I could not find the recent dust-up over Harold Ford Jr.’s University of Tennessee campaign chair to be any funnier. First we’ve got Nathan Moore posting a link to a “lurid” photo* of her and then Bill Hobbs insinuating that she’s a slut.
Brittney calls them on their bullshit over at Moore’s and at Nashville is Talking and I get some digs in at Hobbs over there as well.
The whole thing is hilarious, I think, even if you don’t know the players.
But Moore says something in his comments that I can’t leave unaddressed. He says
People… this is funny. There is no hate. There is no sexism. Ha to there being a lick of fear. And this certainly has zero to do with any falsely perceived role of women in politics – a man doing this would have been eminently more entertaining. The overreaction is amusing.
Let’s just start with some Feminism 101.
No, you know what? Let’s set aside the feminism for a second. Let’s start with some Common Courtesy 101.
Calling people names is hateful. Calling someone you don’t know a slut is hateful and rude. Continuing to call her a pornographer because she posted a photo that showed her bellybutton on the internet is rude and hateful and makes you seem like an uptight prude.
To say that, in the face of people saying that this poor woman is a slut and a pornographer, there is no hate is insane.
Now, onto the feminist stuff.
Let me put this as simply as possible: if two people are engaged in the same activity–in this case enjoying the production of naughty pictures on the internet–and the woman gets called a slut and a pornographer and no one calls Nathan Moore or Bill Hobbs perverts or questioning their fidelity to their wives that is sexism. When two people are doing the same thing and one is punished for it and the other is not, because one is a woman and the other is not, that is sexism at its most basic.
But, y’all, this isn’t even basic sexism. If you just consider this bullshit for a second, another layer of sexism reveals itself. It’s hidden behind another layer of rudeness, so let’s go to Common Courtesy 102. It common courtesy to not judge others if they do the same things you do but for different reasons. We all know that Moore and Hobbs don’t think there’s anything wrong with them looking at this photo because they’re not looking at this photo out of purient sexual interest. They’re looking at this photo so that they can make fun of this chick.
Well, my pervert readers, that’s just rude. Everyone has their reasons for looking at pictures of semi-naked women. Why do Moore and Hobbs get off the hook just because they’re not enjoying it in a sexual way? Either it’s wrong or it’s not. Or they’ve found themselves a hell of a loophole–“Yes, I was looking at a picture of a hot woman, but I wasn’t enjoying it sexually! I swear. I was only enjoying it because I love to shame sluts.”
But on to Feminism 102. It is sexist when men who look at pictures of women criticize those women for being immoral, because it assumes that the woman has been tainted by the existence of the photo in a way that the men are not. To assume that the enjoyment of the production of these photos is corrupting to women but not to men is sexist.
And yet, there’s even another layer of sexist assumption here–that it’s Harold Ford Jr.’s job to police this woman’s sexual behavior. The assumption that any man with authority over a woman in any realm of her life gives him some level of authority over her in all realms of her life is sexist. And to insinuate that it’s not going to play well with voters that Ford can’t keep his woman in line is really just gross.
Which, you know, is fine, at the end of the day. As Coble attempts to point out repeatedly, a lot of this sexism isn’t really about promoting misogyny; it’s about directing the discussion towards something people feel roused up about and away from the lack of discussion of substantial issues.
It’s a lot easier to say “Oh, Ford’s got a slutty co-ed working for him. This is just more evidence of his immorality. Let’s all take a moment to ogle her.” than it is to explain why Ford’s platform would be bad for Tennessee and the rest of the nation.
That’s fine. We all take the easy way out occasionally. But to claim that the easy route you’ve chosen in this case isn’t hateful or sexist makes you look like liars or idiots.
* I feel like I should warn you that, if you like to look at actual lurid photos of women, you’re going to be disappointed by Moore’s offering. As I told Bill Hobbs over at Nashville is Talking:
This whole thing is making you seem like the most uptight old man ever. Really. The girl, if it’s even the same girl, says she took “naughty” pictures of herself and you’re calling that porn. Have you ever viewed pornography? Because if you think some girl posing naked or semi-naked in her boyfriend’s bedroom constitutes porn, you evidently have not viewed any pornography since about 1867.