always have the right to speak. But in all their current apathy and callousness, most feminists have no right to demand they be taken seriously as champions of exploited women.