All this presupposes, of course, that philandering is a type of pathological behavior. Here, I think, the age of the person and the style of philandering are important. Within the world of politics and journalism, Kennedy's womanizing is widely known – to the many women who themselves have been approached, for example, and to reporters and others who have been around Kennedy and have seen the pattern in action. While is was talking to people for this article, it seemed as if almost everybody in the world has another anecdote to offer. There is a pattern to these anecdotes. The type of womanizing that Kennedy is associated with is a series of short involvements – if they can be called that – after which he drops the woman. Sometimes he hasn't even met her previously. She has been picked out by one of his cohorts as the type of woman who appeals to him and asked if she would like to have a "date" with the senator. The idea evidently is lunch and a dalliance, over and out, on the pressing schedule. The picture does not exclude longer relationships, but the short-term pattern apparently is a deep part of Kennedy's nature, as well as an image that Kennedy seems to in some way to enjoy, as though he believes that it adds to his attractiveness. In the eyes of some, perhaps it does.

To me, however, it is a far from attractive image. It is, at best, a sad and dreary one. If a boy of 20 were observed skipping compulsively from girl to girl, one might merely assume that there was something unresolved in his attitude towards women and that he would soon grow out of it and learn to develop stable relationships. But when a man of middle age acts in this way, and over a long period of time, over decades, then the behavior becomes quite upsetting. What it suggests is a severe case of arrested development, a kind of narcissistic intemperance, a huge, babyish ego that must constantly be fed. It also suggests: if he is immature in this area, mightn't he be in others? It bothers me because I associate this behavior with misogyny. I don't believe that men who really like women carry on in this way. Certainly it suggests an old-fashioned, male-chauvinist view of women as primarily objects of pleasure. It gives me the creeps: the pursuit (although the image is almost passive, in a way) of semi-covert, just barely personal, and ultimately discardable encounters is a creepy way to act. And whatever else it is, the compulsion is self-destructive because of the element of headstrong foolhardiness illustrated by the Chappaquiddick incident.

Finally, success in this kind of activity must depend a lot of the time upon a sense of inadequacy in the women involved – a desire to upgrade themselves by association with a powerful male. So there are two pathologies here, each feeding on the other. The result for many of the women must be a sense of further degradation. Kennedy must know that many of these women sleep with him only because he is "Kennedy." He ought to be aware of how degrading this is to him. What is it in a man that would want regularly to bring this about?

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Related: The annunciations, Ted's turn, Going Mobil, More more >
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