Author: has written 5271 posts for this blog.

Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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191 Responses

  1. Cara
    Cara December 6, 2008 at 7:16 pm |

    Where’d you find this?

    When I first saw it and I didn’t know who the guy was, I was convinced that he was acting like he was grabbing Hillary’s boob. Now I’m trying to convince myself that “no, he’s just holding up the cut out and doesn’t realize where his hand is! . . . right? right?’

    It’s not working so well.

  2. Ouyang Dan
    Ouyang Dan December 6, 2008 at 7:36 pm |

    Yeah…I saw that racing around. I think Campbell Brown talked about it yesterday too. I don’t think it was coincidental, since the guy in the pic has since issues an (most sincere *coughbullshitcough*) apology for it.

    It is my understanding that he is currently being considered for a position in the White House that has something to do w/ the SoS?

  3. preying mantis
    preying mantis December 6, 2008 at 7:44 pm |

    “One hand on her hair, one on her boob and another guy feeding her beer?”

    That’s the other guy’s hand on her hair. But the hand he’s got on her boob is crooked into a sort of cupping position instead of flat, like you’d assume if he was actually just trying to hold the cut-out up. It’s possible he wasn’t going for it, but highly unlikely.

  4. little light
    little light December 6, 2008 at 7:47 pm |

    That guy is so, so boned once Clinton gets a minute alone with him. I hope she makes him cry.

  5. Flowers
    Flowers December 6, 2008 at 7:53 pm |

    If this had been anyone else there wouldn’t have been “no comment”; there would have been OUTRAGE. There should be outrage because this is outrageous!!!! Taking pictures of groping a cutout of a feminist leader (cuz she is) and pretending to pour beer down her throat is outrageous. Simply unforgivable. I would never allow this person to work for me because they have shown poor judgment and extreme sexism. I don’t care how damn good a speechwriter, or anything else, he is.

    Where is the outrage over Larry Summers being one of the four top economic advisers? Where is the outrage over this guy? Obama is not above criticism. Just because it’s one of his choices doesn’t mean that as feminists we say “no comment” and keep our mouths shut! We speak up (like we’ve learned to do through feminism) and we say that we are not going to take having sexists in high positions.

    I am sincerely disappointed. Sincerely disappointed.

  6. Flowers
    Flowers December 6, 2008 at 8:03 pm |

    Imagine that the cutout was of Michelle Obama and it was a McCain speechwriter. Is everyone still trying to rationalize the placement of the hands?

    Ugh, I’m still sick over this. Sick!

  7. Lauren O
    Lauren O December 6, 2008 at 8:11 pm |

    Ew. Jesus, what a fucking disappointment.

  8. Redstar
    Redstar December 6, 2008 at 8:25 pm |

    Jon Favreau is his name, and he’s supposed to be the new chief speechwriter to Obama, IIRC. What b-llsh-t.

  9. evil_fizz
    evil_fizz December 6, 2008 at 8:29 pm |

    If this had been anyone else there wouldn’t have been “no comment”; there would have been OUTRAGE.

    You don’t think the picture speaks for itself? I think Jill’s point is not that it isn’t pathetic, juvenile, and jack-assey*, it’s just that you don’t really need to elaborate on how outrageous it is.

    *Seeking nominees for a better way to articulate that word.

  10. Personal Failure
    Personal Failure December 6, 2008 at 9:13 pm |

    So, Mr. Favreau, what’s it like to be part of a gender that automatically shames itself when combining alcohol with cameras and women (or paper facsimiles thereof)? Poor little lopsided Y chromosomes.

    While I sit here with fetal-position-inducing cramps, I remind myself that while being a woman can be hard at times, it’s way better than the alternative!

  11. Holly
    Holly December 6, 2008 at 9:21 pm |

    What a complete idiot.

  12. Cara
    Cara December 6, 2008 at 9:23 pm |

    You don’t think the picture speaks for itself? I think Jill’s point is not that it isn’t pathetic, juvenile, and jack-assey*, it’s just that you don’t really need to elaborate on how outrageous it is.

    For real. You’ve left me scratching my head, Flowers. If Jill didn’t think it was outrageous, she wouldn’t have posted it.

  13. Cat Ion
    Cat Ion December 6, 2008 at 9:24 pm |

    Wow, Jon, mimicking sexual assault? That’s classy.

  14. Renee
    Renee December 6, 2008 at 9:35 pm |

    I don’t understand why he still has a job. Even though he did not directly touch her to me this still reads as sexual harassment. I don’t care about his ability to write a good speech he has compromised Obama integrity by this behavior. Not firing him is a tacit approval of everything that he did. It seems to me that because this is HRC people are fine with it and that just disgusts me. When one woman is degraded like this we all are.

  15. evil_fizz
    evil_fizz December 6, 2008 at 9:45 pm |

    Not firing him is a tacit approval of everything that he did.

    Renee, I really can’t agree with you here. I think there’s a significant gap between offenses someone should be fired for and offenses which you (as the employer) condemn and move on from. Juvenile stupidity of this variety just doesn’t rise to that former level for me, but YMMV and I’d be curious to know why you think this warrants firing rather than some lesser form of intervention/condemnation.

    Also, I’d worry that this argument means that there’s a tacit approval of everything from Summers’s remarks at Harvard to General Shineski’s decision to make everyone in the Army wear berets.

  16. Flowers
    Flowers December 6, 2008 at 10:01 pm |

    Perhaps the fact that the first few comments were about how it could maybe have looked like he’s just propping her up is why there should be more than just “no comment.”

    There are a lot of disgusting things that could just be linked to or put a picture up of. But that doesn’t happen. A comment is made!!! And the person’s “incredible talent” isn’t highlighted.

    Other feminist blogs manage to have something to say… WaPo managed to have something to say…. even the commenters at WaPo highlighted violence against women and how these “juvenile acts” by men often go under the radar or are explained away and how bad that is.

    But Feministe. Well, here it’s just “no comment” and oh yeah, he’s incredibly talented and a jackass.

    Outrageous! Every feminist should be commenting her ass off about how things like this should and will not be acceptable and call out Obama for the future employment of this guy.

    Obama has the most rigorous screening for employees that the political world has ever seen. It means a LOT when he keeps guys like this on. It means that either the guy lied on his application (which is not okay) or else Obama and his staff knew about this (which is even worse).

  17. shah8
    shah8 December 6, 2008 at 10:05 pm |

    I am of mixed views about this.

    I didn’t like it when Elliot Spitzer was brought down, and I don’t generally like public repercussions for this kind of behavior. I had pretty much the same reaction with the whole Samantha Power thing. I suspect that a private dressing down and probation is appropriate here.

    It’s quite alright for us to think that he’s a jackass and to look askance at Obama for having him. I’m even okay with firing him. Obama is competent enough to do that job himself if he had to. It’s just that there are going to be plenty of people, as there always are, who are thouroughly nasty but necessary. We shouldn’t get into the habit of expecting firings for anything but offenses against the state or the public.

  18. Mosh Mosh
    Mosh Mosh December 6, 2008 at 10:21 pm |

    I know I might be torn apart for this, but I don’t really think it’s that much of a big deal. Yeah, this was stupid. Really stupid. And shows a lack of judgment. BUT, the people were obviously a bunch of twenty-somethings just being silly at a party. It’s not like he did this at a campaign office or on national television. The picture was taken off of FACEBOOK (incidentally, publishing pictures off of Facebook is actually against its terms of use and illegal). Also, he publicly apologized immediately after. I’m not saying any of this excuses his actions, but I think it does point to the fact that it’s really a non-issue. I know plenty of people who have pictures of Obama in a bathing suit as their gchat/facebook pictures, does that make them sexist pigs? I don’t think so; rather, it’s something they do in ‘private’ as a joke of sorts.*

    At least now he knows that when you’re an actor on the national stage, what you do in private is subject to public scrutiny. A lesson learned.

    *Granted, they are not national political figures.

  19. bleh
    bleh December 6, 2008 at 10:25 pm |

    cause women are not part of “the public” Shah8? women have not been tacitly threatened about reaching for too much power? hmmm

  20. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub December 6, 2008 at 10:31 pm |

    At best, it shows horrible judgment. At worst, it shows rank misogyny. I’m with Renee on this one–this dumfuck needs to get his ass fired yesterday.

  21. Cat Ion
    Cat Ion December 6, 2008 at 10:33 pm |

    Here’s a disgusting quote from the WaPo article:

    Favreau’s case seems unlikely to be so dire; Clinton senior adviser Philippe Reines cast the photos as evidence of increased bonhomie between the formerly rival camps.

    Increased bonhomie? Grabbing a woman’s (yes, I know it’s a cut-out) breast while your buddy pulls back her hair and shoves a beer bottle in her mouth is an example of bonhomie? Interesting choice of words, there. I would have used “knocking her down a peg or two” but I’m weird like that. I have this strange notion that words like “bonhomie” should actually mean what they are supposed to mean.

  22. evil_fizz
    evil_fizz December 6, 2008 at 10:36 pm |

    Perhaps the fact that the first few comments were about how it could maybe have looked like he’s just propping her up is why there should be more than just “no comment.”

    Flowers, read Cara’s first comment again. She wants to believe the best of the guy, and can’t actually convince herself that he’s anything other than a jackass. The rest of the comments are about how it’s totally implausible that he’s doing anything but groping the cutout.

    It’s particularly galling that Favreau is acting like such a damn fool, because he’s otherwise seemed like a progressive with phenomenal writing talents. Yes, it’s caustic and part of an environment of in which “joking sexism” is normalized and perpetuated, but I personally am unconvinced that this calls for Favreau being fired.

  23. Lauren
    Lauren December 6, 2008 at 10:37 pm |

    Flowers can get Flowers’ own blog and manufacture some shame and outrage there. Or Flowers can be moderated for derailing the post.

  24. Cara
    Cara December 6, 2008 at 10:40 pm |

    Actually Flowers, the first three comments with mine being the first, are actually about how it could be coincidental, but it’s almost certainly not. Condemning is all that has been done here, and I have to say that I’m really annoyed with the “Outrage: Ur Doin it Rong” comments that constantly sprout up. Jesus, if what you have a problem with is Jill pointing out the fact of the man’s talent in this post, then go on about that from the get go, not how Jill didn’t explicitly express enough righteous indignation for your taste and pretending like “no comment” now some how means approval in this context.

    Okay? She’s upset about it. We’re all upset about it. If you want to be the Most Upset of All, well congratulations you win.

    And I’m with Renee. I think he deserves to get fired. Why? Because it’s sexual harassment. Sexual harassment should be a firing offense. Further, I think that it is, as Cat Ion said above, a simulation of sexual assault. And that should definitely be a firing offense.

  25. Cara
    Cara December 6, 2008 at 10:44 pm |

    I know I might be torn apart for this, but I don’t really think it’s that much of a big deal. Yeah, this was stupid. Really stupid. And shows a lack of judgment. BUT, the people were obviously a bunch of twenty-somethings just being silly at a party.

    I’m twenty-something. Please don’t use my age as an excuse to be a stupid jackass. I’m not a stupid jackass. And in the instance that I do act like one, I own up to it and accept the consequences of my jackassery. Which may very well involve being raked over the coals.

    I know plenty of people who have pictures of Obama in a bathing suit as their gchat/facebook pictures, does that make them sexist pigs? I don’t think so; rather, it’s something they do in ‘private’ as a joke of sorts

    Are they photoshopping themselves into those photos, grabbing him in a sexualized manner? Because if so, then yes it is equally in appropriate, at least so much as it can be when they don’t work for an opponent’s campaign. Otherwise, it’s not remotely the same thing.

  26. shah8
    shah8 December 6, 2008 at 10:47 pm |

    /me shrugs

    I said before, I don’t care whether *this* guy gets fired or not. I just care that there seems to be such an emphasis on having a policy of automatically firing everyone for jackass. It misses the forest for the trees.

    Every employee should be judged by how valuable they are to their employer, within certain limitations, which are defined by law. I have a vested interest in seeing a successful President Obama, more or less because I view these times as increasingly precarious for all of us. Jackass of this day, I’m okay with firing. Jackass who lays golden bricks or thinks up wonderous solutions or is an effective administrator or legislator…well, I don’t think we should fire him or her, and I don’t think we should call for her firing.

    There will be people who will do things to truly diserve to lose their jobs, and we should reserve our activities for those times.

  27. shah8
    shah8 December 6, 2008 at 10:52 pm |

    For instance, LBJ was not a very nice person, and Martin Luther King very much could be a flawed man. During the times which these two guys have operated, plenty of people who are far worse than they have tried to highlight their flaws such that the good that they did could not happen.

    Always balance. always.

  28. Kristin
    Kristin December 6, 2008 at 11:04 pm |

    What Cara and Renee said. I do think the dude should be fired, and I do see this as sexual harassment.

    And, like everyone other than Flowers, I take Jill’s post in good faith here–that the behavior is self-evidently reprehensible and doesn’t necessarily need analysis in order to communicate the point. Also… Maybe she just had other shit to do today?

  29. evil_fizz
    evil_fizz December 6, 2008 at 11:04 pm |

    And I’m with Renee. I think he deserves to get fired. Why? Because it’s sexual harassment. Sexual harassment should be a firing offense. Further, I think that it is, as Cat Ion said above, a simulation of sexual assault. And that should definitely be a firing offense.

    I’m sort of surprised that I’m one of the few people here who thinks this is not a firing offense. An occasion to be made to feel the fool and get raked over the coals? Certainly. But fired, no, especially since this isn’t sexual harassment as legally defined. (A semantic and potentially meaningless distinction if there ever was one.)

  30. Bene
    Bene December 6, 2008 at 11:17 pm |

    I agree with evil_fizz, much as I wish I didn’t. Fucked up yes, distinctively sexual harassment as legally defined no.

    Should Obama himself call this fuckhead in and read him the riot act? (or better, have Emanuel do it–last person I’d ever want to piss off) Absolutely. Forced resignation a la Power? Sure. But direct firing I can’t see happening in any real sense.

  31. Kristin
    Kristin December 6, 2008 at 11:22 pm |

    Here is the legal definition of sexual harassment. It could ostensibly amount to # 3 (and as “other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature”):

    Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when

    1. submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment,
    2. submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individuals, or
    3. such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment. (29 C.F.R. § 1604.11 [1980])

  32. belledame222
    belledame222 December 6, 2008 at 11:36 pm |

    Um, I’d fire him. And kick his ass from here to Sunday. I don’t care how talented he is: he fucked up. Bigtime.

    That said, yes, I think that Jill was clearly “goes without” saying it was rank misogyny. Disgusting. Arrogant little shit.

  33. roses
    roses December 6, 2008 at 11:43 pm |

    We shouldn’t get into the habit of expecting firings for anything but offenses against the state or the public.

    Sexual harassment is a fireable offense because it creates a working environment that is hostile toward women. I cannot believe I have to make this point on a feminist website. Favreau might be talented and useful to the Obama administration, but if 10 talented and useful women decide not to work there because they’re not comfortable working with this guy, how is that balance?

  34. belledame222
    belledame222 December 6, 2008 at 11:46 pm |

    I just care that there seems to be such an emphasis on having a policy of automatically firing everyone for jackass. It misses the forest for the trees.

    You know what? This isn’t some guy filing papers in some back office. This is top-level, in the spotlight politics. People get fired for far less. And, the guy is a -speechwriter-; Pee Arr, hello? He ought to know damn well what something like this would look like if anyone did, even if he doesn’t actually give a crap really that he’s being a sexist shithead. Obama’s campaign has been scouring potential hirees even unto their online handles, they’re so averse to scandal. And this? Clusterfuck, totally avoidable, smug, arrogant prickitude; and right after Obama’d buried the hatchet with the Clintons… No sympathy. Throw the book at him. And some other things while we’re at it.

  35. Cat Ion
    Cat Ion December 6, 2008 at 11:50 pm |

    He should have just stuck to a funny face and bunny ears. If it had been a cut-out of McCain, I’m sure that’s what he would have done. But, no. This was a cut-out of HRC and everyone knows the proper way of humiliating a woman and putting her in her place is to remind her (and other women) that they can be sexually violated at any time. That is why I consider it a firing offense. It is sexual harassment, as Kristin mentioned.

  36. evil_fizz
    evil_fizz December 7, 2008 at 12:02 am |

    Actually, from the WaPo piece, it sounds like he’s actually in the process of applying for other jobs, specifically with the Secretary’s of State office. A stellar way to make a first impression on your future boss if there ever was one.

    And I can say with considerable certainty (although with no small amount of bitterness) that one photo like that is never going to constitute actionable sexual harassment. Not saying it’s not harassing, just that it’s short of the legal definition.

  37. belledame222
    belledame222 December 7, 2008 at 12:05 am |

    It takes a certain amount of chutzpah to apply to work for the very woman you’ve been groping-by-proxy, I gotta say. If she wants to take him on for whatever reason it’s her own lookout I guess; but I don’t think he should be Obama’s director of speechwriting, for just a whole -bunch- of reasons.

  38. Manju
    Manju December 7, 2008 at 12:06 am |

    Hill had a funny response. Good for her.

  39. Manju
    Manju December 7, 2008 at 12:13 am |

    i say its not sexual harrasment:

    1. didn’t occur in the workplace
    2. Hill didn’t work with the guy when it occured
    3. power…hil isl in a more powerful position
    4. while employers have the right to fire someone for private behaviour, they are not legally obligated to (with some narrow exceptions). If they were, sexual harassment law would be on a collision course with the first amendment

  40. victoria
    victoria December 7, 2008 at 12:13 am |

    I think the expression of the woman in the background speaks volumes. It looks like she’s forcing herself to put a smile on her face, because if she doesn’t smile, or (God forbid) says that it’s not OK to pretend to sexually denigrate a woman like that, she’ll be accused of being a shrill, uptight b*tch (y’know, just like Hillary Clinton).

    Do you think she and the other women who might have been present consented to watching this scene the boys’ played out with the cutout? Can you imagine the boys saying “Oh hey, you don’t mind, do you, if we pretend to sexually assault a woman in front of you? it’s funny, right???” I really doubt it. Call me overly sensitive, but I don’t think it’s right for anyone to have to see this kind of sexual display if they don’t want to. This kind of behavior on the part of men, to joke about sexually taking advantage of a woman–even a cardboard cutout of a woman– is behavior that silences women, that unwittingly or not, condones the sexual denigration of women, and makes even a casual social gathering into a non safe space.

    I say fire him.

  41. belledame222
    belledame222 December 7, 2008 at 12:21 am |

    To be clear, then, even if he isn’t fired for sexual harassment as such, I think he ought to be fired because it’s a really fucking stupid PR move from someone who’s supposed to be on top of that shit. Again, if HRC herself gives the o.k. sign then, well, it’s harder to make the case for it, but personally I’m really turned off. and no, I don’t think “reading him the riot act” is gonna make that much difference if he’s still rewarded with a plum job, you know? I mean, I get that he’s -really good- and they don’t want to lose him, but there’ve gotta be other good speechwriters out there, you know?

  42. belledame222
    belledame222 December 7, 2008 at 12:26 am |

    I can’t actually tell if the woman in the background is looking at it–it looks like there’s some other shit going on at the party outside the shot, but sure, it’s possible.

    I just think–um, no, it’s a really bad message to send that this sort of thing is acceptable. He’s young and arrogant and I’m sure he can write a really pretty apology; but I’m gonna be seeing that every time I hear Obama speak, now, I think, if he sticks around. I’ve not had much time (to put it mildly) for the PUMAs, particularly when they went round the bend (some) and starting plumping for Palin; but it’s this kind of shit that makes me think they have a point after all. Which, I’d really rather not. So…

  43. Manju
    Manju December 7, 2008 at 12:26 am |

    definitely not a nice guy

  44. Wittgenstein's Mistress
    Wittgenstein's Mistress December 7, 2008 at 12:38 am |

    I’m with Flowers. I don’t think that there is enough constructive criticism from the left, in particular from us feminists, in regards to Obama, his actions, his policies, and his staff. I think that what Flowers is trying to articulate here is not so much that the outrage from those who have commented has been insufficient on an individual basis or is somehow tainted but rather it is a frustration at the overall lack of attention being brought to issues like these as a whole when they are associated with Obama. I think what Flowers is -trying- to say is, “why aren’t MORE people commenting on this?”

    I’d have to agree. This is the first time I’ve seen this and I’m a bit of a news and blog junkie myself. From my neck of the urban jungle, the response has been next to nil. Same with the Obama “sweetheart” comments. Same with the Obama “girly dog” comments. We heard so much about McCain over the past few months and his disgraceful comments on women (women’s “health”, anyone?) and granted that some of that boils down to the fact that there is more ample material to pick from, but I do think that because we tend to count Obama as “one of ours”, so to speak, we tend to give him a free pass more often than we should.

    Because the staffer in question is associated with Obama, suddenly we can rationalize all sorts of things about his actions, even if, fundamentally, we know it’s a weak argument. If he were associated with the McCain/Palin campaign, I somehow doubt we would be seeing the same treatment for the same actions, on this website and in other media outlets.

    I’m with Belledame, Roses, and the others that are calling for his termination. In today’s political climate, inaction on an issue like this is akin to supporting what has taken place. Obama cannot in good conscience keep this man on staff and continue to claim to fight for women’s equality and his goal of bringing the nation together.

    Fire him.

  45. rachel
    rachel December 7, 2008 at 12:40 am |

    Yeah, I wasn’t impressed by this either. I wanted to be able to rationalise it (because, um, I had a bit of a crush on him) but good speechwriter or not, right wing or left, decent men don’t feign sexual harrassment to make fun of a woman – even if she is a cardboard cutout.

  46. Manju
    Manju December 7, 2008 at 12:44 am |

    i believe one of the feminising bloggers used to feature a pic of her tonguing a cardboard cutout of GWB in the ear

  47. belledame222
    belledame222 December 7, 2008 at 12:51 am |

    “Sweetheart” and “girlie dog” are jerky imo but not on a par with this sort of thing. And yeah, policy came first for me, which is why McCain’s sexism was so much more outrageous for me; (well, that and making rape jokes and calling your own wife a “cunt” are kind of worse, also, too: but mainly I didn’t want this fucker in charge of anything anywhere near my reproductive air quotes, thanks). yes, Obama was “one of ours” but there are REASONS why he was.

    Now that the election’s over, though, fuck yeah I’m for calling him on this and other shit a lot more.

  48. Tiffany
    Tiffany December 7, 2008 at 12:51 am |

    Imagine a CBS employee photographed groping a cutout of Katie Couric. How would CBS, as a public entity, take action? Would they sweep it under the rug, leading thousands or millions of people to think it was okay? Or would they try to restore the dignity of their team?

    Favreau is a representative of the Obama team, Clinton is going to be a pivotal member of the same team, and this shows a level of disrespect that should not be tolerated. Hell, I don’t publish my company name on my Facebook because I don’t want to embarrass my employer with my musical tastes and status updates. Whether they fire him, ask him to leave, or force a very public apology, it can’t just be chalked up to just something he did on his personal time. The rationalizations listed in comments above sound a lot like the “boys will be boys” excuse.

    It bothers me just as much that the man on the right has a shirt that says “Obama Staff”. His behavior is just as egregious, maybe more because even if you don’t know who is pictured, you know that the one on the right is affiliated with Obama.

  49. Kristin
    Kristin December 7, 2008 at 1:12 am |

    Belle at 46: Yep.

  50. Stlthy
    Stlthy December 7, 2008 at 1:31 am |

    I’m totally with Wittgenstein’s Mistress and others. Obama and his staff need to be called out when they do reprehensible shit. I really, really think progressives need to push Obama, rather than giving him a free pass and excusing some of his more objectionable actions and policies. I’m not meaning to say that’s what’s happening here, but the tendency seems to be drifting around somewhat. He’s been elected, and I’m really glad/relieved about that, but he does need to be pushed and critiqued.

  51. ahunt
    ahunt December 7, 2008 at 1:52 am |

    My crush on Jon has given way to the hope that Hillary wastes no time in making Jon her _____. (fill in the blank)

  52. Lauren O
    Lauren O December 7, 2008 at 2:04 am |

    Manju, there is a difference between this photo and the photo you’re describing. First of all, this one is much more aggressively violating; it involves groping, forced alcohol consumption (date rape implications), and possibly hair-pulling, all of which are more severe in real-life than an ear-licking.

    Second of all, you have to understand the social context. Women actually do get groped and drugged and raped on a regular basis, so a photo of this kind is a reminder to women of past experiences and/or potential future experiences. No one goes up to a dude in a public place and licks his ear, so there’s no social resonance in the picture you’re describing. It’s kind of like how a noose is a different historical symbol in regards to black people and white people, so someone threatening Obama with a noose has a different, scarier social symbolism than someone threatening McCain with a noose.

    Can I also say that I am kind of enjoying the folks complaining that no one is commenting on this, when it has waaaay more comments than the average Feministe post?

  53. shah8
    shah8 December 7, 2008 at 2:28 am |

    What does strike me as interesting is that it will be Clinton who makes the choice to hire him or not–and she is still favorably inclined to hire him. Make of that what you will. Must be that she wants speeches as good as Obama’s, despite it all.?:~)

    I guess part of why I’m on edge was that I was over at Digby’s and there was a thread about Geithner and Bair–There are still PUMAs in there being utter and ignorant assholes. There are actually fairly sound reasons not to like Bair, and I have never thought of her as anything other than somewhat ineffectual, sometimes dangerously so. The whole near disaster in the Wachovia-Citigroup-Wells Fargo triangle was in some part due to her impetuousness. Geithner’s stated reason that she’s not a team player might actually be the actual one. And there these people were, solidly convinced of Obama’s sexist attitudes because his deputy is making waves about not wanting to work with someone Obama has every right to remove at his pleasure.

    I’m also not forgetting that time when so many bloggers interpreted a video in which Obama flicks at his shoulders or something as a sexist act.

    Nor am I forgetting…hmmm…scratched out the rest of that thought, I’m getting mildly upset.

    Because you know what? Obama was out there, trying to do a job of reassuring the public that he has plans and he will move to help–in a way that Bush never did, he tried to make sure any downturn was Clinton’s fault, and talked up the coming recession constantly. Not only did Obama do that, he did in a way that actively included women and women’s concerns, and he did it in a natural way without stilted language. I am not forgetting that, neither.

    I will be forgetting this fool. It just disturbs me how much people feel like they are entitled to bay for blood without even certainty of legal or professional ethics violation. I am not even absolutely sure Favreux intended to insult Clinton, since this was a party, and the gist of the article does make me wonder whether all the cutout action was about self-mockery of the kiss-up socialization with an anticipated new boss (and the placement of the hand was actually unintended).

    I don’t know and I don’t care.

    What I *do* care about is that if it’s *this* easy to set off a tizzy, what do you think is going to happen when all of the Gerths come out of the woodwork and try to stick nonstory scandels into the public conscious?

    I think it would behoove many of you well to read the wikis on Al Brady, Harold Washington, and David Dinkins. The sort of crap that got tossed at them, will be tossed at Obama.

  54. RacyT
    RacyT December 7, 2008 at 3:12 am |

    Manju — as much as you drive me crazy sometimes, I know you are not an actual troll. That said, seriously, I’ve watched your reactions to posts here for years. Can you not at this point realize that something that happens to an opposed group differently affects members of that opposed group more so than the larger part of society? I know you can comprehend this; it is not in any way beyond you. Can you please acknowledge that sexism happens to women more than men? I mean, come on. I know you have it in you. Just because it isn’t textbook sexual harassment doesn’t mean it’s A-OK.

  55. Manju
    Manju December 7, 2008 at 4:16 am |

    I know you can comprehend this; it is not in any way beyond you. Can you please acknowledge that sexism happens to women more than men? I mean, come on. <blockquote

    Yes, I can acknowledge that. So I guess that takes care of feministing comparison. In other words, I never have to worri about getting groped on a train, so if you were to grope a cut-out figure of me, it wouldn’t and shouldn’t have the same effect as vice versa. context.

    now, i usually don’t comment on pure feminist issues like this, unless they overlap with politics, becuase i like to just listen and get sense of the zeitgiest. so i kinda regret commenting here (other than on the first ammedment vs sexual harassment law issue) b/c my reaction is probably just reflective of the fact that my sensitvity meter (when it comes to subtle isms) is set close to zero. i ‘d probably fight any ethnic/racial equivelent of this with humor. I’d be curious to know how non-progressive women react to this though.

    but i concede your basic point.

  56. Jha
    Jha December 7, 2008 at 9:03 am |

    Manju: Getting licked in the ear is hardly as aggressive or violating as getting force-fed beer and groped.

    A non-progressive wouldn’t give a shit and just pass it off as “boys being boys”, becaue, obviously, in the comfort of the private space, boys are completely entitled to behave like jackasses towards women or symbols of women.

  57. ylime
    ylime December 7, 2008 at 9:48 am |

    Obviously this was a stupid move for someone in politics to do to someone else in politics, but I just can’t get angry about this.

    I mean, it’s a cardboard cutout of a famous person! This is what you do to cardboard cutouts! You draw mustaches on them, you give them speech bubbles saying ridiculous things, you put cigarettes and alcohol to their mouths, you pick their noses…

    On my college campus, there’s a statue of the guy the school’s named after. People climb on him, dress him up, and do silly things to him all the time. Most recently, some friends glued a water balloon on him to represent a penis and took pictures of themselves groping it. It’s not a reenactment of sexual violence against the man himself, and I fail to see how this Clinton cutout is any different.

  58. George H
    George H December 7, 2008 at 9:56 am |

    If this person was a surgeon and was the only person who could save your daughter’s life, would you refuse his services because of this picture?

    If the cut-out was Obama and it was Hillary’s female aids grabbing his crotch, would you call for them to be fired?

    Have all of you been perfect in your behavior, political or otherwise, your entire adult lives?

    Is forgiveness for stupidity part of your vocabulary?

    Just askin’.

  59. Cara
    Cara December 7, 2008 at 10:32 am |

    I’d have to agree. This is the first time I’ve seen this and I’m a bit of a news and blog junkie myself. From my neck of the urban jungle, the response has been next to nil. Same with the Obama “sweetheart” comments. Same with the Obama “girly dog” comments. We heard so much about McCain over the past few months and his disgraceful comments on women (women’s “health”, anyone?) and granted that some of that boils down to the fact that there is more ample material to pick from, but I do think that because we tend to count Obama as “one of ours”, so to speak, we tend to give him a free pass more often than we should.

    Actually, I — me personally — wrote about the “sweetheart” comment. The girly dog comment . . . was it sexist? Sure. Do I have a million better thing to write about, including the sweetheart comment? Yes. I wouldn’t have written about that if it was McCain either. I would have rolled my eyes. As I’m doing, albeit more incredulously, at the fact that you’re comparing the offhand statement about girly dogs to McCain’s dismissal of the very right of women to live.

    I mean, it’s a cardboard cutout of a famous person! This is what you do to cardboard cutouts! You draw mustaches on them, you give them speech bubbles saying ridiculous things, you put cigarettes and alcohol to their mouths, you pick their noses…

    Yup, and they could have done any of those things (well with the exception of the mustache) and I wouldn’t give a shit. Even with the mustache, I wouldn’t be nearly as pissed. Instead, he decided to simulate a sexual attack on her. That is not okay.

    If this person was a surgeon and was the only person who could save your daughter’s life, would you refuse his services because of this picture?

    He’s not. He’s a fucking speechwriter. Now who’s exaggerating?

    If the cut-out was Obama and it was Hillary’s female aids grabbing his crotch, would you call for them to be fired?

    Personally, yes. Next?

    Have all of you been perfect in your behavior, political or otherwise, your entire adult lives?

    Nope. But I also don’t simulate sexist and sexual assaults on people. If I did, please dear god, I’d want someone to fire my ass and teach me a goddamn lesson about how it is and is not acceptable to treat women.

    Is forgiveness for stupidity part of your vocabulary?

    Yup. But unfortunately, he did more than draw that mustache. And since when, and in what universe, does personal forgiveness mean no official consequences?

  60. peter
    peter December 7, 2008 at 10:48 am |

    Man, that is uncool.

    I’m sure everybody’s done stupid things and had pictures taken of them, that they’d rather not see the light of day. But there’s no way to spin this. There’s a lot of things you can do with a cut out to mock a rival, but obviously this crossed the line from mockery to some form of weird, abject humiliation.

    This guy is pretty stupid. It looks like he’s with other co-workers, so this wasn’t exactly in the context just fooling around with a small group of friends who aren’t connected with your profession or your job. Really stupid of him, on so many different levels. I don’t think I’d last five minutes in my job, if I was with co-workers, and performed simulated acts of sexual humiliation on a cut out of a prominent peer in my organization or professional circles.

  61. FashionablyEvil
    FashionablyEvil December 7, 2008 at 12:02 pm |

    I’m sort of surprised that I’m one of the few people here who thinks this is not a firing offense. An occasion to be made to feel the fool and get raked over the coals? Certainly. But fired, no

    I agree. I also don’t think he should be fired for a single incident of this level of stupidity. In the context of a pattern of behavior, sure. However, since he is young (and yes, I’m taking that into account) and perhaps no one’s called him out on this before, I think this would be better used as an opportunity to call him out and tell him to shape up or ship out.

    (Also, the fact that it was up on Facebook for 2 hours and then yanked leads me to believe that they knew it was wrong and stupid.*)

    I do believe that it was dumb and offensive. But I don’t believe he should be fired.

    *Why yes, I am rationalizing.

  62. evil_fizz
    evil_fizz December 7, 2008 at 12:14 pm |

    Here’s the problem with this kind of sexism: it’s sufficiently “subtle” and accepted that flies under a lot of people’s radar. It’s an expression of something that’s been supremely well inculcated and frequently replicated without any conscious thought. Now, it’s still bad, objectionable, and sexist, but how you respond to sexism has to account for intent, even if intent is irrelevant to labeling something sexist. Hence, I think the proper response here is: Jon you’re a moron with poor judgment. This was wrong for A, B, and C reasons. Work on that and try not to make a fool of yourself again. And not firing him.

    Part of what’s bugging me about the whole “He should be fired!” line is that is seems to assume that being fired (because it’s not a criminal sanction or something) isn’t an enormous penalty with significant implications. Or that an penalty of such magnitude is the proper response to a picture that was on Facebook for TWO HOURS and for an event that (potentially) lasted all of thirty seconds. I cannot agree that this sort of thing calls for “learning a lesson” that involves losing your livelihood rather than being raked over the coals.

  63. Katie
    Katie December 7, 2008 at 12:18 pm |

    These comments are even more proof that feminists lack any sense of humor. It is a couple of guys goofing around with a cardboard cut-out for goodness sake!

  64. FashionablyEvil
    FashionablyEvil December 7, 2008 at 12:34 pm |

    And slightly off topic, but look who else gets mentioned in the WaPo article:

    Favreau is not the first campaign aide whose online presence has proved awkward. Last March, John McCain aide Soren Dayton forwarded an anti-Obama YouTube video to his private Twitter feed linking Obama with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, leading to his suspension from the campaign. And in 2007, two bloggers hired by former North Carolina senator John Edwards stepped down after blog posts they had written before he hired them became a subject of controversy. (emphasis added)

  65. bleh
    bleh December 7, 2008 at 12:49 pm |

    evil_fizz you are making our argument for us. The reason people need to be fired for such behavior is *because* so-called subtle sexism is still acceptable. It affects women’s ability to be productive at work because they don’t feel safe or valued. So if you truly want equality, we have to end our acceptance of such sexism. That will mean actually punishing the people like Favreau who use it to tear strong women down. It might not scare Ms. Clinton herself, but it tells every other woman in that organization how much they are valued.

  66. roses
    roses December 7, 2008 at 12:52 pm |

    What does strike me as interesting is that it will be Clinton who makes the choice to hire him or not–and she is still favorably inclined to hire him. Make of that what you will. Must be that she wants speeches as good as Obama’s, despite it all.?:~)

    Or, she doesn’t want to look like the humourless feminist.

    And as for the rest of your comment… I don’t blame Obama for this, and I don’t think it’s evidence that Obama is sexist. I just think if Obama cares about creating a work environment where women can feel comfortable and safe, he can’t allow this kind of thing to go on.

    I don’t think I’d last five minutes in my job, if I was with co-workers, and performed simulated acts of sexual humiliation on a cut out of a prominent peer in my organization or professional circles.

    No fucking kidding. I’m not “crying for blood” here because I want to see this guy hurt or even taught a lesson. I think he should be fired because if Obama permits sexual harassment to go on in his organization, it will create a hostile working environment for women. That kind of behaviour is not acceptable in a workplace, period. And yes, that means Favreau loses his livelihood, but working in a professional job means acting like a professional. If he can’t do that, well…

  67. Julie
    Julie December 7, 2008 at 12:53 pm |

    Part of what’s bugging me about the whole “He should be fired!” line is that is seems to assume that being fired (because it’s not a criminal sanction or something) isn’t an enormous penalty with significant implications. Or that an penalty of such magnitude is the proper response to a picture that was on Facebook for TWO HOURS and for an event that (potentially) lasted all of thirty seconds. I cannot agree that this sort of thing calls for “learning a lesson” that involves losing your livelihood rather than being raked over the coals.

    I don’t think people’s concerns are simply punishing him. I think it’s very disturbing to know that there’s a high-ranking White House staffer who has zero respect for women. If this kind of misogyny is tolerated within the Obama administration, how is that attitude going to filter into policy?

  68. roses
    roses December 7, 2008 at 12:53 pm |

    it tells every other woman in that organization how much they are valued.

    Yes, this, exactly.

  69. bleh
    bleh December 7, 2008 at 12:53 pm |

    katie – feigning assault is hillarious – we just forgot for a second. What the hell is funny about pretending to grope someone? Please explain it to me.

  70. exholt
    exholt December 7, 2008 at 12:54 pm |

    This dude is an idiot for several reasons….especially wearing the Obama Staff shirt while fiddling with Clinton’s cardboard cutout, taking the photo, and allowing someone to post it on facebook. At the very least, there should be a stern talking to and a public apology.

    That said, I am quite disturbed by the increasing trend of admissions officers, government agencies and employers googling the name of applicants/job candidates and trolling their personal websites, blogs, facebook, myspace, etc to find anything they perceive as “incriminating” whether justified like this or unjustified like the case of. Though I grant that one could argue that the user of such personal internet sites could solve this problem by limiting access, do we really want a society where the wall between one’s worktime and one’s leisure time outside of work is blurred to the point the distinction is no longer meaningfully present?

    Do we want more absurd cases of this where one photo of a woman drinking from a cup in a pirate’s costume is sufficient grounds for a stuffy school administrator’s denying her access to the high school campus to finish her teaching requirement and thus, denying her the very teaching certification she has sought?

  71. Donna
    Donna December 7, 2008 at 1:03 pm |

    A lot of people get silly and childish when they are at a party. I think if they did silly childish things to the cut out, people would roll their eyes and dismiss it. A few would say, “Oh grow up already.” But there wouldn’t be any real uproar over it. That’s why drawing a mustache, or crossed eyes, or a clown nose, might upset a very few Clinton supporters but most people wouldn’t be bothered. I think it’s understood in our culture that you do try to take your rival down a notch by making fun of them. If I spent some time researching I’m sure I could find instances when both campaigns did this during the primary. In fact I recall one time when Clinton said something about the sky opening and the angels singing or something like that about Obama. She was making fun of him and taking him down a notch. Humor is acceptable in our society whether it is silly or sarcasm, and if that was all that was going on, I’d be the first to say, “C’mon, can’t you take a joke?”

    This is different. Yes he’s taking her down a notch, but he isn’t making fun of her, he’s using sexual humiliation to do it. Many of us have been groped for real. It’s not funny, it’s not a joke. That is why so many of us are upset and angry about this. That’s why this goes beyond being silly at a party. I don’t believe Favreau would actually ever really grope Clinton, but only because he knew he couldn’t get away with it. I do think that he finds sexually degrading women acceptable behavior or else it wouldn’t have ever crossed his mind to even pretend to grope her. I worry more about the women who he will work with who are his subordinates, and he thinks he could get away with humiliating. That’s why this is a firing offense.

  72. Katie
    Katie December 7, 2008 at 1:10 pm |

    I sorry that you choose not to respond to me Jill. I am really trying to understand what could possible be offensive about 2 guys, having a good time, joking around with a piece of cardboard. They aren’t actually touching anyone. My concern is that the definition of “sexism” has gotten so broad that it takes away from actual problems. There is a risk of becoming the little girl who cried feminism.

  73. George H
    George H December 7, 2008 at 1:17 pm |

    Considering what Bill did in the White House compared to being stupid and tasteless with a cardboard cutout, all of you who are calling for the firing of this guy might learn a little bit about forgiveness from Hillary.

    What this person lacked in judgement, those here calling for his his firing lack in heart.

  74. Emmy
    Emmy December 7, 2008 at 1:20 pm |

    This is completely outrageous and many of the comments here are patently ridiculous and offensive. At least this site posts this (even though we have “feminists” spouting excuses –excuse me while I clear the bile from my throat), Feministing ignored this, even NOW ignored it while running a great front page virtual hand-job for Obama.

    Obama obviously trumps women,
    not only at those sites, even here.

    Pfft, Feminists my sweet ass.

    Disrespect is A-OK, he couldn’t really mean to ‘cup her breast’, right? Nah… even though he’s doing it. On film. But he doesn’t MEAN it, because he’s Obama’s speechwriter!
    Makes perfect sense.

    Anyways it’s all ‘good fun’ and even “hilarious” and Hillary should be “HAPPY” she’s groped and kissed and forced to drink cheap beer in effigy says most comments on WaPo & Wonkette and if you don’t like it “you dont sound like much fun” (sic), if you don’t think it’s “funny” you should “lighten up”, there’s “no good reason…to get (your) panties all twisted over this” girls, that “beer plus young guy equals stupid stunt”(Ahh, professionalism in the White House, finally!) so there’s already a great ready-made reason the White House can use to excuse, just “attack(ing) some kid having a good time” (oh well, if he was having a “good time”, no problem then!) and you, girls, “probably need to get laid”.
    Do ya like that ladies? Sexist behavior can be cured by the perps giving YOU the dick! Aren’t you lucky!

    Such a cure. Problem solved, would you all agree?

    Favreau and his buddy are just a ‘frat boys’ and to be excused; even though he’s a 27 year old MAN who BTW wants a job at the State Department! Oh yes, this guy will surely have all due respect for his boss, can’t you tell? And that picture won’t harm her standing in the world… it’s just a junior, inexperienced male employee showing who’s REALLY the boss because well, HE has talent and is Obama’s speechwriter (a speechwrite whose command of language is so astute and acute that in his apology he “reached out” to Ms. Clinton. Heh heh heh) so of course he’s naturally better!
    Such respect from the official Obama camp, yes ma’am! No, THEY can do no wrong! Anyways, he’s soo much better than some woman who has worked for Health, Gay and Women’s rights (among others) and been a respected politician and Senator for many years.

    Plus they have penes, so they’re obviously superior. I mean Duh.

    Even though it’s demeaning to women, even though their ultimate meaning is demonstrating these men’s domination, dominion, power, superiority and control over Hillary, heck all women (the woman in the pic looks tres uncomfortable, does she not? No matter.), even though this is juvenile, offensive, insulting, arrogant, childish, piggish; nooo… nothing to get upset about here!

    Untwist those panties, lay back and enjoy it.

    I know others have said it, but replace Hillary with Michelle Obama and oh! I’m SURE there will be the same nonchalance and bonhomie attributed. Yes?

    But if no, will you defenders even try to decipher why?

    As I said: Feminists my sweet ass. Pathetic.

  75. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie December 7, 2008 at 1:30 pm |

    Okay, Katie. I’ll bite. What’s wrong with “2 guys, having a good time, joking around with a piece of cardboard”?

    1) It’s not a “piece of cardboard.” It’s a depiction of a sitting U.S. Senator, former candidate for President, and soon-to-be Secretary of State of the U.S. These men chose this particular “piece of cardboard” to have a “good time” with because they want to send a message.

    2) The message is: Hey, bitch! It doesn’t matter who you are, or what you’ve done — you’re just a c**t! We’ll grab your breast and pull your hair and shove a bottle of beer down your throat. Haw haw haw! This is hilarious!” It doesn’t matter which woman the cutout depicts, actually. It could be a random woman from their local grocery store. A woman can always be reduced to her basic function: as a member of the sex class put here to be used, fondled, and abused by men.

    3) The man on the left, Favreau, is a speechwriter for Barack Obama, president-elect of the United States of America. He should know better. That he doesn’t know better proves he is unfit for his job. He works in an extremely visible position and must behave with utmost professional decorum. He didn’t. Does this mean he can never have fun? No. It means he needs to revise his definition of “fun.”

    4) This joke with a piece of cardboard, as you insist on viewing it, depicts sexual assault of a woman. Sexual assault is not funny. It’s not a joke. There’s nothing humorous about it. Would this be funny if the two white men were holding up a noose against a cutout of Obama? No. Neither racism nor sexism is “funny.”

    5) The fact that people like you think it is funny, and think all us women who have been assaulted, beaten, and raped need to “lighten up” shows what a staple of public discourse is misogyny. It doesn’t even hit your radar screen as being objectionable, because it happens all the time. All the time — this isn’t even particularly original. The fact that you want to give two men a pass for depicting the sexual assault of a woman shows how numb you are to the reality that in the grand scheme of patriarchy, women are valued about as much as pond scum.

    6) Sexual harassment is a fireable offense. If you are creating a hostile work environment, i.e., by demonstrating in a worldwide medium that you not only have no respect for women but in fact harbor deep resentment of them, you must be fired lest you perpetuate this environment in your office.

    7) Finally, I suggest you google “Feminism 101″ and read it before you come to a feminist blog and tell the wimmenz here how stoopid we are being for not letting these guys just have their fun at the expense of women — again, and always.

    There. Do you understand now? If not, you’re choosing to join in the hatred of women depicted by these men, and you might as well not waste your time reading this blog anymore. Because you’ll never be happy with anything posted here.

  76. roses
    roses December 7, 2008 at 1:31 pm |

    Emmy, I’m not thrilled to see people defending Favreau on here either, but certainly nobody here is using the sexist excuses in your fifth paragraph (although I have no doubt there are people saying those things outside feminist sites).

  77. shah8
    shah8 December 7, 2008 at 1:37 pm |

    roses, here’s the thing. There are effective disciplinary processes for sexual harrassment short of firing. All businesses utilize them, and catching hell is usually an effective method for stopping the stupid kind of sexual harrassment. It certainly worked for me in the case of a co-worker who was just a little too interested in dating me (who I liked but had no intention of dating). I most certainly did not want her fired, and I certainly thought she was a valuable co-worker. In that circumstance, a workplace authority that is practiced in handling these sort of issue in a graceful manner is invaluable.

    Also, this is not *technically* sexual harrassment, and I, who is familiar with *real* sexual harrassment–not the mild one that bothered me, am irritated at people who say that it is so. It didn’t take place at work. It was blatantly NOT aimed at the victim to make her feel unwanted or uncomfortable. It was also not a power play of any kind. It is *just* a guy being a sexist asshat who got caught at being one in public. No crime occured, and no one was genuinely hurt besides the jerkoff–Clinton enjoys the whiphand here and she knows it.

    We have no place to stand in terms of someone’s employment. That lies with Clinton or with any other potential hirer in Obama’s administration. I have been an asshole before, sometimes for longer than 30 seconds. I have also most certainly committed sexual harrassment before, in middle school (against another guy). I was told to stop, and I did. However, nobody now cares what I did, since I’m a nobody, unlike Favreaux. It’s just not the end of the world. We should not be focused on punishing, but on stopping it from happening again (and no, punishment is no guarantee of it not happening again).

  78. evil_fizz
    evil_fizz December 7, 2008 at 1:38 pm |

    The reason people need to be fired for such behavior is *because* so-called subtle sexism is still acceptable. It affects women’s ability to be productive at work because they don’t feel safe or valued. So if you truly want equality, we have to end our acceptance of such sexism. That will mean actually punishing the people like Favreau who use it to tear strong women down. It might not scare Ms. Clinton herself, but it tells every other woman in that organization how much they are valued.

    And here’s where we party company: if something is problematic, it does not necessarily mean that the response is to be bone-crushingly punitive. I am not in any way persuaded that firing people is the way to handle these kinds of issues.

    Also, I am not on board with the idea that one picture of one employee means that the employer has validated the employee’s behavior. Or that there’s necessarily a culture in which this sort of thing is overlooked, tolerated, or sanctioned. (Of course, being the world we live in, not an unreasonable assumption, but still.)

  79. roses
    roses December 7, 2008 at 1:53 pm |

    Shah8, I’m a woman in a male dominated field. I currently work at a construction site. I know all about *real* sexual harassment.

    At my company, telling jokes that are sexist and/or degrading to women is considered sexual harassment. Even if it isn’t deliberately targetting a particular woman to make her feel uncomfortable, it still has the effect of making women feel uncomfortable and unsafe at work, so it’s still sexual harassment. This case is somewhat equivalent to sexist jokes, but worse. It’s true that if this wasn’t an official work function, that makes it a grey area… but it does look like it was a gathering of coworkers, and he did post it on Facebook so that all the women he worked with could see what he thought of women. So I do think this falls under sexual harassment and I do think Obama shouldn’t have somebody who thinks so little of women working for him. Obviously, I have no more say over it than you, and I’ll see how Obama handles it. But if this guy gets away with a slap on the wrist or no consequences at all, I’ll know how much Obama cares about creating a safe working environment for women.

  80. shah8
    shah8 December 7, 2008 at 2:08 pm |

    Okay, but remember, this wasn’t Favreau’s Facebook site. It was one of his friends and the picture was posted without Favreau’s permission. That makes it a heckuvalot more gray.

    What I know of *real* sexual harrassment comes from family, mostly my mother, and from some public trials stuff like the material that Anita Hill came forth with.

  81. How NOT To Impress Your Future Employer (Or…Way To Feed The Hillary PUMAs, Jackass) | The SmackDog Chronicles (Ver. 2.6)

    [...] he can probably kiss that other job buh-bye, too…at least, after this photo came out (from Feministe, via Belledame at Fetch Me My [...]

  82. Josh
    Josh December 7, 2008 at 3:07 pm |

    bleh: Explaining jokes doesn’t work. Not for funny ones, not for lousy ones like this. But like it or not, I can see much, much worse than this any night of the week on South Park or Family Guy. And if you can’t just let things like this go, I honestly do not know how you manage to survive day to day in our culture.

  83. Kristin
    Kristin December 7, 2008 at 3:10 pm |

    Shorter Shah8: “Come on, people! Sexual harassment just isn’t that big of a deal! We’ve all done it! I know I have!”

  84. SoE
    SoE December 7, 2008 at 3:12 pm |

    Ugh, because someone else posted the picture without his permission makes the whole affair ok? Correct me if I’m wrong but it doesn’t look like someone forced him to grope her and have a picture taken. Instead it seems, he did it because *he* thought it was fun!

    Whoa, women always get warned not to wear this, go there, do that because of what might happen to them but he gets a pass for doing something really stupid himself whilst drunk???

  85. roses
    roses December 7, 2008 at 3:15 pm |

    Josh, it is hard living in a culture that constantly degrades women. Maybe you should try putting yourselves in our shoes rather than dismissing us.

  86. Kristin
    Kristin December 7, 2008 at 3:18 pm |

    For the record, this has nothing to do with Hillary herself (for me). I supported Obama all the way, and found many of the PUMA charges of sexism to be…well, reaching, at best. There were problematic tropes in the media, but as for Obama himself… I mean, I just generally didn’t see it. And I never thought “sweetie” was a very big deal. I’m from the South, where people (men and women) are called “sweetie” all the time.

    The picture provoked a very visceral reaction for me. It reminded me, for instance, of shock jock, Jon Justice, who played at sexually assaulting activist Isabel Garcia a few months ago:

    http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=389×3691948

    Similar positioning, etc., though I know that the two incidents are not completely identical. Its’ just wrong. Sexual assault isn’t funny, and those who joke about it are smug, self-entitled assholes.

    And Josh, you fuck, no one here needs the incident explained to them, thanks.

  87. shah8
    shah8 December 7, 2008 at 3:21 pm |

    Nope, it doesn’t make it okay. Just desperately common and normed. Make it a firing offense, and you don’t change minds, you make enemies and create secretive, insecure office climates.

    What’s important is changing minds and norms. Which is why there are legal and business norms about what is and what *isn’t* sexual harrassment. Google it if you don’t believe me–many policies explicitly state that it is not sexual harrassment if it’s not at the workplace, or if the victim is senior to the offender, or a number of other contexts.

  88. Josh
    Josh December 7, 2008 at 3:22 pm |

    All I’m saying is that if this is so offensive on such a fundamental level for so many of you, I’m sorry to hear it, because I can’t imagine what living that is like. Obviously I don’t know how to phrase that diplomatically enough.

    I didn’t mean to be some hostile intruder, yeesh.

  89. Bene
    Bene December 7, 2008 at 3:28 pm |

    Just to clarify–I don’t find this funny, and I don’t find it acceptable, and I think it’s bloody appalling. I just don’t think the sexual harassment charge would stick. Assholes like this would love to sue, whining about how it wasn’t at work, and it wasn’t to someone who was there, and ‘how dare I lose my job over drunken fun’, lame lame lame.

    Forced resignation, though, is what I would insist on if I were someone who gets to make these calls.

  90. roses
    roses December 7, 2008 at 3:28 pm |

    Right, because when women feel insecure because of lenient sexual harassment policies, no big deal, but when men feel insecure because of strict sexual harassment policies… dear God no!

  91. shah8
    shah8 December 7, 2008 at 3:31 pm |

    Kristen, I don’t think Jon Justice and Jon Favreau’s incidents are remotely comparable. There is a substantial amount of ambiguity in Favreau’s picture that one could hope he wasn’t pretending to fondle a breast. Justice’s video is just plain *sick*. Justice’s video also has, which is key for me, the element of power and coercion that is absent from Favreau’s picture and the act of putting them on Facebook. That was a not-so-oblique threat to rape.

  92. roses
    roses December 7, 2008 at 3:32 pm |

    All I’m saying is that if this is so offensive on such a fundamental level for so many of you, I’m sorry to hear it, because I can’t imagine what living that is like.

    Well Josh, I’m sorry to hear that this isn’t offensive on a fundamental level to you, because I can’t imagine what it’s like to live with so little respect for an entire gender.

  93. shah8
    shah8 December 7, 2008 at 3:36 pm |

    Do you have any regard at all for the value of mediation, roses? Do you think that *every* case of sexual harrassment is going to involve a degenerate person who is unwilling to change conduct, or even especially intentional? Let’s leave the resolution of this incident to the people who know Clinton and Favreau, and indeed to the parties themselves.

    Or do you not think that Clinton is handily capable of looking out for her own damn self?

  94. Kristin
    Kristin December 7, 2008 at 3:38 pm |

    Shah8, I said they were not identical. There is much that is different about them–most importantly, I’d suggest, that that was also a virulently racist incident. And I agree with you that it was far worse. That said… They assumed similar poses, and when we look at pictures, things like that are sometimes what strikes people first. Also, as has been established here, both are “jokes” about sexual assault.

  95. Kristin
    Kristin December 7, 2008 at 3:39 pm |

    Shah8, I said they were not identical. There is much that is different about them–most importantly, I’d suggest, that that was also a virulently racist incident. And I agree with you that it was far worse. That said… They assumed similar poses, and when we look at pictures, things like that are sometimes what strikes people first. Also, as has been established here, both are “jokes” about sexual assault. In any case, I’m not going to further derail this thread by arguing with you about the comparison.

  96. Josh
    Josh December 7, 2008 at 3:40 pm |

    Ok roses, I’ll leave you to your echo chamber. See ya.

  97. belledame222
    belledame222 December 7, 2008 at 3:41 pm |

    Well, Josh, try getting actually groped and harassed and even assaulted a bunch of times, then realize someone you previously admired thinks it’s hi-larious, and then maybe you can stretch your “imagination” a tad.

  98. roses
    roses December 7, 2008 at 3:45 pm |

    Shah8, what you seem to be missing here is this isn’t just about Clinton. I’m sure Clinton has handled worse. This is about all the other women who have to work with Favreau seeing what he thinks about women.

    I don’t think every single act of sexual harassment should necessarily result in firing. It would depend on the circumstance. I think sexual harassment should be a fireable offense, not an automatic firing. And if that makes men feel uncomfortable, I don’t really give a fuck. It’s not actually that hard to figure out how to draw the line between what is acceptable and what isn’t, nor is it hard to err on the safe side.

  99. shah8
    shah8 December 7, 2008 at 3:47 pm |

    I understand you now, and do not disagree with your point. My objection was towards automatic firing.

  100. roses
    roses December 7, 2008 at 3:48 pm |

    Bye Josh!

  101. belledame222
    belledame222 December 7, 2008 at 3:49 pm |

    I don’t think any of the people here who’re making excuses are actually feminists, self-monikered, but it’s still deeply irritating to have to explain on a feminist blog why yes, Virginia, this shit is offensive and serious, actually; and it’s really REALLY basic enough that someone having the level of job Favreau does should’ve bloody well known.

    And you know something, shah8: maybe “off the record,” maybe not, but this is the age we live in, like it or not. Obama’s campaign/staff knows that; it’s why they’re putting new hirees through the mill to see if they have -anything- remotely embarassing in their past. If they give this a miss it signals they don’t think it’s so very bad, and, well, that’s Not Good.

    I don’t know why this is so difficult.

    Here’s a question: why do people assume this shit is funny or something that makes sense to do in the damn first place? I mean, clearly the message isn’t that these guys really find Hillary attractive; it’s a given that this is meant to be humiliating. Why is that so normalized?

  102. belledame222
    belledame222 December 7, 2008 at 3:51 pm |

    Yeah, I’m good with forced resignation. Whatver; just, he needs to be gone.

  103. Cara
    Cara December 7, 2008 at 3:52 pm |

    What’s important is changing minds and norms. Which is why there are legal and business norms about what is and what *isn’t* sexual harrassment. Google it if you don’t believe me–many policies explicitly state that it is not sexual harrassment if it’s not at the workplace, or if the victim is senior to the offender, or a number of other contexts.

    Yeah, and a bunch of laws actually say that raping your wife isn’t really rape. But it is really rape, regardless of what that law says, and I think many people are arguing here that this is sexual harassment regardless of actual policy. That’s what you need to be arguing against if you wish to do so, so please stop telling us “go look up the policy!” because I for one really don’t give a shit what the actual policy says. I know harassment when I see it.

    Do you think that *every* case of sexual harrassment is going to involve a degenerate person who is unwilling to change conduct, or even especially intentional?

    Right, he’s accidentally pretending to grope her breast. And if it were me in that cardboard cutout, I wouldn’t give a shit if he really, really promises to never ever do it again. I’d feel threatened and disrespected still, and in fact would feel so every time I was forced to see the asshole and would feel like if the conduct came to the attention of the boss and he did nothing that he in fact felt like my feeling threatened and disrespected was just fine. Of course, I don’t know how Clinton feels. But let’s not just pretend that even if he were really, really sorry for real and not just because he’s expected to say that, that it would make everything okay.

  104. Eva
    Eva December 7, 2008 at 3:54 pm |

    George,

    As a political speechwriter, this person’s job is to be a big part of the public face of the most powerful politician in America. Whatever role he has in the administration will involve his ability to succsefully present messages to the public, and to other leaders. So yes, his lack of judgment, to the point tha he thought it was not only a good idea to grope an image of one of the most powerful and popular female leaders in the country, and then to take a picture of it, and either post the picture on a public website himself, or allow someone else to have posession of it so that they were able to post it, is an egregious failure of judgment for a person whose job is to judge pr situations. When you fuck up *at your job* it’s fair for there to be consequences.

    That’s aside from the general issue of not respecting women– I don’t kow the context of this picture, but presumably the intent was either to disrespect her, or to “playfully” show that everyone’s friends now. Using sexual acts to either disgrace a woman, or to show her newly recognized value (because no one could possibly value a non-sexualized woman, right? That line of thinking is why Sarah fucking Palin got closer to the presidency than any woman in US history) is messed up, and indicates a general lack of ability to take women seriously as leaders.

  105. shah8
    shah8 December 7, 2008 at 3:55 pm |

    good luck hiring saints, belledame222.

    Although I agree that it’s great that Obama is doing this. I certainly wouldn’t pass–have many embarrassing lines from edebate forums from way back when I was a college debator. However, it’s important to know who’s got skeletons, and figure out beforehand whether it’s worth it to keep them on.

  106. roses
    roses December 7, 2008 at 4:03 pm |

    To clarify: I don’t think sexual harassment should be an automatic firing in every case. I think in this case firing is justified – this isn’t a blonde joke, or an inappropriate wink, or a guy who won’t stop calling his female coworkers “sweetie” or “dear”. This is a simulated sexual assault, and that is unacceptable.

  107. belledame222
    belledame222 December 7, 2008 at 4:04 pm |

    I wouldn’t pass either; hence, I’m not applying. But, you know, this isn’t the guy doing something bad in middle school (thanks for sharing, really, we all care deeply); this was, you know, just -now-, during the very campaign?

    I have been an asshole before

    No, go on!

    As a political speechwriter, this person’s job is to be a big part of the public face of the most powerful politician in America. Whatever role he has in the administration will involve his ability to succsefully present messages to the public, and to other leaders. So yes, his lack of judgment, to the point tha he thought it was not only a good idea to grope an image of one of the most powerful and popular female leaders in the country, and then to take a picture of it, and either post the picture on a public website himself, or allow someone else to have posession of it so that they were able to post it, is an egregious failure of judgment for a person whose job is to judge pr situations. When you fuck up *at your job* it’s fair for there to be consequences.

    THIS.

  108. shah8
    shah8 December 7, 2008 at 4:04 pm |

    Cara, *especially* with laws and guidelines about sexual conduct, you have to be very careful about boundaries. Most business have these seemingly strict and somewhat arbitrary guidlines because they are not in a position to judge or even enforce what is often very nebulous conduct–and pretending that they could opens them up to legal issues. Same with government policies. I grant that marital rape was one example of this attitude taken to an extreme.

    However, take a look at the other end with this wiki…
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mann_Act

  109. shah8
    shah8 December 7, 2008 at 4:06 pm |

    I still agree with you roses. If Obama fires him, I’m behind that. If Clintonr refuses to hire him, I’m behind that as well. I just want to the people most familiar with the situation to apply the remedy, whether it’s a dressing down, demotion, or firing, and not us over here in the nosebleed seats.

  110. belledame222
    belledame222 December 7, 2008 at 4:08 pm |

    And you know something: again, it’s not just any job, it’s national politics. 30 seconds or less make or break people all the gorram time. The nearer the limelight you are, the more true it is Can’t stand the heat, etc. etc. The guy is a SPEECHWRITER. Public Fucking Relations. It’s really not even the same if he were in charge of, like, o, writing up environmental policy reports. -It’s not that hard to figure out.-

    and you know what, you can do a -lot- in thirty seconds.

  111. belledame222
    belledame222 December 7, 2008 at 4:09 pm |

    Yeah, shah8, I think it’s pretty much a given that whatever we say or do around here, ultimately it’s going to be up to the Powers That Be. And?

    That said, I’m quite happy to sign a petition or suchlike, if any such manifests.

  112. shah8
    shah8 December 7, 2008 at 4:18 pm |

    creep factor has to get up to Dick Morris levels before I’d consider signing a petition…

  113. preying mantis
    preying mantis December 7, 2008 at 4:26 pm |

    “Or that an penalty of such magnitude is the proper response to a picture that was on Facebook for TWO HOURS and for an event that (potentially) lasted all of thirty seconds. I cannot agree that this sort of thing calls for “learning a lesson” that involves losing your livelihood rather than being raked over the coals.”

    If there’s anything the last eight years have shown us, it’s that the real problem is getting caught doing x rather than, say, actually having done x or thinking it’s so cool to do x that you’ll even pose for a fucking picture while doing x.

  114. victoria
    victoria December 7, 2008 at 4:37 pm |

    Maybe it would be helpful to look at this as two different, but related issues.

    Issue one: Is it ever OK to simulate sexual assault against another person, especially if you are a male pretending to sexually assault a female? Is it a neutral, harmless act? I say no.

    Issue two: What should the consequences of for doing the act described in issue one?

    What I’m getting at is that I think the issue two discussion is distracting from a really key point: that it is NOT OK to use sexual assault as fodder for a joke, and pretending to sexually assault someone is harmful both to that person and all other people (usually women) who are subjected to sexual assault or threat of assault on a daily basis.

    I don’t want the intricacies of should he be fired/is it legal/is a workplace/etc distract from what I think is the key point at hand: men need to know that it is not OK to act this way toward women, no matter what the context.

  115. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie December 7, 2008 at 4:48 pm |

    shah8, why so invested in protecting men from being held responsible for their actions? Being groped/assaulted/harassed = no big deal for women, but getting FIRED for doing the groping/assaulting/harassing = ABSOLUTELY UNFAIR TO THE MENZ!

    The MEN in the photo did this. MEN sexually harass and rape and assault and beat and kill women in record numbers. IT’S A FUCKING EPIDEMIC.

    But we can’t act as though it is, because some asshole with immediate access to the next president of the U.S. might feel rilly rilly bad if he is held accountable.

    If you defend this, you’re a misogynist.

  116. peter
    peter December 7, 2008 at 4:48 pm |

    bleh: Explaining jokes doesn’t work. Not for funny ones, not for lousy ones like this. But like it or not, I can see much, much worse than this any night of the week on South Park or Family Guy. And if you can’t just let things like this go, I honestly do not know how you manage to survive day to day in our culture.

    Josh, obviously this isn’t the crime of the century. But it goes far beyond the bounds of mere mockery of a rival, and into some weird ass sexual humiliation fantasy. You’re right, you can turn on cable TV and see boorish stuff any night of the week.

    I think this is different. Its not just that it was a twisted little joke among a private group of friends. This appears to be at a function with Democratic Party and Obama campaign staff people. Ergo, its a function with a group of your professional peers. It would never occur to me to make sexually explicit jokes, or gestures of sexual humiliation against a very prominent person in my professional peer group, in front of other members of my professional peer group. Its pretty stupid to do on a professional level, never mind the bizzare sexual humiliation undertones of these gestures. It would frankly never occur to me to do something like this in front of my professional peers. Shit like that tends to get around work, its beyond stupid.

    I have no idea if this guy should be fired. I think, at a minimum, somebody needs to give him a dressing down. Its not exactly kosher to make sexually humiliating gestures to a female in your professional peer group. This guy should have known that, at a minimum. We’ve all done dumb shit, but this is a lesson he probably needs to learn instead of having apologists laugh it off like its just boys being boys.

    There’s a time and a place for boys being boys, and there’s a time and place for raunchy humour. This went over the line, in both cases.

  117. exholt
    exholt December 7, 2008 at 4:49 pm |

    I certainly wouldn’t pass–have many embarrassing lines from edebate forums from way back when I was a college debator. However, it’s important to know who’s got skeletons, and figure out beforehand whether it’s worth it to keep them on.

    Agreed. Considering how anal-retentive many admissions officers, government agencies, and employers are becoming over even innocuous online photos like the ones in the “Drunken Pirate Case”, I’d better make sure no one I know ever takes a picture of my drinking anything…even from a clear glass of water. Knowing how some of them are inclined to think…..they are more likely to assume it is vodka instead considering the BS heaped on Stacy Snyder in the “Drunken Pirate case”. :roll:

  118. Michael Hussey
    Michael Hussey December 7, 2008 at 6:00 pm |

    I somehow figued this was a Facebook picture before I hit the WaPo link. Jon Favreau is stupid enough to allow himself or one of his friends to post this image. Common sense informs a person not to put anything online that might jeopardize employment. Compound that with Favreau being the speechwriter for the President-elect. This is a needless headache for Obama.

    Favreau will have to work for Clinton and possible write her speeches. What kind of workplace dynamic will this create? How will segments of Obama’s base feel about the President-elect retaining Favreau’s services. There are more cons then pros for keeping Favreau.

    The feminist argument has been well covered in the thread. Fire the guy. A speechwriter can be replaced. Obama can hire a talented female speechwriter. That will send a positive message with his female base.

  119. Wittgenstein's Mistress
    Wittgenstein's Mistress December 7, 2008 at 6:50 pm |

    Thank you, Emmy. I enjoyed reading your post. I too noticed the overall lack of coverage by NOW and Feministing (Feministing only mentioned it in passing on their Weekly Feminist Reader and even then it was only a link to a Shakesville post)… the “virtual hand-job” comment had me laughing out loud. What a way to put it…

    In all seriousness though, I still think we do need to be much harder on things like this BECAUSE Obama is supposed to represent the left… and my criticism is not limited to just the comments here but the Feminist community as a whole.

    Cara said:

    Actually, I — me personally — wrote about the “sweetheart” comment. The girly dog comment . . . was it sexist? Sure. Do I have a million better thing to write about, including the sweetheart comment? Yes. I wouldn’t have written about that if it was McCain either. I would have rolled my eyes. As I’m doing, albeit more incredulously, at the fact that you’re comparing the offhand statement about girly dogs to McCain’s dismissal of the very right of women to live.
    [Emphasis mine]

    What do you want, Cara? A cookie?

    Regarding that last bit, please do not put words in my mouth. I am not equating the sexism of the McCain campaign with the sexism of the Obama campaign/administration. I am comparing one comment (women’s “health”) with another comment (“girly dog”). Of course there are degrees of sexism and degrees of misogyny. That does not warrant that free pass I was talking about to the so-called lesser “acts of evil”, people. Verbal violence is still violence. Just because the bruise isn’t on your skin doesn’t mean the wound hasn’t been inflicted or that the action doesn’t merit punishment.
    Please Google “Pyramid of Hate”…

    I agree with Michael Hussey’s suggestion. Not only should this staffer be fired, he should be replaced by an equally talented female speechwriter. Given the sheer number of well-written feminist blogs such as this one, I know that there isn’t a shortage of talented female writers to be had.

    If need be, I will give him my own resume. :-)

  120. Cara
    Cara December 7, 2008 at 6:54 pm |

    What do you want, Cara? A cookie?

    Nope, I just want to not be scolded for being bad, bad feminist bloggers for failing to write about things we actually wrote about. Seemed pretty clear to me.

    Though cookies are delicious. So if you have one, I’ll gladly take it. Thanks.

  121. Michael Hussey
    Michael Hussey December 7, 2008 at 8:01 pm |

    Though cookies are delicious. So if you have one, I’ll gladly take it. Thanks.

    Just say no to cookies.

  122. Walker T
    Walker T December 7, 2008 at 8:05 pm |

    Honestly, they’ll wind up keeping him on. While it’s easy to get caught up in this, the folks closer to him will simply have chat about having a bit more discretion and this even will be blow away life chaff in the wind by the more pressing news items of the day (Big 3 bailout, Obama’s first days in office, etc..)

    Poor judgment, but this is in a serious grey zone considering how this picture came to be known.

  123. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie December 7, 2008 at 8:30 pm |

    if this is so offensive on such a fundamental level for so many of you, I’m sorry to hear it, because I can’t imagine what living that is like.

    And that’s exactly the point, isn’t it? You can’t imagine it because you don’t have to. You don’t have to live like this because you’re a man. We who experience this are telling you that it is offensive, and that we do live like this, and that as the non-dominant group in patriarchy, living like this sucks.

  124. Mosh Mosh
    Mosh Mosh December 7, 2008 at 9:01 pm |

    I love this quote:

    ” I don’t think any of the people here who’re making excuses are actually feminists, self-monikered, but it’s still deeply irritating to have to explain on a feminist blog why yes, Virginia, this shit is offensive and serious. . . ”

    Way to generalize, alienate, and make assumptions. Just because someone disagrees with you on an feminist issue does not mean they are not a feminist. It just means they disagree with you on that issue. Making this an ad hominem attack really distracts from your argument.

    And for the record, I am a feminist. It sholdn’t need to be said, but I have B.A. in Gender Studies, a graduate certificate in Gender Studies (with my J.D.), as well as an LLM in Gender and U.S. Law. I work at a feminist organization and have devoted my career to women;s causes. I only point this out to illustrate that not everyone who doesn’t think Jon Favreau should be fired is a misogynist. So, please don’t be so ignorant and careless as to say that I’m not a feminist because I disagree with you on a small point.

  125. Elisabeth
    Elisabeth December 7, 2008 at 9:38 pm |

    I wrote a message expressing my disappointment and posted it on the change.gov website (here, specifically). Presumably some unpaid intern will read; if enough people write in, maybe someone will take note.

  126. Lisa
    Lisa December 7, 2008 at 9:46 pm |

    It’s all those things people have said: disappointing, disgusting, maddening. But, it’s not surpising. Celebrated speech writer or not, a 27 year old adult drinking with friends who makes a sexist and moronic mistake is an utter baffoon. But a baffoon won’t get fired from his job for obscene groping. It’s too normalized.

    I -we – have seen, witnessed, lived this exact scene a thousand times before, including this past weekend in our own social lives.

    How naive of me to assume someone of his stature would be intelligent and responsible/mature enough to refrain from potentially offensive photos when you work directly under the President – elect.

  127. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan December 7, 2008 at 10:31 pm |

    It was also not a power play of any kind. It is *just* a guy being a sexist asshat who got caught at being one in public. –Shah8

    …I missed the part where being a sexist asshat in front of a bunch of women *wasn’t* a power play? It’s not like he’s doing it for Clinton’s benefit or to enrich the lives of the people around him. He’s presumably not doing it because he wants to actually have sex with her. So, yeah, he’s pretty much *only* doing it as a power play. That’s the WHOLE ENTIRE SOLE REASON for it.

    If he wanted to take that cut-out home and cuddle, for reasons I’m not privy to, it’s his own business. If he decides to molest it in the office and then allows the photo to be posted online it’s everyone’s business.

    And for the record, I am a feminist. It sholdn’t need to be said, but I have B.A. in Gender Studies, a graduate certificate in Gender Studies (with my J.D.), as well as an LLM in Gender and U.S. Law. I work at a feminist organization and have devoted my career to women;s causes. –Mosh Mosh

    We’re going to face a severe cookie shortage.

  128. Cara
    Cara December 7, 2008 at 10:47 pm |

    We’re going to face a severe cookie shortage.

    I CLAIMED MINE FIRST.

  129. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub December 7, 2008 at 10:58 pm |

    Mosh Mosh, if you don’t get that women are the ones who are most likely to have been groped and sexually assaulted, that sexual humiliation is used to take us bitches down a peg, and that the “YOU FEMINISTS HAVE NO SENSE OR HUMOR AND ARE OVER SENSITIVE” yelping is getting really fucking old, it’s a) your problem and b) and utter fuckwit, your degrees and your job notwithstanding (kee-rist, it’s like another blogger’s complaint that ZOMG he does this for a living). I don’t give a shit what you do for a living. This is me, not giving a shit. kthankxbai. I’m still gonna call you out if you whine about humorless feminists and think we should just all get over it and that it’s no big deal, so I suggest you cope.

    Feminism isn’t a profession, it’s a movement.

    And BTW, when there are trolls whining about how humorless we are and how we should get over it, it’s pretty alienating. Odd how I didn’t see you call them on that trope. So Mosh, Mosh, seriously? Help yourself to a nice, hot cup of shut the fuck up.

    Donna, Belledame–What you said.

    Honestly, I need a machete to cut through the stupid in some of these comments.

  130. Nevella
    Nevella December 7, 2008 at 11:33 pm |

    Wonder what his significant other (male or female?) thinks of this arrogant, sloppy, drunken incident?

  131. Daughter of the Ring of Fire » Blog Archive » Author-ity: Who Hopes? What Changes?

    [...] about hope and change altered when it is penned by a man who thinks that mimicking sexual assault against a woman is hilarious and worth posting on Facebook? It may be impossible to know exactly how much of the hope-and-change talk in Obama’s [...]

  132. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan December 8, 2008 at 12:03 am |

    “We’re going to face a severe cookie shortage.”

    I CLAIMED MINE FIRST.

    I think this calls for a catfight. It seems the only dignified solution. :D

  133. Sharkbait
    Sharkbait December 8, 2008 at 12:09 am |

    The picture is FAKE. Look at it folks! Photoshopped. Look at the hand. C’mon!! How Feministe, CNN, WaPo, and everybody else bought into this is beyond me. And that this man’s reputation is being tarnished because of some stupid stunt is appalling.

  134. anon
    anon December 8, 2008 at 12:16 am |

    Josh,
    I make my living writing comedy.
    No one needs the joke explained to them, nor do they live in a humorless hell.
    Guess what? There’s a lot more to humor than pretending to assault women.
    Also, Family Guy sucks.

  135. Lauren O
    Lauren O December 8, 2008 at 12:53 am |

    I think this calls for a catfight.

    But cats don’t even EAT cookies! Cookies are bad for cats!

  136. exholt
    exholt December 8, 2008 at 1:02 am |

    But cats don’t even EAT cookies! Cookies are bad for cats!

    Garfield and especially the unsinkable feline character from Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff, would both strongly beg to differ, I think. ;)

  137. shah8
    shah8 December 8, 2008 at 1:25 am |

    Would it be inadviseable to mention that I’m quite willing to enter the gladiator’s ring for a good supply of triple ginger snaps? Or oily, seedy cookies like macaroons or pecan/macadamia/mebbe walnut cookies?

    Oh, what the hell, I enjoy a good, pointless fight without the need for bait.

    Say Sheelzebub, don’t you think that maybe you were a bit…harsh on/dismissive of Moshe Moshe? I don’t have a stronger reaction because I don’t know any Mosh Mosh, so there’s always the risk of sock-puppetry. Even so, in RL I have asked someone who is pretty damned feminist, and she did not think it was at all a big deal. Hillary Clinton is big on the whole feminism angle, and it seems that this incident will not derail the chance that Favreau will be her subordinate–is she gonna be all wrong with the “movement”?

  138. sensible
    sensible December 8, 2008 at 2:28 am |

    This is all a big misunderstanding. I was at the party and heard Jon ask the Hillary cutout for permission to touch her bosom. She replied with a smile which he took for acquiescence and didn’t refuse a sip of beer either. So all of this hullabaloo is over consensual contact.

  139. Mosh Mosh
    Mosh Mosh December 8, 2008 at 2:36 am |

    Um, I never said that feminists aren’t funny. Please don’t put words into my mouth.

    Also, I didn’t come to pick a fight. I simply commented on my opinion, in a respectful fashion. And then I responded to someone’s criticism of me, again in a respectful fashion. And now I am again responding respectfully. Responding to people with whom you disagree with “shut the fuck up” is incredibly immature and, frankly, detracts from the merits of your argument.

    I stand by my opinion. I think this was stupid, in poor judgment, and mysogynistic. But do I think he should be fired over it? No. I think firing is disproportionate and perhaps illegal, given that this was not in the line of duty and done in private. This is complicated by the fact that the picture was illegally taken off of Facebook, in violation of its terms of service. In addition to the aforementioned issues, if Favreau were to be fired it would also raise privacy and free speech issues as well. But do I think that sexual harassment, sexism, and disrespect of women are a major issues in society? Most certainly. But I do not think this situation is where to wage the war on those issues. In fact, I think doing so really trivializes the issue of sexual harassment etc. In order to get widespread acceptance and respect of feminist issues, we need to choose our battles wisely.

    Do I agree with your opinion? No. But I do see what you are saying and I respect it and your conviction. However, I still disagree. Feel free to disagree with me as well. But please, show me (and yourself!) some common courtesy.

  140. A
    A December 8, 2008 at 2:52 am |

    I’m actually taken a little aback about how much bickering there is on the comments over if this man should be fired or not. To lump commenters like shah8 and Mosh in with commenters like Josh is taking it too far. These two commenters have specifically stated that this is definitely sexist behavior is in need of reprimand; they just don’t agree that this guy necessarily has to be fired. Of you don’t agree with them fine, say so, but to say that because they don’t agree with you then they must be misogynists is too much.
    I’ve seen too much of this behavior in the feminist community (not with the posts here but with the comments). Guess what, feminists are a large diverse group. It is okay that we don’t always agree. The civil rights movement had room for people like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King- who polar opposites on most issues. Even though they didn’t agree with eachother, we don’t say one was part of the civil right movement and the other wasn’t.
    When we spend time attacking eachother about who is a feminist and who isn’t- or even who is the better feminist, we are forgetting who the real enemy is. Please let’s remember that our beef is with people like the guys in the picture above and trolls like Josh- not with other feminists who disagree on one point or another.
    Remember, we need less comments that divide us and more like this: http://tomatonation.com/?p=677

  141. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie December 8, 2008 at 6:59 am |

    If shah8 and mosh mosh keep saying how this isn’t really misogyny and they know it when they see it, and in mosh mosh’s case she’s an expert feminist, THIS particular woman is going to refute, refute, refute.

    I don’t actually give a shit if every last soul on the internet thinks I don’t have a sense of humor. Who the fuck cares?

  142. Holly
    Holly December 8, 2008 at 8:54 am |

    Honestly, people have been fired for far less, especially in government. It would be a double standard not to mete out punishment for a very public position like chief speechwriter, and the only reason for a double standard like that would be that people can get away with sexism far more than they can other kinds of bad behavior.

    That said, I don’t think people should have been fired for far less, either. I don’t really think the world is made a better place by taking retribution on people and firing them, unless they should never have been in the job in the first place, in which case it’s just a pretext anyway. Even government officials should be allowed to make mistakes, even juvenile, idiotic, probably drunken ones that never should have showed up on camera.

    Another two cents from me? Play-acting that you’re groping a cardboard cutout of someone may be juvenile and boorish, disrespectful and misogynist, but it’s not “mimicking sexual assault.” It’s a cardboard cutout of a public figure (it’s not like he made the cutout for this purpose). I think that makes it pretty clear that the play-acted version of consent vs. non-consent is going to be hard to define. I actually think the “look, she’s getting liquored up” gesture is more problematic.

  143. Cara
    Cara December 8, 2008 at 10:03 am |

    I actually think the “look, she’s getting liquored up” gesture is more problematic.

    Why, exactly?

  144. Emma
    Emma December 8, 2008 at 10:15 am |

    No comment? Seriously, get your tongue out of Obama’s ass and call him and his chief speechwriter on the carpet over this. You have pretensions of being a feminist leader, so fucking lead already.

    Also, Favreau’s not applying for a job at State; it was a response from Hillary smacking him down. Find the actual comment and read it. Don’t rely on the biased MCM to do your thinking for you.

  145. andrea
    andrea December 8, 2008 at 10:36 am |

    Just to clarify, no court would conclude that this is sexual harassment. It does not meet the legal standard.

    –There is no employer/employee relationship between HRC and this punk.

    –Employers are generally not responsible for after-hours behavior that is not work-related. If it’s a work party, that’s different. But again, there is no work relationship yet.

    –One sexual remark or event, even if is demeaning and even if it is unwelcome touching, is not actionable. Don’t blame me, blame Sandra Day O’Connor. So if a guy grabs your breast, he gets one free grope. (However, in some limited circumstances a single event CAN be sexual harassment. If some guy rips your clothes off during a meeting and sexually degrades you, then you can sue)

    –A “hostile environment” is a work atmosphere contaminated by a pattern of offensive conduct directed at an individual’s protected class status, in this case, sex. The elements of a hostile environment as conduct of a verbal or physical nature that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to have the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.

    – Quid pro quo sexual harassment, as its name suggests, conditions employment on the return of sexual favors. Consensual sex can still lead to a charge of sexual harassment. The classic situation is the Lewinsky affair. Sex at work, extreme power imbalance between the intern and the president.

    Should Bill Clinton have stepped down after his various affairs, some of which were conducted with the assistance of the Arkansas State Troopers? What about groping Kathleen Willey? The Lewinsky affair was the culmination of years of reports about Clinton. I’ve always been uncomfortable with the liberal tendency to accuse all of Bill’s women of making it up or wanting it, when we support and believe the women if it is a target we don’t like. I still believe we’ve all given Bill too much of a pass for his sexual harassment.

    I’m not ready to make sweeping decisions about someone’s character from very little evidence.

    I don’t think this guy should be judged by one drunk moment at a party. I wouldn’t want to date him, but of course frat boys don’t do it for me for precisely this type of conduct. Holly is right – this is classic, let’s get her drunk college boy nonsense. I see this photo as more evidence that misogyny is deeply rooted in our country. We would be disappointed by how many millions of guys would do the same thing.

    Should people be fired for what they do at private parties away from work? That is a slippery slope. I’ve done some stupid and offensive things at parties, especially when I was younger. Most people have. Not everything you do in private reflects on your employer. When you work for the president of the united states, private conduct does reflect on your employer. But I’m still not convinced this is fireable yet. It’s good that Obama is thinking of things that may embarrass the administration, but face it, he and his people could spend all day every day policing their employees and that would be a detriment to our country.

  146. Holly
    Holly December 8, 2008 at 10:49 am |

    I actually think the “look, she’s getting liquored up” gesture is more problematic.

    Why, exactly?

    Gut reaction, but something about “I’m making her drink” rubs me the wrong way. Of course, you can apply the same logic: this is a cardboard cutout that can’t hold a beer itself. Even if the cardboard cutout would really like a beer, you have to give it the beer, so it’s not the same as pushing alcohol on a human being.

  147. Emma
    Emma December 8, 2008 at 10:53 am |

    I responded to the “no comment” issue at comment #66.

    Yes, but when Ms. Does “No Comment”, it doesn’t actually put in a comment that “But Billy is such a totally great adwriter!” Nor does Ms. reuduce blatant misogyny to “jackass” behavior. Rather than making “No Comment”, you made comments which diminish the seriousness of his behavior.

    And for everybody who thinks they know what the law is on sexual harassment, you don’t. Any responsible employer would fire this guy because, in fact, his behaviour creates a hostile environment not for Hillary, but for any woman who has to work for or with Favreau. Employers have a duty under Title VII to prevent and remediate sexually harassing behavior. Keeping this guy on does not meet the employer’s duty to prevent and remediate sexually harassing behavior.

  148. Holly
    Holly December 8, 2008 at 10:54 am |

    I’ve done some stupid and offensive things at parties, especially when I was younger. Most people have.

    I’m turning 33 today and I still do stupid and offensive things at parties when I’m drunk. I try not to be on camera when I do them, but then I’m not two steps away from being a major public figure in the president’s administration. Like I said, there’s a different standard in public politics.

    However, what this standard ends up meaning is that discretion becomes more a valuable and defining criteria than other qualities that might actually make more of a difference in governance and changing people’s lives for the better. This may be a necessity given our culture and politics right now, but it hurts us overall. Like someone else said — Bill Clinton shouldn’t have been sleeping with interns in the White House either, of course. His string of affairs and women who were left upset afterwards is far worse than anything done to a cardboard cutout.

    Nobody’s arguing that this isn’t misogynist fratboy behavior, but that doesn’t automatically equal sexual harassment. Private party off work hours, not workplace during the job. Cardboard cutout, not human being. Superior, not subordinate. That’s a lot of strikes against the idea that Favreau could be found guilty of creating a hostile work environment for human beings that work for him at the office. It’s like saying “you were drinking last night, and that means you might have impaired judgement today.”

    Maybe it’s just part of my cultural background talking — in Japan you can do whatever the hell you want while you’re drunk (at least as an individual, group behavior is not given as much leeway) and as long as you don’t cross the line into assault or embarass yourself in the same way while you’re sober, it doesn’t matter if you tried to make out with your boss or called him an asshole to his face.

  149. weejit
    weejit December 8, 2008 at 11:32 am |

    ‘Play-acting that you’re groping a cardboard cutout of someone may be juvenile and boorish, disrespectful and misogynist, but it’s not “mimicking sexual assault.” ‘

    This? It doesn’t make sense. Are you saying that groping is *not* sexual assault?

    Last time I checked, play-acting is mimickry.

  150. misspronounced
    misspronounced December 8, 2008 at 12:23 pm |
  151. roses
    roses December 8, 2008 at 12:44 pm |

    Andrea, you may be right, but since this is very likely not going to court, the legal standard for sexual harassment is irrelevant. Organizations can set their own standards for what constitutes sexual harassment, which can be more strict than the legal standard (although not less strict unless they want to risk making themselves vulnerable to sexual harassment suits). For example, at my company sexist jokes constitute sexual harassment. Which means if this had happened at a work party for my company, this would absolutely violate the sexual harassment policy, because it has the effect of making women at the company feel uncomfortable and unsafe based on their gender. The fact that this appears to have been a private party and not an official work function is the sticking point… but it was a gathering of coworkers, and the picture did appear on Facebook for everyone to see.

    I’m turning 33 today and I still do stupid and offensive things at parties when I’m drunk.

    So do I at times, but those things aren’t misogynistic (or racist, or otherwise hateful) because I’m not a misogynistic person. If Favreau can’t get drunk at parties without having his picture taken while committing acts of misogyny, then maybe he should consider staying sober (or at least avoiding coworkers and staying away from cameras while drunk).

  152. Sean
    Sean December 8, 2008 at 12:50 pm |

    If there was a video of this guy at a party attacking a cardboard cutout of George Bush with a samurai sword, mock strangling him, or hanging him in effigy, would you see this as evidence he intended to kill our gratefully soon to be ex-president, or that he thought acts of extreme violence against people he didn’t like were acceptable? Or would you see it as a spur of the moment act of protest and a joke? If not, do you think people who get caught on camera mock executing the president should be summarily fired from their jobs?

    Just because the cardboard cutout in question is of a woman and the manner in which they interact with the cutout is reminiscent of sexual harassment and sexual assault does not mean that this is therefore an act of misogyny against women any more than hanging Bush in effigy would be regarded as endorsement of assassination against Bush or anyone else. There is nothing they could have done to that cutout that could not be construed as sexist by some, because the cutout represents a woman. Not even painting a mustache on her or pinching her cheek. But at the end of the day it’s still a cardboard cutout for fuck’s sake, not a real person. But it will be a real person losing their job and their career over a silly act at a party.

    Frankly, the willingness of some to see the lives and careers of real people destroyed over every “outrageous” and “offensive” act disturbs me far more than any abuse that could possibly be directed at a cardboard figure of a political leader. This woman played a roll in the murder of over a million Iraqis including women and children and the destruction of their country. She threatened to do the same to Iran. She doesn’t deserve your outrage.

  153. r.
    r. December 8, 2008 at 12:55 pm |

    what i think is interesting about those guys’ reactions to this that go: “yes, this is vile but it happens all the time, ‘all of us’ including me have done the same or worse at some point so it can’t be a firing offense” or the “i can’t imagine what it must be like for women to live in this society if this kind of stuff is perceived as that offensive or threatening!” is that it shows SO CLEARLY the underbelly of the problem. it’s guys getting a true glimpse of what women have to deal with and how it feels – like when a man moves into feminist territory and starts to get that we live in a rape culture, what that actually means… it involves some head exploding! and most don’t want to go (or stay) there. obviously.

  154. Emma
    Emma December 8, 2008 at 1:10 pm |

    So the fact that I noted he’s a talented speech writer somehow negates the fact that I posted the picture without comment specifically because it was so self-evidently misogynist that I didn’t feel like I had to baby readers by pointing that out?

    No, it’s the fact that what you felt his “talent” was somehow germane to mention and then diminished his “evident” misogyny to being a jackass. Rather than “No Comment,” your actual comment implies that all that was happening is that an otherwise good and talented guy was, inexplicably, acting like a jackass. An attitude which is amply reflected in the comments here because that’s how you presented it.

    And don’t give me any bullshit about the “feminist police”. You fucked up. And if you don’t like people telling you about it, stop blogging and stop trying to be some feminist leader. Can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen.

  155. Emma
    Emma December 8, 2008 at 1:14 pm |

    IOW, you didn’t post it with “no comment.” You posted it with comments that diminish the seriousness of what Favreau was doing both in the photo and in publishing the photo on his MySpace page.

  156. Cara
    Cara December 8, 2008 at 1:20 pm |

    Emma, the only one here who said that Jill is “trying to be some feminist leader” is you. And since when do you get to define the word jackass? I don’t know what Jill meant by it, but I do know that I us it as a significant insult and find your interpretation absurd.

    So fuck off. You’re acting like an asshole. Don’t like people telling you about it, stop leaving obnoxious comments attacking and accusing other people in their own space while acting like you’re doing the world some sort of service.

    Seriously, it might be getting time to shut this thread down. How fucking sad.

  157. exholt
    exholt December 8, 2008 at 1:35 pm |

    Yeesh!

    Some of the vitriol displayed in the comments is the light version of the nastiness I witnessed and experienced between different progressive groups at my undergrad.
    The underlying sentiment is the same: “Agree 100% with me or else you’ll deserve all the vitriol and abuse I and my fellow activists will heap upon you.”

    Honestly, people have been fired for far less, especially in government.

    Depends on whether you mean the civil service or the “political appointee” sections.

    For the former, it is actually harder to initiate a firing due to civil service and union contract regulations. Though it means some asshats end up being kept on for longer, it is better than the patronage based civil service system we had in the 19th century where hiring/firing of everyone, including professional positions like firefighters or public health officers was determined mainly by whether the politician du jour liked/disliked you at that given moment, not professional skills and qualifications…..a mood that could change rapidly due to “insufficient donations” or development of positive/negative personal feelings. Its excesses were the main reason why civil service reforms, including civil service protections and examinations were instituted in the 1880s.

    For the latter, I would agree….though I would argue that’s one reason why firings for “political reasons”, even legitimate ones like those in the latter category are regarded with much dubiousness and skepticism by many because of its seeming arbitrariness.

  158. weejit
    weejit December 8, 2008 at 1:54 pm |

    “But at the end of the day it’s still a cardboard cutout for fuck’s sake, not a real person. But it will be a real person losing their job and their career over a silly act at a party.”

    Hopefully, eh? Silly, silly man.

  159. Mosh Mosh
    Mosh Mosh December 8, 2008 at 2:29 pm |

    The anger here is really frightening. No one is saying that sexual assault/harassment are not major issues. In fact, we’re saying the opposite. We are just discussing and disagreeing about whether he should be fired But instead of discussing the issue, many have taken to calling those with whom they disagree un-feminist, misogynist, and telling them to basically “shut the fuck up” and go to hell. I don’t mean to insult anyone here by equating them with George Bush, but it’s eerily similar to his “either you’re with us or you’re against us” mentality. Historically, it’s when we stop seeing the shades of grey and start being so totalitarian that problems arise.

    And again, I don;t think Favreau should be fired for inappropriately touching a cardboard cutout of someone he did not work for or with at a private party in a photo that he did not take or post and was illegally taken from someone else’s Facebook account. The issues of sexism etc underlying his act are serious and problematic indeed. They are issues that need to be emphasized and discussed. But I think when we publicly start extending sexual harassment etc to cardboard cutouts, it makes a mockery of those issues.

  160. EKSwitaj
    EKSwitaj December 8, 2008 at 2:42 pm |

    Something folks who think this misogynist scumbag shouldn’t be fired are missing is that being a high-profile speechwriter is not a right. Mr. Favreau is not entitled to that position; no one is. There are plenty of talented young writers who would love to have that kind of privilege and opportunity and who do not think that mimicking sexual assault is hilarious.

  161. Emma
    Emma December 8, 2008 at 3:07 pm |

    You can have a different opinion, but this is still my blog and I reserve the right to not deal with abusive commenters. You are welcome to disagree with me on anything I write, but you are not welcome to come in to my space and leave rude and abusive comments. So you can either quit being an asshole, or I can show you the door.

    Please feel free to show me the door. While you’re at it, why don’t you show the door to all of those here who spend considerable bandwidth minimizing the evident misogyny of Favreau’s acts so that your readers won’t have to put up with their rude, abusive and downright false “commentary”. I’m sure you won’t, though, because those kinds of comments are all about free speech, after all. I mean, what’s a little more misogyny to have to put up with?

  162. beth
    beth December 8, 2008 at 3:27 pm |

    Emma… exhausting. This post was clearly written to criticize Favreau’s actions and start a dialog regarding this incident.

    http://www.feministing.com/archives/012530.html#comments

  163. Holly
    Holly December 8, 2008 at 3:33 pm |

    This? It doesn’t make sense. Are you saying that groping is *not* sexual assault?

    Consensual groping isn’t sexual assault, of course. You can’t tell what’s being mimicked in play-acting involving a cardboard cutout — is it consensual? Non-consensual? If it was a cutout of his girlfriend or wife would that be consensual? Is it non-consensual because we can guess that Hillary Clinton probably doesn’t want to engage in a hot and heavy makeout session with Jon Favreau? Is that the standard for determining whether a cardboard-cutout enactment is “consensual” or not? The question starts to become ridiculous. Some people on this thread are doing a little too much conflating a representation of a person with the actual person. It’s not a voodoo doll. There are no issues of consent involved here. If there was some tangible element of malicious harm or threat acted out, that might be a different story. If she was a private individual and not one of the most recognizable public figures in the country, that might also be a different issue, having to do with who has the right to use her image.

    Same with the “dimished seriousness” accusations being leveled at Jill. Oh no, calling someone a jackass followed by discussion of what a misogynist asshat he’s being isn’t enough for you? Seriously, try again, I’m not convinced even a tiny percentage. Sound and fury, sound and fury.

    For the latter, I would agree….though I would argue that’s one reason why firings for “political reasons”, even legitimate ones like those in the latter category are regarded with much dubiousness and skepticism by many because of its seeming arbitrariness.

    Yes, and I think Favreau’s position as a speechwriter is not a civil service one. It’s a political appointment, and by the rules of that game, as dumb as they may be, he ought to be fired for this mistake. To do otherwise would be making an exception from the rules, and even if we don’t like the rules, it’s very injurious to feminism and women to make an exception for this one case that involves boorish behavior that’s easily interpreted as misogynist frat antics. I don’t think Obama can afford to blow this off that easily, and I don’t think it would send the right message if he did. Sadly, that may mean someone who’s good for the job doesn’t get it. But hey, maybe EKSwitaj is right and there are other people out there who are just as good or better.

    That’s life for you in high-profile politics. If you don’t have the power and political clout of a Bill Clinton, you’re out of luck. But who knows, maybe the media and the new administration will dismiss this as inconsequential. I’m not sure I think that’s the best outcome either.

  164. Cara
    Cara December 8, 2008 at 4:12 pm |

    Consensual groping isn’t sexual assault, of course. You can’t tell what’s being mimicked in play-acting involving a cardboard cutout — is it consensual? Non-consensual? If it was a cutout of his girlfriend or wife would that be consensual? Is it non-consensual because we can guess that Hillary Clinton probably doesn’t want to engage in a hot and heavy makeout session with Jon Favreau? Is that the standard for determining whether a cardboard-cutout enactment is “consensual” or not?

    For me, it was much more the fact that it’s in public, in front of a camera, while his buddy is pretending to pull her hair and pour alcohol down her throat. Of course a woman can consent to groping under those circumstances, but there are violent undertones. And how many women here have been groped at a party by drinking men? How often was it consensual?

    No, it’s not a voodoo doll, and no, it’s not actually Clinton. I’m well aware of that, which is why I said “mimicking” (or whatever work I actually used up there) rather than “committing.” Clearly, it not even remotely as bad as the same thing. But I still say that it’s harassing and making light of it.

  165. E
    E December 8, 2008 at 4:16 pm |

    Favreau was simulating a sexual act, but I don’t think you can make the jump to sexual assault. I have pictures of me in the exact same breast-cupping pose with friends, in situations where it was definitely not sexual assault or harassment. I’m not saying all instances of groping aren’t harassment, but since we’re talking about a cardboard cutout that can’t tell us one way or the other, is it really fair to say the picture shows mimicry of a non-consensual act?

    Was it stupid of him? Hell yes–if you’re Obama’s head speechwriter, you need to fix your facebook privacy settings! But some drunken irreverence toward a cardboard cutout shouldn’t get him fired.

    I wonder how many political careers we’ll see ruined by facebook and its ilk in the next few years. Glancing at a few of my friends’ profiles, it seems even the ones that have been job-proofed haven’t been politics-proofed–the only ones that are totally clean are the son of a prominent state senator, who learned from an early age to be circumspect to a fault, and people who work as teachers. I’m sure in the coming decade at least a few of my peers who might have been excellent public servants will find their chances torpedoed by a cached copy of some internet indiscretions.

  166. exholt
    exholt December 8, 2008 at 4:44 pm |

    I wonder how many political careers we’ll see ruined by facebook and its ilk in the next few years. Glancing at a few of my friends’ profiles, it seems even the ones that have been job-proofed haven’t been politics-proofed–the only ones that are totally clean are the son of a prominent state senator, who learned from an early age to be circumspect to a fault, and people who work as teachers.

    It has already been happening for several years….and I am quite concerned about the blurring of the workplace/off-the-clock distinctions as a result of admissions officers, employers, and government agencies going on googling fishing expeditions when their job descriptions and resumes/job applicant info don’t usually warrant such level of quasi-orwellian scrutiny.

  167. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub December 8, 2008 at 5:08 pm |

    Mosh Mosh, I suggest you actually read what I wrote before you accuse me of putting words in your mouth–I never said that you called us humorless. I pointed out that for someeone who was preaching to us about alienating those who disagreed with us, you were happy to overlook the alienating rhetoric of those in your own damn camp. Here’s the cut and paste: And BTW, when there are trolls whining about how humorless we are and how we should get over it, it’s pretty alienating. Odd how I didn’t see you call them on that trope.

    As far as the anger being frightening to you, I just have to laugh. You know what’s frightening to me? That my niece is going to grow up among people who think this sort of behavior is no big deal, that of course it’s important oh, yes indeed, we should discuss it (perhaps over tea and crumpets) but that nothing substantive will ever be done. I mean, heaven forbid that a man have to deal with the consequences of his actions! I’ve had to deal with assholes like him who thought it was a scream to grope me and harass me and my friends when we went out, I still have to deal with pricks like that, and I get to see their behavior excused, minimized, and laughed off as no big deal. Favreau’s actions was just another way to let the bitches know that at the end of the day, women are just targets, and what’s happened to many of us is just so much fodder for party fun.

    It’s quite telling that the anger in response to this drek is frightening to you, but the actions of Favreau, the message this sends, and the fact that so many folks think it’s no big deal isn’t apparently frightening at all.

    “But I think when we publicly start extending sexual harassment etc to cardboard cutouts, it makes a mockery of those issues.”

    Actually, I didn’t call it sexual harassment. If you truly did see what I was saying (as you posted earlier after lecturing me on being nice), you’d realize that *I* didn’t call it sexual harassment of a cardboard cutout. (That bit about putting words in people’s mouths and detracting from the merits of your arguments? Read it over and take it to heart yourself.) I did say that what he did sent a pretty clear (and hostile) message to women, women who have to deal with this shit far too much in their lives.

    You insist that it could raise free-speech issues if he was fired over something he put up on Facebook. Plenty of people have had their job offers rescinded or have been fired for far less (and when women put up suggestive photos, they are often lectured about proper behavior, safety, and yes, their job security). This is hardly a new precedent.

    Finally, before you yet again lecture us amateur feminists about how we should be nice and stop being so angry, keep this in mind: You swooped in here to lecture Belledame who was talking about the trolls whom I mentioned in my reply to you–the very trolls you didn’t bother reading or responding to (even though you can “see what we’re saying” and you think that Favreau did was certainly misogynist). Nope, you decided that it meant you and that you were alienated, and didn’t bother to oh, read the thread and figure out why Belledame and the rest of us were so goddamn pissed off at that point. Nope, why do that when you can come in and start lecturing us on civility?

    So you know, my very uncivilly-worded advice still stands–read the rest of the thread before you type out another lecture. Because when you swoop in give civility lectures to women who’ve had this shit done to them, when you try to liken us to GWB (even though you swear! double pinky swear! you aren’t doing it), when you tell us not to be so angry after we’ve been treated to yet more of the same misogynist dreck about humorless feminists and how oversensitive we are well, yes, I’m going to tell you to shut the fuck up.

  168. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub December 8, 2008 at 5:21 pm |

    Frankly, the willingness of some to see the lives and careers of real people destroyed over every “outrageous” and “offensive” act disturbs me far more than any abuse that could possibly be directed at a cardboard figure of a political leader. This woman played a roll in the murder of over a million Iraqis including women and children and the destruction of their country. She threatened to do the same to Iran. She doesn’t deserve your outrage.

    Sean, most US Democrats rolled over and played dead when GWB wanted to fuck over Iraq, and were quite happy to fuck over Iran as well. It wasn’t just Clinton.

    As for Clinton not deserving our outrage, this isn’t about Clinton. This is about the fact that this shit is done to actual women, every fucking day, and oh, it’s just funny! It’s no big deal! We’re sick to death of this shit being normalized and seen as funny. A lot of us have been harassed, assaulted, and groped by men (who were just doing it in good fun, where’s our sense of humor??). When we see this picture, we see that things haven’t changed, and when this “joke” is passed off as no big deal (and when Favreau keeps his job) it tells us that why no, we aren’t really seen as fully human. That it’s perfectly okay with a lot of people–and apparently the President Elect–for us to be targeted that way. Because it’s just so funeeee.

  169. EvilSlutopia
    EvilSlutopia December 8, 2008 at 9:54 pm |

    Okay. I think Favreau is probably a jackass… and possibly a sexist. Possibly. I can’t say that he is a misogynist, because that implies a HATRED of women, and I haven’t seen anything evident of THAT. He isn’t groping a woman against her will, he’s holding up a cardboard cut-out of a famous person. (Honestly, his hand is sort of holding her armpit if anything, heh). Is what he did stupid and slightly inappropriate? Sure. Is it sexual harassment? Not in my opinion. (And not in the opinion of Hillary Clinton herself, which I think is worth mentioning). Should he be reprimanded? Yes. Should he be educated on the proper behavior of an Obama staff member? Yeah. But fired? I don’t think so.

    That is my opinion on the subject. I’m not going to try to convince anyone to agree with my opinion and so I don’t appreciate the people who are trying to force their opinions and their outrage on the rest of us.

    I resent the comments that suggest anyone who isn’t completely and utterly offended and disgusted by this photo is not a real feminist or needs to be “educated” about feminism. To me, the most important facet of feminism is the right to have my own opinion. I respect your right to be offended by this, but I… am not. I think in the grand scheme of things, this is something that should be addressed but it is not something worth being fired over. You don’t have to agree with me, but it doesn’t mean that I’m ignorant or stupid or not a ‘real feminist’. It means, that as a feminist, I’m making my decisions based on my education, my intelligence and my experiences. As a feminist, I’m using my own mind to form my own opinions about things and not just following what other people tell me to do.

    Isn’t THAT what feminism is supposed to be about too?

    [Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this comment do not necessarily reflect the entire Evil Slut Clique. ~Lilith~]

  170. Even I Cannot Really Believe What I Am About to Say « Off Our Pedestals

    [...] in the comments at Feministe when you try to argue that sexism is a real issue for women. Take this one, for example: Also, this is not *technically* sexual harrassment, and I, who is familiar with [...]

  171. shah8
    shah8 December 8, 2008 at 11:21 pm |

    It’s really easy to make someone a punching bag on your own blog with the comments closed, eh, ilyka? Grammer nazi-ism for the extra put-down making you feel extra superior, as well?

    Feminists are not humorless. I wouldn’t hang around them if they were. Some people either don’t have perspective, or having an egotistical moment. We have definitions for legal reasons and for reasons of custom. Sexual Harrassment is defined the way it is because that definition serves the law, in the most principled of meaning, is supposed to shelter everyone equally, even the guilty, and sometimes, most especially for the guilty.

    Really, as might be expected, Shakespeare really sez it clear:
    William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
    Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
    William Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
    Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

  172. Jon Favreau and the Facebook Incident « Antithodoxy

    [...] and “boys will be boys” type justifications (see blog posts about this issue here, here, here and here). According to The Washington Post, Favreau “reached out to Senator Clinton to [...]

  173. Tom Foolery
    Tom Foolery December 9, 2008 at 2:30 pm |

    Really, as might be expected, Shakespeare really sez it clear:

    Pretty sure that’s Robert Bolt’s A Man For All Seasons.

  174. shah8
    shah8 December 9, 2008 at 2:56 pm |

    Bolt got it from shakespear’s last play, Henry VIII, or so I gathered. I originally got the quote from imdb quotes from the movie done in the 1960s.

    Checked again, and you’re right. I was trying to google my way to the quote, and it lead to pretty similar discussions on other topics.

  175. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan December 9, 2008 at 4:03 pm |

    Just because the cardboard cutout in question is of a woman and the manner in which they interact with the cutout is reminiscent of sexual harassment and sexual assault does not mean that this is therefore an act of misogyny against women

    Yes it does. Any other easy questions? I gotta minute.

  176. Emma
    Emma December 9, 2008 at 4:19 pm |

    This post was clearly written to criticize Favreau’s actions and start a dialog regarding this incident.

    A dialogue that started with the author’s comments minimizing what was done.

  177. ilyka
    ilyka December 9, 2008 at 5:40 pm |

    Shah8, that was a goof on my part [shakes fist at wordpress.com]–they’re open now. Please never attribute to malice what is better attributed to dumbass software and operator error.

    I normally enjoy your comments, fwiw. You’re often a good gadfly. But this one, honestly, I think you got bogged down in obstinacy or privilege or something, because you’re responding like those guys from AutoAdmit who were all “OMG feminazis want 2 CENSORSHIP.I

    I mean, did anyone seriously suggest a change to sexual harassment law to cover cases of cardboard cutout molestation? Weren’t you the one who dragged sexual harassment law into this in the first place? And great, you’re all concerned for Favreau’s job and that’s nice and all, but maybe the person who should have been concerned for his job was Favreau himself.

    Just not with you on this one. Oh, well.

  178. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan December 9, 2008 at 7:12 pm |

    This post was clearly written to criticize Favreau’s actions and start a dialog regarding this incident.

    A dialogue that started with the author’s comments minimizing what was done.

    I took the first part of the dialogue to be the photo *itself*, which is condemnation enough by it’s very existence. This is then followed by the verbal commentary, which mentions back-to-back the guys credentials and his shitty behavior/(personality?) to highlight the magnitude of the photo. Because some random guy doing this < Obama’s “very talented” speechwriter doing this.

    Also, to repeat what everyone else said, if you think you could do better go do better. I’ll hold my breath.

  179. Obama’s Staff Need a Lesson in Reputation Management

    [...] has already reached out to Clinton to apologize. However, that might not be enough to quiet the surge from the feminist [...]

  180. El equipo de Obama descubre los peligros de Facebook

    [...] La polémica ya está servida y Favreau ya ha presentado sus disculpas a Hillary Clinton, pero aun así el asunto sigue trayendo cola [...]

  181. Tuppenceworth.ie blog » Gender Bending
    Tuppenceworth.ie blog » Gender Bending December 11, 2008 at 11:12 am |

    [...] I didn’t feel too bad about my 50% rating. If being 99% anything leads to comment threads like this, maybe I’m better off neither one nor [...]

  182. GBL
    GBL December 13, 2008 at 8:58 pm |

    Jill, you’re a journalist? Journalists check their facts, not just repeat what other talking heads say.

    He’s a talented writer? Do tell.

  183. deb
    deb December 14, 2008 at 9:13 pm |

    I think having talented people on the staff is more important than trying to have the most upstanding people. I want things to be fixed, not be happy to know that everyone in office never done anything asshole worthy. And from Obama’s speeches I have heard I would want him to keep all the speechwriters he can close to him. He is going to need them.

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