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Words have meanings.

In the hyped-up atmosphere of the presidential campaign season, words are being used as political weapons—apparently assuming the audience is ignorant.

I want to change that, particularly with regard to words like “sexist” and “feminist” and “enabler” and “abuse.”

If a wife defends a philandering husband, is she an enabler? Not necessarily. If a man is a womanizer, is he therefore an abuser? Not necessarily. Can someone be a feminist AND be sexist? Unfortunately, yes, and that can describe either men or women. These words are not interchangeable.

Sexism is an attitude based on traditional stereotypical gender roles. (All definitions used are consistent with both dictionary.com and Webster’s Dictionary.) When someone, male or female, judges another on the basis of the role they’re supposed to play, they’re being sexist. Donald Trump is sexist when he denigrates a female candidate’s appearance based on the stereotypical assumption that women are supposed to be, first and foremost, attractive. Criticizing a woman for her tone of voice not being soft and sweet is sexist. A woman is sexist if she believes that the husband in a relationship should be the breadwinner, and the wife should fulfill the role of mother and homemaker.

Feminism is the advocacy of social, political, legal and economic rights for women equal to those of men. A woman who believes in equal pay for equal work (feminism) can simultaneously believe that women should stay home (sexism); they expect fair treatment out in the world, but they still hold sexist attitudes about what goes on inside a relationship.

A philanderer, or womanizer, is a man who has relationships, often of a sexual nature, where he cannot or has no intention of having a lasting relationship—a man who carries on flirtations regardless of his marital status. A womanizer is the guy almost every woman knows, from junior high school on, who has the compulsion to pursue every woman as a potential sexual conquest. They can be married or single; they flirt with every woman they meet. Some are insecure; others just like women. They’re not necessarily sexist and may be feminists.

When a woman acts in that same manner, constantly flirting whether married or not, she is called a slut or a nymphomaniac—a woman with unquenchable, even “abnormal” sexual desires. Where a man is described as a shameless flirt, a woman with identical behavior is considered abnormal; after all, “boys will be boys.” Sexism is evident in these definitions.

During the 1970s sexual revolution, I knew a couple who believed in open marriage, in which each partner was allowed to have sexual relations with others; they drew the line if the outside relationship included dinner. For them, the sexual act was purely physical, but dinner implied a relationship, an intimacy that would threaten their marriage. One of my friends recently dated a man who was quite happy to periodically “service” the wife of one of his old friends, a man who had become ill and could no longer satisfy his wife sexually. The woman’s husband knew of and was not threatened by his wife’s “affair.”

There are couples who stay together for financial reasons, or who stay married but live separately. Some couples no longer relate to each other with sex as an essential part of their intimacy. There are couples who, despite their partner’s flirtations or affairs, stay together “for the children,” or for financial reasons, or because they love each other in ways that those outside the relationship cannot understand. Some spouses don’t want to know what their partner is up to, evidently believing that “ignorance is bliss”—if they knew, they’d have to do something about it, and they don’t want to change the status quo.

I respect people who have figured out their own relationships and seem satisfied with their arrangements. How they work it out is their business—and shouldn’t be part of a political campaign.

We live in a time when 1950s rules no longer apply in the workplace. Harassing is persistently disturbing, bothering or pestering. What at one time seemed acceptable, or was tolerated, is now sexual harassment—meaning unwelcome sexual advances, especially if compliance is a condition of continued employment or advancement.

“A ha!” you might say. “That means Bill Clinton was a harasser. After all, Monica Lewinsky was a subordinate working in the White House.” But the Clinton/Lewinsky relationship was consensual, not unwelcome, and she was an adult. Did he act inappropriately? Of course he did, and I can’t forgive him for the public humiliation of his wife. Yet his wife seemed willing to forgive him, and they worked out their marriage in their own way, so who am I to judge?

“What about all the other women with whom Clinton was involved?” It’s clear he was a philanderer, but however inappropriate, his extramarital activities were consensual with adult women. (A claim of rape has never been substantiated.)

A good case can be made that Bill Clinton is a feminist and is not sexist. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of Donald Trump, who does judge women differently that he judges men, based on stereotypical assumptions. Trump would probably not want to be labeled a feminist, but by touting equal treatment for women, he’s a shining example of how one can be both feminist and sexist at the same time.

Trump says Hillary “enabled” (condoned or facilitated) her husband’s extramarital affairs and thus cannot stand up for women. Wrong. Accepting and even defending a spouse’s infidelity does not mean one is not still a feminist regarding public policy.

Hillary accurately described some of Donald Trump’s boorish statements as indicating a “penchant for sexism.” Trump responded with, “If Hillary thinks she can unleash her husband (on the campaign trail), with his terrible record of women abuse, while playing the women’s card on me, she’s wrong!”

In an editorial responding to Trump, The New York Times said that Trump’s aim is clearly “to dredge up an ancient scandal and tar Mrs. Clinton with it in a clearly sexist fashion.” In other words, holding a wife complicit in her husband’s behavior is based on the underlying belief that if a man strays somehow, his wife is at fault. Her role is to keep him satisfied. According to Trump on Fox News, “She’s not a victim. She was an enabler.” Enabling would mean Hillary facilitated her husband’s behavior, rather than merely tolerating or forgiving it.

How does the general public see all of this? A Fox News poll indicates that voters see Bill Clinton as more respectful of women than Donald Trump—50 percent for Clinton, and only 37 percent for Trump, so Trump’s play may backfire. We’re not ignorant.

Spouse attacks were tried against Sen. Dianne Feinstein and vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro based on their husbands’ business dealings, and against John McCain for his wife’s alleged drug use. All of this is nothing more than dirty politics—an attempt to put an opponent on the defensive and dominate the news cycle.

We should not reward such sleazy attacks.

Words have meanings.

Anita Rufus is also known as “The Lovable Liberal,” and her radio show airs Sundays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on KNews Radio 94.3 FM. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Know Your Neighbors appears every other Wednesday.

Published in Know Your Neighbors

The 2015 Humana Challenge Championship was still up for grabs as the last group, containing the sole leader, Bill Haas, came down the 18th fairway on the Arnold Palmer Private Course at PGA West in La Quinta.

Waiting, watching and keeping loose on the driving range were five players, including Idyllwild’s Brendan Steele, who had finished their rounds tied at 21 under par—one shot behind Haas.

“The tournament’s definitely not over from my perspective,” Steele said as he waited for more than an hour to see if his 21-under total would get him into a playoff. “With the water on the last couple holes, anybody can make a bad swing at any time, so you just kind of hang out and see what’s happening. I can’t act like, ‘Hey, I did a good job, but it’s not enough, and I’m going to go home.’ I’ve got to be ready, just in case anything does happen.”

However, the jailbreak playoff was not to be, as Haas battled to a final-hole par and took home the $1 million-plus paycheck.

Meanwhile, fan favorite Phil Mickelson finished in a tie for 24th place, 7 shots off the lead—and it seemed the weekend was just what he needed. As he wound his way around the three courses, he seemed relaxed and unconcerned. For the first three days, he played a convivial and charming host to the amateur players in his group. Whether regaling them with amusing anecdotes or generously offering helpful tips, Mickelson seemed to be at ease.

“I’ve got some things to improve on, but it was a good week to kind of build a foundation (and) work on my game,” Mickelson told the media after his last round. “We had great weather. That allows you to work on the fundamentals and get the swing basics down without having to fight the elements, without getting into bad habits.”

How does the 2015 season ahead look to these two players?

“I’ve been feeling really, really good, shooting good scores at home,” Steele shared. “I know that doesn’t always translate, but I’m just seeing a big difference in my game.”

Meanwhile, Mickelson said he was excited for the upcoming year.

“I feel I’m ready to go, ready to get started,” he said. “It was a good week to get the year started. Now we’ll see the next two weeks if I can get that fine-tuning done and shoot the low scores I need.”

Scroll down to see several photos from the Humana Challenge.

Published in Snapshot

On Thursday, Jan. 16, President Bill Clinton took a break from a series of conferences and meetings held this week here in the Coachella Valley—dealing with health initiatives and economic development—to join legendary golfer Gary Player and PGA Commissioner Tim Finchem at the official opening ceremony of the 2014 Humana Challenge Golf Tournament.

Afterward, he spent a few hours at the Arnold Palmer Private Course in La Quinta talking with some of the professional golfers and fans in attendance.

"President Clinton and I have been friends for 30 years," said Marjorie Seawell, vacationing here from Denver, after she spoke with the former president at some length. "I got to know him first in the National Governors Association, and we became fast friends. Every time we find ourselves in the same place, we try to get together. He's a special friend."

The Clinton Foundation held its annual Health Matters conference in La Quinta earlier this week.

Regarding his involvement with the tournament, President Clinton said during a nationally televised interview with the Golf Channel, "When we started this, Commissioner Finchem asked me if I would work with him to try to help salvage what was the old Bob Hope golf tournament—both for Bob’s memory, who I knew for the last 20 or so years of his life, and for the community that has done so much work and has raised so much money for charity with the help of the PGA Tour and the players."

He recalled an anecdote that Bob Hope shared with him. "He told me, ‘The only thing I ever did, even after I gave up golf, was that I walked an hour a day. And sometimes because I worked at night, it was at midnight. And sometimes because I was in London and it was raining—I took rubber boots.’ You’ve got to have something to do come rain or shine.”

Regarding his ongoing commitment to the Humana Challenge Golf Tournament, President Clinton commented, "We really work hard here. So does our sponsor, Humana, and I give them a lot of credit. They participate in our conference, and this year, we got another $11 million committed, and we’ve got enough money committed in the United States to touch 50 million more people with after-school programs for kids who need help and support. We’re trying to build a culture of wellness in America and make it a part of what we do.”

Published in Snapshot

"Give it another chance, Lance!" Sheryl said. "The Tour de Palm Springs is coming up. You can be a star again!"

Though they were no longer romantically linked, Sheryl Crow was Lance Armstrong's biggest fan. "I'm out of shape," Lance explained. "I've been lying on the couch looking at my jerseys on the wall."

"You need to stop moping around all day," Sheryl told him.

"I'm not moping! I'm doping!" Lance insisted. "As soon as I'm done, I'm going to the bicycle shop to check out the new models."

About an hour later, Lance entered the shop and looked around. "May I help you?" the manager said.

"I need a bike with strong spokes," Lance told him.

"You'll have to speak to our spokes person," the manager explained. "Let me get him for you."

A moment later, the manager returned with a soft-spoken man. "I can have your bicycle delivered next week," the man told Lance. "But I can't speak for the spokes. There's been a spike in spoke sales at our Spokane plant. There isn't a speck left."

"Never mind," the cyclist said. "I'll find my own bike." Lance spotted one he liked and bought it on the spot.

He rode it back as fast as he could to show Sheryl. "How do you like my new bike?" he asked.

"It would help if you took the training wheels off," she told him.

Lance got a screwdriver and removed the training wheels. Then he honked the horn on the handlebars. "I'm ready for Palm Springs!" he exclaimed.

"Have a nice ride," Sheryl said as she handed Lance his helmet.

The cyclist was ready for his big comeback. After he arrived in the desert, he located his hotel, the Renaissance Esmeralda.

A man happened to be walking out of the resort just as Lance rode into the driveway. The cyclist recognized the man from TV.

"Aren't you Dr. Sanjay Gupta?” Lance asked.

"That's right," Sanjay replied. "I'm here for the Desert Town Hall lectures. I'm giving a speech on the dangers of doping. Aren't you that Armstrong guy?"

Lance tried to think of something to say. "I'm Louis Armstrong," he told Sanjay as he started singing “Hello Dolly.”

"You don't look like Louis Armstrong," the doctor said. "You must be that other Armstrong."

"You're right," Lance said. "I'm Neil Armstrong. That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

"Wait a minute," Sanjay said. "You're Lance Armstrong, the cyclist! You need to come to my lecture. I can help you."

"I don't have time," Lance explained. "The Tour de Palm Springs is about to begin. I have to get to the starting line."

Sanjay gave Lance a Slinky from his pocket. "Whenever you feel the urge to take steroids, just stretch this Slinky instead," the doctor told him. "It works every time."

Lance was grateful. He took his new Slinky and happily made his way to Palm Springs, where the race was just getting under way.

"On your mark, get set, go!" the announcer yelled. Lance sped off with the other cyclists and soon found himself in the lead.

However, the faster Lance went, the more he found he was missing his steroids. He reached into his pocket to get his Slinky, but it had fallen out!

The cyclist immediately pulled over and got off his bike. "Help! I lost my Slinky!" he screamed to the crowd.

One of the spectators spoke up. "I saw what happened," he told Lance. "You lost your Slinky when you rode your bike under the giant Marilyn Monroe statue. It bounced up and got stuck under her dress."

Lance took out his cell phone and called Dr. Sanjay Gupta. "My Slinky is stuck inside Marilyn Monroe!" he exclaimed. "I need you to perform emergency surgery!"

"I'll be right over," Sanjay said. A few minutes later, the doctor arrived, with a CNN crew who covered the event as “breaking news.” The entire nation was on the edge of their seats awaiting the outcome.

Sanjay climbed up on Lance's shoulders so he could reach up into the tall statue. The first thing he noticed was a man's leg sticking out.

The doctor pulled on the man’s leg until he fell to the ground. It was Bill Clinton! "What in the world were you doing in there?" Sanjay asked.

Bill had a big smile on his face. "I was just havin' a look around," he said with a smile.

"Let me borrow your cigar," Sanjay said. "I think I can pry Lance's Slinky out."

Sanjay carefully inserted the cigar and suddenly, the Slinky popped out. Lance caught it and stretched it as far as he could.

"There's still time to finish the race!" he said as he got back on his bike.

Lance had so much energy that he couldn't stop. The cyclist raced down the street, knocking over other riders in his path. Unfortunately, he became so erratic that he collided with an air conditioning van just as he reached the finish line.

When the driver got out of the van to assess the damage, Lance immediately knew who he was.

"Aren't you the guy who created the Tour de Palm Springs?" Lance asked.

"Yes, sir, it's Esser," Tim replied. "I know who you are, too. You're Lance Armstrong!"

"I don't allow my riders to use steroids," Tim told Lance. "I'm going to have to detain you in my van."

Lance tried to explain. "I didn't use steroids! I just stretched my Slinky!"

Just then, Sheryl arrived with a group of cyclists. "Our group is called the Free Lance Riders," she explained. "We demand his release."

A reporter approached the group to get an interview. "Excuse me," he said. "I'm a freelance writer. I'd like to ask the Free Lance Riders a few questions."

Tim finally had enough. "Peddle your pedals somewhere else," he told Lance. "You're free to go."

The cyclist was thrilled and decided to announce his plans for the future. "I'm starting my own event," he said. "It's called the Tour de Lance."

Sheryl had plans of her own. "All I wanna do is have some fun until the sun comes up over Palm Canyon Drive," she said.

"That's a good lyric for a song," Lance pointed out.

Published in Humor