Wherein Ann Althouse Shoots Any Credibility She Had Left

From the “chicks just can’t win” files: Jessica from Feministing has the honor of being invited to meet with President Clinton, along with several other bloggers. Said bloggers pose for a photo with Bill. It’s fairly clear that the photo is arranged by height, with the shorter people in the front. Jessica, one of the shorter people there, is in the front row. She stands, back straight, with her hands at her sides like everyone else. She moves slightly over so that she’s not blocking the former President.

But clearly, it’s all about the tits.

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….

Note that Jessica is posed in pretty much the exact same way (mirror-imaged) as the woman standing next to her. That woman, though, is wearing a black top, so you can’t see the outline of her breasts as well.

Note that Jessica is also wearing a simple grey sweater, with a high neck and cap sleeves. And long pants. And yet Althouse is criticizing her for her “behavior” — which apparently comes down to how she was standing in the photo.

I saw the photo yesterday. I did not notice that Jessica was “posing;” I did not notice her breasts; I didn’t think twice about the arrangement of the photo. Different perspectives, I guess.

Ann’s commenters also jump on Jessica, referring to her as an “intern” — har har — and debating her fuckability. Ann then accuses Jessica of not being a “real” feminist (compared, apparently, to… Ann…), and tells her that she’s misappropriated the word feminism and has done nothing for the movement.

Really, Ann, fuck you. You’re out of line, and this is incredibly shitty.

Perhaps this isn’t the kind of evidence that Ann is looking for, but here’s what Jessica’s done for my feminism: She inspired me to start blogging in the first place. She broadened my perspective as to what even constitutues a feminist issue. She’s shown me that determined women can take their passion and turn it into a career. She has helped to mobilize an entire generation of younger feminists. She’s taken risks, and has been willing to lend her wisdom to the development of our movement. She’s been remarkably successful at a very young age. She’s been a key part of creating online feminist communities, and creating real-life activism and action out of those communities. Her writing has made me think. It’s taught me more than entire women’s studies courses I took. It’s demonstrated that young women are active, intelligent, assertive and engaging. She’s made me proud to identify as a feminist. And she’s one of my feminist heros.

I know she’s inspired many more than just me. And talking about her breasts all the live-long day won’t change the fact that she is an amazing, brilliant, good human being who I’m sure will shape the world in more positive ways than Ann Althouse could ever aspire to.

What Jessica did wrong was show up at a political event in a female body. End of story. Ann, you should be ashamed.

And Jessica, as always, you should be incredibly proud of everything you’ve accomplished.


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About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
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49 Responses to Wherein Ann Althouse Shoots Any Credibility She Had Left

  1. jiggavegas says:

    Amen.

    I cannot wait for the days when women stop criticizing each other’s bodies/choices in order to gain extra points in the moral superiority game. Grasping at straws much, Ann? You couldn’t discredit her voice, her opinions, her knowledge, her work… so you took the cheap shot. Congrats.

    And that guy on the left is totally trying to call attention to his crotch. Whore.

    (um, kidding. just in case.)

  2. piny says:

    I saw the photo yesterday. I did not notice that Jessica was “posing;” I did not notice her breasts; I didn’t think twice about the arrangement of the photo. Different perspectives, I guess.

    I noticed the extremely slutty upper-arm exposure. Who does she think she is, Sarah Bernhardt?

  3. zuzu says:

    Oh, crap. I was in the middle of drafting a post about this. Maybe I’ll just pile on.

  4. Starfoxy says:

    Another point is that there are obviously several different people taking pictures– everyone in the picture is looking at a different camera. Whatever pose she may be striking probably looks much different from some of the other cameras.

  5. Ann Althouse is a fucking asshole.

    What Jessica did wrong was show up at a political event in a female body. End of story. Ann, you should be ashamed.

    And Jessica, as always, you should be incredibly proud of everything you’ve accomplished.

    Jill I think you’ve summarized things perfectly here. This is all about the female body for Althouse and her commenters. If only Jessica had showed up in a burkha, we wouldn’t have had to deal with these assaults. But bare skin and god-given breasts? Althouse is essentialy saying that Jessica is lucky she wasn’t raped and of course it would have served her right if she was…

    What a bunch of fucking assholes Althouse’s crowd are…

  6. jfpbookworm says:

    The impression I got from the posts is that Ms. Althouse was upset that her Clinton-bashing got derailed.

    All because the woman whose breasts she was using to make her point had the nerve to speak up for herself.

  7. Norah says:

    How dare Jessica stand there having breasts, just like she has a right to or something!

    Un-fucking-believable.

  8. kactus says:

    Who is this Althouse woman anyway? I’ve heard her name but never read her blog before today–she keeps calling herself a feminist(!) but I’m not seeing any evidence of feminism on her site, especially since she’s got a chorus of woman-haters in the comments who she’s just egging on. What a bunch of bullshit this is.

  9. Chris Clarke says:

    OK, I’ll stand up to be the annoying, obnoxious het boy here. (Every thread needs one.)

    Jessica: I’m not judging you by your looks. (Don’t flatter yourself.)

    Is she fucking kidding?

  10. piny says:

    Who is this Althouse woman anyway? I’ve heard her name but never read her blog before today–she keeps calling herself a feminist(!) but I’m not seeing any evidence of feminism on her site, especially since she’s got a chorus of woman-haters in the comments who she’s just egging on. What a bunch of bullshit this is.

    She’s a feminist like Tammy Bruce is a lesbian. Except, I’m pretty sure Tammy Bruce actually has slept with a woman at some point.

  11. Sally says:

    I don’t think the point about the “don’t flatter yourself” comment is whether Jessica is hot or not. It’s that Althouse and her commenters were, in fact, discussing the way Jessica looks, so saying “don’t flatter yourself” is just a way of compounding the insult by implying that Jessica is vain. It’s obviously a completely unsupported insult, since Jessica was reacting to the fact that they were, in fact, discussing the way she looks, but nasty and underhanded seems to be Althouse’s MO.

    I don’t read her blog, but she appears to be pretty horrid, politics notwithstanding. I think being that hateful must be a tad exhausting.

  12. plucky punk says:

    Jeeze, from Althouse’s words you’d think Jessica was pole-dancing or something, not just…standing there.

    Although I do think she has great hair.

  13. Sally says:

    And you know, I’m not a fan of Clinton, and I have some sympathy for the “what’s a feminist blogger doing hanging out with Clinton” question. (I’m more concerned about “welfare reform” than Monica-gate, fwiw.) I can think of a lot of good answers to it, but it’s a reasonable question. It would have been groovy if Althouse had been able to ask it without all the distracting misogyny, though.

  14. Linnaeus says:

    And you know, I’m not a fan of Clinton, and I have some sympathy for the “what’s a feminist blogger doing hanging out with Clinton” question. (I’m more concerned about “welfare reform” than Monica-gate, fwiw.) I can think of a lot of good answers to it, but it’s a reasonable question. It would have been groovy if Althouse had been able to ask it without all the distracting misogyny, though.

    I noticed that question, too, and I do think that it’s worthy of consideration. Given the general context, however, I suspect that the question is intended to be an anti-Clinton canard rather than start a serious discussion thread on feminism.

  15. Jessica says:

    Jill, thank you so much for the supportive post. I’m kind of in awe of all this. And now, Instapundit has linked to her crap post. (I’m not putting the link in.) I guess the right has nothing better to talk about than titties.

  16. Esme says:

    Well, if they stopped discussing titties near the former president, they might have to discuss the boobs in the White House

  17. Robyn Banks says:

    Instapundit linked it? Who knew that such a modest sweater would make Jessica’s breasts so damn famous?

  18. ginmar says:

    But, you see, she was just standing there, expecting to be taken seriously, while not wearing a burka or anything.

    It’s not just guys that are sexist, unfortunately.

  19. Chris Clarke says:

    I don’t think the point about the “don’t flatter yourself” comment is whether Jessica is hot or not.

    Ah, good point.

  20. Joanna says:

    Thanks to all the folks who braved the slime pit that is that comment thread to make reasoned responses, pointing out Althouse’s double standard, crappy logic, and sexism.

  21. Lauren says:

    I guess the right has nothing better to talk about than titties.

    No, Jessica. Your titties. Your titties are an affront to America and must be stopped immediately.

  22. pseudonymous in nc says:

    Althouse may well be trolling, and perhaps even without knowing it. (In a bipartisan way, of course.) I can’t help thinking that she escaped from the parody truck when the Onion’s staff packed up and left Madison for New York.

    (Count me as a het man who didn’t notice any ‘posing’ in that photo beyond the usual crush to get people in shot.)

  23. Hugo says:

    I haven’t been this mad at something I’ve read in the blogosphere in six months or more. I don’t know which makes me angrier: the nastiness or the cluelessness. I’m a huge Jessica Valenti fan, she’s sent a lot of traffic my way and pulled a lot of folks into the feminist blogging world who would otherwise not be there.

    Jessica, you rock. Jill, thanks for posting this. The rest of you, thanks for making me laugh as I read through the comments and overcame some of my rage at Althouse.

    I realize I’ve never posted about Clinton and feminists, however, and now get to file that away in the queue.

  24. Hugo says:

    Oh, and zuzu, thanks for posting on this as well.

  25. Raincitygirl says:

    There are some intensely stupid and mean-spirited people in this world, and about half of them seem to be Ann Althouse and her commenters. I’ve read Feministing on a regular basis for a long time, because it’s a hell of a site. Hang in there, Jessica. Anybody with a lick of sense knows these bozos are smoking crack.

  26. belledame222 says:

    Ann whom?

    goddam sure are a lot of assholes out there i don’t know what the world’s coming to mumble mumble

    Anyway: congratulations to Jessica!! nertz to the haters.

  27. Thers says:

    Althouse is up to some old tricks. She loves picking fights.

    Jessica is about 19 miles above this cheap sort of viciousness.

  28. geoduck2 says:

    What Thers said.

    And I’m going to buy one of those feministing shirts. I love them and I guess some people don’t understand irony or re-claiming symbols.

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  30. tekanji says:

    Um, am I the only one who noticed that Ann’s link regarding Jessica’s blog supposedly being “all about using breasts for extra attention” went to a completely unrelated blog?

    I mean, what, does she expect that people won’t click on the link and just assume that since she has linked something that she’s telling the truth? Or that, perhaps, they will click on the link, but will be too stupid or lazy to realize that the person who made the post in question is called “Steve”?

    The entire thing smacks of misogyny, hatred of women’s bodies, and dishonesty. Ick, just… ick.

  31. raging red says:

    Please tell me this is Althouse’s idea of a joke:

    I have a new theory, also taking into account the comment that Jessica looks like Paula Jones (check her profile photo: she does). The entire luncheon was a scheme by Bill Clinton to meet Jessica. And the reason she’s fighting back so hard is that we’ve called attention to the cover scheme.

    She’s kidding, right? She cannot possibly be serious.

  32. belledame222 says:

    Well, hello, right wing boilerplate for some inexplicable reason going under the moniker “feminism.”

    doesn’t matter if she’s “kidding” (oh, the “I was just kidding about kicking you in the gut, lighten UP,” how much do we always love this) or not. The very fact that she even thinks this is amusing or remotely relevant to anything at all speaks volumes.

    Seriously. the whole goddam obsession with OMG CLINTON HAD SEXXXX snigger snigger INTERN giggle point PAULA JONES mutter mutter LOOKA HER…

    bored now.

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  34. not that it has anything to do with, y’know, actual feminist opinions, but my first thought looking at the picture was that Jessica looks like the star of the show, and she looks good – classy, poised, friendly, happy, professional, and, dare I say, attractive. Whoever took this shot (it does look like several were taken at once from different angles) captured her better than the President.

    wait, no wonder this Ann person is upset. How dare a woman look both powerful and attractive? OMG she must be using her BOOBS!

  35. SMC says:

    Jessica: I’m not judging you by your looks. (Don’t flatter yourself.)
    That has got to be one of the most obnoxiously patronizing and sexist comments I’ve read in recent history. Some “feminist”…

  36. Natalia says:

    I went over there and trolled.

    This woman will never get it, but I needed a release valve from this insanity.

  37. ursi says:

    Freaking awesome, Jill. Calling it like it is! Cheers for the honesty!

  38. Kewalo says:

    Thanks for the good post. I am older then Althouse and I only have the highest opinions of you young feminists. I’m proud of you all and admire your courage in the face of such slime as we’ve seen on the Althouse website.

    She is a liar if she calls herself a feminist. Good feminist women don’t smear other women in this way. She is more the Eagle Forum type of woman, they’ve tried to use our sexuality against us for 40 years now. I’m delighted to see that your reaction is exactly what mine would have been years ago,(and still is actually) the middle finger salute. Thanks again for all you are doing.

  39. Ann Althouse had credibility?

    Who knew?

  40. belledame222 says:

    >I noticed that question, too, and I do think that it’s worthy of consideration. Given the general context, however, I suspect that the question is intended to be an anti-Clinton canard rather than start a serious discussion thread on feminism.>

    You know, I’m not his biggest fan these days either (for reasons mostly unrelated to MonicaGate), but I honestly wouldn’t even go that far: it’s not a terrifically valid or at least interesting question, no, in my book. it’s perfectly obvious what she’s doing there; he’s an EX-PRESIDENT. It’s an honor, for fuckssake. Yah, I think Clinton’s at minimum behaved in rather irresponsible ways, and no, at the end of the day i don’t know how much veracity there is to the other harassment stories–and once again having to reiterate that consensual adultery, even with a young intern, =! “harassment.” Not a really swell or ethical idea on many levels, sure, and that goes triple for his weaselling and leaving her hanging out to dry when the flying monkeys came; but of course the REALLY disgusting part came from the flying monkeys themselves…

    But I mean, really: what really sucks (pun probably intended) about the residual odor from that whole TIRED goddam mess is that even among people who pretty much know better, the general aura of “Clinton=perv, somehow more sinister or at least beyond the pale than any other goddam politician.” The flying monkeys really did a good job, here. And it’s the same exact fucking thing they’d like to happen with Jessica: fling enough shit and some will stick.

    Which is why there simply cannot be enough piling on for this odious behavior. Take it right back to the place where you got it; you cain’t leave a bit of it in here. And THEN some.

    so, back to Clinton and rightness of a feminist meeting with him: irrelevant. Even if you -do- think the worst of his behavior in office. Listen, I wouldn’t have faulted her for going to lunch with GHWH Bush, either; or any other current or former President, none of whom perhaps exempting Jimmy Carter is/was exactly a saint. (current Fearless Leader/sonny boy, I would probably make an exception, but you know it’s cuz i feel REALLY strongly that he is in fact the Debbil; others’ mileage may vary on even that, and i -might- have trouble really arguing with them for something like this) This is what people do. You don’t have to be ideologically or ethically married to the guy to accept that it is an honor and, well, accept.

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  42. Tuomas says:

    What the hell?

    OMG, breasts!

    :D

  43. Tuomas says:

    To clarify: I think what Althouse did was wrong, and quite comical, too. I probably would find it more infuriating than funny if I were a woman, though.

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  48. wildstarryskies says:

    *blush*

    I looked at the picture, thought, “Looks like a nice group of bloggers”, then looked again, and thought, “Oooh, who’s that hottie?”, right there at ya, Jessica.

    But not ONCE did I think you were posing or thought even less of you! My next thought was, “Oooh, Jessica of Feministing is a hottie. KEWL.”

    OMG this brings us to a verry important conclusion:

    A woman can be:

    1. A hottie
    2. Smart
    3. A heckuva blogger
    and 4. a kick-ass feminist to boot.

    Gosh, who knew?

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