[NOTE: I was working on this post at the same time Jill was posting hers. Since there’s enough different content, I figured it was worth posting even though some of it might be repetitive.]
No, this isn’t about race this time. It’s about this kind of shit:
I wanted to elevate a discussion from the comments section of a post from Wednesday, you know the one with the photo of the Daou-wrangled bloggers posing in from of Bill Clinton? The first commenter, Goesh, picks up on my prompt — “Let’s just array these bloggers… randomly” — and wisecracks: “Who is the Intern directly in front of him with the black hair?”
That “intern” is Jessica Valenti.
Eventually, Jessica from a blog called Feministing, shows up and says: “The, um, ‘intern’ is me. It’s so nice to see women being judged by more than their looks. Oh, wait…”
Snarky but somewhat conciliatory, I say: “Well, Jessica, you do appear to be ‘posing.’ Maybe it’s just an accident.”
After Jessica challenges Althouse on this (with the obvious-to-anyone-with-half-a-functioning-brain-cell concept that people pose for photos), Althouse (remember, she’s a law professor), comes back with this stunning bit of logic:
Jessica: I’m not judging you by your looks. (Don’t flatter yourself.) I’m judging you by your apparent behavior. It’s not about the smiling, but the three-quarter pose and related posturing, the sort of thing people razz Katherine Harris about. I really don’t know why people who care about feminism don’t have any edge against Clinton for the harm he did to the cause of taking sexual harrassment seriously, and posing in front of him like that irks me, as a feminist. So don’t assume you’re the one representing feminist values here. Whatever you call your blog….
Follow that? Because Comedy Central made fun of Katherine Harris for her aggressive cheesecake campaign style, and because Althouse thinks Bill Clinton set back feminism (though that link just discusses her batshit attack on Atrios), it’s just peachy-keen for Althouse to “give [Jessica] a small dose of the kind of judgment for brains she seems to demanding” by . . . criticizing Jessica for having breasts. And then telling Jessica she’s no feminist. Apparently for . . . having . . . breasts . . . while . . . standing in front of Bill Clinton.
But she’s not judging Jessica for her looks. Oh, no.
As we’ve previously established here, Althouse isn’t exactly the sharpest tool in the shed.
Making this colloquy into this new blog post, I actually click over to Jessica’s blog, and what the hell? The banner displays silhouettes of women with big breasts (the kind that Thelma and Louise get pissed off at when they’re seen on truck mudflaps). She’s got an ad in the sidebar for one of her own products, which is a tank top with the same breasty silhouette, stretched over the breasts of a model. And one of the top posts is a big closeup on breasts.
Sooooo… apparently, Jessica writes one of those blogs that are all about using breasts for extra attention. Then, when she goes to meet Clinton, she wears a tight knit top that draws attention to her breasts and stands right in front of him and positions herself to make her breasts as obvious as possible?
Psst. Ann, darling — the mud flap girl is giving the finger. See? Irony? And the giant breast post you’re talking about is of someone showing off a t-shirt.
As if the crime of having breasts and associating with the likes of a former president weren’t enough, Althouse then accuses Jessica of being a Karl Rove plant.
So, Ann, do you do this to your first-year Con Law students? Assess the perkiness of their breasts and reduce their grades accordingly?
Here’s what Jessica had to say:
I found a couple of other posts like it–talking about the way I looked–and it was really upsetting on a personal (and political) level. But this thread in particular turned kind of nasty.
You know, I was psyched to be invited to this lunch and was feeling pretty honored. But then things like this remind me that no matter what I do or accomplish, because I’m a young woman all I’m good for is fodder for tacky intern jokes and comments that I don’t “represent feminist values” because of the way I posed in a picture.
What’s worse is that this comes from other women, other progressives, and other supposed feminists. How are we supposed to move forward as a movement if we’re busy bashing each other with this ridiculousness?
She’s absolutely right about the comments. I did a bit of reading on this meeting due to the race angle, and I don’t think there was one comment thread, even on progressive blogs run by feminists and pro-feminists, where Jessica’s appearance wasn’t at the very least noted. More often, the stupid intern jokes were made, as well as cracks about where Clinton’s hands were.
And for the most part, these comments went unchallenged. This is no better, or different, than letting the absence of bloggers of color at this meeting go unchallenged.
Because you know what happened? Jessica was put in her place with those comments, reminded that as far as the patriarchy is concerned she’s no more than a sexbot and that even though she got the invite to lunch with the former president due to her hard work and brains, the fact that she is young and attractive and has black hair and breasts means that her contributions to blogging and to this meeting have been reduced to being the butt of jokes comparing her to a woman famous for sucking that former president’s dick.
And now she has to spend time feeling angry and discouraged and fighting with an idiot like Ann Althouse who dares to tell her she’s no feminist just because she dares to be pretty, instead of feeling like someone will hear her when she gets her voice out.
Fuck you, Ann Althouse.
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