Arnold for governor: Readers respond to "Would You Let Your Sister Vote for This Man?" by Tim Grieve.

By Salon Staff

Published September 3, 2003 8:54PM (EDT)

[Read the story.]

Tim Grieve's revealing article about Arnold Schwarzenegger's disturbing history of misogynist gender and sexual politics certainly raises serious questions about the current California gubernatorial candidate's moral qualifications to serve in public office.

But I'm equally disturbed by the tongue-in-cheek (or is it foot-in-mouth?) headline for the article. It implies that a brother is responsible for controlling and policing his female siblings, as if my sister isn't smart enough or independent enough to make her own informed judgment.

Perhaps Grieve should reread the wonderful book by Deborah Tannen that he quotes in his article, "You Just Don't Understand," and then correct the latent paternalism and misogyny of his own rhetoric.

-- Stephen Tompkins

It's amazing to me that the Republicans and mainstream media don't have the same outrage and need to inform the public about Arnold's "deviant character" as they did about Bill Clinton. After all, most of the evidence about Bill Clinton was mere accusations -- not multiple articles with direct quotes right from the candidate's mouth about his deviant behavior and attitudes towards women. I guess "character" has a different meaning today than then. The hypocrisy is nauseating!

-- Lois McCarthy

I'm a 58-year-old woman. I can be as crude as anyone in an appropriate situation, and I do not care at all what consenting adults choose to do with each other. But the breast-grabbing stories about Arnold are very disturbing. There are too many reported incidents, and the circumstances sound like his (conscious or subconscious) intent is to humiliate, shame and dominate the women involved.

I have lived for 58 years with our national blindness and amnesia regarding rape, battering, prejudice, social and economic oppression of women. I hear about it every day in a million ways in the personal stories of women of every age; it is hard for women even to remain aware of the insidious force of sexism. No man with the crude willingnes that Schwarzenegger's behavior shows to exploit this status quo could possibly serve women's interests as a public servant.

Please, women of California, say no at the polls to this man's grab for power, before he can grab any breasts in the Statehouse.

-- Tore Thorsen

Uh, the title of this article was ironic, right? Since, ya know, it's a little sexist to tell your sister whom to vote for. It's also pretty ironic to smear Schwarzenegger for his sexist remarks and alleged groping -- isn't this the same publication that fully supported Bill Clinton, alleged sexual harasser of a number of women, and, oh yeah, former great president?

C'mon, Salon. Who cares if Arnold makes off-color (yet amusing) remarks? The real issue is whether his platform is the right one for California. Grieve's article didn't even begin to address that question.

-- Shelley Butcher

On my desk at home I have a cartoon drawn by Jeff McNally about the time Anita Hill and Gloria Steinem came out in support of President Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. In the cartoon, they are dressed as Playboy Bunnies, draped around a very smug-looking Bill Clinton in a Hugh Heffner robe and pipe. In the caption, Steinem says: "Its not him -- its his hunky stud-muffin domestic agenda."

Look, I'm a Democrat. I liked Clinton the president. I voted for him twice, and given the choice between him and Dubya, I'd vote for him again in a heartbeat. However, when it comes to women, that man was, and always will be, a pig. The reason I kept that cartoon was it neatly summarized the hypocrisy of the left on Clinton. The fact that these two paragons of left-wing sexual Puritanism came out and said he really didn't do anything wrong in the Lewinsky affair really steamed me. If Hill and Steinem thought making an off-color joke in mixed company about finding a pubic hair in a soda was enough to keep Clarence Thomas off the Supreme Court, then they should have also found getting a blow job in the Oval Office and lying about it to a grand jury equally objectionable.

Reading your disapproving article about Arnold Schwarzenegger's alleged sex life brought this all back again. So Arnold did drugs and had mildly kinky consensual premarital sex 25 years ago when he was a private citizen. It's not like he was already elected governor and was using his state trooper bodyguards to get women ... So he uses crude terms to discuss sex. Not only do guys in locker rooms say stuff like that, but I've heard quite a few college-educated women talk like that, too. I've even read a lot of that type of language in Salon Magazine. So he may cheat on his wife -- but, gee, I seem to remember your editorial policy during the Lewinsky scandal was if Bill was cheating on Hillary, then that's between Bill and Hillary. If so, then why aren't Arnold's alleged infidelities only a matter between him and Maria Shriver?

It is pretty clear that your magazine does not like Arnold because 1) he's a Republican, 2) he looks like a shoo-in to be elected, 3) he doesn't have many qualifications, and 4) the whole recall election is a crock anyway. All of these are valid points and I think you should focus on them rather then trying to make his sex life an issue. If it wasn't fair for the Right to do it to Clinton, then you shouldn't use that type of tactic either.

-- Jay Thompson

I think it's important to air as much "public" information about any potential gubernatorial candidate as possible to further the selection process. And while I personally wouldn't vote for the Arnold, for reasons unrelated to the import of this Salon article, I do think it is fair to point out where the article failed to take into account how Arnold's "star power" actually goes against the misogynist portrayal by his detractors.

All along, Arnold has influenced the casting of some of Hollywood's strongest female archetypes to play opposite him: "Conan, the Destroyer" had the very Amazonian international diva, Grace Jones, as his nemesis; and "Total Recall" cast Sharon Stone against him. Jamie Lee Curtis in "True Lies," the amazing Linda Hamilton in two of the three "Terminator" movies, Mercedes Ruehl in "The Last Action Hero" and several others are worthy of note. Take another look at whom he chose to marry, another very strong woman.

So, in other words, Arnold's not afraid of, and rather likes, strong women. That's what I get out of the actual choices he's made, as opposed to the "quotes" which, as anyone who's ever dealt with the press knows, are often skewed for individual agendas. Stella Adler (one of the great acting teachers) said that an actor's talent lies in his choices; choices reveal character. If the women Arnold has chosen to bump up against (as it were) are any indication, then the voting women of California have nothing to worry about.

-- Radames Pera

I am shocked -- utterly shocked -- to hear that older men from a more macho upbringing don't respect women. Wow, alert the media!

Though I would always lean toward the more feminist candidate (be they XX or XY), I also hope the media will avoid Clintonizing a candidate simply because they once had "wacky" sex.

Who Ah-nuld screws (and how) is his own business. How he treats his constituents is another matter. But I doubt the American media will be able to keep that distinction clear. I can only hope Salon will.

-- Kim Tillbury

With respect to Arnold's lewd track record, wasn't this the kind of behavior that, a few years ago, the Republicans self-righteously told us that they could not morally tolerate, in even the smallest iota, from any executive? I guess now we know which party really is the party of moral relativists.

-- Jim Martino

Salon Staff

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