It truly pains me to defend Ann Coulter, but

Liss is right.

The story: Maxim — always a beacon of gender equality — has posted a picture of Ann Coulter with suggestions for how to “perfect” her (get it?). Which would be funny, because there’s a whole lot that’s fucked up about Ann Coulter — her misogyny, her racism, her death wishes to liberals, her hate, her bloodlust, and her general ass-backwardness. Except that instead of focusing on all the horrible and disturbing things Ann says, Maxim goes after her big forehead and her man-hands. So, so original. Liss’s diagram illustrates the problem quite well:

acvmaxim.png


Head over to Shakes and read the rest
. When we go after women for their looks instead of their actions, we all lose.


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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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33 Responses to It truly pains me to defend Ann Coulter, but

  1. Gretchen says:

    So true, Jill, and I feel you on hating to have to defend Ann Coulter. I was in that position myself once when I was watching the Bill Maher show on HBO and he was just being incredibly sexist towards her. Pissed me off to no end.

  2. Sirkowski says:

    Well, it’s Maxim.

    And when you act like a superficial idiot, you can’t complain when being treated like one.

  3. norbizness says:

    Well, I did think it odd that she seemed personally unconcerned about implementing her program to deny women the franchise.

  4. SoE says:

    I am not sure whether it’s more disturbing that they only care for her looks or that they care even less about those topics she mentioned.

  5. Roy says:

    And when you act like a superficial idiot, you can’t complain when being treated like one.

    The problem isn’t that they’re treating her like a superficial idiot, it’s that they, themselves, are also being superficial idiots.

    And while she might not have a lot of solid ground to complain about people treating her that way, I like to think that at least some of the rest of us do. Whether she’s a superficial idiot or not does not excuse attacking her over what she looks like, rather than what she says and stands for.

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  7. mythago says:

    I’m still not getting what’s wrong with replying to Coulter’s “Listen to me! I’m a hot blonde in a miniskirt!” shtick with “No, actually, not so much.”

    So yeah, Maxim is sexist and lame. But they’re not throwing anything at her she hasn’t pre-approved.

  8. Jill says:

    So yeah, Maxim is sexist and lame. But they’re not throwing anything at her she hasn’t pre-approved.

    Calling her a “tranny” is fair game? Come on.

    I agree that when Coulter does her hot blonde schtick, she puts her looks on the table as a reason people should listen to her. But was she doing that with her comments about Jews?

    We also don’t see right-wing crazy men being denigrated for their looks — unless they’re fat. Which is a whole ‘nother issue.

    As Liss points out in her post, this is the exact same thing that gets thrown at feminist bloggers all the time. It’s ugly. And, really, we can do better, especially with someone like Coulter who gives us so much material.

  9. tigi says:

    I’m still not getting what’s wrong with replying to Coulter’s “Listen to me! I’m a hot blonde in a miniskirt!” shtick with “No, actually, not so much.”

    Because it’s a distraction to the fact that she says horrible things. In generally, we need to make it less about whether or not she’s too boney or even pretty at all and more about the fact that everything she says is terrible. The same goes for Bill O’Reilly, come to think of it. And Rush. And all the usual suspects. These people set the political discourse so far to the direction of reactionary hatred that all someone has to say is “Well, at least I think women should have the vote,” to be considered moderate. We need fewer people saying, “Haha ur ugly n mannish” and more people holding her accountable for the actual words coming out of her mouth.

    I like that chart.

  10. Natasha Yar-Routh says:

    I to hate to defend Ann Coulter but as a trans-women I really really hate it when ‘tranny’ is used against her as some sort of ultimate put down. I bothers me even more that it is used by supposedly progressive commentators as well. This sort of remark is so sexist and transphobic it makes me want to scream.

  11. Doug says:

    I’m playing devil’s advocate here, because I grew out of my Maxim phase years ago, but as a former reader I can say that expecting Maxim to engage Coulter on her actual political beliefs is like expecting Harper’s to run a “100 Hottest Babes” list.

    As Kos explained a few days ago, Coulter — by her own choosing — has devolved into pretty much a shock artist and nothing more, yet the mouth-breathers on the right continue to take her somewhat seriously because she’s supposedly “hot” and hip or something. In their own small, superficial way, Maxim is tearing down that myth. They’re not being terribly intelligent or incisive about it, but hell, Ann Coulter isn’t terribly intelligent or incisive about much of anything, either.

    I’d be willing to bet that at least some of Maxim‘s high-school/college-age/20something readership subscribes to Coulter’s viewpoint because they think she’s sexy, and if this “article,” as by-the-numbers as it is, makes them feel a little embarrassed for that, then that’s a minor victory, at least.

  12. Mike says:

    Coulter has written and spoke about the issue of attacking women this way in the past. The only problem is that in her typical fashion in her book she says that this avoidance of addressing the content of ideas and resorting to focusing on a woman’s appearance only happens to conservative women:

    “[W]hich women are constantly being called ugly? Is it Maxine Waters, Chelsea Clinton, Janet Reno, or Madeline Albright? No, none of these. Only conservative women have their looks held up to ridicule because only liberals would be so malevolent.”

    Except… then you see a quote like this below and realize that those on the right also resort to these sorts of attacks:

    “As for the pretty girls, I can only guess that it’s because liberal boys never try to make a move on you without the UN Security Council’s approval. Plus, it’s no fun riding around in those dinky little hybrid cars. My pretty-girl allies stick out like a sore thumb amongst the corn-fed, no make-up, natural fiber, no-bra needing, sandal-wearing, hirsute, somewhat fragrant hippie chick pie wagons they call “women” at the Democratic National Convention.”

    And who wrote this? Yep… that same Ann Coulter who tells us only the other side does this. Seems this is one issue that cuts across the aisle…

    I just wish we didn’t get caught up in this race to the lowest common denominator and afforded her what she is incapable or unwilling to do herself. Perhaps not surprising for Maxim, but as others have mentioned above this happens in lots of outlets and conversations. Just below the surface waiting to lash out in too many of us who are pretty self-righteous about our level of enlightenment.

  13. sophonisba says:

    I’m still not getting what’s wrong with replying to Coulter’s “Listen to me! I’m a hot blonde in a miniskirt!” shtick with “No, actually, not so much.”

    Really. I will spell it out, then. You can’t use misogynist premises (women shouldn’t have human faces, human throats, or human hands–all those things are for boys only) against an individual women without using it on all women. Answering sexism with sexism? Well, see, that’s bad, because sexism is bad. Not bad unless we use it on someone we have. Just, you know, bad. In itself.

    Think, if you will, of what it would mean if someone responded to Coulter’s “perfected Jews” spiel with remarks about she has a pretty Jewy-looking nose herself.

  14. sophonisba says:

    Not bad unless we use it on someone we have.

    Or even someone we hate.

  15. Mireille says:

    I to hate to defend Ann Coulter but as a trans-women I really really hate it when ‘tranny’ is used against her as some sort of ultimate put down. I bothers me even more that it is used by supposedly progressive commentators as well. This sort of remark is so sexist and transphobic it makes me want to scream.

    Here, here. They had a big screed about another right wing woman at Wonkette one day and there were tons of “tranny” remarks. I made a comment about how uncool that was and was attacked by all the liberal dewds telling me I was too pc and basically STFU and let the boys have their fun. “Tranny” is not a nice word. Ever.

  16. AJ says:

    Seriously. Enough with the t-bombs. It’s so f*cking offensive, even just in passing.

  17. Schmorgluck says:

    Wouldn’t a public communication in her defense on this very point only by some major feminist organization be a wonderful thing, both on ethical and tactical grounds?
    Not that I expect RoboCrap to be grateful in anyway, but hey, just my two cents.

  18. mustelid says:

    Wanna shut down that whole I’m-a-hot-blonde-in-a-miniskirt schtick? Simple: Outward physical attractiveness doesn’t begin to make up for a truly horrific personality. I’ve been around people that truly did get uglier every time they opened their mouths.

  19. Cola Johnson says:

    There is a lot wrong with Coulter, but it’s perfectly obvious that what threatens the men of Maxim most is that she’s an independent and highly opinionated who boldly and aggressively dominates public spaces and discussions. Their masculinity is threatened. It’s no better than their usual misogynistic drivel, pop philosophy, and missing-the-point/ill-informed reporting on world events.

    We may have an enemy in common, but that does not make us friends.

  20. EG says:

    Also, Mike, Coulter must have a short memory, because I recall Chelsea Clinton being subjected to major crap about her frizzy, curly hair when she was still a kid.

  21. Cola Johnson says:

    opinionated woman*

    oops.

  22. mike says:

    EG you are clearly right… from Chris Farley playing her on Saturday Night Live (when she was only 12 or 13 years old), to Sen. McCain making a “joke” about Chelsea being unnatractive b/c Janet Reno was her father… I just picked the one example b/c it came from Coulter herself. But either way, the point was just because Coulter presents outrage on behalf of women (the same women she doesn’t even think should vote) that is feigned for her political purposes, doesn’t make it any less outrageous in reality. After reading her distressing op-ed today though on the Columbia noose incident –

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ucac/20071017/cm_ucac/anotherliberalnooseance
    – it sure makes it tough to remember that this isn’t about just defending Coulter, as the graphic in Maxim wasn’t just aimed at her. Interesting actually, how Coulter can point out on one hand that such a magazine article impacts more than just her and is aimed at sending a message to women more broadly… yet then pen a hateful essay such as the one she did today where she apparently can’t get how the noose incident was targeted at more than just one individual… but expecting consistency from Coulter is probably a little too much to hope for.

  23. Helen says:

    We also don’t see right-wing crazy men being denigrated for their looks — unless they’re fat. Which is a whole ‘nother issue.

    Well, having done a bit of soul searching, I have come up with the answer: “yes, I have denigrated right-wing crazy (Australian) men for their looks”. But, you should see our Australian right-wing crazies. Google “Padraic mcGuinness”, “Christopher Pearson” “Piers Akerman” and “Gerard Henderson” if you have the time, and see if it doesn’t break your monitor.

  24. almaria says:

    Cola Johnson writes: We may have an enemy in common, but that does not make us friends.

    This brings to mind that Egyptian Mona Eltahawy recently wrote a troubling (for me) article in the Forward called “I Will Stand With the Muslim Brotherhood” (http://www.forward.com/articles/11646/), about how she finds herself forced to defend the Muslim Brotherhood’s right to participate in Egyptian elections even as she finds their sexism odious.

    I must say that I find this gnashing of teeth in defense of a fabulously wealthy blond racist from a lad magazine to be a waste of time. If the outrages of trite pornographers occupy so much of your attention, you must be having a slow day. It is like going to garbage dump and then writing 1000 words about the discovery of…. garbage!

  25. mythago says:

    Calling her a “tranny” is fair game?

    No. I’m talking about the comments about her attractiveness. Transphobia is inexcusable in any context.

    And to be clear, I’m not saying that it’s perfectly OK for feminists to attack anti-feminists’ appearance. What I am saying is that I find it very hard to be outraged when a conservative fuckwad is blown up by their own landmines. Maxim is exactly part of that anti-female, sexist, judge-me-by-my-legs ethos that Coulter promotes. So when her own compatriots turn around and say she’s unfuckable, I can’t get too worked up. No, that doesn’t make Maxim’s reaction OK. But just as we shouldn’t be running around going “so what? she’s an ugly bitch”, I don’t see the point of “defending” her crazy ass.

    As for the Jew-baiting, if a bunch of Coulter’s buddies suggested that her nose was too Jewish-looking for them to take her seriously, I’d have about the same reaction.

  26. Painini says:

    Um, :: raises hand::, ‘scuse me?

    How is this post in any way a defence of Ann Coulter? All I see is a post about Maxim printing something stupid.

    The enemy of my enemy … can still be a nitwit I’m better off without, without changing who my enemy is.

  27. tekanji says:

    mythago: The point is that we, as feminists working to end oppression, have an obligation to ourselves and other women to speak out against sexism no matter who that sexism is directed against. I definitely do think that it’s worth pointing out, as you did, that the attack on Coulter is a logical product of the kind of world she’s working to create, but that does not mean that we, in turn, should endorse that result, even if that endorsement is simply silence on the matter. Sexism is sexism, even if the person who is being hurt by said sexism has endorsed it. And I think that one thing that we, as feminists, can agree on is that sexism is wrong and should be combated.

    Painini: Censuring Maxim for printing that transphobic, sexist crap about Ann Coulter counts as defending her. Defending her, however, is not the same as welcoming her as an ally.

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  29. Amanda says:

    I hate Ann Coulter too, but what would you expect from any magazine today? Apart from feminist magazines, what articles do any of you find that make women seem intelligent and don’t focus on their looks?

    I picked up a Maxim when I was in Duane Reade the other day to see how it compared to some women’s magazines and it wasn’t too different.

    I’d honestly rather read Maxim than for example Cosmopolitan. At least the sexism in Maxim comes from men, and we can see it explicitly rather than those women at Cosmo who preach empowerment, sucking girls and women into reading it, but actually offer no merit and put women down by getting into their subconscious and telling them they are worthless unless they buy this beauty product and that dress.

  30. wellie says:

    the ‘what do you expect, it’s just maxim’ argument, for me, does not work here. coulter is infamous for speaking out of both sides of her mouth, constantly spouting ridiculous hateful trash. maxim knows this, and obviously isn’t a fan of ann. why the need to expel more sexist bs? readers can turn the page and see 50 or so other examples of misogyny in their magazine every month. why not use the tools that ms. coulter supplies every time she opens her mouth to shoot her down? digging into the lowest common denominator and calling her sexist and transphobic names, rather than just using coulter’s ignorant character is appalling. maxim could at least step up to bat here, where the target is just so, well, handed to them on a platter.

  31. Anony says:

    Who cares?
    It’s funny and she deserves it and more.
    It would even more funny if she lost sleep over the picture.

    So what i’m saying is, if Ann Coulter was Hitler would you have the same response?

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