National Commentary

A Feminist Reckoning

The latest revelations about NBC’s Matt Lauer underscore the most serious nature of what these sexual abuse scandals are about. Without knowing of Lauer’s sexual transgressions, Hillary Clinton in her recently published election post-mortem memoir, “What Happened?”, zeroed in on Lauer for his treacherous role in undermining her candidacy.

It centered on the debate that Lauer moderated on Sept. 7, 2016 aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Intrepid that was supposed to focus on the role of the Commander in Chief. She wrote about how Lauer undercut her discourse by changing the focus to her emails, and by then giving Donald Trump a free pass. She called Lauer’s handling of the debate “a pointless ambush” of her, and part of what she lamented on “the decline of serious reporting on policy” that “has been going on for awhile, but got much worse in 2016.”

So what is the relationship between Lauer and Trump? Both are up to their eyeballs in a history of sexual abuse. Who knows how far this goes? In the Lauer case, all that came out in the first day this week was that his problems began in Sochi, Russia, during the 2014 Winter Olympics.

There is a self-evident association with the British agent Steele’s explosive report on Trump’s “golden shower” and related behaviors in a Moscow hotel room during the Miss Universe pageant there in 2011, a report that has not been discredited.

Is Lauer, like Trump, compromised by Russian blackmail threats? It is well known in the intelligence “spy-counterspy” world that the Russians love to use their “honeypot” traps to compromise people and are quite expert at it.

Serious journalists, especially women, are having a hard time these days keeping straight faces in the wake of the on-going tsunami of exposes and firings of older men for their abusive transgressions with women. They’re saying a “reckoning” is going on.

These males grew up in an era of a massive 1970s cultural counter-revolution against a resurgent feminist movement that exploded in the context of the civil rights and anti-war movements of the 1960s.

The ferment of that era revived the feminist movement from earlier in the century that had achieved suffrage (the vote) for women after decades of struggle.

Since the 1920s, the first wave of a cultural war against women had made great strides, planting them back into the kitchen and virtual slavery to men. The women in the TV sitcoms of the 1950s were a far cry from the strident women suffragists who’d achieved such gains for women before.

In the context of the 1960s civil rights and anti-war movements, the women’s fight for equality against male chauvinism and patriarchy erupted again with even more fury than earlier.

When it was first published in 1970, Shulamith Firestone’s explosive book, “The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for the Feminist Revolution,” was seen as a clarion call for the second wave of the feminist revolution in the U.S. The work cast the fight for women’s equality in the context of a Marxist-like class warfare, and Firestone’s activism with an array of radical women’s groups.

The likes of J. Edgar Hoover and CIA covert operatives took on feminism as if it were a communist threat back then with another full-court press that extended into the corridors of political and social power.

The rise of the pornography industry, as one case, was a deliberate attempt to stem the influence of feminism in that era, as the entire so-called “sexual revolution” was aimed at returning women to a subservient role to men, even worse than before. A new immorality was shaped based on rape and abuse.

Women consolidated many gains in terms of legal protections and at least lip service recognition of an improved role in society. But they did not lose their connection to a new identity based on dignity and full equality. So, as women made modest gains in the culture, they kept notes on the men ahead of them who still operated in the immoral universe of the 1970s.

Now, this reckoning not only scandalizes these sorry men, but also exposes the deep-laid espionage elements of the whole mess.


Nicholas Benton may be emailed at