6 comments for “Sexism on the Web

  1. R. Mildred
    April 6, 2007 at 12:54 pm

    Last year I had my own run-in with online sexism when I was invited to a lunch meeting with Bill Clinton, along with a handful of other bloggers. After the meeting, a group photo of the attendees with Clinton was posted on several websites, and it wasn’t long before comments about my appearance (“Who’s the intern?; “I do like Gray Shirt’s three-quarter pose.”) started popping up.

    One website, run by law professor and occasional New York Times columnist Ann Althouse, devoted an entire article to how I was “posing” so as to “make [my] breasts as obvious as possible”. The post, titled “Let’s take a closer look at those breasts,” ended up with over 500 comments. Most were about my body, my perceived whorishness, and how I couldn’t possibly be a good feminist because I had the gall to show up to a meeting with my breasts in tow. One commenter even created a limerick about me giving oral sex. Althouse herself said that I should have “worn a beret . . . a blue dress would have been good too”. All this on the basis of a photograph of me in a crew-neck sweater from Gap.

    I won’t even get into the hundreds of other blogs and websites that linked to the “controversy.” It was, without doubt, the most humiliating experience of my life – all because I dared be photographed with a political figure.

    Oh ffs, yes Jessica make it all about yourself, please, oh the agonies of having ann althouse make a fool out of herself really fucking compares to what kathy sierra is going through. You were in a room with teh inventor of gitmo, in harlem, surrounded by nothing but other white middle class people, and you didn’t stab a HIV+ haitian into Bill Clinton’s eye as Thor Would Have Done – shut up about it already, three paragraphs is three paragraphs too many on a subject you have no reason to keep going on about.

    “The promise of the early internet,” says Marwick, “was that it would liberate us from our bodies…”

    No, that’s the vaugnian technological singularity, the internet promised to be full of spock/kirk slash, and middleclass+ het white guys staring at boobies while going around pretending that the internet was an egalitarian and meritocratic arena beause they were absolutely positive that they were wafting around in a situation they were sure women would never enter because they thought we weren’t smart enough to handle anything more complex than an ironing board or their personal series of tubes.

    It was made by sexist, racist, classist, privelaged white guys and their occasional tokenised and stereotyped asian “pal” who was grinning and baring it while trying to get his masters at MIT finished ASAP, all of whom proceeded to use “gay” as a general purpose insult.

    And what does Jessica have against Norm Chomsky anyway? He’s a great man!

  2. April 6, 2007 at 1:00 pm

    R. Mildred, what she’s doing is establishing a pattern of harassment and threats of women on the internet. She never said that what she went through was at all like Kathy’s situation. She’s using it as another example of how sexualized harassment tactics are leveled against women.

    And she does have a reason to relay her personal experience in that article — it’s completely relevant.

  3. zuzu
    April 6, 2007 at 1:05 pm

    Not to mention, Althouse, who gets op-ed writing gigs for the friggin’ New York Times, won’t let it go.

  4. April 6, 2007 at 1:23 pm

    I actually think the althouse example is very relevant, because it shows that this sort of thing is so common and acceptable that someone like a can do it in her own name and expect approval, and indeed to continue writing for the nyt (well, not that that’s saying much). althouse is very stupid, but she’s got that cunning of a pig rooting out a piece of buried trash; she knew what she was doing.

  5. zuzu
    April 6, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    It also shows that online harassment doesn’t have to rise to the level of threats to push women out of participation in the blogosphere. The whole point of Althouse’s continued obsession is to humiliate and marginalize Jessica because she was invited to a blogger lunch with the former president. The sexualized comments — even before Althouse had any idea who Jessica was and came up with the “bad feminist” rationale to excuse her behavior — were meant as a reminder that even though Jessica got invited because of her accomplishments, she can never get very far without someone trying to put her in her place.

  6. R. Mildred
    April 6, 2007 at 7:47 pm

    Yes but althouse is making a fool of herself while affecting Valentti barely at all – I think it’s not quite harrassment if it’s unintentionally funnier than it is threatening.

    There are undoubtably other examples of mild harassment that were more applicable for the peice, and then she could have pointed out that, like with most of the successes of women in other aspects of a sexist culture, this requires that the women who are making waves have to be twice as hardcore and brave than equivalent men, thus making sure that women are marginalised and under-represented and our voices silenced, just like in other places within a patriarchal culture.

    Calling althouse a misogynist in a side swipe during the peice is one thing, she doesn’t deserve the publicity really.

    Boobygate is also somehting of a side show to obfuscate the harlem blizzard and everythign that represents – so I find talking about it like it’s the end of the world deeply amusing considering what else that clinton meet up represented, and how it is a perfect way for slieght of hand artists to hide the real problem there, to the point that althouse making a fool of herself with her constant fetishising of valentti’s breasts strikes me as althouse defending something more than the male privelage to harass any woman who’s made it, and becomes a defense of white supremacy as well as patriarchy.

    umm… sorry, I keep doing this thing where I write way too much about things that don’t neccesarily warrant such extensive writings – being a fast typer means that anger that extends beyond any particular subject can drive 5 page treatises on particular subjects very very easily… Mental Diarrea…

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