Bill Clinton and the "Gender Gap"

Robert Sheaffer

We hear a great deal of pious talk about the so-called "gender gap" in favor of Bill Clinton in the fall election. Simply put, this means that polls show that women are far more likely to vote for Clinton than are men. Of course, the Politically Correct explanation for this is that Clinton "cares more" about the needs and concerns of women. This, it is usually explained with great sanctimoniousness, is proof of Clinton's superior virtue, since women are the Moral Sex, and it means that the opposing candidate had better fall all over himself to apologize for the sins of his patriarchal behavior. But that view is difficult to defend, given the fact of Clinton's extreme womanizing, and the serious charges against him concerning sexual harassment (in other cases, the mere fact of the charge is itself enough to cast the accused into eternal damnation - for example, Robert Packwood and Clarence Thomas.) That Clinton habitually lies when faced with a problem, and cheats on his wife at every opportunity, can no longer be seriously questioned. See any of the new Clinton expose books that have recently come out: Partners in Power, Blood Sport, Primary Colors, Passion and Betrayal, Unlimited Access.

However, there is another factor that is almost never mentioned: Bill Clinton is the sexy Bad Boy, an attractive rogue, and women tend to fall, and fall hard, for such men. By now the phenomenon of the sexy Bad Boy vs. the sexless Nice Guy is so well-known that it scarcely needs to be demonstrated. Countless examples might be cited: we'll look at just a few:

A feature article in Woman's Own Magazine (April, 1995) writes of "The Lure of the Bad Boy," explaining that "Women insist that they prefer the hand-holding sensitive type, but that's not what really turns us on." Do they mean to suggest (gasp!) that men should not "Believe the Women?"

A girl character in Lynda Barry's cartoon Marlys explains, "this thing happens when guys are nice. When guys are nice, your feelings can just sort of stop" (June 28, 1990).

The tabloid National Enquirer, which boasts of the largest circulation of any newspaper in America, reported that "Miss America Carolyn Snapp has gone back to the boyfriend who brutally beat her and threatened to kill her. What's more, she says she's going to marry him!" (Feb. 18, 1992).

When O.J. Simpson was in jail awaiting trial, the tabloid The Star reported that Simpson "gets so much mail from lovesick women wanting to have his babies that guards have had to stockpile the steamy letters in an empty jail cell next to his... many are accompanied with photographs of the writer in the nude." (May 2, 1995). After his acquittal, the National Enquirer reported that Simpson is "frolicking with one gorgeous gal after another at his Brentwood mansion, say insiders - sometimes taking on two admiring beauties at a time. Women are so wowed by his outlaw celebrity that they actually camp out on the lawn in front of his house until he lets them in" (April 30, 1996).

Clearly, just because a man is highly popular with women does not indicate he is virtuous; if anything, it suggests that he likely isn't.
The Russian ultra-nationalist and all-around Bad Boy Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the world's last best hope for starting World War III, said "At a sexually active age, women vote for me. And women in - what do you call it, menopause? Women in menopause vote for Yeltsin" (Newsweek, June 17, 1996, p. 27). Surely the "gender gap" benefiting Zhirinovsky is not due to him espousing any pro-feminist position: his platform is explicitly anti-semitic, and advocates Russia invading its neighboring Moslem countries.

For an extreme, even morbid, example of Bad-Boy-lust, read the astonishing Love Letters to Hitler (New York Times, May 25, 1995, p. A6). "My beloved Fuhrer," they begin, or "My darling sugar-sweet Adolf," "Dear Adi," etc.

Does anyone still want to maintain that a politician's ability to infatuate female voters is necessarily a sign of his personal integrity, or of promoting wise policies? Clearly it is not. Rather, it seems that a virile but misbehaving man, an attractive rogue, will be able to sway womens' emotions far more readily than mens'. Perhaps this is what the Founding Fathers feared when they restricted the vote to men.

Meanwhile, women can today be heard complaining that Dole is "unexciting" and "too old," as if they would choose a President the same way they choose a lover. Perhaps that is the problem: too many of them do, and the result is the "Gender Gap" that the media invariably portrays as a Republican shortcoming. But is it? Perhaps to be on the male side of the Gender Gap, no matter how unfortunate, is really a badge of integrity? While I would surely not call Bob Dole an ideal candidate, I would certainly prefer an experienced leader whose integrity I think I can trust, and whose positions I can at least understand, over any slick and prevaricating rogue, no matter how attractive. And if the polls are accurate, most men agree with my reasoning on this issue.

The Bad Boy rock musician Slash once boasted, "Not being sexist or anything, it's amazing how much abuse girls will take" (Parade Magazine, Dec. 6, 1992, p. 2). If Bill Clinton is re- elected, it will be primarily on the votes of women, and if this happens it will constitute dramatic validation of Slash's axiom, given that everyone knows Clinton routinely does things that Nice Guys are never supposed to. Savvy politicians will not fail to observe that to be an attractive rogue is the key to political success in today's Brave New Feminist World, and in future races we can expect to see more slick rogues, in both parties. The consequences to the Republic will be sad, indeed, as each candidate competes not to propose effective solutions to problems, but to out-bluster, out-swindle, and out-swagger his opponent.

My advice to Bob Dole? Don't become more accomodating to feminism, as you have tried in recent weeks, but instead work on becoming more virile. The feminist-accepting, sensitive man is a sure loser. Speak more forcefully, and show no indecision or second thoughts about your policies. Talk about how you're going to "kick butt" when you get to the White House. Perhaps you can appear to be just enough of a tough and savvy guy to close the Gender Gap enough to get into the White House, where you will then have four years to try to govern with integrity, before it is necessary to don the mask of the rogue once again.

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