Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Photo

By now you've seen it, read it, heard it on the news and have moved on to the next news cycle. Here is why that's wrong. Sexism is not a story and it's not something that can be forgiven. It is racism, bigotry, oppression and hatred all wrapped up in one big fat F**k You if you happen to be a female. Get over it, girls. It was just "bad judgment".

The life size photo of Hillary didn't just appear in that room. It was brought there with the intention to demean her. Let your mind wander about what would happen if the roles were reversed - if that was an Obama photo with a bunch of anti-Obama women. Or if it was a life size likeness of Obama's wife. Imagine that.

Riverdaughter's post is excellent. She writes about the woman in the photo:
Who is this woman hanging out with these swine? And what does she possibly see in an Obama administration if it is being run by creeps like this? How long will it be before they move from groping and humping a cardboard cutout to treating her like she’s just a stupid c&*t and a low level gofer? And did her beer buzzed induced transcendence get the better of her? Did she end up in bed with one of them? He’s full of Obama empowered mojo and she’s basking in the reflected radiance of the Lightbringer ‘cos he’s going to change it all!
Conversely, Dissenting Justice just doesn't get it. Although he takes Campbell Brown to task, he believes this is a "feminist" issue. This is his response to my comment that the photo did indeed exhibit sexist behavior: DJF - I still believe that feminists could debate the matter. They are even split on whether "prostitution" (or sex work) is sexist, so I imagine this picture could receive similar treatment. Here is more from his post:
Finally, even if the picture is sexist, this does not mean that Clinton (or other women) have to respond to it the same way they would respond to other acts of sexism. People who face discrimination often develop a set of "coping skills" to deal with the situation without always mounting an explicit protest. Typically, when people encounter discrimination, they want to diffuse the situation and move on from the moment. During the primaries, for example, Clinton often ignored sexism and just kept campaigning.

Victims of discrimination learn to prioritize the battles they fight. It was very important for Clinton to challenge men in the media and Democratic Party leadership who failed to appreciate the significance of a potential woman president and who acted with blatant sexism in their treatment of her. Their power and influence potentially inflicted harm upon all women and was offensive to all persons who want a society that takes women politicians seriously. Although the "iron our shirts" neanderthals probably lacked power relative to Clinton, they shouted at her during a critical town-hall meeting. Her witty response was tailored to the situation.

This picture, by contrast, essentially involves a kid, far junior to her in the administration, behaving inappropriately. Given Favreau's relative lack of power over Clinton, he is probably crawling to her in order to apologize. They can simply deal with this matter on a personal level without heightening the situation through public verbal exchanges which the media would spin into an unseemly circus.

Sorry, Professor, I don't agree. I will never develop "coping skills" to handle unjust behavior. Women and men are entitled to respect. Ignoring inappropriate behavior won't make it stop. It's like rewarding your child when she acts up. Contrary to your view that this guy is just a kid (as in boys will be boys, wink wink), he crossed the line and that is more than just bad judgment. If Mr. Favreau isn't held to the high standards that his employment in the Obama administration demands, it hurts all of us. He was way over the line and he should be dismissed. If he isn't, it shows exactly what we can expect in the future from the Obama administration.

Feminism isn't a gender based exclusive female club. When men demand respect and equal rights for women, it enriches all of us. I know many men who call themselves feminists. I know that they will stand up with me and for me. Until the rest of society understands this, we will continue to have these conversations.

UPDATE: Read Heidi's post
The Grope Here

UPDATE II: The Groper Must Go by swedescott, via Heidi Li



Alessandro Machi said...

Saying he is a kid is questionable. Sort of like a quote from the past, "youthful exuberance".

Perhaps the biggest problem is finding someone to write his resignation speech. "We would have dismissed him but we had no one to write his resignation speech".

Double Jointed Fingers said...

Right! Obama threw everyone under the bus, including his own grandmother, if they came between him and his prize presidency.

But for a valuable lackey, ahh, I mean speechwriter, a peachy keen gov't job where he can continue to drink and fondle cardboard women in photo shoots would be just the ticket.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Hi. Thanks for posting my thread on your blog. I want to say a few things.

First, I never said that the picture did not constitute sexism. In fact, I said that the word sexist came to my mind immediately when I first viewed the picture. I said, however, that I would not rush and call Clinton a hypocrite without having a broader discussion about the picture from a feminist perspective. Remember, that was the point of Brown's essay: she wanted to accuse Clinton of being a hypocrite. That's a pretty big thing to say.

Second, I guess as someone who has lived four decades, I realize that if I had mounted a vocal protest in response to every individual moment that I believe that I suffered from discrimination that I probably would not have much time to get work done. It probably would have caused me to experience some police brutality as well. Discrimination is a fact of life. People pick their battles all the time. This does not mean that discrimination is fine. Instead, its an acknowledgement that sometimes you build a case before bringing a cause of action, and that sometimes the harm to you is so minor that you can let it go.

In this instance, I believe that Clinton can resolve this issue personally. It's really a "work" issue. Why go on news to protest something that she has the authority to take care of as a person with power in the workplace? Anything else would cause a media frenzy. Imagine the headlines: "FRICTION YET AGAIN BETWEEN OBAMA AND CLINTON: SHE CALLS HIS SPEECHWRITER A SEXIST FOR GRABBING HER BOOB." Do you really think the ensuing debate would help Clinton or women? No. The media would just use the moment to make money.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Alessandro Machi - he is a "kid." He just graduated from college and basically is acting like a "frat boy." Age is relative.

That does not excuse anything he did. I just think that Clinton has better things to do than call someone that age a sexist for the media to exploit.

Double Jointed Fingers said...

Professor, I did not post your thread on my blog. I posted a portion of it that went to my argument that sexism cannot be ignored or tolerated. Ever.

I don't think you understand that this is not just about Hillary - it's about me and every other woman who is offended. How Hillary handles this matter is her decision. That is not the point. What is the point is that the longer women let this kind of degradation go on without speaking out, the worse sexism will get.

Let me be perfectly clear. Under no circumstances will I witness an act by one individual which lessens another and not speak out. It is not about getting work done or police brutality or making a case. It's about not accepting second class status.

And, I can trump your four decades with almost six. Not that it has anything to do with this issue.

1950 Democrat said...

6.5 decades here agreeing with DLH. Hillary's staffer's response was excessive though perfect. "Huh?Cardboard? We're busy talking to Israel." would have sufficed.

Answering stuff like that is what we PUMAs are for. Talley-ho!

Really, Hillary CANNOT be jerked around obliged to reply to any insult the bots contrive for her. She would be continually under attack by the press for the nuances of her answers or non-answers. (As is happening now.)

In internet terms, don't feed the trolls.

1950 Democrat said...

Kid is as kid does, and has no business holding a serious job.

I agree with DLH that Hillary is right not to get further involved with this media circus. She's said the perfect thing, leave it. She has serious work to do as SOS.

Or in internet terms, don't feed the trolls.

Attacking Obama and the speechwriter is OUR job. Talley-ho!

Double Jointed Fingers said...


Could you point out to me the portion of my post regarding how Hillary should respond to this photo? Because I didn't ever make that case.

My point was how the photo was being characterized and downplayed. The old boys will be boys, yes,yes, it was inappropriate, bad judgment, yada, yada, yada.

The post has nothing whatsoever to do with how Hillary should respond. In fact, what it is about is Obama's response.

Mr. Favreau isn't the kid that rings up your coffee at the local 7-11. He is a speechwriter for the President elect of the United States of America. And he the bad judgment to not only engage in a sexist act against his boss' primary opponent, but is so proud of his actions, he posts the photo on the internet. He should be fired.

Double Jointed Fingers said...

And by the way - according to his facebook profile, Mr. Favreau is 26 years old.

Greenconsciousness said...

I agree with you that this is serious sexism but I agree with him that Clinton cannot make an issue of it -- she has to work for women globally and will have to pick her battles.

This one is up to us to make a big deal starting with that woman who wrote an article about this incident and BLAMED HILLARY for not going to war over the issue. There should be a thousand comments to her asking why SHE did not go to war over it but instead excused the "boys" basically saying they had suffered enough. She (Robin?) did not want to put a target on her own back(whining bit-h)so she demands that Hillary do it.

No, WE are the ones who should do it by confronting it on our blogs and by commenting on others. Good Job to you and RD for making this an issue. Sometimes it is up to the troops to make it possible for the leader to do her job. We are so used to criticizing we forget that sometimes.

I am not criticizing YOU DJF - you are doing a good job making this an issue. Just saying the Hill can't help here - she has to make issues out of worse things and she cannot give them more ammunition for those fights. When she talks about (global) sexism - we cannot allow them to dismiss her because she complained too much over everything as the establishment has done to Jesse Jackson and Sharpton. It is a tightrope and she cannot lose her focus for her own dignity and thereby degrade her ability to win rights for all women as a caste. Look to Condi Rice for an example. She brushed off all insults to her own dignity but was a tiger for oppressed women globally and very effective.

Double Jointed Fingers said...

Green, I totally agree with you. I never meant this post to be about Hillary making something of this. It's about calling out sexist behavior and making people accountable for their actions.

Thanks for your input. I really appreciate hearing from other feminists.

Greenconsciousness said...

CNN Wolf Blitzer had the New Agenda's letter writing campaign on with James Carvelle being absolutely disgusting. Who is this New Agenda he says Never Heard of it --goes on to say what a fine guy and just having fun - women with no sense of humor ---he would have done more .

I have always admired him and so this display was the knife in the gut.

Double Jointed Fingers said...

Green, I saw your post at RL. I tried going to New Agenda and couldn't find the letter writing campaign.

I used to love Carville and hate his wife. However, when he started tooting Obama's horn, I started paying closer attention.

Sucks, doesn't it? Hillary's campaign opened our eyes to a lot more than I expected. I think there are many more females that stopped focusing on feminism while raising kids, working to keep their heads above water, etc. who are now seeing how little progress we've made and are ready to take up the cause. Babyboomers with balls.

Greenconsciousness said...

Yes BB with balls and experience -- but also scars -- I wonder why you could not find it -- oh I see it is buried on the blog.

Goodnight sister.

Greenconsciousness said...

Carville on CNN