Previous choices, by male lawmakers, have included “The Candidate,” “Dr. Strangelove” and “Dave.” But [Senator Susan Collins and Representative Jane Harmon], the cheery Maine Republican and tough-as-nails California Democrat, who have worked together on intelligence and homeland security legislation, broke the mold with their choice of the dystopic female buddy movie.Bizarre. Had they seen the movie?
They wanted, they said, to showcase their against-the-odds, across-the-aisle friendship.
[I]n 1991 it was altogether understandable that a movie about sexual violence would be turned into a fable about women’s general social and political progress.I remember that time so well.
It made perfect sense then to conflate sexual violence – in all its verbal, psychic, physical and political forms — with sexual politics. That year, the William Kennedy Smith rape case went to trial, belittling and publicly humiliating the victim; Anita Hill confronted Clarence Thomas and emerged besmirched while he reigned victorious; and Roe v. Wade seemed destined for extinction.Oh, isn't that lovely! Well, Judith Warner's cheery recounting of history has a gigantic glaring omission! What happened was that the Democratic President Bill Clinton got into trouble for sexual harassment, and those who had worked so hard for so many years to bring the subject of sexual violence and sexual harassment to the front of the national consciousness did a turnaround to preserve partisan power. That's why the subject changed, not because the crime statistics improved. There are various problems with "victim feminism," but you've got to face up to the part of your repudiation of it that is about contempt for Paula Jones and interest in preserving the Clinton presidency.
All the talk, nationally, was of sexual harassment, date rape and crimes against women generally...
The memory of that fear and anger and outrage – the sense of its momentous, transformative power – might have lasted longer had the “Thelma and Louise” moment not been followed, soon after, by a repudiation of “victim feminism” that was widespread and totalizing and highly welcome in the larger culture. It’s easy to forget now how vital and urgent the new focus on date rape and sexual harassment seemed, for a brief moment, back then. And yet it was, truly, transformative; the world of “Thelma and Louise,” I think it’s fair now to say, is not the one that we inhabit psychologically or physically today.
Date rape is no longer a contentious concept; it’s a known reality. Rape victims are no longer so thoughtlessly named and shamed by the media as was William Kennedy Smith’s accuser. Rape itself is down – its incidence having dropped 75 percent since the early 1990s, according to the Department of Justice.
These are profound and meaningful changes, and we should celebrate them — and revel in “Thelma and Louise”’s passage into history.