Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

From campus rape to a Laura Bush candidacy for president

One of the cardinal tenets of the feminist movement to ban student professor relationships is that differential power precludes consent.  So in this framework a charge that  a relationship that is power differentiated is a serious one since a relationship based on coercion must represent some form of sexual assault.

Such is why the dankprofessor views the campus changes that have occurred in this area over the last 20 years as  transitioning from romance on campus framework to a rape on campus framework.  Such is indicative of the Andrea Dworkin position that heterosexual intercourse is never consensual. However, few feminists completely buy into the Dworkian take while at the same time maintaining that heterosexuality and heterosexual marriage is based on a patriarchal power dynamic.  Age differentiated relationships are seen as a subset of power differentiated relationships and therefore fall into their rape/sexual assault/non-consensual framework.

The attempt to apply this framework beyond campus scenarios has not been all that successful, e.g., the idea that Clinton forced Monica to engage in “sex”  was not bought by almost all Americans.  Whatever Clinton may have been guilty of,  he was not generally seen as being guilty of rape.  Of course, age differentiated relationships are still stigmatized by many.  Often the young wife of the older powerful man is discarded as a trophy wife or in more traditional terms as a golddigger. It has been noted by some  journalists that an inordinate number of Republican candidates for president have much younger wives, and it is an open question as to how this will affect their campaigns.  For example, is such a pairing acceptable to the the traditional values wing of the Republican party?  Will campus feminists express their ire against such pairings?  Will many Republican women divorce themselves from a Fred Thompson or a Rudy Guliani because they find their wives not to be socially correct and embrace a dual Clinton presidency.

Karen Heller  has an interesting column on candidates and their wives in the Philadelphia Inquirer.  Excerpts from this column follow-

“There are two ways of looking at the field of presidential contenders. On the one hand, there’s the novelty of a woman, an African American and a Latino pursuing the White House.

On the other, presumably the left with a sizable rock involved, there are so many trophy wives.

Many candidates traded in their original models for younger, leaner and leggier partners, often producing a second family of adorable tykes so ideal for photo ops.

I know, a shocking turn of events in Washington.

This does mark progress of some sort.

In the old days, pols rarely married their daughter-aged girlfriends.

That was because they were still wed to their wives, divorce being a greater political liability than adultery.

Fred Thompson’s wife, Jeri, is 40, almost a quarter century his junior. Given to plunging necklines and soaring hems, she will never be mistaken for Laura Bush. The couple have two toddlers, making him one of several AARP diaper dads seeking the White House.

Sen. Chris Dodd, 63, who engaged in a 1985 “waitress sandwich” with Ted Kennedy while their dates were in the ladies room, is another. His second wife, Jackie, is a mere 18 years younger.

As is Cindy McCain, the Arizona Republican’s second wife of 27 years. Not being one to endure a marital vacancy, McCain began courting his second wife while married to his first.

Dennis Kucinich’s third wife, Elizabeth, has late-night pundits, You Tubists and, well, most males salivating. The former “boy mayor” of Cleveland, now 61, has a babe wife less than half his age.

She is car-crackup gorgeous and – for a change from the requisite blondage – a redhead, resembling Julianne Moore, only better and taller.

Should the Ohio Congressman be elected president, Elizabeth Kucinich would become the first first lady with a pierced tongue.

Does a spouse matter in politics? Ask George Bush, whose wife’s approval ratings dwarf his. She’s taken a pivotal role in criticizing Burma’s repressive regime and is now traveling in the Middle East.

Ask Bill Clinton. Or Hillary Clinton, for that matter. Not everyone sees this as a strength when his charisma continues to overshadow. “I think no woman is electable in America, and particularly not Hillary,” novelist Mary Gordon observed, “because she is married to this guy whom everyone is libidinally attached to. I think there is unconscious sexual jealousy of her among women.


Hold on here for a moment.  Given that Laura Bush is way more popular than her husband, and given that George is in the same position as Bill Clinton in being ineligible to run for president, might Laura consider doing the same thing as Hillary and throw her hat into the presidential candicacy ring?  Then voters will have a clear choice- a Bush presidency versus a Clinton presidency.

If you wish, you can write to me directly at dankprofessor@msn.com
Guest commentaries should also be submitted for consideration to the same email address.

Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessor.

© Copyright 2007

October 24, 2007 - Posted by | consensual relationships, feminism, higher education, Laura Bush, political correctness, trophy wives


  1. Hi Dank Professor.

    Regarding this:

    Such is indicative of the Andrea Dworkin position that heterosexual intercourse is never consensual.

    Dworkin never wrote or said that, and please cite a direct source, written by Andrea Dworkin herself, that states otherwise.

    Please also see this:

    Comment by Julian | October 26, 2007 | Reply

  2. Re my statement that Andrea Dworkin’s position is that heterosexual intercourse is never consensual. Note I did not refer to a specific statement, but rather to her overall position on this. In order to determine the correctness of my statement, I asked Daphne Patai
    to provide her opinion on this matter. Daphne Patai has written on the work of Dworkin and her often co-writer, Catherine Mackinnon. In addition, Daphne has a forthcoming book which consists of her previously published essays, “What Price Utopia? Essays on Ideological Policing, Feminism, and Academic Affairs,” Rowman & Littlefield, 2008 and which contains material relevant to the question under consideration. Following is a response from Daphne for feedback on the Dworkin position

    > Remember, it’s Dworkin who
    > is famous for one-liners e.g., that romance “is rape embellished with
    > meaningful looks” (Dworkin in Letters from a War-Zone: Writings 1976-1989,
    > published in 1989) p. 14. In the same book, Dworkin wrote: “All the
    > simple and complex crimes of violence are also acts of sex. Under male
    > domination, there is no phenomenological division between sex and
    > violence”
    > (p. 179).
    > Also, in Catharine A. MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin, editors, In Harm’s
    > Way:
    > The Pornograpy Civil Rights Hearings. Cambridge, M: Harvard University
    > Press, 1997, Dworkin
    > has an autobiog. essay called “Suffering and Silence,”
    > in which she writes, p. 34, about rapists or pimps or buyers:
    > “He always has a revered principle on which to hang his prick: free speech
    > or free sex in the free market.” and: “He’s a citizen; she’s a cunt.”
    > 34) — this is the Mack-Dworkin line on liberal principles.
    > There are also these quotes from Dworkin’s book Intercourse (New York: The
    > Free press, 1987).
    > p. 167 “intercourse is political dominance”
    > p. 122 “There is never a real privacy of the body that can coexist with
    > intercourse: with being entered. The vagina itself is muscled and the
    > muscles have to be pushed apart. The thrusting is persistent invasion.
    > She
    > is opened up, split down the center. She is occupied-physically,
    > internally,
    > in her privacy.” . “Violation is a synonym for intercourse.”
    > p. 133 “Physically, the woman in intercourse is a space inhabited, a
    > literal
    > territory occupied literally: occupied even if there has been no
    > resistance,
    > no force; even if the occupied person said yes please, yes hurry, yes
    > more.”
    > p. 134 “Women do not just lie about orgasm, faking it or saying it is not
    > important. Women lie about life by not demanding to understand the meaning
    > of entry, penetration, occupation, having boundaries crossed over, having
    > lesser privacy. ” . “Especially we are supposed to be loyal to the male
    > meanings of intercourse, . . . Male sexual discourse on the meaning of
    > intercourse becomes our language. . . . it is the only language we speak”
    > ”
    > 134 – -so how can SHE write??)
    > p. 137 ” . . . intercourse itself is immune to reform. In it, female is
    > bottom, stigmatized. Intercourse remains a means or the means of
    > physiologically making a woman inferior.” (137)
    > p. 194 her last paragraph returns to same imagery: “Perhaps incestuous
    > rape
    > is becoming a central paradigm for intercourse in our time.” Her last
    > phrase: “. . . and men, who are, after all, just family, are supposed to
    > slice us up the middle, leaving us in parts on the bed.”
    > NOTE: I also have a long interview in a British journal in which Dworkin
    > discusses the “lie” that she considers all intercourse rape. (Again, an
    > interview I only found this year) So, like MacKinnon,, she denies the
    > simple
    > statement while saying the very same thing in many different ways. And,
    > like
    > MacK, she sees this as the work of the pornography folks — and can’t
    > distinguish between them and feminists who disagree with her.
    > See New Statesman & Society (London, England)
    > 21 April 1995 [British novelist] Michael Moorcock talks to Andrea
    > Dworkin.
    > D

    Comment by dankprofessor | October 27, 2007 | Reply

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