What are women for? JFK Edition

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Tom Van Dyke

Tom Van Dyke, businessman, musician, bon vivant and game-show champ (The Joker's Wild, and Win Ben Stein's Money), knows lots of stuff, although not quite everything yet. A past inactive to The American Spectator Online, the late great Reform Club blog, and currently on religion and the American Founding at American Creation, TVD continues to write on matters of both great and small importance from his ranch type style tract house high on a hill above Los Angeles.

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17 Responses

  1. Avatar Kelly says:

    Thank you for this.

    The notion of “consent” becomes problematic when we take sex out of the nonexistent bubble in which we usually pretend it takes place and acknowledge that it actually happens between adults frequently related to each other by some kind of power dynamic–whether explicit and external (financial, legal, physical) or more subtle, internalized forms of power (social, cultural, religious).

    If a woman doesn’t have legitimate alternatives to saying yes to sex, that “yes” doesn’t really count.  The prostitute with a paying customer, the professor and his student, the police officer and his prisoner, the employer and his uneducated, single-mother employee, the 220-pound linebacker and his 110-pound girlfriend, the abusive husband and his battered wife, the President of the United States and a 19-year-old graduate of Miss Porter’s School–the degree to which the women in these scenarios believe the repercussions of saying no (which conventional wisdom tells us could be and frequently is violent rape or even murder) are worse than consenting to sex they don’t really want  is the degree to which consent can be said to exist between the couple.  Things become even murkier when we acknowledge that it is an unusual woman who manages to avoid Western culture’s message that, basically, her worth as a human being is directly related to how badly men want to fuck her.

    Mutual respect between sexual partners is essential to ensure that consent is legitimate; unfortunately, it seems that men who know that they can and should respect a woman they desire sexually are few and far between.Report

    • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Kelly says:

      Yes, Kelly, that’s my view exactly.  Would JFK lose votes for this?  Some, but probably only in the primary.

       Report

    • Avatar sonmi451 in reply to Kelly says:

      Great points, but I have a small bone to pick about this:

      the 220-pound linebacker and his 110-pound girlfriend

      Unless we know for sure that the girlfriend feels physically-threatened by her linebacker boyfriend, I think it’s unfair to put that with the other example. Being big, or even a lot bigger than your sexual partner does not automatically makes someone an aggressor.Report

      • Avatar Kelly in reply to sonmi451 says:

        I see your point, although I don’t think the smaller partner would necessarily have to be physically threatened in the heat of the moment to render his/her ability to consent questionable.  I would suggest that in some situations, physical intimidation or just the perception of a physical threat (even if none actually exists) can be enough to make consent impossible.  If someone points a gun at my face and demands my wallet, does the fact that the gun isn’t loaded and couldn’t actually do much harm to me if the robber pulled the trigger mean that I gave my wallet up of my own free will?

        I think in a situation where one sexual partner is much bigger/stronger than another, it is the moral responsibility of the stronger partner (assuming s/he cares about making sure a particular sex act is consensual) to ensure that the weaker one knows there will be no negative repercussions for saying no–in other words, show that the gun is very definitely unloaded.

        And again, if we look at things outside of the imaginary bubble, I think we have to acknowledge the fact that on any given day, there’s at least one major news story about some woman being raped and/or kidnapped and/or tortured and/or murdered by a man (frequently a man who is her sexual partner).  The story of “Men Are Dangerous to Women” is a pretty common narrative in our culture, and I think it’s unfair to women to think they could or should always leave it at the threshold of the bedroom door. (Not that men are never the victims of physical abuse at the hands of women–it’s just that that story isn’t the one our culture makes sure we all learn.)Report

  2. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    I don’t think we should shrug off sexual dishonesty in our political leaders. I think they should be judged, and their characters judged, like anyone else – but with an extra helping of scorn.Report

  3. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    “but these days, very little is shocking.”

    Oh, this is still shocking.Report

  4. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    JFK has never been credited, if that’s the word, for his appalling presidency.   He led the nation as close to the nuclear abyss as we’ve ever been (though we got pretty effing close in the Yom Kippur War) and as close as we’re ever likely to get.  JFK and RFK made a dog’s dinner of their mandates.   Had JFK not been assassinated, he would have gone down as one of the very worst American presidents.   It was Kennedy who played with fire in South Vietnam and set the stage for a huge ramp-up of the Cold War everywhere.   His domestic policies were a botch, his foreign policies even worse.

    JFK craved power and glory as few men ever have, before or since.   Few presidents have ever been so pliable or so badly advised.   He was a thoroughly disgusting man, rotten to his core, a two-bit mafioso would exhibit more honor and decency.

    JFK’s father once famously said “Image is reality” and I suppose that’s how it’s turned out over the years.   Every city now has a JFK Street or Boulevard or Airport.   But for those of us who remember his true legacy, the Vietnam War, image was not reality and never will be.   Like his amoral father who took Gloria Swanson for a mistress, JFK understood two things well enough:  the allure of power and the triumph of image over substance.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to BlaiseP says:

      Yeah, JFK was a case study in bad leadership (he also was a jagoff).  He learned nothing from his mistakes, and that’s the worst kind of President you can have.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to BlaiseP says:

      Kennedy, James Dean, Jim Morrison, Marilyn Monroe…

      We have a tendency to assume genius to the famous that die young, regardless the proof of it.

      I am a firm believer that most of these people that we now form cults around we would have long ago discarded if not for their premature exits.Report

  5. Avatar BradK says:

    Nothing cleanses away sin like martyrdom.  And a supportive press.Report