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.
Rock on, B. I would add to the problem the assumption that a woman who is pretty and unashamed of her body could not possibly be smart, capable, effective, or powerful – clearly her open acknowledgement of her own image could only be a liability to the campaign. Apparently she missed the memo where it was spelled out that she only expect to be a) beautiful, and looked upon by men or b) respectable. Ugh.
No one made fun of the girl. We were making fun of Ford. You’re just too stupid to know the difference.
Yes, I’m sure “Sluts for Ford” is solely a reflection on the campaign, not on the “slut.”
If Harold Ford is tapping that, I may vote for him based solely on that accomplishment. That and a bag of cash from his campaign fund should seal the deal.
Why can’t the Conservatives score some primo tail like that? Why does the only bimbo allied with the GOP who has a promiscuous past and a salacious batch of photos on the internet have to be Jeff Gannon?
No one made fun of the girl. We were making fun of Ford. You’re just too stupid to know the difference
Another compassionate conservative amidst us. Mr. Hobbs? Maybe you weren’t clear on who you were making fun of, or should you be making fun of anyone at all.
And don’t call people stupid. It’s rude.
You’re just too stupid to know the difference.
Okay. Score one for open dialog.
Although I didn’t think they were making fun of her. From where I sat it was more like they were dismissing her abilities based on her expression of sexuality in another arena.
But maybe I’m stupid like that.
I’m sure “You’re just too stupid” is precisely the kind of intelligent discourse the WaPo wants out of their conservative blogger.
Haha. Good luck with that, B-Ho.
A little sensitive, are we?
There is no helpless victim here. Please.
It is funny. It is quite hilarious that a campaign worker for Harold Ford, Jr., entered a contest like this and wrote the things she did. It’s funny – no need for a feminism lesson here.
If you read more of what I wrote, I actually wished it had been a guy, because that would have been even funnier. So I hate both sexes equally. Maybe I need a humanism lesson…but that would be kinda weird.
that would have been even funnier.
Nathan, if there’s one thing this whole debacle has driven home it’s that one man’s funny is another man’s atrocity. Humour is subjective.
But name-calling? “Sluts”…”Too stupid”…??? Not really a big fan of that kind of stuff when either side does it. It demeans dialog.
Yeah, I get the “joke” in that it is pretty typical of the Ford Grassroots movement–all the kegstand fratboy machismo, only in this case it happens to be a sorority girl. Still, I think it demeans the Republicans because without agreement on a solid candidate it appears that the M.O. on Ford is to just mock his campaign style and his volunteer staff.
This senatorial campaign is shaping up to be the green vs. the jaded.
actually, nathan, i am generally of the opinion that many conservatives do, in fact, need “humanism lessons.” then maybe they wouldn’t be such douchebags.
(that is, of course, a joke, because obviously conservatives aren’t literally bags used for douching.)
Nathan, I also find the whole thing hilarious, as I’ve said repeatedly (Perhaps you should read me more closely?). Something can be sexist and mean and still be funny as hell.
In fact, most of the humor of the whole situation for me derives from the fact that Bill Hobbs wants to call her a slut and claim she’s a pornographer, but in order to do that, he has to acknowledge that he’s looked at her “slutty, pornographic” photo, when clearly, looking at slutty pornography isn’t a hobby of Hobbs’s and certainly not something he’d normally brag about. Couple that with the fact that he thinks that photo is somehow outragiously slutty–as if he’s somehow neglected to notice the last thirty years–and you have a recipe for a situation that seems to have no end to the humor.
Then, for you to come in on your own comments and deny that y’all are being sexist and mean? Dude, come on!
We’re all reading along at home. Why do you even bother to deny it? Shoot, man, it was funny enough in the first place, but then watching you guys refuse to acknowledge why it works as a joke is just too rich.
Not quite as rich as you coming over here to accuse me of being “overly sensitive,” as if I view this chick as some helpless victime, but pretty rich.
I only have this to say about Slutgate…… She’s from the same town that I was, and town sluts are something I like to know about. So if homegirl was a slut, I’d have heard.
She does seem to be trending in that direction though.
Heh. I specifically remember Bill saying he NEVER read Tiny Cat Pants. Kinda like he’s NOT blogging anymore, and he’s NOT using up time at work to view the “pornography”.
I don’t think truth is exactly Mr. Hobbs’s strong suit.
Well, in all fairness to Hobbs, Tiny Cat Pants is full of talk about tits and cooters. If he thinks that pictures of women with their belly buttons hanging out is slutty, I don’t imagine he’s very comfortable with all the salacious imagery over here.
I already used the word salacious, copycat.
It’s the new word for 2006.
Iz that frum yr Dirty Words Thesaurus? I wud get 1 mysef butt I m 2 stoopid 2 uze it.
When I right all I due is imagane whut yud right if u was a gurl and right that.
I caint bleave it took u this long to notice.
Nice to see you’ve dropped the facade of academic superiority and embraced your white trash roots.
Between your new spelling method and your anti-DAR quiz, you may snag Jim Goad yet.
You’re just waiting for the day when you have to help me dispose of the body of some crappy ex-husband, aren’t you?
I find that both deeply touching and a tad disturbing.
Evil and potentially hurtful comment pertaining to the mathematical odds of you ever having a husband of any kind to dispose of has been deleted by the author in order to not come off sounding like your dad.
[insert your own crack about Sarcastro being old enough to be my dad here]