Used and used up…

Mimi Alford has burst out of nowhere to tell us of what she says was her 18-month affair with then-President John F. Kennedy. But her sordid tale, camouflaged in her soothing voice, is really the cautionary tale of an unrepentant groupie who implies it’s just fine to use and be used. 

"I was sort of swept into this web," she told Meredith Vieira in an interview on NBC’s Rock Center with Brian Williams.
 
Alford presents herself as refined and soft-spoken. She impresses her interviewers as being genuine and intelligent. She recounts the scandalous details in her strangely-bewildered, grandmotherly tone. "I don’t think what I did at 19 was bad," she tearfully told Vierra. "I’m remembering how enthusiastic I was and how much fun I was to be with. "I wasn’t after anything. I was not after a job. I was just a young girl." 
 
She later told Barbara Walters that her family stood behind her decision to write her tell-all story. You can almost hear her patting the wrists of her two probably shocked daughters; ‘there, there, everything will be all right.’

 There is little reason to doubt that the affair actually happened. Jack Kennedy was no choirboy. His great accomplishments aside, he was sexually shameless and blameworthy.

 But for her part, Alford is either hopelessly naïve or as deceitful as a cold war triple-agent. I suggest the latter.

To this day, a proud Alford says she doesn’t regret the affair. She told Vierra she would do it all again because it was just "too much fun," even though she describes performing oral sex on one of Kennedy’s aides at the president’s request; "a dare I shouldn’t have taken."
 
It is easy to see how a glamorous, young, good-looking president could dazzle a 19-year-old girl, but it is hard to believe that being passed around like a six-pack of beer would not bring a sheltered, educated college girl to her senses. Apparently, it didn’t.
 
Many interviewers, with the exception of Ms. Walters, have been accepting and sympathetic to Alford’s story. Many have even suggested she may have been raped at the White House, a claim Alford vigorously denies.
Barbara Walters has emerged as Ms. Alford’s harshest interrogator. She repeatedly questioned Alford’s motivations for writing the book. This is rather interesting, given that Walters’ wrote and profited from her own tell-all, in which she admits to having had affairs as a young woman with her married-but-divorcing TV boss, a married caterer, and a married politician.
 
Walters was once equally harsh on Jessica Hahn. Hahn denies having had an affair with a married TV evangelist (he says it was consensual; she says she was drugged and dated raped). She later posed for Playboy. While appearing on The View, she mentioned Walters’ own dalliances. "This is about you, my dear" Walters intoned dismissively.
 
Well, this is about them all.
 
I too, wonder why Ms. Alford has chosen now to write this book. Alford claims she wanted to tell the story "of a secret that coloured her entire adult life." I’m not sure I buy it.
 
All the time she was having her clandestine affair she was also basking in the glamour of White House. Did she seek the attention of "leader of the free world" and relish the limos, planes, and access to the "inner circle"? Is this book an attempt to recapture some of that excitement and attention?
We live in a culture where women such as Kim Kardashian and Snookie amass fortunes from exposing their sexual and emotional "secrets". The multimillion-dollar ‘Kardashian Empire’ is built on Kim’s notoriety due a leaked sex tape. Her friend Paris Hilton also garnered fame and launched two TV shows and a product line from her sex tape scandal.
 
Mimi Alford has had a successful life. She married twice, raised a loving family, and had a successful career. She now has a book that, thanks to media attention, should sell fairly well.
 
Most young women who make sex tapes or let rich men use them as playthings will not do as well as Alford and the Kardashians. Most will end up used up. It is dangerous for them to believe otherwise.
 
What bothers me is how the media depict Mimi Alford, Paris Hilton, Snookie, and Kim Kardashian to young women.
 
I have heard countless interviewers and commentators paint Alford as a victim. While President Kennedy treated Alford deplorably, she was willing. She had many advantages; she was well educated and obviously smart enough to get to coveted White House internship. 
 
Many attractive young women in Washington and the White House avoided the well-known, lecherous atmosphere of President Kennedy and his cronies. Just as today, many young women have love affairs and successful careers without the benefit of dangerous liaisons and scandalous sex tapes. Others seek and cultivate this kind of infamy.Painting Mimi Alford as blameless is dangerous. It is as damaging as when interviewers fawn over Kim Kardashian and her family, as if the millions they have made redeem their essentially exploitative enterprise.   

 

Most young women who make sex tapes or let rich men use them as playthings will not do as well as Alford and the Kardashians. Most will end up used up. It is dangerous for them to believe otherwise.

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