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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.


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.]
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.]
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...]
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?]
- 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.]

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:
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!]
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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I think nothingruler hit the nail right on the head: Ann wasn't invited and now she's pissed. Childish and sad, really.

I'm sort of on the same page as nothingruler. A case of projection perhaps? -a photo featuring an attractive Valenti and then there's um, well, Ann Althouse.

Lindsay: And like most harassers from the Groper-in-Chief on down, she sets up a pattern of plausible deniability. The trick is to bully people in sufficiently subtle ways that a victim's complaints can be dismissed "their problem." Both victims and aggressors know this dynamic. Many victims hesitate to complain because they know that the system is set up to punish them for complaining, which of course, emboldens the harassers.

This is a Real Problem...

The only sanity-saving way in many cases is simply to get away from the abuser, but in a society where more and more people are discovering that this form of violence "works" and is relatively free from consequences, it's more and more difficult to accomplish.

Battochio: I'm guessing all those abstract art prints I was gonna try to sell to Althouse just wouldn't be a good idea, then.

More than anything, I think she needs to learn not to post when she is angry. Good advise for everyone.

You're not kidding, Joe. *not throwing stones* -_-;

Hey! I just got here! Who's that babe in the middle with the nice rack?

I am surprised and saddened by the endless play this photo has been given.

I would like to make one more point. Men have been looking at breasts for a long time. The fallacy here, is that a woman cannot wear what she wishes. This society needs to get over skin for what it is and it is IMHO, nothing more than skin. The sad and worrying move back to women must be dressed as not to arouse, reminds me of covering a woman completely. Not for a moment to I believe this is about femenism, but the Puritanical believes of our forfathers.

I meandered over here via Salon, and that... mess... in Althouse's blog.

So discouraging. Encouraging even the image of infighting's always been the best way to diffuse (and de-fuse) organised opposition. It worked on the Celts against the Anglo-Normans, it worked in 1970s feminism to some extent, it's working now.

Yours was one of the saner voices. At least you tried to promote clarity. Thanks.

This whole thing is so disturbing. She's a modestly dressed woman standing in a picture. The fact that so many men would say such horrible things about her and that any woman in the entire world would condone it really makes my skin crawl.

this type of fascism is why I had to move away from madison, it's sad but true that feminists hate sex

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