We've entered the porn phase of feminism. You could call it the third stage. Those of the first stage, led by Susan B. Anthony and the suffragettes, wore white to proclaim their virtue and show themselves as morally superior to men who opposed them. They won the vote in 1920, despite then-President Woodrow Wilson's frown.
The second stage arrived in the 1960s, when Betty Friedan's book, "The Feminine Mystique," appealed to middle-class mothers confined to homes she described as "comfortable concentration camps." She said such women could be more profitably and psychologically rewarded in the workplace as equals to men. Second-stage feminists are the grandmothers of the #MeToo movement.
Now we have porn feminism, led by default by Stormy Daniels, who knows how to make it through media attention, performance onstage and offstage, and fame and fortune making fun of the president of the United States. Her act is sizzling, self-serving and salacious. She's determined to set a new less virtuous, more aggressive sexual standard for women. No victims need apply.
"Like Trump, Daniels knows that the range of acceptable public and private behavior is ever-widening in this country, and like him she was once a surprise candidate on the Republican ticket, exploring a run for U.S. senator from Louisiana in 2009," writes Caitlin Flanagan in The Atlantic magazine. If his campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again," was an asset, she says, Daniels' current tour is more vulgar, more opportunistic: "Make America Horny Again."
She's come a long way, baby, and so has the culture.
Voters knew who Donald Trump was when they elected him, a philanderer among the high rollers of high society, where the perks of money and fame come with sexual benefits. Daniels sees herself as a clever businesswoman determined to control her brand in the sex industry much like Trump controls his on skyscraper buildings.
There's certainly nothing new about a philandering president and a public affair. What is new is the latest perception of sexual behavior both public and private, and how presidential behavior comes wrapped in double standards, depending on politics.
Former President John F. Kennedy, with his ultra-cool demeanor, was no kinder to Jackie Kennedy and no less public with his assorted mistresses than President Trump is with Melania Trump and his alleged mistresses. But the press studiously protected JFK, and the public worshipped his image as a reprise of Camelot. Marilyn Monroe, whose semi-nude body adorned the first Playboy magazine cover, shocking everybody, sang "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" to President Kennedy at a party in Madison Square Garden, wearing a skintight flesh-colored dress before an adoring crowd. Both the president and his brother Bobby Kennedy were said to be sharing the latest blond bombshell. The story, shocking or not, only added to the Kennedy Hollywood/Washington glamor. (Later we learned that JFK shared another mistress with a mafia don.)
As governor of Arkansas, the bad boy with charm Bill Clinton invited his alleged mistress Gennifer Flowers, a torch singer, to entertain at the governor's mansion in Little Rock. Their secret was outed when he ran for president, and the exposure hurt her, not him. He was impeached for lying about oral sex with Monica Lewinsky, a White House intern half his age. But he had "positive political instincts," something his wife, Hillary Clinton, never did. In Washington, that's what counts.
Hillary Clinton absorbed public anger that should have been directed at her husband. But despite several accusations by reputable women who credibly claimed harassment, and even rape, Bill Clinton's brazen sexual appetites never overwhelmed his political image. Instead, Hillary Clinton became the stereotypical school marm, an image she extended with her attacks on "deplorables," which probably cost her a return to the White House, even as Bubba continued to bask in public tolerance for his free spirit.
President Trump gets no points for his free spirit. Flanagan calls him "the first truly shameless president, the first porn president." Surely, Jack Kennedy and Bill Clinton were shameless enough. They were what you could call soft-core porn presidents, more acceptably rakish. But their fans, including the indulgent liberal press, withheld judgment of their reckless exploits. But the times, they have changed.
Now a female porn star aggressively calls the shots. Stormy Daniels made a surprise appearance on "Saturday Night Live," joining a star-studded anti-Trump cast. The porn star played herself in a bright red dress, winning raucous cheers when she warned the president, played by Alec Baldwin, that it makes no difference whether he believes in climate change. All he needs to know is that "A storm's a-coming, baby." Bob Dylan's earlier lyrics told us that "You don't need a weather man/ To know which way the wind blows." What we can see for ourselves is that it's a brisk wind, and rising.
Write to Suzanne Fields at [email protected] Suzanne Fields is currently working on a book that will revisit John Milton's "Paradise Lost." To find out more about Suzanne Fields and read her past columns, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.