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Jewish World Review Nov. 5, 1999/ 24 Mar-Cheshvan, 5760

Suzanne Fields

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Al Gore, 'Alpha Male'. Bow wow. -- TIPPER GORE CAN TESTIFY to Al Gore's sexiness, but it takes a feminist to turn him into an alpha male.

That's why he hired Naomi Wolf as a consultant (according to Time magazine). Until now Al has been displaying beta male behavior. Instead of leading the pack he's running with it. That's OK for a veep, but not for a president.

Naomi Wolf is author of three best-selling and controversial feminist books and she has been a consultant for Bill Clinton, suggesting ideas for winning the ladies vote. Dick Morris, who worked with her often in the Clinton campaign, describes Ms. Wolf in his book, "Behind the Oval Office,'' as showing a "remarkably prescient analyses of the social-cultural trends in the country.'' Among those was Bill Clinton's need to feed the American voter's appetite for a father figure rather than the son or buddy image. Fathers are, by their natural roles, authoritative and therefore alpha males. Or, they used to be.

We can presume Al will now speak less about his sensitive caring feminine side than assurances that he knows how to get things done. But the vice president should be wary of heeding Naomi Wolf's advice if her books are indications of the way she thinks today.

-- On preventing teenage pregnancies.

In "Promiscuities: The Secret Struggle for Womanhood,'' the author finds Joycelyn Elders advice about teaching masturbation "circumspect.'' Bill Clinton asked for her resignation immediately, but Naomi Wolf says the former surgeon general did not go far enough: "... we should teach petting -- `sexual gradualism' -- and let our kids know that there are many ways of having sexual pleasure and intimacy that don't involve intercourse.'' (What kind of S.A.T. score from a kid who needs this instruction?)

-- On resolving women's anxieties, insecurities and eating disorders.

She would bring back celebratory rites of passage from girl child into womanhood. She's not talking confirmation, or Bat Mitzvah. In "The Beauty Myth'' she prescribes a New Agey "radical rapprochement with nakedness.''

"Many women have described the sweeping revelation whether in swimming or sunning or Turkish baths or random relaxation -- communal nakedness.''

-- Her penchant for rhetorical hyperbole can be offensive. While telling readers in "The Beauty Myth'' that "nothing justifies comparison with the Holocaust,'' she makes just such comparisons. She likens the girl she was at 13 to a victim at Bergen-Belsen. She compares cosmetic surgeons to the doctors at Auschwitz and women who suffer eating disorders as reflecting political domination by the social order: "We should identify (anorexia) as Jews identify the death camps, as homosexuals identify AIDS: as a disgrace that is not our own, but that of an inhumane social order.''

-- She waxes lyrically and more than a mite foolish in her defense of the Naked Guy on Campus . In "Fire With Fire: The New Female Power and How It Will Change the 21st Century,'' she describes her rage at college authorities and feminists who forced a guy who walked around the Berkeley campus wearing only a hat and sandals, literally, to cover his male genitals:
"He'd offered himself up naked to the female gaze, and doing this taught himself about female experience, for he had made himself more vulnerable to the eye than (clothed) women were. What could be more tender, more honest? Isn't this just what we say we hope men will do, metaphorically -- become naked to us, come to us freely in the responsive skin of their humanity, show us who they are, potent and gentle, shed of costumes and armature?''

Al Gore the Naked Guy is not.

Naomi Wolf "is a valued adviser and she'll remain one,'' Al Gore told Cokie Roberts on "This Week'' on ABC, confirming her salary at $5,000 a month, down from $15,000 a month when she joined the campaign in January. She met with other advisers to plot strategy with the vice president before his New Hampshire debate with Bill Bradley. (No word on who was naked, if anyone was.)

If Ms. Wolf shares Al Gore's spoken disapproval of Bill Clinton's nocturnal adventuring, she seems to have changed her opinion of the president. She voted for Bill Clinton after listening to his pillow-talk tapes with Gennifer Flowers. She liked the way he took his mistress seriously: "The (tapes between Bill and Gennifer) convinced me that Clinton respects women more than do most male politicians.'' With insights like that, how can Al Gore lose?


11/01/99: Gay love
10/28/99: Lose one Dole, lose two
10/26/99: Rebels with a violent cause
10/21/99: Reforming parents, reforming schools
10/19/99: The male mystique -- he shops
10/13/99:The campaign of the Teletubbies
10/08/99: Money is in the eye of the art dealer
10/01/99: Lincoln's 'Almost Chosen People'
09/29/99: Introducing Bill and Hillary Bickerson
09/27/99: Must we wait for the next massacre?
09/24/99: Miss America meets Miss'd America
09/21/99: Princeton's 'professor death'
09/16/99: The Cisneros lesson
09/13/99: No clemency for personal politics
09/08/99: M-M-M is for manhood
08/30/99: Blocking the schoolhouse door
08/27/99: No kick from cocaine
08/23/99: Movies don't kill people
08/19/99: A rude awakening
08/16/99: Dubyah and that 'language' thing
08/09/99: Chauvinist sows -- oink oink

©1999, Suzanne Fields. Distributed by Los Angeles Times Syndicate