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September 16, 2006

Let's take a closer look at those nuts

Ann Althouse is bitterly lamenting the mean liberals who showed up to complain about her thread entitled "Let's take a closer look at those breasts."

The breasts in question belong to Jessica Valenti a young activist, blogger, and freelance writer from New York City. Ms. Valenti is the executive editor of the blog Feministing. She also runs NARAL's "Bush v. Choice" blog. Her articles have appeared in The Guardian, Salon, and other publications. She's got a book coming out next year.

Last week, Jessica was one of several prominent liberal bloggers invited to lunch with Bill Clinton at the former president's Harlem office.

Clintongroup2761348

On Wednesday, Althouse posted this picture of the happy event, signing off with the following ironic comment, "Let's just array these bloggers... randomly."

Frankly that line would have gone right over my head, but Althouse's commenters got the point:

[First out of the gate with a Monica joke.]
Goesh:
Who is the Intern directly in front of him with the black hair?
8:13 AM, September 13, 2006

[19 minutes later, the same joke is just as funny.]
Meade:
Who is the Intern directly in front of him with the black hair?
Dunno, but by her expression, it looks as though she may be getting "a small glimpse at greatness."
8:32 AM, September 13, 2006

[He knew all the tricks, dramatic irony, metaphor, bathos...]
bill:
Since we don't know who she is, this is quite the cheap shot: Who is the Intern directly in front of him with the black hair?
As such, it would be beneath me to respond, I don't know, but she can deliver my pizza any day.
8:50 AM, September 13, 2006

[First penetration joke. Is Goesh is Ken Starr?]
Goesh:
- no mention of after-dinner cigars I note....
9:49 AM, September 13, 2006

[Brimming with respect for the office, Ann explains why Clinton is a contemptible person, and why bloggers should have dressed better to meet this heinous sex criminal.]
Ann Althouse:
Palladian: I agree that Clinton looks really pink, but why are you assuming it's some generic old white man thing? He could be inflamed with sexual desire. Or teetering on the edge of a heart attack.

And really, I've got to wonder about all the commenters here who don't see the humor in the situation. I don't hate Bill Clinton. I voted for him twice. But, jeez, you've got to be able to laugh at him.

And you've got to laugh at bloggers who show this kind of pliability. This is high on my list of things that make bloggers look different from journalists.
11:22 AM, September 13, 2006

[First complaint about Monica-surrogate's appearance, but I'm sure he doesn't mean in a judgmental way.]
SippicanCottage: "The girl in the center is a hot babe, huh? This is why plain girls go to trekkie conventions. In here, I'm Miss America."

This is all before Jessica Valenti shows up to register mild annoyance that a bunch of strangers are making disparaging comments about her picture and using her image as fodder for crass sexual innuendoes. Note that so far, neither Althouse nor her commenters have the slightest idea who their Monica-surrogate is.

Jessica Feministing:
The, um, "intern" is me. It's so nice to see women being judged by more than their looks. Oh, wait...
10:57 PM, September 14, 2006

Ann Althouse:
Well, Jessica, you do appear to be "posing." Maybe it's just an accident.
7:45 AM, September 15, 2006

Jessica Feministing:
It's a picture; people pose. And I'm not sure I understand your logic anyway. If I "pose" for a picture (as opposed to sulking and hunching over?) then I deserve to be judged for my looks? I don't see anyone talking shit about the other bloggers smiling pretty for the camera.
9:09 AM, September 15, 2006

Ann Althouse:
Jessica: I'm not judging you by your looks. (Don't flatter yourself.) I'm judging you by your apparent behavior. It's not about the smiling, but the three-quarter pose and related posturing, the sort of thing people razz Katherine Harris about. I really don't know why people who care about feminism don't have any edge against Clinton for the harm he did to the cause of taking sexual harrassment seriously, and posing in front of him like that irks me, as a feminist. So don't assume you're the one representing feminist values here. Whatever you call your blog....
12:03 PM, September 15, 2006

Jessica Feministing:
Of course--the one "representing feminist values" must be the person judging a woman and her "behavior" off of a picture.
12:40 PM, September 15, 2006

The discussion continues at great length.

At 2:10 pm Althouse announces that she's promoted the catfight to the aforementioned Let's take a closer look at those breasts post.

"This isn't a post about how Jessica looks. This is a post about the way she and a bunch of other bloggers played up to Clinton," Althouse insists.

Let's take a closer look at Ann Althouse's Closer Look at Jessica Valenti's breasts.

I agree that, initially, Ann wasn't judging Jessica by her looks. For the most part she and her commenters were just using her picture as fodder for cheap Clinton/Lewinsky laughs. But when Jessica politely objected to the tenor of the discussion, Ann felt compelled to justify her trash talking. After all, Ann Althouse doesn't engage in idle trash talk. No, she's a serious intellectual. There must be a principle at stake.

According to Ann, Jessica deserved the Monica jokes because of her wanton "posing" and her willingness to stand next to Bill Clinton. Then, Jessica's presumptuous complaining sealed her fate:

"Provoked, I decide to actually give her a small dose of the kind of judgment for brains she seems to demanding," Althouse writes.

Notice that Ann is invoking an obscure technicality in the Rules of Feminism: If you think that another woman looks goofy in a picture and you have a substantive ideological disagreement with her, then it's okay to judge her based on her looks. In fact, she's literally asking for it. If you later learn that she runs a blog with a sexy logo, then she double-dog deserved it.

Having decisively established her feminist obligation to ridicule Jessica's appearance, Ann continues.

"Sooooo... apparently, Jessica writes one of those blogs that are all about using breasts for extra attention. Then, when she goes to meet Clinton, she wears a tight knit top that draws attention to her breasts and stands right in front of him and positions herself to make her breasts as obvious as possible? Well, I'm going to assume Jessica's contributions to my comments are an attempt at a comic performance, as was her attendence at the luncheon dressed in the guise of Monica Lewinsky. Lord knows we need more comical feminists.

Or are you going to say she's some kind of Karl Rove plant? Alternatives: She's a clueless fool. She's in it for the money. (And you know the blog money is all in the T-shirts.)," she writes.

Here are some freshly-picked nuts from thread number two.

Ann Althouse:
But I certainly think that to really do a great comic performance, Jessica should have worn a beret. Blue dress would have been good too.
12:51 PM, September 15, 2006

[Rapists are bad, but rape is hilarious.]
David:

Notice Clinton: Can't see his hands and he's checking out the profile like a coyote looking at a pork chop! For appearance sake she should have stood anywhere but directly in front of the lech in Chief.

This intern has her line in the water and is trolling for Clinton saying "you can look, but don't touch the bait!"

Maybe she thinks she really can have it all!

1:11 PM, September 15, 2006

[Pop Ev Psych, at last! We've been expecting you.]
Old Dad:
Ann,
From a Darwinian perspective, Femisnisting was simply featuring what she perceives to be natural advantages. Sexual display for a powerful male is quite common in Washigton, by that I mean the animal kingdom. And the old lech, I mean President Clinton, is obviously enjoying the show.

I don't know whether or not orthodox feminists should behave in said manner. From a survival of the fittest perpsective, it's probably a bit dangerous around Bill Clinton.
1:20 PM, September 15, 2006

A little later, Jessica returns.

Jessica Feministing:
Wow, Ann. You certainly like talking about my breasts. You know, if you feature t-shirts for women, they tend of have breasts in them. And as for my "pose," I moved to the side because I figured that people would be more interested in seeing Clinton than me standing directly in front of him.

As for attacking the content of my site, that's just kind of low. I posted about this on feministing because I was trying to make a point about the insanity that is feminists attacking each other. This is just kind of sad.
2:50 PM, September 15, 2006

Ann Althouse:
Jessica: Why don't you attempt a substantive defense of your own blog instead of saying things here are "low" and "sad"? I'm really disgusted with women fawning over Clinton and playing up to him. Why not read the posts I've linked to here, like this one, and get to some serious reflection about feminism? You come across as a lightweight seeking attention on the web for pretty much nothing. You load up your blog with breasts, and then you're offended why someone points it out. That's low and sad if you want to just dribble out three letter words.

You do not impress me at all. I don't see how you have a damn thing to do with feminism. You seem like a self-promoter appropriating and debasing a word that's important. You've got a lot of explaining to do. I can see why you prefer to go on the offensive and attack me. But all you're attacking me for is something I pointed out about you. Why don't you defend yourself? Or better yet, why don't you try blogging without those crappy silhouettes and tight T-shirts? And start taking what Clinton did seriously. Then I might begin to have some respect for you. But I expect you'll just come back with another wow, Ann, you're really low and sad to talk about my breasts comment. And that will be totally lame, let me say in advance. It's obvious that you're bending over backwards -- figuratively and literally -- to keep the attention on your breasts. How about some actual intellectual substance instead?
3:19 PM, September 15, 2006

Seven Machos:
I think the main idea here is that it is very, very difficult to pose with the president with your tits hoisted and in a little grey t-shirt and be taken seriously as an intellectual.
So, to review:

1. Hoist your tits and pose.

2. Be a serious mover and shaker in the intellectual world.

3. Both.

The subject of the debate clearly has succeeeded at (1). It appears based on the evidence that she has failed at (2). [...]
2:56 PM, September 15, 2006

[Macho man does his part for feminism.]
Seven Machos:
Actually, Doyle, this disaster of a discussion began with someone who clearly doesn't understand the engineering brilliance of a good modern bra calling a grossly average-looking woman "unusually attractive."
3:43 PM, September 15, 2006

[Sluts shouldn't pretend to be accomplished professionals, it's confusing.]
price said...
This is my favorite post in a long time. This Jessica chick could have gone really far with just saying, 'yeah, I do sort of look like that,' and laugh it off. But when she got all highfalutin' about her blog's mission, she completely invited Ann's hilarious remarks.

If she just pulled an Ana Marie Cox and admitted her slutty sensibility, people would respect her honesty and therefore intellectual integrity even more.
4:24 PM, September 15, 2006

[Seven Machos invokes the spretza-tits-azzura principle (aka, the law of of effortless mammary mastery), which would seem to contradict his earlier advice that sluts should just own up to their sluttiness, but I'm not going to worry my pretty little head about it.]:

Seven Machos:
The post by tcd nails it. If she just pulled an Ana Marie Cox and admitted her slutty sensibility, people would respect her honesty and therefore intellectual integrity even more.

You absolutely can be intellectual and powerful and sexy. The woman's problem is that she obviously puts a lot of thought into being sexy but doesn't seem to want to admit it. There's a certain fraud being perpetrated as a result.
4:31 PM, September 15, 2006

[You fools, not Monica, Paula Jones!]
AlaskaJack:
I agree with Ann that Bill's ruddy color in the photo is probably due to lust rather than age. Given this, and given that Jessica the Chaste bears some resemblance to Paula Jones, it is likely that Lusty Bill will contact Jessica the next time he is in her city. And if he does, will she agree to inform all of us of this as well as about the specifics of anything that transpires later?
6:27 PM, September 15, 2006

[Clinton's a rapist, but I'd rape her, too. And so would Charles Darwin!]
Shaky Barnes:
Ewwww, this Jessica clearly is a real nosebleed. Nevertheless I'd like to see her necked and introduce her to my little Republican friend ... if you know what I mean. Damned evolution.
8:40 PM, September 15, 2006

[JP, for one, fears our new boobie overlords.]
J. Peden:

"Do you have to be ugly to be a feminist?" - Candy

Candy, if you are a gender-feminist, you are ugly.

Gender-feminists [total hat-tip to Christina Hoff Sommers] are Female Supremists, who believe that Males are inferior, evil, and need to be enslaved. Think, Racist.

11:47 PM, September 15, 2006

[Cry boobofascism! And lube the dogs of war!]
J. Peden:
Karl, the echos from the cult chambers leak out, but nothing gets in. A mind is a terrible thing to entomb, as the Fliberals seem to know, at least subconsciously. What's worse is that their straits are their own doing, and they know that, too. That's why they love their brothers in this psychopathic cult, the Islamofascists, and can't miss the outcome thus engineered, Death. They are all bonded by death worship. They all fear life more than death.

1:19 AM, September 16, 2006

[The shorter Mr. Snitch: Darwin! Clinton is a sexual predator, blame feminists--saaaay, did anyone notice that Jane Hamsher and Christie Hardin Smith are HOTT?! BTW, have I told you lately what a nice guy I am for recognizing gorgeous women over 30?]
Mr. Snitch:

400+ comments says it all. When men stop looking at breasts, mankind goes on the endangered species list.

Men looking at breasts and other physical female attributes isn't the problem, never was. It's what they're willing to do for that (and more than that) that's the problem. Clinton having a fantasy about an intern wasn't the problem. But yielding to it, being a man in the situation he was in (US President, married) caused all kinds of problems, and not just for him.

Women like Jessica, who pose as 'feminists' while offering plenty of cheesecake and then ciriticizing men who take the bait, are all too common. Recognize them for the predaory hypocrites they are, and move on to better women.

I mean, there's a VERY attractive blonde two doors over, who might be warm and supportive and quite flattered if you told her she was beautiful. (Hmm.... for that matter, the redheaded woman between them might have more going for her than a photo can convey, and might also be open to attention.) Why would anyone knock on Jessica's vain, unhealthy door with such possibilities right nearby?

Oh, wait. Look closer: The slightly heavy redhead's married. Someone has figured her out for the prize she is. And hey - Jessica's NOT married. Huh. Maybe men aren't as dumb as she claims.


12:27 PM, September 16, 2006

Sisterhood is indeed powerful.

It's ironic that we feminists are continually accused of making spurious charges of sexual harassment and rape. Yet many of our accusers think it's okay to accuse the former POTUS of sexual harassment and rape without supplying any evidence whatsoever and argue from their fantasy sexcrime to feminist hypocrisy.

Seriously, wingnuts, within your small, isolated subculture it may be accepted fact that Bill Clinton is a rapist, and that Hillary killed Vince Foster so Bill couldn't rape him any more, that the Clintons sexually harassed people with those bathroom fixtures they stole from the White House, and that Bill kept an entire airport waiting for hours while he raped someone on the runway at LAX. However, you must bear in mind that normal people don't even keep track of your conspiracy theories, let alone believe them.

Here's a tip for looking less crazy. If you want to accuse someone of hypocrisy, you've got to start with what they believe, and find something they've done that's inconsistent with their beliefs. Your beliefs don't count for gauging someone else's hypocrisy. If someone does something that doesn't square with your paranoid fantasy plus their ideology, that's not hypocrisy on their part. Sorry.

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Comments

Who are these pathetic misogynistic creeps? Can't we drain thier swamp?

And have they ever known a real woman? Real women - lucky enough to evade breast CA - have tits (any size is fine) and brains (better/bigger is better) and should ebrace both as their own piece of/place in humanity.

The coverage at LG&M has been absolutely masterful with Althouse's arguments, as you were in comments, Lindsay. Althouse, however, has just found cheap excuses to avoid addressing the criticisms. She went on and on and on about Jessica not responding in an appropriately substantive manner, but she won't respond to you because you supposedly haven't answered her battery of inane questions, and won't respond to any other blog post because she is just so tired you see.

I like Althouse most of the time. But she clearly knows that she owes her web prestige to Reynolds, and she's acted particualrly embarrassingly accordingly this week.

Also, how stupid was Dr. Helen's post? I've started calling her NepoPundit.

When I saw the original post (the one about arranging "bloggers ... randomly"), it went over my head, too, but Althouse's commenters seem to have had no trouble recognizing it as a Clinton/sex joke. Looking back at it, it still strikes me as a fairly non-obvious reference.

The initial post was pretty oblique, and scarcely remarkable. Nobody would have noticed if those disgusting commenters hadn't taken the ball and run with it, with Ann egging them on.

Just when you think the wingnutosphere couldn't be more clownish, they surprise ya. The only mistake Jessica Valenti made was in assuming Althouse was by any stretch of the immagination a feminist. Or, for that matter, a serious thinker.

The never-ending obsession with The Clenis is sad enough and the inevitable confusion of just what a feminist actually is always supplies the yuks, but the multitude of "she should just own up to being a slut" and the rape fantasies - all encouraged by Althouse, mind - are just vile beyond words.

Sad, sorry bunch, man.

Bleh. Ann puts the anal in banal.

Sadly, Althouse will probably stay like this until Big Love comes back on and she can direct her younger-woman rage back at Margene.

How dare she treat Barb that way!

Is Althouse mentally ill?

Seriously, what's with her weird obsession with this younger woman's breasts? It's a common tendency among criminals who commit violence against women to overanalyze women's posture and clothing in order to read some sort of invitation or meaning into it. Jessica wears a perfectly appropriate business casual shirt, and she gets picked on because she's not wearing a burlap sack in case her breasts offend a demented old sack of shit like Ann Althouse? Please.

Also, couldn't Jessica take action with regard to Althouse's employer? Send the faculty of her school that picture, ask them if they see anything noticeably bizarre about it, and then when they say they don't point out that Althouse was obsessed with it. I hear she's got tenure, but maybe we can embarrass her, right?

This whole thing makes me sad. Both because of how quickly both of Ann Althouse's threads devolved into cesspools, and because I doubt Althouse understands what she did to upset people.

Personally, when I first saw the picture, before I knew about any of the various controversies, I remember noticing Jessica because (a) she is wearing a light-colored outfit in a cluster of people in dark outfits and (b) she's facing one way and looking in another. I thought the second one was odd, but it's easily explained by there being multiple cameras.

(I also remember thinking, "she's attractive, I wonder who she is" and "where's Duncan Black?". The fact that I kept these thoughts to myself probably explains why Ann Althouse is a well-known blogger and I am not.)

I doubt any of Althouse's bosses would care, and I'm sure enough folks at UW-M follow her blog to know about the whole deal. I personally oppose calling people's bosses re: non-threatening, legal behavior and do so here as well, but I think it'd be wasted effort anyway.

My first thought re: the picture was how hilarious Black looked peering out at us. Jessica's particular stance isn't the most professional one imaginable, but that can be said of most of the people in the picture - whether they're stiff, obscured, or what have you. Professional politicians know how to look their best in every photograph - there's no reason activists need to.

I'm with aeroman. I don't want to set a precedent where people call other people's bosses based on what they write on their blogs. Bosses have too much power already in our at-will employment world. Any trend to essentially hold bosses accountable for their employees' online speech is a big threat to all of us, especially those who aren't privileged enough to have tenure (like AA) or independent wealth.

I appreciate the desire to hold AA accountable for her tactics, but I urge people not to do so through her bosses. It's not fair, and it's not productive in the long run. Email her and tell her what you think, leave a comment on her blog, or start your own blog and let her have it. Just don't give bosses your tacit support to arbitrate these disputes.

I don't know why you're bringing up unrelated conspiracy theories (such as about Vince Foster) from the 1990s that weren't mentioned in that thread.

I mentioned that Clinton "may have raped Juanita Broaddrick" because I happened to find her credible enough to take her charges seriously. The reason I found her credible was because of what I learned from feminists at school. Juanita told multiple people about the alleged rape 20 years before she went to the media during his presidency. She confided in people about it many years before she knew Clinton would become president. And, frankly, it is well-established that Clinton has a mean-streak towards women.

But I don't know exactly what happened between them. We were told we weren't allowed to pay attention to Juanita. What we do know is he used "nuts and sluts" smears against women who kept bubbling up. He set up an office that his own people called the "bimbo eruptions office," the purpose of which was to slander women from his past when they did inevitably bubble up. As a result, his people went to the media to call women "trailer trash" and the like. We know Clinton sent Sidney Blumenthal out to start calling Monica Lewinsky a "stalker" (there's a sworn affidavit about this from a journalist he met with) before the blue dress came to light. We know he lied under oath in a sexual harassment suit. We know his use of an intern for sex in exchange for help from Vernon Jordan fits the definition of sexual harassment. Etc etc etc. We could be hear all day on this stuff.

But you trot out some of the crazy conspiracy theories from the 1990s so you can ignore Clinton's shameful, vicious record towards women. An inconvenient truth, I understand.

Loafing Oaf,

Nothing that Clinton did justifies the current harrassment of Jessica and her body.

Among the strange things about this controversy are:

1) There are several people in this photo standing the same way Jessica is, in a three-quarter "pose." She's just more prominent because she's in the center of the picture and standing in front of Clinton, the person your eyes are naturally going to gravitate to. Why no attack on the woman on the far left of the photo for "posing"?

2) Althouse is still trying to maintain her stance of "reasonable moderate who only seems conservative because the Democrats have gone off the deep end," but if her comments section is any indication, she hasn't done a very good job of it. And frankly, a law professor ought to be able to come up with more plausible lies.

I've been following this story with interest over the past several hours, having first picked up on it at Pandagon. I see nothing more provocative about what she's wearing than what any other women in the room is wearing. Jessica just happens to have a very nice shape, and apparently that is her crime. She's an attractive woman, and so even if she actually wore the above-mentioned burlap sack she'd still look good (and also quite odd, granted). Put an attractive woman next to the Clenis, and righty-uptighties can't help but start snickering and making jokes. This is so typical of the unhealthy attitudes the right has towards women and sex. I see a pretty woman who is also quite smart (based upon what I've read at her blog); they see another "stuck-up" (in this case, feminist) cheerleader who wouldn't fuck them in high school so they have to start the locker room talk about her, adopting the thinly veiled sour-grapes attitude that she's just another whore who needs to be called out on her sluttiness to put her in her proper place. It helps them immensely that a woman has encouraged this behavior. What a bunch of sick creeps.

You know, I've been meaning to mention this, Ms. Majikthise. You are obviously an attractive young lady, yet you post a real picture of yourself at the top of your blog. For the sake of purity of discourse, please replace your portrait with a Macbeth hag or a photo of Bea Arthur.

That's kind of you to infer, but I believe every word of my deranged conspiracy theory.

In fact it's driven me to fits of poesy.

It all seemed just plain nasty until the point where Althouse joined a commenter in deciding that "feministing" was really supposed to make us all think of fisting ("And Jim's right about the meaning of that blog name. It's a graphic sexual image, which is just one more reason why the protests on Jessica's behalf aren't believable.") which therefore invalidated any defense of Jessica. Now that's a tortured chain of hmm, I would have said "logic" but...

I think Brian Link is right. Here's a more a suitable image for your blog, I believe. I'll try to work up a smart, conservative look for Ms Valenti soon. (Sorry about the poor quality. I'm working only with laptop's touchpad, as my mouse is currently broken.)

Not to draw moral equivalence where there isn't any, but the absolute ugliness of the Althouse threads have also had the unintended effect of suddenly making me uncomfortable with all the breast-based mockery of that crazy Atlas Shrugged lady that goes on in left Blogistan, including by writers I really respect like James Wolcott. While rightly decrying the ugliness directed at Ms. Valenti, perhaps we might collectively think about getting our own house in order, too? Surely there are enough ways to mock and deride Pam whatsername without dragging her appearance into the argument.

If I had the misfortune to have Althouse teaching me at UW, I'd be sending in a refund request. I have no idea how she teaches; she may be very good. But out of class, imagine the shame of admitting it to your friends?

As for the 'bosses' thing: y'know, if NCAA athletes have to sign onto a deal that says they don't bring their college into disrepute outside of class time, why not tenured professors? Dear me, she's proprietor of a sewer.

My response to the photo? 'Oh, there's half of Atrios's head.' And that was it.

If we're on the subject of getting our house in order, it'd also be worth looking at the many ostensibly supportive male commenters who used this as yet another opportunity to comment on how attractive they considered their favorite women blogger(s). There's nothing wrong with a compliment, but that kind of thing is pervasive enough to seem to me like it could be a problem.

Well, acroman, as far as my own role in this mysogynistic thread goes, I hope you can recognize satire - see "Jesus' General"

Wow, John, that's a big navy blue blazer to fill, but I'll do my best! Well, as long as it hides the girly bits... I should be taking advantage of Canadian parliamentarians in no time.

Feathers McGraw: ...the absolute ugliness of the Althouse threads have also had the unintended effect of suddenly making me uncomfortable with all the breast-based mockery of that crazy Atlas Shrugged lady

That's a reasonable point. In particular, Wolcott's description of the Pamela/Reynolds picture ("female blogger fondles her breast while rubbing up against ... Glenn Reynolds") always struck me as a reach.

I have the impression that Pamela video segments are loonier, but I've never watched one and, now that I've seen so many people misinterpret Valenti's photo sheerly out of group-think, I suppose I should give her the benefit of the doubt.

(On a tangent: Does Pamela's last name appear anywhere on Atlas Shrugs? Calling her "Pamela" seems unwarrantedly familiar.)

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