April 6, 2007

Let's keep talking about breasts.

Jessica Valenti is writing in The Guardian and connecting the violent threats against Kathy Sierra to my old blog post making fun of a photograph of her and a bunch of other bloggers posing with President Clinton. Read the whole thing. I just want to focus on this:
Let me tell you, it's not easy to build a career as a feminist writer when you have people coming up to you in pubs asking if you're the "Clinton boob girl" or if one of the first items that comes up in a Google search of your name is "boobgate".
Well, let me tell you. I don't like having my name connected to the things you have in quotes there, none of which were written by me. They were written by your allies as they attacked me over and over again.

The only reason the Google searches come out the way they do is because of the endless vicious, nasty attacks on me. I haven't been the one pushing this story. They are. And you are too -- right here! I never even put your name in the original post -- or even in any post until long after you and your allies had posted repeatedly insulting me by name every way they could think of. Your name is all over their posts. Not mine.

And I still maintain that it was absolutely justified to mock that photograph. Distort what I was really saying there all you want, but the fact remains: Cozying up to Bill Clinton is not something a feminist should be doing. You have never responded to what I was really writing about. You have instead chosen to attack me, and you're doing it again, and you and your friends have leveraged what was a minor satirical blog post for your advantage. You're exploiting it again and going through the whole routine of trying to ruin my reputation again. It's an ugly way you've chosen to try to build a career as a feminist writer.

I'd love to see you take some responsibility for what you've done instead of whining that everyone's talking about your breasts. I don't give a damn about your breasts. What I care about is the way feminists sold out feminism to bolster the fortunes of the Democratic Party. But you will never talk about that, because you don't have anything to say there. So it's on and on about breasts, breasts, breasts, please don't talk about my breasts.

IN THE COMMENTS: Larry in Gibbsville said:
Valenti continues to milk her sagging "breast controversy" for all its worth.
Internet Ronin:
[C]an you explain why Valenti and her friends persist in bringing this issue back to life on a regular basis? It seems to me that they are the ones who make repeated references to her breasts, and the picture. That seems an illogical thing to do if one sincerely wishes not to be known as the "breast-blogger" and genuinely wished for this subject to be consigned to the dustbin of history.

If it was so humiliating for Valenti, one must wonder why she insists on reliving that humiliation on a regular basis and is now obviously trying to widen the distribution of the her supposed humiliation.
That's well put. And let me remind people, once again, that Valenti's blog, right at the top, has two very busty "mudflap"-style silhouettes. Yes, I know they are giving you the finger -- that is, they are bringing in additional sexual references (enough to make me think -- people say I'm wrong -- that the blog name "Feministing" was intended to make you see the word "fisting"). It is simply undeniable that Valenti herself uses sexual imagery in an effort to make her offerings more exciting. I would never have written the "Let's take a closer look" post if that hadn't been blindingly obvious to me. I'll give Valenti credit for doing a good job at self-promotion -- calling into her service a swarm of bloggers who have come to her defense by, absurdly, talking about her breasts continually.

By the way -- as Mortimer Brezny points out and discusses in many excellent comments -- Valenti has a book coming out. So you figure out why she's bringing up the subject of my old blog post again. (Someone raises the theory that she actually plotted with Garance Franke-Ruta to revive the old controversy through that Bloggingheads episode, but Garance assures me that didn't happen.) The book's title refers to graphic nudity, and it has a naked female torso on the cover -- more of the same use of sexual imagery for self-promotion.

Responding to someone who wrote, "It was not right to mock that photograph," Bill says:
Which is just plain and utter bullshit. Can we all--ok, can most of us agree--that it's perfectly normal, and fun, to mock things. Photos, religion, hairstyles, bumper stickers, ANYTHING. SNL, Dennis Miller, Jon Stewart, all have perfected the art of mocking photographs. Then there's all the newspapers and magazines that run caption contests--again, mocking the photo being the prime goal.
Note that the original "Let's take a closer look" post links to a "Daily Show" segment in which Jon Stewart mercilessly mocks Katherine Harris for posing in a way that shows off her breasts. You know, it's really laughable that Valenti's Guardian piece lumps mocking her photograph together with threats of real violence. It's utterly specious argument to compare harshly mocking political speech -- like mine -- to real threats of violence. The fact is, Valenti went to that lunch and posed the way she did; it had political meaning, and I talked about it. She doesn't like that to be pointed out in a way that's embarrassing to her. I get it. And I meant to embarrass her. She is a public figure who writes about feminism and behaved in a way -- posing proudly with Clinton -- that raises a feminist issue I'm damned well going to talk about. Though I certainly understand why she and her allies would like to shut me up.

MadisonMan says:
It's odd that a feminist is building a career out of whining about how her breasts are being talked about.
Palladian replies:
People who pursue careers as professional "feminists" usually build their careers out of whining.
L links to the Bloggingheads segment where I lash out at Garance Franke-Ruta for using the expression "the Jessica Valenti breast controversy" and writes:
because really, ann flipping out about character assassination when it comes to an issue she created! ha, c'mon, it is pretty hilarious. lets all join hands and laugh. but knowing ann and her own hatred for her female flesh, she probably will blame her craziness on on her menstrual cycle.
That is completely sexist. Upthread L wrote, "You are just an insecure right wing woman who is jealous of a liberal younger woman's looks and success," so I'm surprised he/she is giving me credit for having a menstrual cycle. The ageist and sexist themes in the anti-Althousiana genre are highly revealing. You think your values don't matter as long as you are attacking opponents? And I love this idea that older women are not allowed to attack younger women. It's just an attempt to silence: You're old, so shut up, or we'll say you're ugly and jealous. It's a lame debate ploy, since it's obvious you're just saying shut up. But to stoop to flat-out sexism and ageism for emphasis... how terribly embarrassing for you, L.

Synova takes issue with this characterization of me as "an insecure right wing woman who is jealous of a liberal younger woman's looks and success":
Does Ann go around making mean comments about the appearance of young women who aren't standing next to Bill Clinton?

I could be wrong but I thought I remembered reading something about Ann being profoundly disillusioned about how feminism responded to the Lewinsky scandal....

I know that my mother was furious and absolutely clear on what *exactly* about the Clinton/Monica thing upset her. It was the fact that this was blatant workplace sexual harassment, something that exists despite consent to the degree that the parties involved have unequal power. This was the "secretary as a sexual perk" role right out of the bad old days when being a secretary was one of the very few career choices available to women.

If my mom saw that picture with all the happy girls clustered around Bill she'd probably have the same reaction as Ann to the visual prominence of the pretty young lady in the center.
Johnstodder has this (beginning with a quote from Mark):

There's mockery and then there's mockery. It's one thing to make a good natured fun of a picture, it's quite another to be mean-spirited and crudely mock someone's appearance in a picture in a sexist way all the while asserting that it's done with a valid purpose of defending true feminism.

Huh? "Crudely mock someone's appearance?" Part of the point of Ann's joke was that Jessica is a relatively attractive woman in a sea of doughy-faced blogger types; posing in the way (as Ann saw it) that attractive girls do to catch the eye.

This observation by Ann is totally consistent with what Valenti says about herself. She is offended by those who would deny her sexuality. She assumes she draws looks from men. The penchant of some men to take oppressive action when confronted with an attractive woman is a major topic of her blog.

Go to her blog. Type in the search term "lookism." You get one hit. One. From a comment that refers to another URL. Jessica has never used the term. Women losing out on jobs and other benefits because they aren't considered attractive by men doesn't happen to be her issue.

For example, on January 4th, she defended Texas cheerleaders targeted by a state bill banning "bawdy performances." She (rightly) mocked men getting "in such a tizzy" over cheerleaders. Old-style feminists might have a disagreement with Jessica on this matter, seeing in cheerleading an institution that rewards the superficial physical traits rather than merit or acheivement.

Jessica's initial position wasn't that she was crudely mocked by Ann. She thought Ann was off-base in using Jessica's alluring appearance against her. If there is one thing Ann and Jessica seemed to agree on, it was that Jessica looked good in the picture. The argument was primarily over intent, and secondarily over whether it was appropriate for a self-identified feminist to seemingly re-enact a shameful moment in feminist history as if the episode had no weight whatsoever.
Hey says:
What's the thing that Bill Clinton is most famous for? Lecherous behavior with younger women, even not especially attractive ones.

What kind of picture is always popping up in the media of Bill? Interesting and compromising photos of him with younger and much younger women (The Economist and other serious media have made hay out of Bill and Canadian billionaire heiress and politician Belinda Stronach, never mind other media). Regular on Drudge, Leno, never mind right wing sites.

If you're a feminist supporter of Hillary, what's the last thing that you should want to do? Provide fodder to comedians and political opponents that highlights Bill's "bimbo eruptions".

What does the Valenti picture echo? Bill's bimbo problems.

Valenti should have been far away from Bill to avoid this. The picture was a hilarious joke of all the worst Clinton pictures And this is by a supporter for public consumption?

The picture and controversy shows that Valenti is an idiot and that her supporters are in denial or are just as idiotic. That this is all about disrespecting feminism, rather than the obvious problems of the photos, is an admission that Valenti screwed up and played into the hands of the Clintons' opponents.
I agree with that. On first seeing the photo, I laughed and thought about how Valenti's placement and pose undermined the whole point of the lunch, which was to use Bill to help Hillary. I don't, however, agree that Valenti is an idiot. I think she's a self-promoter who has been exploiting this incident with some skill, playing the other bloggers reasonably well. I don't know if she's for or against Hillary. (I've actually never read her blog!) But I'll estimate her intelligence at a much higher level if she's against.

Omaha1 provides an outline of the controversy:
1. Ann observed that a young feminist blogger was photographed next to Clinton in dress and manner that seemed to accentuate her attractive figure.

1a. Intelligent women acknowledge that in the real world, men often notice their breasts.

1b. Intelligent women also know that knit tops are clingy and draw men's eyes to their breasts.

1c. Clinton has a public history of sexual interest in young women.

1d. In anticipating a meeting with a prominent political figure, considerable thought would presumably go into one's dress and deportment.

Conclusion: When a young, attractive woman meets with Clinton, if she does not make an effort to dress in a non-provocative way, she is encouraging his perception of her as a sexual object.

2. The majority of the Democratic party set back the cause of feminism in its refusal to condemn the sexual exploitation of Clinton's young, vulnerable intern, Monica Lewinsky.

2a. This "refusal to condemn" was the result of partisan support for a Democratic president.

2b. Since one of the foundations of modern femiminism is abhorrence for the sexual exploitation of women, for any reason, by men in "superior" positions, this was hypocritical.

Conclusion: The apparent willingness of an attractive young feminist blogger to be viewed by Clinton as a sexual object is a continuing endorsement of this hypocrisy.

shorter summary: if Jessica had worn a jacket or sweater over her knit top, there would be no controversy.

shorter summary II: if Jessica is unaware of men's interest in breasts, she is either unintelligent or out of touch with reality.....

[I]f I were meeting with a prominent political figure, I would put a significant amount of thought into choosing my attire, and considering the message it might send. I would probably choose a businesslike skirt and jacket, something that would project a professional, non-sexual image.

I have worked in the predominately male world of software development and seen the effect of women consciously using sex appeal to influence co-workers, and that is something I never wanted any part of. I stand by my assertion that Jessica's choice of attire was a deliberate ploy to gain sexual attention, unless she was either stupid or naive.
And don't miss mikeinsc, who gets into a big debate very late in the comments. Sample:
The number of feminists outside of Althouse who WILL condemn what Clinton did is miniscule. Which is why the current crop of pseudo-feminists are so pissy at Althouse. Nobody likes having their blatant hypocrisy exposed.
I'll give David53 the last word:
The vortex continues unabated. Currently at Level 208. At level 400 the space-time continuum around the server will begin to warp eventually creating an alternate reality populated entirely with sentient breasts.

411 comments:

1 – 200 of 411   Newer›   Newest»
kchiker said...

Ann, I think you were the loser in 'breastgate'. Time to pretend it never happened and move on....

Ann Althouse said...

kchiker: Valenti wrote a big article smearing me in The Guardian! I should "move on"? That's rich. My point is THEY should move on. THEY keep bringing it up. I'm not going to lie down and let them walk all over me. Though I do ignore 90% of the stuff, I reserve the right to defend myself now and then to what are truly vicious attacks attempting to destroy my reputation.

Internet Ronin said...

As one can see by her now having obtained a by-lined article in the Guardian, it serves Valenti's self-interest to keep this story alive and advertise herself in this manner.

Most of the rest are happy to play along because they either don't like you (usually because you refuse to follow the party line) or because they like being able to talk so openly about women's breasts while pretending to be serious.

As perception is said to be 90% of reality, it is unfortunate for you that most do not understand that they are still being gamed for fame, fortune, and politics.

Brandon said...

"Loser" would imply that she was beaten by a superior argument. As far as I can tell, Ann's the only one who's argued anything at all about feminism. Let someone argue why it advanced the cause of feminism to ally w/ Clinton before you make that call.

Internet Ronin said...

BTW, I don't know if it is true, but I've been told that British libel laws are quite different than those in the United States, and comments that barely raise an eyebrow in the US are definitely actionable in the UK. Not that I'm suggesting anything, just a passing thought that occurred to me while reading this.

Henry said...

So Jessica Valenti writes that its not easy to build a career as a feminist writer when you have people coming up to you in pubs and asking if you're the "Clinton boob girl".

And she's given space in the Guardian to write this?

It's not easy?

Looks easy from here.

And people are coming up to her in pubs? What political-junky internet-dweeb pubs are these?

Does she expect that to happen less now?

reader_iam said...

it's not easy to build a career as a feminist writer ...

I'm dubious about this one. First, it's become clear in a number of feminist and political circles, the whole controversy galvanized support behind Valenti and her thread of feminism.

Second, has Valenti ended up with greater or fewer opportunities since that whole flap blew up? Would she have been writing in The Guardian, for example? Isn't she coming out with a book? If so, did the increased profile have anything to do with that? And I think I've seen her name around in connection with some forum, or symposia, or something like that. These questions aren't accusations: They're questions that have some sort of bearing on whether the flap did or did not, objectively speaking, hurt Valenti professionally in the long run. That's not to say she would have chosen or that she enjoyed the controversy.

With the many media outlets today, and all the competion for recognition among exploding voices, and various other factors in our Darwinian, conflict-preferring world, it seems to me that exposure and publicity (almost however it comes about) is a signicant key to opportunity.

It seems to me that controversy is an accelerant to fame and success, not just in the media but even more broadly, these days.

Just thinkin' out loud ... .

reader_iam said...

I see I was cross-posting with everyone after Althouse.

Sorry for repeating the point.

reader_iam said...

"You have to invent a way to win."--A. Althouse.

Ann Althouse said...

"Sorry for repeating the point."

I guess it's an apt point. Everyone is seeing it. I think it is absolutely right that Valenti & friends have used this controversy in the aggressive pursuit of self-interest.

Matt said...

Ann,
Out of interest, what is your ideal end-state for this whole saga? What would make you happy?

SteveR said...

I think you have to defend yourself.

1. They misrepresent what happened.

2. They never address your original point.

3. These people are bullies and your are not one to be bullied.

4. Folks that come over here to attack you almost always look foolish and its fun to watch.

hdhouse said...

Ann....

Do you have any ideas why this pops up now some 7-8 months after your posting here? Google is efficient and googling usually demonstrates just a short delay it updated results so why the Valenti snitfit now?

Mark said...

Ann,

It was not right to mock that photograph. You can criticize "cozying up to Bill Clinton" all you want (and as I explained before, I disagree with the substance of your criticism), but to mock a photograph just because a feminist writer stands in a perfectly normal pose, is not right.

It is unbecoming. It is unfair.

Larry in Gibbsville said...

Valenti continues to milk her sagging "breast controversy" for all its worth. If she continues to use this to develop/further/prop up her career, it will be short-lived, indeed.

Simon said...

You know, The Grauniad is a British paper. And British law doesn't protect speech to nearly the same degree as American law does... I suspect that a "truly vicious attack[] attempting to destroy my reputation" would support nailing Valenti into the ground in the British courts.

Not that I'm suggesting taking legal action or anything, just that I'm willing to bet Valenti never considered the possibility that writing that piece was akin to that weird ritual in Flash Gordon with the tree and the biting thingy.

Bissage said...

In the article, Ms Valenti said: "“It was, without doubt, the most humiliating experience of my life …."

Wow, that’s one heck of a hothouse orchid thing she’s got going there.

I wish her good luck building that career as a “feminist writer.”

But first, maybe she should work a little more on her built-in, shock-proof, bullshit detector.

reader_iam said...

Larry: I think maybe you're not viewing this from the perspective of the relevant potential audience(s), and, maybe, the history of celebrity.

Balfegor said...

Re: Brandon

"Loser" would imply that she was beaten by a superior argument.

Maybe. I'm not quite that rosy about the court of public opinion, though, especially on the internet. It can also just mean that there's two sides to the story, and one side (viz. the anti-Althouse side) has been much more successful in getting its message out.

It's like the "plastic turkey" thing from a few years back -- where Bush was supposed to have served a fake turkey to the legions in Mesopotamia. There were corrections run in the NYTimes and so forth, on the trivial point that the turkey was, in strict point of fact, a real turkey, but that matters not at all. Tim Blair (the Australian commenter) is obsessed with pointing it out, every time some commenter makes a facile reference to the supposed plastic turkey as a metaphor for Bush II's reign overall, but tireless fact-checking just make him look like a bit of a crank (which, to be fair, he probably is, though hugely amusing).

Incidentally, and more on topic, wasn't there some young feminist writer who wrote a book whose cover was taken up by a picture of her breasts? I cannot remember who it was . . . I think she wrote something vapid about watching the towers come down on 9-11 too, and I found out about her because people were criticising what she had written. Am I just making this up? Does anyone remember this person?

Joan said...

Mark: to mock a photograph just because a feminist writer stands in a perfectly normal pose, is not right.

I'll grant that it was a "normal" pose, since Valenti was obviously conscious of arranging herself to her best advantage. But Ann wasn't mocking Valenti because she posed for the picture, she was mocking Valenti -- and everyone else in the picture -- because they were all posed so lovingly around Bill Clinton!

Like all of Ann's attackers on this subject, Mark, you've once again missed the point: Ann's all for the attractive photo. Ann is vehemently against feminists selling out what should be their principals to cozy up to Bill Clinton.

And it's just too rich for Valenti to whine "it's so hard!" when she's writing for the Guardian! The irony is lost on her, obviously.

Simon said...

I bifurcated my post, because this latter observation may be deleted, either by me or Ann, but while I've been trying to hold this in, I'm going to surrender to temptation.

I wanted to cut Valenti a break because the fact is that the most viscious and deplorable attacks on Althouse have come from Valenti's defenders, rather than Valenti's own pen. But then I remembered this post, and that pushed me over the edge. Well, then. Shiny. If Valenti considers being exposed as a total fraud and being cut to ribbons for it by Althouse to be "without doubt, the most humiliating experience of my life," if she feels that "it's not easy to build a career as a feminist writer when you have people coming up to you in pubs asking if you're the 'Clinton boob girl' or if one of the first items that comes up in a Google search of your name is 'boobgate,'" my only response to her must be that after what she and her allies have said and done WRT Ann, must be to summon all the hubris of Prof. Hathaway and say: "Good. Hope it hurts."

reader_iam said...

“It was, without doubt, the most humiliating experience of my life …."

Well, really--it might very well have been.

I would have felt humiliated, particularly at that stage of my life. Surely it's not hard to imagine that Valenti might have felt that way.

Emotions aren't much about "should."

JodyTresidder said...

"...and comments that barely raise an eyebrow in the US are definitely actionable in the UK..."

Not a good thought, Internet Ronin.

The UK libel laws do not lend themselves happily to irritated, non-resident foreigners' lucky dipping into different standards for proof of smears.

For a start, IIRC, Ann would almost certainly be required to escrow the entire cost of any legal proceedings in advance.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Valenti's snitfit is timed to the publication of her book "Full Frontal Feminism," which, by the way, takes advantage of her association to the breast controversy that she so reviles.

The danger in Valenti's argument is that it is female chauvinist to the extent it posits gendered and sexualized criticism as harrassment. If criticism is harassment, then all radical feminist discourse is harassment, and therefore should stop: constantly having to read about deconstructing the myth of masculinity probably harms the healthy development of masculine self-esteem. But no: Valenti does not care about a non-hypocritical rule to accomplish banning harassment.

So what this is truly substantively about is self-proclaimed feminists like Valenti being able to make public arguments and political statements (including suggestive appearances in widely-publicized photographs) without having to be held accountable for them. Some of what Valenti tags as threats are specific and gendered replies to the specific and gendered arguments she makes and the sexually humiliating tone is directly proportional to the inflated and grandiose conception of dignity and ethics presupposed by Valenti's strain of hypocritical secular moralizing disguised as political organizing on behalf of women. It's not that she's "asking for it"; it's that this is what it means to be a public figure. You don't want to be treated as such? Go home and cry to mommy.

Or better yet: do not make snide, gendered comments about men and publish a book called "Full Frontal Feminism" and then gripe that offended men make gendered comments about you and insult your penchant to self-promote by jiggling your goddamn tits.

http://www.amazon.com/Full-Frontal-Feminism-Womans-Matters/dp/1580052010

Yeah, and there is a naked woman on the cover of your book, Jessica, because sex sells, right?

Internet Ronin said...

It is unbecoming. It is unfair.

Mark, if that is true (athough I doubt that it is), can you explain why Valenti and her friends persist in bringing this issue back to life on a regular basis? It seems to me that they are the ones who make repeated references to her breasts, and the picture. That seems an illogical thing to do if one sincerely wishes not to be known as the "breast-blogger" and genuinely wished for this subject to be consigned to the dustbin of history.

If it was so humiliating for Valenti, one must wonder why she insists on reliving that humiliation on a regular basis and is now obviously trying to widen the distribution of the her supposed humiliation.

Mark said...

Joan said:

"Like all of Ann's attackers on this subject, Mark, you've once again missed the point: Ann's all for the attractive photo. Ann is vehemently against feminists selling out what should be their principals to cozy up to Bill Clinton."

Joan, it's you and Ann's defenders who are missing the point. Again, it is perfectly acceptable to criticize feminists for alleged selling out to cozy up to Bill Clinton. It's a false position, in my view, but a coherent argument can be made. What is unacceptable, in my view, is stooping to criticizing a person's physical pose/appearance in a photograph, even when it's done to defend a valid (while false) position.
Of course, it was not Ann's intention to gratuitously mock Jessica. However, it was her intention to mock ("destroy") that photograph, and in doing that, she crossed the line of what is acceptable, in my opinion.

MadisonMan said...

Well, reading the Guardian Article, I did learn that Ms. Valenti wore a simple Gap Sweater (not Ann Taylor!) to a meeting with the President. How very appropriate for such a meeting.

It's odd that a feminist is building a career out of whining about how her breasts are being talked about.

Mark said...

Internet Romin:

You raise a valid point. I, too, wish that Jessica and others stop bringing up that post.

However, you cannot deny that she was a subject of vicious comments (not from Ann but from others) on that infamous post. As she states in the article, the vicious attacks on her and other feminists continue. So, I think it's understandable reaction on Jessica's part.

John Emerson said...

Anne, when you're in a hole, quit digging.

Your "original point" was something like:

Attractive young feminist women who are willing to be seen in the presence of Bill Clinton are fair game. They may be compared to Monica Lewinsky, and vulgar references to their female parts are OK.

I have trouble strategizing a rational response to points of this kind. Ridicule and counter-nastiness seem entirely justified.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Of course, it was not Ann's intention to gratuitously mock Jessica.

The point, Mark, is that Jessica gratuitously mocks herself -- both as a woman and as a feminist -- by gratuitously using that she's mammariferous to jack up her site traffic and hawk copy like hot cakes. Have you seen the cover to her new book "Full FRONTAL Feminism"? There's a naked chick on it with a finger pointing to an implied vagina (which is out of frame). There is no way you can claim Valenti is a principled feminist above using sexual exploitation of women to profit herself; either the woman on her book cover is body double that she pimped out or it's her own body, in which case, her complaints about being humiliated by having her name associated with breats is moot if not manure.

Internet Ronin said...

Yes, Mark, I agree, the vicious attacks on feminists continue, and some stellar examples of such come from feminists who dislike the feminist who operates this establishment. Go figure.

Simon said...

Mortimer: let me get this right. Valenti wants to write a book, but her sole claim to fame is that Althouse once cut her to shreds. She and Garance Franke-Ruta are pals. Shortly before said book is due to come out, Valenti's pal Garance goes on bhtv with Althouse, and even though none of the subjects agreed to be talked about lend themselves to it, Garance manages to work the controversy into the conversation, reigniting the controversy that first brought Valenti to notice immediately before Valenti's book is due out.

Un.be.lievable. Means, motive, opportunity.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Mark,

They aren't "vicious attacks" -- they're substantive retorts. When your entire claim to fame is arguing that girls are better than boys because they're cleaner and nicer and more sophisticated, the obvious and intuitive reply is to dirty you up by pushing you in the mud just like your immorally low expectations dictate an evil male brute would do.

Mark said...

John, agree. I'd reword that summary as follows:

Clinton set feminism back 20 years. However, over-politicized feminists sold feminism out to Democratic party. And then they have the gall to attend luncheon with Bill Clinton and strike a pose that brings Lewinsky to mind.
This photograph, therefore, needs to be mocked. Therefore, attractive young feminist women who are willing to be seen and pose in the presence of Bill Clinton are fair game and it's OK to allude to Lewinsky and sexual references. These feminists, accordingly, may be compared to Monica Lewinsky, and vulgar references to their female parts and poses are OK."

This is, in my view, a fair summary of Ann's position.

Palladian said...

"It's odd that a feminist is building a career out of whining about how her breasts are being talked about."

People who pursue careers as professional "feminists" usually build their careers out of whining.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Simon,

Yes, it sure looks like Garance and Jessica plotted and planned this one. Garance's attack plus the impending publication may have even helped Jessica secure that Guardian piece. It is rather odd that Valenti's entire claim to fame is her breasts. She shows them off on her site; she showed them off with Bill Clinton; and she's alluding to them in the title of her book. She might as well have entitled her book:

Got Milk? Here Comes the Fourth Wave

Mortimer Brezny said...

This is, in my view, a fair summary of Ann's position.

Yeah, Mark, and a fair summary of your position is your nose in Jessica Valenti's ass.

Mark said...

Mortimer said:

"They aren't "vicious attacks" -- they're substantive retorts. When your entire claim to fame is arguing that girls are better than boys because they're cleaner and nicer and more sophisticated, the obvious and intuitive reply is to dirty you up by pushing you in the mud just like your immorally low expectations dictate an evil male brute would do."

Mortimer, while some of the comments were indeed substantive retorts, the majority of the comments were nothing more than gratuitous attacks on Jessica's appearance. Re-read that thread, if you want.

"When your entire claim to fame is arguing that girls are better than boys because they're cleaner and nicer and more sophisticated"---where does this come from? This is a pathetic spin which has nothing to do with facts. Would you please point out where Valenti or other feminists argue this ridiculous claim?

Simon said...

Mark said...
"I, too, wish that Jessica and others stop bringing up that post. However, you cannot deny that she was a subject of vicious comments (not from Ann but from others) on that infamous post" (emphasis added).

Without suggesting that I think the manner in which Valenti et al's reactions to what Ann did say was in any way appropriate, it's utterly invalid to hoist the blogger by their commenters' petard. And even if it wasn't, those in glass houses should be careful throwing stones: If Valenti wants to play that game, lets go take a look at what commenters at FireDogLake, Tapped, Feministing, Pandagon, LGM and so forth have said. If vicarious liability applies, there are some lefty bloggers who are going to The Chair tonight.

Mark said...

Mortimer said:

"Yeah, Mark, and a fair summary of your position is your nose in Jessica Valenti's ass."

Sorry, I made a mistake of taking your comments seriously. I won't make this mistake again.

Bissage said...

Reader,

Valenti suffers for all womenhood.

Just like Jesus.

Only different.

Mark said...

Simon said:

"Without suggesting that I think the manner in which Valenti et al's reactions to what Ann did say was in any way appropriate, it's utterly invalid to hoist the blogger by their commenters' petard. And even if it wasn't, those in glass houses should be careful throwing stones: If Valenti wants to play that game, lets go take a look at what commenters at FireDogLake, Tapped, Feministing, Pandagon, LGM and so forth have said. If vicarious liability applies, there are some lefty bloggers who are going to The Chair tonight."


Simon, valid points. However, in my view, it is only partially unfair to hoist the blogger to her commenters. Context matters. It depends on whether the blogger approves/condones such comments. Correct me if I am wrong, but I did not see where Ann condemned many of sexist and plain idiotic comments on that thread. Yeah, some were unfair to Ann, and she took a super-defensive position. However, if she doesn't want to be "hoisted" to her commenters, she should disassociate herself.
For example, when some idiots on HuffPost made comments that Cheney deserved to be killed, Arianna swiftly condemned them and removed their posts.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Sorry, I made a mistake of taking your comments seriously. I won't make this mistake again.

And I care? As far as I know, you're less of a nobody than your fetish object Jessica Valenti, who is such a nothing she has to use sex, instead of substance, to sell books.

Mortimer Brezny said...

However, if she doesn't want to be "hoisted" to her commenters, she should disassociate herself.

If Jessica Valenti doesn't want to be criticized in a way that reduces her to a sex object, then she shouldn't reduce herself to a sex object on the cover of her book, which is titled "Full Frontal Feminism". Yeah, I think I've heard of that; it's produced by Joe Francis.

Simon said...

Mortimer Brezny said...
"Yes, it sure looks like Garance and Jessica plotted and planned this one. Garance's attack plus the impending publication may have even helped Jessica secure that Guardian piece."

It's possible that it's coincidence. And we have only Bob Wright's say so that Garance admitted to being friends with Valenti. And even if they're friends, that doesn't establish intent on Garance's part, independently or in collusion with Valenti. But it's a hell of a coincidence that this controversy is reignited out of the blue at so serendipitously opportune a moment for Valenti. I mean, really you couldn't have timed it better if you'd tried.

I'm starting to regret giving Garance any credit in this. You have to ask yourself - the bloggingheads thing going viral and getting Valenti's name back into circulation: Who benefits from this?

I feel physically sick.

Simon said...

Mark:
"Context matters."

From your lips to the ears of every person who has criticized Ann's reaction to Garance, Mark.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Would you please point out where Valenti or other feminists argue this ridiculous claim?

Do you really want me to go back through Amanda Marcotte's posts to show that she selectively denigrates men and elevates women? Is this really even necessary?

Mark said...

Mortimer,

Don't bother. You have already displayed your utter ignorance of feminism.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Mortimer, while some of the comments were indeed substantive retorts, the majority of the comments were nothing more than gratuitous attacks on Jessica's appearance.

My point is that none of the attacks are gratuituous because they satirize and mock her pretensions of intellectual seriousness when we all know she uses sex to promote herself to make money. See, e.g., Full Frontal Feminism.

Mark said...

Mortimer:

For the last time. It is OK to criticize anyone's substantive position. It is OK to make references to sexuality. It is NOT OK to make vulgar references to someone's sexual appearance because you want to criticize her sustantively. It's really not that hard to comprehend.

Mortimer Brezny said...

You have already displayed your utter ignorance of feminism.

Yes, because there have never been any radical-cultural feminists who has asserted women are morally superior to men. Certainly no suffragettes argued that giving women the vote would result in a more pacifistic American foreign policy because of women's more peaceful natures. Certainly no cultural feminists have argued women's essential difference makes them higher moral creatures or more in touch with nature (certainly no ecofeminists have argued that). Certainly Mary Daly has never suggested such. Nor has Catherine MacKinnon. Of course, I'm totally ignorant of feminism, even though I can distinguish between strains of radical feminist thought, know the history of the movement, and can cite a polarizing contemporary figure or two within the discourse. Yep, I'm a idiotic, moronic, brutish male who thinks with his peter. So I should run out and buy FULL FRONTAL FEMINISM!!! There's a naked lady on the cover! BOOOBIES!!!!!

pepr said...

Plame meet Valenti, Velenti meet Plame

(secret agent, humiliated writer =Vanity fair, Guardian->Book Deal)

Mark said...

Simon:

Yes, context matters. Do you really believe that it's OK to criticize anyone's appearance with sexual references because you disagree with that person's substantive position? If you believe so, we have fundamentally different notions of decency.

Mortimer Brezny said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jon Swift said...

It's amazing that everyone keeps attacking you when you've never attacked anyone! And the way they keep whining and whining as if it's all about THEM when we know it's all about YOU. I think the biggest insult was when Garance Franke-Ruta in her assymetrical attack on you (did you notice how she blinked a message in code showing that she knew exactly what she was doing!) called it the "Jessica Valenti Breast Controversy." Considering that Valenti is just a minor "breastblogger," as you amusingly dubbed her, and you are a respected law professor renowned for your analysis of American Idol and Project Runway, it really should be known as the "Ann Althouse Breast Controversy." I hope that you will soon be able to put this all behind you by writing about it again and again and again and never acknowledging that you did anything wrong. The strategy seems to be working so far.

Mortimer Brezny said...

It is NOT OK to make vulgar references to someone's sexual appearance because you want to criticize her sustantively. It's really not that hard to comprehend.

And this "moral principle" that you're putting forth is exactly what is being attacked, mocked, and exposed as hypocritical crap. Why should men have to silence themselves in criticizing Valenti and treat her with respect? She doesn't so the same in her posts that denigrate men? It's one thing to engage in serious feminist discourse, e.g., like Martha Nussbaum does; it's something else to be a bombthrower like Amanda Marcotte or to rely on selling sex like Jessica Valenti and then claim the high-ground. It's not that hard to comprehend, nor it is all that hard to mock, which is what is the vulgarity is about: privileged snotty-nosed little upperclass daddy's girl "feminists" getting pushed in the mud and mucked up for their "witty" self-promoting snipes at men.

Mark said...

Mortimer,

As someone who claims to be able to "distinguish between strains of radical feminist thought,", who "know[s] the history of the movement, and can cite a polarizing contemporary figure or two within the discourse," it is very strange that you confuse radical feminism with mainstrem feminism. It would be like, let's see...me claiming that Republicans are opposed to racial equality based on my citations of Thurmond's writings in 1950s and 1960s.

Mortimer Brezny said...

As someone who claims to be able to "distinguish between strains of radical feminist thought,", who "know[s] the history of the movement, and can cite a polarizing contemporary figure or two within the discourse," it is very strange that you confuse radical feminism with mainstrem feminism.

Actually, mainstream feminism (which is liberal feminism) has incorporated radical feminism to a great degree. The mainstream third-wave feminism of your pal Valenti is technically radical-libertarian feminism, but don't tell her, given that she hates libertarians.

Anyhoo, if you call yourself a mainstream feminist, but believe that the oppression of women is the first kind and the most fundamental kind, you're a radical feminist whether you identify as one or not.

And if you'd like more information on the historical overlap of radical feminism and "mainstream feminism" (or what you really mean: "the hodgepodge of feminisms that is popular today"), try Alice Echol's Daring to Be Bad: Radical Feminism in America, 1967–75.

Adrian said...

Mark,
Please explain the "Feminism" that you accuse Mortimer of knowing nothing about? I am curious what your take is on it.

Mark said...

Mortimer said:

It is NOT OK to make vulgar references to someone's sexual appearance because you want to criticize her sustantively. It's really not that hard to comprehend.

And this "moral principle" that you're putting forth is exactly what is being attacked, mocked, and exposed as hypocritical crap. Why should men have to silence themselves in criticizing Valenti and treat her with respect?



Nice that you finally admit that you believe it's OK "to make vulgar references to someone's sexual appearance because you want to criticize her sustantively."
You attempt to defend this position, but it's nice that you at least don't deny that this is, indeed, your position.
Let me repeat it: you believe that it's OK to make vulgar references to someone's sexual appearance because you want to criticize her substantively. That's very revealing, to me. Would be nice to know if others agree with you.

By the way, please cite where she "denigrates" men.

Mortimer Brezny said...

By the way, Catherine MacKinnon and Mary Daly are alive today and have influence in the legal academy and university system today. They're current figures.

Simon said...

"Yes, context matters. Do you really believe that it's OK to criticize anyone's appearance with sexual references because you disagree with that person's substantive position?

If that's intended as a description of what you thought Ann did, then it's a spectacularly inapt characterization - and if it's intended as anything else, I don't see the relevance.

I'd also add - I mean, I don't want to intervene in your argument with Mort, but a point he hasn't added yet - is that what is considered "mainstream" feminism vs. "radical" feminism is very much a moving target. I wasn't aware that it was by any means settled where the boundaries are.

Simon said...

Sorry, that last reply was to Mark.

Mortimer Brezny said...

you believe that it's OK to make vulgar references to someone's sexual appearance because you want to criticize her substantively.

Hmm, not quite. I think that if you put your breasts out to sell books, it's okay for someone to say "I don't like your breasts, I think you're sexually exploiting yourself, I'm not buying your book, and here's my satirically vulgar way of saying so." Sorry, but I believe in freedom of expression, including modes of expression. It isn't just the ability to say "I oppose the draft" that matters; it's the ability to say "Fuck the draft" that matters, too. You, on the other hand, support the censorship of men. I don't see how that isn't a female chauvinist position akin to Catherine MacKinnon's attempts to ban porn only when it depicts women in a subordinate role because porn is effective at shaping male thought and behavior.

Mark said...

Adrian:

I don't claim to know all facets of feminism and I never stated otherwise. But I do know/strongly suspect that radical feminism described by Mortimer is not the mainstream feminism. I base my conviction on 1) Ann's statement that she has a proud record of feminist writing, 2) Hillary Clinton recently statement that she's a feminist, and other reasons. I also consider the source.
At the same time, one does not need to be thoroughly familiar with feminism to be able to take a position as to whether it is acceptable to mock physical appearance based on substantive disagreement.

JodyTresidder said...

Good gracious, Mortimer!

"It's not that hard to comprehend, nor it is all that hard to mock, which is what is the vulgarity is about: privileged snotty-nosed little upperclass daddy's girl "feminists" getting pushed in the mud and mucked up for their "witty" self-promoting snipes at men."

This is beginning to sound really quite unhinged.

Mortimer Brezny said...

But I do know/strongly suspect that radical feminism described by Mortimer is not the mainstream feminism.

First you say "mainstream feminism" -- which is commonly called liberal feminism. Now you say "the mainstream feminism," meaning the strain prevailing today. Your sidestep does not work. As I pointed out, radical feminism is such a part of today's liberal feminism that even though there are those called "radical feminists" today who are no in the mainstream, the mainstream of today has already incorporated the radical feminism of yesteryear and is to that extent radical. if you want to understand this social phenomenon, read a history book. I pointed you to one written by a feminist scholar of note: Alice Echol. I could suggest another: Judith Grant. But you continue to ignore this, because my comments about feminism are "not serious" and I am "ignorant" of feminism.

Mark said...

Simon,

"Yes, context matters. Do you really believe that it's OK to criticize anyone's appearance with sexual references because you disagree with that person's substantive position?

If that's intended as a description of what you thought Ann did, then it's a spectacularly inapt characterization - and if it's intended as anything else, I don't see the relevance.


It's not an inapt characterization. Ann drew references to Valenti's pose on the pictures (i.e. she alluded to the sexual reference to Lewinsky) in order to substantively criticize Jessica (for alleged cozying up to Bill Clinton). Moreover, Ann did not, to my knowledge, disassociate herself from mean and rude comments in that thread, and in fact contributed to them by stating "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." Even while in jest, this comment was totally inappropriate.

It was unbecoming and vulgar, in my view.

Adrian said...

Mark,
so you don't think that the feminism that is being lifted up today in the mainstream and those that are on the blogs calling themselves feminist is actually THE definition of feminism?
I haven't reading this blog long, but it seems to be Ann is takeing the more original approach to feminism which is about being treated EQUALLY and not SPECIALLY. To be treated "equal" is to take the good with the bad. To be treated "special" is to expect that you are owed something and that you are a sacred cow. I think that is what and why Ann took that woman to task, because she wated to have her cake (criticizing men that have a negative/lowered image of women) and eating it too (propping her boobs up with the biggest "cheauvanist-pig" (sp) out there)

Mortimer Brezny said...

This is beginning to sound really quite unhinged.

Oh, please. So the men making vulgar comments to Valenti are unaware of it and it's meta- implications and I am totally unaware that the shotgun scattershot style I chose to express that idea conveyed a certain stereotypically hypermasculine sensibility. Yes, because men just aren't as sophisticated as women. FULL FRONTAL FEMINISM!!! Lookit! THE BOOBIES!!!!

Adrian said...

Mark,
Can you please give the EXACT quote Ann used that offended you.

Simon said...

"I don't see how that isn't a female chauvinist position akin to Catherine MacKinnon's attempts to ban porn only when it depicts women in a subordinate role because porn is effective at shaping male thought and behavior."

What possible objection could be raised against that position? "While porn doesn't empirically exacerbate violence, violence is not the only way in which men abuse women; porn contributes to the creation of a culture in which women are overly-sexualized in a commodified and debased way (anyone who doesn't think this is true hasn't turned on MTV lately), which forms the context in which men are socialized and attitudes develop." While all pornography is invidious to the extent that it has a deleterious effect in the aggregate, contributing to a culture that commodifies and objectifies women, a fortiori pornography that depicts women in clearly degrading, humiliating, subordinate, and debasing roles is objectively worse, which as I understand it is MacKinnon's point.

johnstodder said...

In the article, Ms Valenti said: "“It was, without doubt, the most humiliating experience of my life …."

Coming up next: The return of the Sensitivity Police.

The problem you are having, Ann, is that not enough people agree with you that feminists were wrong to defend Clinton's behavior with women. Most liberals believe, in fact, that defending Clinton was a moral crusade. At the moment Lewinsky was happening, there might have been some debate on the margins, but when conservatives accused feminists of hypocrisy, they circled the wagons, and have kept them circled ever since. Your ridicule of that picture struck a nerve. Valenti has no choice but to play the part of the crucified victim. Anything short of that leaves the movement in a too-vulnerable state.

They won't let you win this debate. They just won't. You will never have the last word. They will keep bringing it up as an example of the horrors of the blogosphere, and why it should be regulated, and every time you try to remind people what you really said and really meant, they'll accuse you of a breast fixation.

Mark said...

Mortimer said:

"Hmm, not quite. I think that if you put your breasts out to sell books, it's okay for someone to say "I don't like your breasts, I think you're sexually exploiting yourself, I'm not buying your book, and here's my satirically vulgar way of saying so."


Yes, if Jessica were topless at that photo with Clinton, one would have been justified in stating whatever about her breats. However, she was not. She was in a normal pose when taking the picture with ex President. That's why attacks on her sexual appearance are unbecoming and low.

The Exalted said...

uh, memo to Ann:

You created this story.

You attacked Ms. Valenti.

Ownership of this story, scandal, controversy is yours.

Mortimer Brezny said...

, a fortiori pornography that depicts women in clearly degrading, humiliating, subordinate, and debasing roles is objectively worse, which as I understand it is MacKinnon's point.

Yeah, that's her argument, but it's not what the statute she wrote would do. There's 3 kinds of porn out there:

1. Porn in which men are debased and women are not; and
2. Porn in which the sexes are depicted as equals; and
3. Porn in which women are debased and men are not.

MacKinnon's law would have gotten rid of 3, but left 1 and 2 on the market. That means men's thought and behavior would be skewed toward seeing women as either equals or superiors, but not inferiors. The question is: if it's wrong for men to see women as inferiors, why is it ok for men to see women as superiors? That's a strange loophole in the law you drafted if you're truly concerned about promoting equality, nothing more and nothing less.

Hey, but what do I know. I know nothing about feminism.

Mark said...

Adrian said:

"so you don't think that the feminism that is being lifted up today in the mainstream and those that are on the blogs calling themselves feminist is actually THE definition of feminism?"

I don't think there's anything being "lifted up" today. I don't care, really. I think mainstream feminist values have been internalized by the society, and this is a good thing.


"I haven't reading this blog long, but it seems to be Ann is takeing the more original approach to feminism which is about being treated EQUALLY and not SPECIALLY. To be treated "equal" is to take the good with the bad. To be treated "special" is to expect that you are owed something and that you are a sacred cow."

I agree that men and women should be generally treated equally and not specially.


"I think that is what and why Ann took that woman to task, because she wated to have her cake (criticizing men that have a negative/lowered image of women) and eating it too (propping her boobs up with the biggest "cheauvanist-pig" (sp) out there)"

No, for the hundredth time, Ann was being taken to task because she made and allowed to be made references to Jessica's sexual appearance because she disagreed with the substance of Jessica's position. Again, one can think whatever of Clinton and of feminism, but to draw sexual references to Jessica's pose in the picture is unbecoming and low.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Yes, if Jessica were topless at that photo with Clinton, one would have been justified in stating whatever about her breats.

There is a naked woman pointing to her vagina on Jessica's book cover, you idiot. The justification exists.

Simon said...

TheExalted - who reignited the controversy? Valenti's pal Garance. Just at the moment that Valenti needed some publicity. And who fed this latest round of controversy? The leftosphere - FireDogLake, LGM, the usual suspects. If you still think Ann's the bad guy here, you're an idiot. And you'll notice that they have STILL never managed to answer her actual substantive point. Never. Not once.

JodyTresidder said...

johnstodder wrote: "Most liberals believe, in fact, that defending Clinton was a moral crusade."

Not so.
But it makes no difference to you.

FWIW, my fierce criticism of Clinton is tempered by my simple belief that he didn't destroy feminism with his odious behavior either.

Mark said...

Adrian:

Ann allowed this story to grow where it is today. Her reputation suffered in the process, even if she doesn't seem to care, and she probably became better-known as a result of this controversy. Of course, to be fair, Ann had much more publicity than Jessica to begin with; but still you cannot deny that Ann likes publicity a lot (not that there's anything wrong with it).

Her comment that offended and disappointed me the most was the one that I cited to Simon:

"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."

Yes, it was in jest, but the humor of this type is, in my view, of a very crude and vulgar type. I was disappointed.

JodyTresidder said...

"Yes, if Jessica were topless at that photo with Clinton, one would have been justified in stating whatever about her breats.

To which Mortimer replied: "There is a naked woman pointing to her vagina on Jessica's book cover, you idiot. The justification exists."

Except the naked woman is not Jessica, and it's not the picture at the lunch...oh for crying out loud!

The Exalted said...

Mortimer,

You refer to Garance's attack. Can you please this?

Simon said...

Mortimer Brezny said...
"Yeah, that's [MacKinnon's] argument, but it's not what the statute she wrote would do. There's 3 kinds of porn out there: (1) Porn in which men are debased and women are not; and (2) Porn in which the sexes are depicted as equals; and (3) Porn in which women are debased and men are not. MacKinnon's law would have gotten rid of 3, but left 1 and 2 on the market."

I have no problem with that, although I think that (2) would continue to suffer from the general defects of pornography that I mentioned in my characterization of Prof. Koppelman's remarks above.


"That means men's thought and behavior would be skewed toward seeing women as either equals or superiors, but not inferiors."

I have no problem with that, either.


"The question is: if it's wrong for men to see women as inferiors, why is it ok for men to see women as superiors? That's a strange loophole in the law you drafted if you're truly concerned about promoting equality, nothing more and nothing less."

It does tend to raise an equal protection problem, but to the extent that we're talking on a purely normative level, I don't even have any problem with that. As a purely normative proposition, I think that there are two predominant strains of thought in feiminsm: that women and men are exactly the same (plainly and entirely empirically false) and essentialism, which holds that men and women are different, and women are better. I subscribe to the latter school of thought. My objection to pornography isn't that it fails to depict men and women as equals, but that it depicts (and in fact contributes to) the subordination of women.


"Hey, but what do I know. I know nothing about feminism."

Well, I don't think of myself as a feminist, I'm just sympathetic to a lot of what I perceive to be the 2d wave's agenda. This puts me in a quite comfortable position, insofar as it frees me to agree on the destination without having to travel on the same bus or by the same road.

Mark said...

Mortime said:

"Yes, if Jessica were topless at that photo with Clinton, one would have been justified in stating whatever about her breats.

There is a naked woman pointing to her vagina on Jessica's book cover, you idiot. The justification exists."


It is you who is an idiot. The picture that was mocked was not on a Jessica's book cover. The picture that was mocked was of Jessica, normally dressed, in a normal pose, with other bloggers and President Clinton. There was no justification for mocking THAT picture. Your sleight of hand is ridiculous: you claim it's OK to make sexual references to a normal picture just because the subject of your mockery uses sexual imagery on her book cover. Ridiculous logic.

Snow said...

Truly vicious attacks? A truly vicious attack would be one which criticizes you for your uninformed guilty verdicts in legal matters for which you do not prepare before bloviating.

This attack continues to occur because you made a nonsensical attack against Valenti for going to a luncheon with a popular and successful former president of the United States. As if someone would actually turn down such an opportunity if it were at all possible to attend.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Your sleight of hand is ridiculous: you claim it's OK to make sexual references to a normal picture just because the subject of your mockery uses sexual imagery on her book cover.

It's not a sleight of hand. A public figure should be held accountable for any and all of her public statements in a holistic fashion. I think the book cover is circumstantial evidence of what her motive was when she went to the Clinton meeting. After all, her book was in pre-publication for awhile. Either the title and the cover photo was selected before she went to pose with Clinton or it was selected afterward (meaning after the furor erupted). If the former, then she clearly is the kind of exploiter of sex to intentionally pose like a trollop with Slick Willie. If the latter, then she cynically exploited the controversy and her complaints of humiliation are evidently facetious. Either way, she is deserving of criticism as a hypocrite and as a phony. And as not a true feminist of any kind: radical, mainstream, or worthy of respect or serious consideration.

Mortimer Brezny said...

essentialism, which holds that men and women are different, and women are better. I subscribe to the latter school of thought.

Well, sorry. I don't think that a belief in the essential inferiority of men is a dignified view to hold. I think it is morally repugnant, and I think that's what the men hurling vulgarity at Valenti think, too, which is why they're giving her a taste of her own medicine.

Simon said...

Mark, it's entirley inapt. As I understand it, Ann's criticism of Valenti was the hypocrisy of putative feminists not only associating with, but metaphorically prostrating themselves before, Bill Clinton, who (in her view) did immense harm to feminist causes. Nor can you hang Ann from the gallows of her commenters - she allows a lot of latitude, both of style and substance. D'you think she agrees with me about abortion, or about the commerce clause, and so forth, just because she hasn't deleted my comments? Moreover, the very fact that she has permitted so many of the attacks on her made here - which I think it's reasonable to assume she doesn't agree with - to remain undeleted entirely undermines your thesis.

Mortimer Brezny said...

And, she deserves it, because she's a chauvinist.

The Jerk said...

your position is your nose in Jessica Valenti's ass.

Better than in Althouse's, where yours and Simon's already make it a bit crowded.

Mark said...

"It's not a sleight of hand. A public figure should be held accountable for any and all of her public statements in a holistic fashion. I think the book cover is circumstantial evidence of what her motive was when she went to the Clinton meeting. After all, her book was in pre-publication for awhile. Either the title and the cover photo was selected before she went to pose with Clinton or it was selected afterward (meaning after the furor erupted). If the former, then she clearly is the kind of exploiter of sex to intentionally pose like a trollop with Slick Willie. If the latter, then she cynically exploited the controversy and her complaints of humiliation are evidently facetious. Either way, she is deserving of criticism as a hypocrite and as a phony. And as not a true feminist of any kind: radical, mainstream, or worthy of respect or serious consideration."


Yes, it is a sleight of hand.
Unless you have evidence to the contrary, she's entitled to the presumption that she went to CLinton's luncheon for perfectly normal reasons: she was invited to luncheon with President among with other feminist bloggers. It is innuendo and gossipy-like to suggest otherwise without any sort of proof.

Further, she didn't exploit anything: she was not the one that started this controversy, and most likely she was not the one who chose the cover of her book (often, publishers choose the cover). It is idiotic to imply that she deserves criticism of the kind that she received for going to lunch with Clinton because her book has sexual imagery.

She can be criticized without references to her pose/appearance.
It's cheap, low, vulgar, and crude to draw attention to her pose/looks, no matter how substantive your underlying criticism is.

Hazy Dave said...

My attention span isn't up to the task of reading that whole article today (where's the pictures?), but I will say it mostly seemed a reasonable sermon on the topic for a general or dead tree audience.

In Jessica's world, her only crime is having "the gall to show up to a meeting with my breasts in tow" and daring to be "photographed with a political figure."

So, ignoring the subject of Clinton 42's serial illicit sexual objectification of women in the service of some greater (unspecified) good is a non-issue because she says it is. Or doesn't say it is, whatever.

Vulgar references to someone's "sexual" appearance? As opposed to "vulgar" references to some other aspect of their appearance or person? I certainly don't think anything Ann said is over the line compared to the common "big fat lying moron" substantive criticisms that abound on that nasty lawless internet and even occasionally surface on your friendly television screen.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Better than in Althouse's, where yours and Simon's already make it a bit crowded.

Well, apparently, Simon is there all by himself, because he's the one who believes men are inferior to women.

Hazy Dave said...

She chose the book cover image herself. If you wish to comment on it, be sure to find the correct thread, and if you don't agree with her decision, try not to hurt her feelings.

Mark said...

Simon said,

"Mark, it's entirley inapt. As I understand it, Ann's criticism of Valenti was the hypocrisy of putative feminists not only associating with, but metaphorically prostrating themselves before, Bill Clinton, who (in her view) did immense harm to feminist causes."

Simon, I don't dispute anyone's right to criticize feminists. Especially Ann's right, given that she holds dear many of feminist positions and supported them through the years. However, I do dispute the MANNER in which she criticized feminists. Her way of criticizing was making crude sexual references to Jessica's pose/appearance. It was IMPROPER, low, unbecoming of her, to make these references. She turned the discussion sexual. She could have validly criticized Jessica for appearing at the luncheon by simply stating the substance of her criticizm. Instead, she wanted to "destroy" the photograph, and in doing so, she crossed the line of what's acceptable, in my view.


"Nor can you hang Ann from the gallows of her commenters - she allows a lot of latitude, both of style and substance. D'you think she agrees with me about abortion, or about the commerce clause, and so forth, just because she hasn't deleted my comments? Moreover, the very fact that she has permitted so many of the attacks on her made here - which I think it's reasonable to assume she doesn't agree with - to remain undeleted entirely undermines your thesis."

Simon, you are proving my point. She has no reason to disassociate herself from my comments because we clearly disagree. However, she has every reason to disassociate from her supporters' comments because a valid inference can be made (whether it's fair or not) that she indeed supports their position.

TMink said...

Hey Mark, I do not recall reading many of your posts previously to this thread. You may have posted like crazy and I just missed you.

But I wanted to say that I appreciate how you make your points and the you use logic to do so. Good job, they make for good reading.

I expect that we disagree about many things, but one thing that comes to mind is a different response to the infamous photo. I saw the photo before reading the posts, and Ms. Valenti's pose struck me as that, a pose. Everyone else was casual, and she did not look casual, but more conscious of having her phot taken.

While I was looking at the photo, my wife came in the room and asked "Who it that sticking out her boobs? And is that Bill Clinton in the middle? Is she an idiot?"

I did not have that reaction in and of myself, and I wonder if that is because I am a man. I wonder if you and I miss some of the subtleties of the situation because we do not and will not have breasts to contend with.

I mean, it makes a difference how you hug people, what clothes you wear, all sorts of stuff that I would be totally clueless to if I had not listened to women talk about their breasts and mammary politics. Politics in the general, not specific sense. And while I have HEARD women talk about their chest, it is only a rare and depersonalized subject for me.

Perhaps it is the same for you. But I was quite shocked that my wife and I looked at the same photo and she reacted totally differently than I and so similarly to some women, including our hostess.

Keep posting.

Trey

Der Hahn said...

Most of the attempts to defend Valenti remind me of the 'Only howtt!! guys can look at my boobs' glares that most middle-age guys get from the I'm-too-sexy-for-my-thong crowd when they are prancing around a pool.

Mortimer Brezny said...

and most likely she was not the one who chose the cover of her book (often, publishers choose the cover).

You're just being silly. Your argument is that you can't hold a public figure accountable for her record of public acts and public statements when they contradict her professed agenda. Your argument is further than you can't reevaluate a past act on the basis of a later act. That, too, is silly. I killed the guy, but claimed it was self-defense; then three years later a journal I wrote three days before the killing in which I lay out a plan to murder they guy surfaces. No, you can't view the two holistically and add 2 plus 2 to get to 4, because Mark doesn't believe in common sense. Sure, a feminist who relies on sexual exploitation to sell books and who derides others for sexually exploiting her is not a hypocrite, because we aren't allowed to think feminists are hypocrites because Mark says so. She also isn't responsible for the book bearing her name because it's being marketed by the corporation that is publishing her; but we can't call her a corporate sell-out even though she's willingly being sexually exploited by a corporation for cash, because she's a victim, not a rational individual, because women aren't rational, they're victims, and everyone knows irrational victims are better than men. Whatever.

She chose the book cover image herself. If you wish to comment on it, be sure to find the correct thread, and if you don't agree with her decision, try not to hurt her feelings.

Sure, because public figures can dish it out, but they can't take it, even though they've elevated themselves to the public stage for their own selfish gain. No, but wait, she only cares about the cause of Full Frontal Feminism, which is the right to pose with sexual harrasser and exploit other women to sell books and then cry when people call you on it. Oh, whatever. Why do I even have to make an argument against this foolishness? Why can't I just call her a naughty name and get it over with. It's much more efficient and everyone gets the point.

reader_iam said...

Just out of curiosity (and with no intent to imply everyone can't and shouldn't discuss this):

Apart from myself, and Joan, and (I assume) JodyTressider, and Althouse, are any of the other commenters here (many of whom are the same as were discussing the previous related thread, and the previous one, and... ) female?

And I'd love to know the general age range.

Normally I don't care about that sort of thing at all, but it's interesting me a bit in this case.

Nah, don't really expect a response. Just throwing it out there.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Simon might as well be female, given that he is a female chauvinist.

reader_iam said...

Maybe I should have said serious response.

Heh.

reader_iam said...

I mean, I wrote a post about circumcision and HIV/AIDS prevention last night, and if it had drawn debates primarily between straight middle-aged or older women, I'd find that, well, interesting. (Not that it drew any debate, but that's not my point.)

Mortimer Brezny said...

Assuming Simon was serious, that is a serious response. All my responses on here have been serious. But what do I know? I don't know anything about feminism. Right, Mark?

Mark said...

Trey,

Thanks for the kind words. I used to comment more often in the past but lately I haven't had much time.

I think different people may reasonably disagree about the picture and whether or not she "posed". I think it would help to look at her other pictures in similar group settings to see whether she takes a similar pose.
But this is besides the point. It's fine to have different opinions about someone's appearance.

What is not fine (to me) is to crudely criticize someone's pose (by deliberately bringing up sexual references) as a way to make a substantive argument. There are other ways to make a substantive, valid argument; and it would have avoided all this controversy. Further, if one wanted to make a substantive argument and to discuss the merits (i.e., whether Clinton hurt/helped feminism), then it seems to me that it's supremely silly preface the argument with sexual references, knowing what a firestorm of criticism (some legitimate, some not) it would cause.
I think Ann didn't want to engage in a serious discussion; her obsession with style over substance took precedence, as she wanted to "destroy" that picture. And she admitted to being mean in the process. What else more is needed?

Thanks for your compliments and for your take on this controversy. It is interesting to hear about your wife's reaction. Perhaps gender does play a role in how we react, but still I stand by my comments.

JohnAnnArbor said...

I mean, it makes a difference how you hug people, what clothes you wear, all sorts of stuff

I was speaking with a female fellow student (back in the day) about football blocking once, and she asked me to demonstrate slow-speed. She stood there, and I popped out of a stance and showed her how a blocker hits a defender in the chest with shoulder and forearm. As I almost got to her, she suddenly went "Watch it, buddy" and the lightbulb went off in both our heads at the same time: breasts do change the dynamics of many things. Neither of us had thought of it ahead of time.

Patrick J. Shea said...

And so the mutually beneficial vortex continues to swirl merrily along (I'm imagining the theme music and voice over from "Days of Our Lives"). My only response is to cry "UNCLE!" -- someone wake me up when they've milked it for all its worth and moved on to something else.

Mortimer Brezny said...

There are other ways to make a substantive, valid argument; and it would have avoided all this controversy.

Because in Mark's America the First Amendment protects not satire, mockery, derision, or bashing of public figures. There go all your satirical political plays! Yet Mark's First Amendment does protect hypocrisy in the service of female chauvinism. Ergo, the only play in the theaters must be the Vagina Monologues, as shall be mandated by the State.

reader_iam said...

Mortimer: In NO WAY did I mean to imply, nor do I think, you "know nothing" about feminism. (If I seriously thought that, I'd say it.) I have no way of knowing, and I know that.

Nothing wrong with being curious about context. Right?

Peter Palladas said...

Normally I don't care about that sort of thing at all, but it's interesting me a bit in this case.

A/S/L time eh?

The nearest I've been asked out on a date for years.

Does that give you all the info you need?

Mortimer Brezny said...

Mortimer: In NO WAY did I mean to imply, nor do I think, you "know nothing" about feminism.

I was addressing Mark. I saw no such implication and generally appreciate your comments.

Henry said...

However, she has every reason to disassociate from her supporters' comments because ...

Where is that list of her supporters again?

Actually, Mark, I'm somewhat sympathetic to your views. I suspect that Valenti went to the luncheon without much forethought, posed for the photo (maybe she struck a pose; it really doesn't matter in my mind), and was blindsided by the ridicule of the photo and herself. I don't blame her for being mad about it.

But since that scrap, it is Valenti who keeps picking the scab.

There's a point in which, if you want to be a public opinion-setter (say by writing a polemical blog, or by sidling up to political powerbrokers, or by authoring a self-promotional book), you can't play the innocent any more.

John Emerson said...

Mark, your agreement with my comment destroyed my irony detector. I have no idea what you were trying to say.

Mark said...

"You're just being silly. Your argument is that you can't hold a public figure accountable for her record of public acts and public statements when they contradict her professed agenda."

Nothing of the sort. I agree that you can take a public figure accountable for her record of public acts and public statements.
However, the criticism of Valenti's Clinton appearance has nothing to do with her record. Her record (let's assume) is of using sexual imagery on her books. So freaking what?? What does it have to do with her posing with other bloggers with Clinton? There is no logical link in your criticism.
Or is it because she used sexual imagery, she is not allowed to pose in group settings with Clinton? Or other men? I don't understand your logic.


"Your argument is further than you can't reevaluate a past act on the basis of a later act. That, too, is silly."

Again, you're wrong. You can re-evaluate a past act. If she posed with Clinton but before she was writing about how terrible Clinton is, then you would have a point.

"Sure, a feminist who relies on sexual exploitation to sell books and who derides others for sexually exploiting her is not a hypocrite, because we aren't allowed to think feminists are hypocrites because Mark says so."

No. She does not "rely on sexual exploitation to sell books", at least you didn't demonstrate (far less prove) it. Whom does she sexually exploit? How? Is it truly comparable with attacks on her?


"She also isn't responsible for the book bearing her name because it's being marketed by the corporation that is publishing her; but we can't call her a corporate sell-out even though she's willingly being sexually exploited by a corporation for cash, because she's a victim, not a rational individual, because women aren't rational, they're victims, and everyone knows irrational victims are better than men. Whatever."


This makes no sense whatsoever. How do people publish books and why does it matter here? How is she being sexually exploited by corporation? It just doesn't make any sense.

Simon said...

Mortimer Brezny said...
"Well, sorry. I don't think that a belief in the essential inferiority of men is a dignified view to hold. I think it is morally repugnant."


Well, I think back to Sandra Day O'Connor's description of Rehnquist's approach to life at the court: he'd make up his mind what he thought, put it in writing, and if you agreed then that was fine, and if you didn't, that was okay too. My view is what it is, if you agree then that's fine, and if you don't, that's okay too. I don't need moral ratification.

AJ Lynch said...

Ann said:
"The only reason the Google searches (on Valenti's name) come out the way they do is because of the endless vicious, nasty attacks on me"

I would add to that it's is because Valenti has so few if any real accomplishments, the googles can't find anything else about her.

And that's tough shit poor Jessica- but life is tough so get used to it. You 15 minutes of fame is way over.

And speaking of crap, what the hell kinda paper is the Guardian to hire Valenti. She is a bigger lightweight than Al Gore's carbon footprint.

Mark said...

Henry said:

"Where is that list of her supporters again?"


Henry, I am not going to dig through 500+ replies in that thread to pick the most offensive remarks. Do you think there are none? I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you then.

"Actually, Mark, I'm somewhat sympathetic to your views. I suspect that Valenti went to the luncheon without much forethought, posed for the photo (maybe she struck a pose; it really doesn't matter in my mind), and was blindsided by the ridicule of the photo and herself. I don't blame her for being mad about it.

But since that scrap, it is Valenti who keeps picking the scab.

There's a point in which, if you want to be a public opinion-setter (say by writing a polemical blog, or by sidling up to political powerbrokers, or by authoring a self-promotional book), you can't play the innocent any more."


As I said earlier, I, too, wish that she moved on. Unfortunately, neither she nor Ann are able to move beyond that controversy and that's why we're discussing it here. It's like Rosie and Donald, I suspect both Valenti and Ann benefit from it; espcially Valenti. She was able to use this controversy to achieve greater name recognition and probably sell more books.

The downside is that Ann's reputation has suffered in the eyes of many, and, unfortunately, largely deservedly so. And she doesn't care and thinks that she is a victim. Sigh.

Simon said...

Mortimer Brezny said...
"Simon might as well be female, given that he is a female chauvinist."

I don't think one has to be female to be a female chauvinist - and that is, in any event, not a term I'm inclined to distance myself from, since it far more adequately defines my views on gender than does "feminism" (the latter comes freighted with a lot of baggage, not the least of which being that most mainstream - which as you correctly say usually means liberal - feminists wouldn't want to claim someone of my views!)


"Assuming Simon was serious, that is a serious response."

He was, but again, I'm fairly relaxed about the point, because it's an opinion without force. To the extent I think the equal protection clause places very strong restrictions on the powers of the states (let's see how awake people are today... There's a hint in that) to engage in gender discrimination, I'm in no position to try and embed those views into policy. So this is all on very much the normative level not the policy level.

Chum said...

Mortimer:
'Have you seen the cover to her new book "Full FRONTAL Feminism"? There's a naked chick on it with a finger pointing to an implied vagina (which is out of frame).'

Hardly. I doubt many people would interpret the picture this way.

Reader jam: you're female?:) I would never have guessed. Me too, and being even older than Ann can relate to her perspective of feminism having lived through the grwoing pains of the movement. I'm rather enjoying Simon and Mark's discussion and overall am rather impressed. Mortimer, well that's one angry misogynist.

As to the subject of Ann's post I sympathize with her position but feel she brought it on herself. The original comment was I feel, meanspirited and given it was said for effect, coming from an attitude I don't understand. Neither do I understand the constant bringing it up. Let it go already. That the situation gave Valenti free publicity, with perfect timing, seems somewhat karmic. I'd never heard of Valenti before this...but I won't be reading the book. Young feminist writers tend to make me roll my eyes.

Simon said...

What worries me about all this, by the way, is that I worry about what's going to happen when it spills over into the classroom - if some student who's been in the blogosphere tries to get cocky with Ann in the classroom about it.

Mortimer Brezny said...

However, the criticism of Valenti's Clinton appearance has nothing to do with her record.

No, her record consists of every public act or statement she has made. She went to the Clinton event as a political feminist blogger.

How is she being sexually exploited by corporation?

If you had been correct that the publisher had forced Valenti to have a naked woman pointing to her out-of-frame vagina on her book cover, then you could argue that the corporation was exploiting either Valenti's body or the body of another woman to sell books, either indirectly or directly implicating Valenti in her own or another woman's exploitation. You cannot make that claim because Valenti chose the cover, which opens her to charges of hypocrisy, given all her complaints of being treated as a sex object.

If she posed with Clinton but before she was writing about how terrible Clinton is, then you would have a point.

You can't have it both ways. If we can re-evaluate past acts in light of later ones, we can re-evaluate her pose in the Clinton photo in light of the book cover she chose for her book, which is entitled Full Frontal Feminism. We can also re-evaluate the truth value of the statements she made about her motives for attenting the Clinton meeting and whether she posed at it.

Whom does she sexually exploit? How? Is it truly comparable with attacks on her?

You have a habit of chopping up paragraphs so they are out of context and setting self-serving conditions of relevancy that amount to begging the question, but it should be rather clear that by Valenti is a hypocrite for choosing a naked woman pointing to her vagina for the cover of her book entitled Full Frontal Feminism, because she has complained about being sexualized and objectified. Yet here she is doing it to herself, doing it to the woman modeling for her book cover, doing it so that the book sells more copies than it otherwise would, and accepting cash for it; not to mention that the book cover -- one that objectifies and sexualizes women; there isn't even a face to go with the detached body parts and implied vagina -- is posted on Amazon for thousands to see and will be emblazoned on New Arrivals stands at bookstores all over the country, which was the point. A few dozen blog commenters calling her a whore becuase she is a hypocrite is less immoral than her promoting the image of women as sex objects through her book cover in exchange for cash because she is a hypocrite. And if you don't see the logic in that, get a logic book and start with page 1.

Simon,

No one claimed you needed moral ratification. The point is feminism's claim to moral legitimacy is impaired by its claims to female superiority and the appeal of feminism to many, if not most, is that it is supposed to set things right. Seeking to create an immoral imbalance is not seeking to set things right. It is rather clear that opposing the subordination of women need not require championing the subordination of men, even to an amoral individual.

Mark said...

Simon,

That student would be a big fool. ;)

GWPDA said...

What I care about is the way feminists sold out feminism to bolster the fortunes of the Democratic Party.

My dear woman, you had the audacity to attack me, apparently out of the same nonsensical irrationality that you betray every time feminism comes up in the conversation. Don't you really think it's time to just excuse yourself from the whole thing?

Fen said...

Audacity? LOL. "Lets arrange them randomly"

Is that you Jessica? I'm curious if you caught Clinton checking you out? Be honest. Did his security detail invite you up to his hotel room afterwards? Did he offer to interview you for a job? Would you have cluelessly gone along with any of that?

Chum said...

'What worries me about all this, by the way, is that I worry about what's going to happen when it spills over into the classroom - if some student who's been in the blogosphere tries to get cocky with Ann in the classroom about it.'

Oh Simon, please! After the blogging heads drama you're worried about Ann being able to take care of herself?

Mortimer Brezny said...

After the blogging heads drama you're worried about Ann being able to take care of herself?

I guess he doesn't really believe that women are better.

L said...

Ann, you are just sad. And you complain that Jessica is attacking YOU! Jessica did not look like a slut or whatever you were trying to imply. She was wearing a shirt. Women do that. She has breasts. Women have those, even feminist women. It is so sad that you feel the need to attack another women on her looks. That is the point of feminism! To get away from that kind of viewpoint.

You aren't a feminist. You are just an insecure right wing woman who is jealous of a liberal younger woman's looks and success. And if you really don't want to talk about the "breast" issue anymore, and just want to focus on the "political" issue that was at hand, you should have never brought up her looks. It is your own fault. Get over it. Jessica has nothing to apologize for.

Mark said...

The saga continues....

"If you had been correct that the publisher had forced Valenti to have a naked woman pointing to her out-of-frame vagina on her book cover, then you could argue that the corporation was exploiting either Valenti's body or the body of another woman to sell books, either indirectly or directly implicating Valenti in her own or another woman's exploitation. You cannot make that claim because Valenti chose the cover, which opens her to charges of hypocrisy, given all her complaints of being treated as a sex object."


Mortimer, as Chum said, your interpretation of the cover is not necessarily the correct one. But regardless, even if the cover depicts what you say it does, in now way does it open her to charges to hypocrisy. As I said before, there's nothing to suggest that using sexual imagery in art/literature implies that a person condones/likes to be treated as a sex object.


"You can't have it both ways. If we can re-evaluate past acts in light of later ones, we can re-evaluate her pose in the Clinton photo in light of the book cover she chose for her book, which is entitled Full Frontal Feminism. We can also re-evaluate the truth value of the statements she made about her motives for attenting the Clinton meeting and whether she posed at it."

Again, her book's cover offers no basis for either reevaluating her pose or the value of her statement. How do you make that jump from the imagery or the title of the book about feminism to her pose/statements?

"Valenti is a hypocrite for choosing a naked woman pointing to her vagina for the cover of her book entitled Full Frontal Feminism, because she has complained about being sexualized and objectified. Yet here she is doing it to herself, doing it to the woman modeling for her book cover, doing it so that the book sells more copies than it otherwise would, and accepting cash for it; not to mention that the book cover -- one that objectifies and sexualizes women; there isn't even a face to go with the detached body parts and implied vagina -- is posted on Amazon for thousands to see and will be emblazoned on New Arrivals stands at bookstores all over the country, which was the point. A few dozen blog commenters calling her a whore becuase she is a hypocrite is less immoral than her promoting the image of women as sex objects through her book cover in exchange for cash because she is a hypocrite. And if you don't see the logic in that, get a logic book and start with page 1."

You yourself enroll in Logic 101.
Choosing a sexual imagery for the title (I assume it's true) does not necessarily (or likely) mean that she objectifies and sexualizes (whatever that means) women; as I said repeatedly, context matters; therefore, it may be acceptable to use sexual imagery for the book about feminism; the imagery may have many different connotations. One would have to read the book to fully judge the appropriateness of the title and the imagery. I see nothing wrong with the title of the book either.

Your pathetic excuses for the commenters calling her a whore by calling them less immoral than her alleged promotion of women as sex objects are laughable. You claim that she promotes women as sex objects solely by your view of the book's title and the image on the front cover? And it's worse than calling someone a whore? Pathetic, indeed.

Fen said...

It is so sad that you feel the need to attack another women on her looks

Valenti: [leans over Fen's desk, deliberately falling out of her top]

Fen: [notices Valenti's breasts]

Valenti: "STOP LOOKING AT MY BREASTS!"

Fen: .....

Fen said...

Your pathetic excuses for the commenters calling her a whore

Who called her a whore? I followed that very closely, and don't recall such comments. Mine were along the lines of Valenti posed as a Monica-wanna-be.

Simon said...

Chum, you misunderstand my concern. I have no doubt that Ann "can take care of herself."

Mort:
"The point is feminism's claim to moral legitimacy is impaired by its claims to female superiority and the appeal of feminism to many, if not most, is that it is supposed to set things right. Seeking to create an immoral imbalance is not seeking to set things right. It is rather clear that opposing the subordination of women need not require championing the subordination of men, even to an amoral individual.

I'm not sure how much valence essentialism has these days in feminist circles (under that name or any other), but then again, I don't claim to be a feminist. ;) And in any event, I don't have any desire to "subordinat[e]" men, as I thought I made clear.


L said...
"You aren't a feminist. You are just an insecure right wing woman who is jealous of a liberal younger woman's looks and success."

This is one of the anti-althousiana's more absurd talking points. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I disagree in the strongest terms (I'm sure Mort will agree with this much) the idea that Ann has anything to be jealous of Valenti for, least of all her "looks and success." She's better looking (opinion) and a lot more successfull (empirical fact).

Simon said...

BTW - re the cover of Valenti's book. My copy of Wolfe's The Beauty Myth has a naked woman curled up on a ball on the cover, her face and mouth covered by bandages. My invitation to Mort is to perhaps come back to, in more detail, the point that the problem isn't skin, per se.

reader_iam said...

You know, I always liked the word "breasts;" I mean, as a word. Now it puts me teeth on edge.

From now on, I'm going to use:

(.) (.) [Singular: ). ]

to denote The Protrusions Formerly Known As Breasts.

[Yeah, I know the my symbols are saggy; but then I've had (.) (.) long enough to understand basic facts of life, including that women--yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes--universally tend to have them.]

A little creativity, people, please!

Mortimer Brezny said...

As I said before, there's nothing to suggest that using sexual imagery in art/literature implies that a person condones/likes to be treated as a sex object.

This is true, but it is also such a general description as to be irrelevant to the specific conversation we have been having or on point to the argument I have actually advanced within that discourse. "[U]sing sexually imagery in art/literature" is not at issue and yet again begs some questions. It presumes that Ms. Valenti's book is literature and/or art, perhaps akin to an academic feminist treatise, rather than commercial, focus-grouped pablum targeted to a young demographic, which it may be. It further presumes that Valenti is merely "using sexual imagery" rather than specifically placing naked body parts and an implied vagina on her book cover to boost sales so that she and her publisher make more money. It also ignores that the act is public and commercial activity within a marketplace. It is by no means equivalent to a painter in her studio dabbing out a nude on a canvas and I have not made the argument that a painter who paints a nude in the privacy of her studio has no plausible defense to rape, which is the straw-man you appear to be responding to. Nor did I say Ms. Valenti likes being treated like a sex object. I said she was a hypocrite. She complains when others sexually objectify her but then turns around and sexually objectifies herself, sexually objectifies others, and promotes the culture of sexual objectification in exchange for cash and having a corporation pay for her marketing. That is the argument. You are a hypocrite when you rail against something when others do it, but then do it yourself. If everyoen followed Ms. valenti's model of behavior, then every book published would have a title alluding to women's body parts and featuring a naked woman on it. Would that be consistent with the aims of feminists who are opposed to sexual objectification of women in the popular culture? The answer if obviously no to anyone of basic intelligence and without bias. Furthermore, you in fact are a hypocrite. After complaing on and on an on about commenters using ad hominems to attack Jessica, about how vile, and low, and unseemily it all is, you just stooped to using ad hominems with the refrain of pathetic. If you stil do not understand my point about hypocrisy, look in the mirror, you brown-nosing idiot.

Synova said...

Snow: This attack continues to occur because you made a nonsensical attack against Valenti for going to a luncheon with a popular and successful former president of the United States. As if someone would actually turn down such an opportunity if it were at all possible to attend.

L: That is the point of feminism! To get away from that kind of viewpoint.

Would I go to a luncheon to meet a popular and successful former president? Yeah, maybe. Even thinking of him as I do. The popular and successful former president has a well founded reputation for viewing young women as his due.

I thought *that* was the viewpoint feminists were trying to get us away from.

Apparently not.

Maybe some of us old ladies wish we were young and perky but please dear God do not suggest that we wish we could be young and perky standing next to the epitome of the "bad old days" when men were men and women were their just reward.

Bill Clinton getting a pass from feminists was one of those watershed sorts of moments. Maybe you young perky things are too young to remember what feminism was supposed to be about?

The Jerk said...

I have no doubt that Ann "can take care of herself."

Me either. When people demonstrate a propensity to rant incoherently because of imaginary slights, other people do tend to leave them alone.

She's better looking (opinion) and a lot more successfull (empirical fact).

Maybe you should write her a sonnet.

reader_iam said...

More curiosity:

If the woman pictured on the front of the Valenti's book were of an obviously older one, or a fatter one, or sported stretch lines, would people be interpreting it the same way?

What if no one knew who Valenti was or what she looked like or her age?

What if the title was along the lines of Cho's quote on the cover: Say, "Kicking All Kinds Of Oppressive Male Ass"?

Henry said...

"Where is that list of her supporters again?"

Mark, I didn't make myself clear. I read that comments list and there was a fair amount of offensive crap in it.

My point is, how does a commenter becomes a "supporter" for whom Ann bears responsibility? I've never seen Ann disavow anything in the Althouse comments section. It would actually be pretty wierd if she did.

Mortimer Brezny said...

If the woman pictured on the front of the Valenti's book were of an obviously older one, or a fatter one, or sported stretch lines, would people be interpreting it the same way?

Perhaps not, but publishers certainly know that certain images connote certain things and they prey on those connotations to boost sales. That's what advertisers do for a living. If they placed a young, nubile naked body on there, it wasn't an accident. They didn't have 20 pictures of randomly selected women and pick the one that landed face up on the floor after the toss. This isn't an image condemning the male gaze like Wolf's book; it's relying on it and promoting it. The book might as well have been titled: Girls Gone Wild for Feminism!

Internet Ronin said...

R_iam: w/r/t your post on circumcision, I think most men prefer to avoid that subject as being entirely to painful to discuss rationally.

As for the conversation here, it seems to me that a few people are really pulling out all the stops to provide cannon fodder for Valenti and her apologists posing as chivalrous defenders. Of course, those providing the fodder were not planning to. It's just the way things work out some days, I guess.

As this argument once again demonstrates, chivalry remains dead, although poseurs abound.

howzerdo said...

I haven't commented on this post or any of the prior posts on this subject. But I do remember the original post and I thought Ann's take was right on. The blogger in question seemed posed, why feminists defend or would pose with Clinton escapes me, and I immediately noticed the resemblance to Lewinsky. FWIW, I am female, 45, and consider myself a feminist (even though I disagree with the company line regarding abortion).

TMink said...

49 year old male breeder.

Trey

L said...

So Jessica isn't allowed to meet a great president because he had an affair with an intern? All feminists should hate bill clinton? they deserve to be ridiculed for their looks if they like him AS a president(not as a adulturous man)? I'd feel more honored to meet a great president who has cheated on his wife than a law professor who insists on bringing up a young woman's breasts as a reason to hate her. it's personal and it is just mean.

And the whole "young perky things" comment is exactly the type of mindset that ann is using in her ridiculous arguments. is it ageism? is it that to insult a young woman you need to make it sound as if she is just a body and can't have a mind? and i don't care who people think is hotter, ann or jessica, the point is that ann isn't a feminist because she feels the need to degrade other women.

Hector Rottweiler said...

Ann-

How is Valenti "attacking" you by pointing out that you wrote a blog post that focussed on her breasts (in the title!) and quoting some of the things yousaid about her breasts? Your ability and willingness to make everything about you is astounding. I have heard and read you repeatedly over the past week complaining that people on "the left" are "attacking" you personally. Why not have the sense of personal responsibility to consider that maybe your decision to make the original post explicity about "breasts," to the extent that you made lame Lewinsky jokes, wasn't the wisest way to get your point about feminism and Bill Clinton? Which, by the way, is so clearly a red herring as it concerns your actions. You wrote a post whose subject was a woman posing in a group photo, and chose to approach whatever "critique" you were offering in the most juvenile way. People called you on it. Yet your unwillingness to even consider this point, while insisting that you were making a pro-feminist argument, just makes you look more ridiculous. Which is fine with me--watching you dig in your heels is a source of never-ending amusement for those of us who've called you on your bullshit from the beginning.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Which is fine with me--watching you dig in your heels is a source of never-ending amusement for those of us who've called you on your bullshit from the beginning.

Why are you assuming she's wearing heels, you sexist pig?

Molly said...

Ann, I think you're definitely right on this one. You can't criticize a system you believe gives you "oh poor me" status while trying to exploit it at the same time. She's just mad someone noticed the intent rather than only the effect of the pose itself.

reader_iam said...

Think I've said before, but not here: 46. One son, six, who already appears to take notice of (.) (.) . Married to the block who spawned the chip.

reader_iam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SGT Ted said...

"I'd love to see you take some responsibility for what you've done instead of whining that everyone's talking about your breasts. I don't give a damn about your breasts. What I care about is the way feminists sold out feminism to bolster the fortunes of the Democratic Party. But you will never talk about that, because you don't have anything to say there. So it's on and on about breasts, breasts, breasts, please don't talk about my breasts."

I agree with this statement.

Well, that and I like breasts.

Internet Ronin said...

L: You probably skeedaddled long ago before your cover was blown, but in the off-chance you didn't, would you care to provide your working definition of "right wing?"

Mortimer Brezny said...

Of course, those providing the fodder were not planning to. It's just the way things work out some days, I guess.

I take it you have not seen the book cover.

Mark said...

She complains when others sexually objectify her but then turns around and sexually objectifies herself, sexually objectifies others, and promotes the culture of sexual objectification in exchange for cash and having a corporation pay for her marketing. That is the argument. You are a hypocrite when you rail against something when others do it, but then do it yourself."

You are either deliberately misconstruing my argument or you are too dense. I tend to believe the former. Valenti emphatically does not sexually objectify herself or others, at least in any meaningful sense of the word "objectifies." Her use of sexual imagery on the front cover (and having looked at the cover, I disagree that she points to the vagina; she seems to have her hand on her side, but whatever) is not reproachable sexual objectification. Yes, the imagery is probably done to sell the book (what else do you expect from a commercial publisher?), but so what? The sexual imagery on the cover is not offensive and is, in fact, quite apt for the book and the title. It's not sexual objectification any more than a book about anatomy is. It is ridiculous to compare her use of the imagery with the type of offensive sexual objectification that she received.

Therefore, your hypocrisy claims ring extremely hollow. If you still don't see the difference, I am sorry for you.

Hector Rottweiler said...

Why are you assuming she's wearing heels, you sexist pig?

Why are you assuming I'm a pig, you species-ist heel?

Trevor said...

Feminism is a red herring.

One more time: Althouse herself has (finally) admitted she saw the photograph as an opportunity to take a shot, to "be cruel to (all the bloggers at the lunch)" because she "hated . . . to gaze on their shiny, happy faces."

Valenti was collateral damage in that attack. Althouse's commenters got going right away for her with intern jokes, but then she happily piled on. It wasn't until Valenti id'd herself that Althouse brought up the issue of feminism, as if that's what it had been about all along.

What Valenti writes about and what she believes and what she may have sacrificed to be at the lunch has always been a cover for Althouse and her commenters to pretend that's what the initial post and thread was about in the first place.

As Mark has been nobly trying to assert all along today, debating the merits of Valenti's adherence to "real" feminist principles is fine, but it is all after-the-fact subterfuge for an initial mean-spirited, humiliating, and "cruel" disparagement of a woman's appearance.

Shame on all of you who participated in that first thread. Shame on all of you who now sadly try to pretend that you didn't do something that was indefensible.

Valenti isn't trying to destroy your reputation, Althouse. You're doing a fine job of that all on your own. Maybe not with that first post, which you could have apologized for, but certainly with the later ones as you've tried to spin away from your own bad behavior.

L said...

My cover? wow, and i thought it was only leftists who believed in conspiracies.

how do i define right wing? well, i'd say a love of a laissez-faire economy, distrust of welfare, a belief that government shouldn't interfere. but please enlighten me. did a touch a raw nerve by saying i perceive ann to be right wing? she obviously has some sort of agenda against a liberal blogger however she defines herself.

Internet Ronin said...

No, and I really have no interest in it Mortimer ;-)At the same time, I imagine that you know that much of what you have written here will be quoted, often out-of-context, by those who desperately want to control or silence the proprietor of this blog.

It was just a random thought to a friend. I might make some popcorn later and read in-depth. It might be entertaining. Then again, I might not. Because it might not.

Trevor said...

And Hector is more concise than me. Though jinx on use of "red herring."

bill said...

Are any of you people having fun? It doesn't sound like it.

Here's an angle I find interesting and I think this was also brought up in the original thread:

It was not right to mock that photograph.

Which is just plain and utter bullshit. Can we all--ok, can most of us agree--that it's perfectly normal, and fun, to mock things. Photos, religion, hairstyles, bumper stickers, ANYTHING. SNL, Dennis Miller, Jon Stewart, all have perfected the art of mocking photographs. Then there's all the newspapers and magazines that run caption contests--again, mocking the photo being the prime goal.

Which is not to mistake substituting a good mocking for an argument; they are two separate things. Enjoy/argue/dismiss either one, just don't get them confused.

Sorry for the interruption, you may continue spitting on each other.

Shan said...

"Valenti wrote a big article smearing me"

You make it seem as though the entire article was about you. Valenti's main point was the sexually charged comments made against female bloggers, some of which came from your regulars. Yet you focus on the one paragraph that mentions you personally.

I'd suggest you work out your martyrdom complex in private, lest this blog become a journal of one's descent into madness.

Internet Ronin said...

Just a joke, L. Sorry you didn't like it, but it accomplished my goal. It seems pretty weird to me to run around accusing someone of being a right-winger without doing the least bit of due diligence beforehand. Given your own definition, Althouse does not qualify, as is apparent to anyone who has read even a small sampling of her posts.

As for conspiracy theories, no, I'm not a believer in any of the popular ones, or even any of the unpopular ones. It was Oswald. In the Book Despository Bldg. With a rifle.

Internet Ronin said...

Bill: ROFL! Good point about the photo, BTW. Thanks for stopping in. Don't be a stranger!

Mortimer Brezny said...

is not reproachable sexual objectification.

I see. The book cover is, as I said, sexually objectifying. It just isn't reproachable sexual objectification. I take it "reproachable" is a weasel-word that allows you to admit that the book cover is sexually objectifying but to continue to defend Jessica, anyway.


Yes, the imagery is probably done to sell the book (what else do you expect from a commercial publisher?), but so what?

The so-what-factor is that the commercial publisher did not select the image. Jessica Valenti chose the image herself. You have just admitted that Jessica Valenti chose a sexually objectifying image for her book. Given we know how she thinks about "sexual imagery", that gives us reason to reevulate her intent in posing in the Clinton photo. Maybe she meant to sexually objectify herself there, too. (But not reproachably.)

The sexual imagery on the cover is not offensive and is, in fact, quite apt for the book and the title.

Is not offensive because you say so. I say the attacks on Valenti were not offensive, either. You already admitted the book cover is sexually objectifying, so the problem isn't the offensiveness of image, but that Valenti is engaging in sexual exploitation.

It's not sexual objectification any more than a book about anatomy is.

This is inconsistent with your statement above that the image fits the title. The title is Full Frontal Feminism, which is obviously a play on the term Full Frontal Nudity. Here is a definition of the term:

Full frontal nudity means wearing no clothing and facing the observer showing the genitals, as opposed to only showing toplessness/barechestedness or bare buttocks It is usually considered the most far-reaching form of nudity, with exception of a close-up of the most erogenous zones, especially the genitals.

So the reference to the vagina is implied and that implication is reinforced by the book title. I do not see how you deny this if you agree that the image perfectly illustrates the title's theme. In addition, full frontal nudity is a rating that lifts art to the level of porn:

The distinction "frontal" is meaningful for pictures and movies. In many cases it is avoided or undone by purposely placing inanimate objects obscuring a view of an actor or actress' genitals or the shot is 'defused' by deliberately hazy lighting or focus. Such techniques not only make some actors more comfortable but usually aim to pass censorship or prevent the film from receiving an unfavorable rating, which often leads to commercial failure.

In other words, she is deliberatly evoking porn and saying "Ooooh, this is bad, dirty, nasty, porn-related feminism. Check out the implied vagina."

It is ridiculous to compare her use of the imagery with the type of offensive sexual objectification that she received.

Why? She's using porn virtues and techniques to sell her book. For cash. She's sold out herself, her principles, other women, and the female model posing on that cover.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Why are you assuming she's wearing heels, you sexist pig?

Why are you assuming I'm a pig, you species-ist heel?


Because your tail is so small and curled up so pathetically.

Mark said...

Bill said:

"It was not right to mock that photograph.

Which is just plain and utter bullshit. Can we all--ok, can most of us agree--that it's perfectly normal, and fun, to mock things. Photos, religion, hairstyles, bumper stickers, ANYTHING. "

There's mockery and then there's mockery. It's one thing to make a good natured fun of a picture, it's quite another to be mean-spirited and crudely mock someone's appearance in a picture in a sexist way all the while asserting that it's done with a valid purpose of defending true feminism.

boston70 said...

Please move on Ann. This is tedious.

You can't really be worked up about this, can you?

L said...

Well internet ronin, I wasn't calling her "right-wing" as an insult, but if you saw it that way then i guess that is your own personal opinion. i was actually trying to be nice about right wingers by focusing on such things as their views on the economy. but i guess truthfully i saw her as someone who writes on instapundit and feels hatred towards liberals. is that what you wanted as my definition of right-wing?

howzerdo said...

I really must be procrastinating to post two comments (and I am, I have to make apple pies for Easter). But I wanted to address this comment from L:

"So Jessica isn't allowed to meet a great president because he had an affair with an intern? All feminists should hate bill clinton? they deserve to be ridiculed for their looks if they like him AS a president(not as a adulturous man)? I'd feel more honored to meet a great president who has cheated on his wife than a law professor who insists on bringing up a young woman's breasts as a reason to hate her.

I find "hate" a rather strong word, but at all organizations I've worked in (where there is always at least one sensitivity video shown on the subject for employees), having an affair with an intern is considered inappropriate behavior as well as and sexual harrassment, regardless of who initiated the affair, and whether it was consensual. Sure, it is worse if the superior initiates it, and way worse if it isn't consensual. But because of the power imbalance (very dramatic in this case) there can be no consent. I'd think feminists would understand this.

Adultery is Hillary's problem. I've never met Ann, nor is it likely, but again, "hate" is an awfully strong word. I thought the original post was ironic, and funny.

L said...

ok, i'm done here, but i've figured out the way for us all to just relax, get over this and laugh.
just watch this video: http://youtube.com/watch?v=gInKqAY4swI

because really, ann flipping out about character assassination when it comes to an issue she created! ha, c'mon, it is pretty hilarious. lets all join hands and laugh. but knowing ann and her own hatred for her female flesh, she probably will blame her craziness on on her menstrual cycle.

Ann Althouse said...

Interesting that this old controversy was reignited just as she has a book coming out.

The cover looks tame compared to the image Mortimer put in my head. I've seen hundreds of books with the side of a torso like that. Big cliché, but not risqué. Looks like a diet book.

I note that she apparently couldn't interest a prominent publisher in her book. Seal Press? Look at their website. Her book is juxtaposed to some crapola called "Cat Women: Female Writers on Their Feline Friends" and "Getting Unstuck Without Coming Unglued: A Woman's Guide to Unblocking Creativity." Yeesh! Self-help garbage. And her book has a self-help-y subtitle.

I'd like to see some hardcore feminist writing about what drivel so-called "third wave" feminism is. "Beauty Myth" was pretty much nothing, and it's been downhill from there.

Mark said...

Mortimer,

"reproachable" is not any more weasel word than the word "objectifying." Objectifying is defined as "to present or regard as an object." What you define as objectifying (the cover of the book) does not seem objectifying to me.

I didn't admit anything; I merely said that even if the cover is in some ways objectifying, I don't find it reproachable. Context matters. There is nothing wrong with the cover of that book; for whatever reasons it was chosen. It does not sell women out in any way.

Yeah, I agree that the title is probably a play on the theme of full frontal nudity. I don't see how you go from here to your accusation that she sold out herself or women. Context matters, again. This is a commercial book; the title and the cover are designed to be provocative. It doesn't mean that she "sold out" anyone just because you say so.

lee david said...

My head is hurting.

If you look at Jessica's blog logo (the symbol of her posistion?) you will see the old "mudflap bimbo" with the arm and middle finger raised in the universal american salute of f.u. defiance. And the pose. The pose is very chest forward to accentuate that part of the anatomy around which this "controversy" is supposed to rotate. I don't know anyone who thought that the original shilloute was anything but the objectification of the naked female form, nor have I ever encoutered anyone, feminist or not, that looked at that image and saw a symbol of feminine itellectual capacity or any other rational feminist arguement. What does Jessica do? she takes the now iconic bimbo chest forward image and has it raise the middle finger salute. What does it mean? The anger is expressed but by whom? Is this how Jessica sees herself and not realize that to many that original image represents the classic "airhead bimbo". Is Jessica's logo a new sign language? Bimbonics? The whole thing makes me laugh at the irony but it doesn't make me think that I should take anything on a page with that as its masthead logo seriously, especially when it comes to feminism.

Now to the Clinton photo and the pose. If you have seen Jessica's chest forward logo it is very hard to look at that chest forward pose that she takes and not imagine her with her middle finger raised as well. It's her symbol after all, her shtick. Who would she be raising that finger to, if she did? The world, second wave feminism, what? The mind boggles.

I don't think that her logo conveys the message that she really wants to convey, or, maybe it does.

Ann Althouse said...

boston70: "Please move on Ann. This is tedious. You can't really be worked up about this, can you?"

I agree that it's tedious. As I've said, the original posts were little satires. Just a couple zingers. Others keep this alive, for their own interests. However mean I was to begin with, and as I've admitted, I wanted my critique to hurt, it's been vastly overshadowed by nastiness aimed at me, most of which I ignore. I prefer not to write or talk about it. My passionate moment on Bloggingheads was ENTIRELY ABOUT how I didn't want to talk about it, that it was an old blogosphere flame war of no current interest. But I felt I had to respond to the vicious, dishonest piece that The Guardian published.

Mortimer Brezny said...

The cover looks tame compared to the image Mortimer put in my head.

Tedious? This officially just got interesting...I had no idea I was putting lurid images in Ann's head...Me likee this kind of feminist discourse...

See, Mark? Objectifying is not a weasel-word.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Objectifying is defined as "to present or regard as an object."

The term being used is "sexual objectification," which is a term of art in feminist discourse. Your retreat to the dictionary to define objectify is a cheap dodge.

Try a basic feminist reader. It seems you're the one who knows nothing about feminism!

Internet Ronin said...

No, L, I really don't need anything more from you. I asked you for your working definition of a "right-wing" and you provided it. Then you amended it bcause, as I expected would be the case, it didn't fit the person to whom you applied the modifying phrase "right-wing."

Whether the phrase is viewed as an insult (or not) by me or others is irrelevant. Whether you intended it as an insult is irrelevant. (I personally don't really care, either.) That you thought it appropriate to use and firmly pin on someone else without first having verified your facts is relevant, however.

Mark said...

Well, Mortimer, I think this discussion is long past the point where either side can learn anything from the other side. I guess we will always disagree about the original post and all the controversy that it has caused. It's too bad that a relatively interesting topic of Clinton's effect on feminism in America has been overshadowed by this "controversy," but perhaps this was the intent all along. Have a Good Friday, everyone.

Ricardo said...

Famous feuds:
Paris and Nicole
Rosie and Donald
Ann and Jessica

As any media advisor will tell you, the problem is not bad publicity, the problem is NO publicity. This feud is fueling two careers simultaneously, so why should anyone stop?

The Exalted said...

Simon said...

TheExalted - who reignited the controversy? Valenti's pal Garance. Just at the moment that Valenti needed some publicity. And who fed this latest round of controversy? The leftosphere - FireDogLake, LGM, the usual suspects. If you still think Ann's the bad guy here, you're an idiot. And you'll notice that they have STILL never managed to answer her actual substantive point. Never. Not once.


sadly, you're idiot. garance didn't "reignite" the controversy, ann did by flying off the handle at her. did you watch the video or just take the wingnuttery at its word? ann was whining about the big, mean lefty blogosphere so garance mentioned the "valenti breast controversy"...wow, what an ambush!

and ann has no substantive point. there is nothing to address. valenti did not in any way resemble monica lewinsky (i have no idea what would) and clinton surely did not "set feminism back 20 years."

Mortimer Brezny said...

I merely said that even if the cover is in some ways objectifying,

Now you're just lying. You also seem not to know what exploitation means: Sexual Exploitation - The IASC Task Force defines sexual exploitation as any abuse of a position of vulnerability, differential power, or trust for sexual purposes; this includes profiting monetarily, socially, or politically from the sexual exploitation of another.

My entire point about Valenti being a public figure who has that backing of a corporate entity and a built-in audience is that she has power over her readers, over the model posing on that cover, and influence over the media culture to the extent of the share of the market her book captures. I do not see how you can deny she will profit from the book if it is profitable or that the sexualizing of women on the cover of that book promotes a culture of sexually exploiting women. If you deny that, then I do not see how you have any problems with any nudie mags sold anywhere, or the comments made about Valenti on blogs, which are far less graphic.

Trevor said...

"I wanted my critique to hurt"

See, I don't think this is true, in the sense that you mean, as some political point. I think you wanted to have some fun arranging bloggers randomly. I think you wanted to make some cheap Jay Leno-esque Clinton-sex jokes at an innocent bystander's expense. And your sycophants picked right up on "your prompt," as you put it.

Once you got called on your and your commenters' degradation by that bystander and her compatriots, THEN it became about making a "critique." All of the talk after about second- and third-wave feminism may be a good debate, but it's just post-facto bullshit to cover a joke that blew up in your face.

If you keep spinning, Professor, you're just going to get dizzier.

Mortimer Brezny said...

And your sycophants picked right up on "your prompt," as you put it.

But that really seems not to be true. I mean, I have been called Ann's sycophant and, apparently, I'm putting images in Ann's head!

MadisonMan said...

That you thought it appropriate to use and firmly pin on someone else without first having verified your facts is relevant, however.

...and entirely consistent with the modus operandi of just about anyone who enters here attacking Prof. A. I really do get the feeling that they never read the entire two comment threads objectively, but instead were tweaked elsewhere into a feeling of moral outrage before arriving on the scene here in a state of uber umbrage.

Synova said...

L: "And the whole "young perky things" comment is exactly the type of mindset that ann is using in her ridiculous arguments. is it ageism?"

I donno. You're the one who wrote: "You aren't a feminist. You are just an insecure right wing woman who is jealous of a liberal younger woman's looks and success."

So who brought up age? Who brought up the context of beauty and youth and jealousy as the real reason anyone cares?

MadisonMan said...

Trevor, something I've never seen discussed, and it's something I complained about in the original comments: Why is the Democratic Party -- and by extension the Bloggers who went to see the President -- so blind to imagery? How could they not foresee what would happen if a Monica-esque person of a certain age posed just so in front of the President? (I have no idea, of course, if this is a pose or a natural stand of JV, not having seen her in similar situations). You are quick to blame commenters here -- as if Ann could control them -- for spotting the obvious. If the commenters could spot the obvious, why couldn't those really smart Causcasian bloggers organizing the picture? (Odd how there weren't any people of color there -- must not be any liberal bloggers who aren't white.)

L said...

synova, oh my. you just don't get it. it's called irony. that is what is so funny about it. and you say I brought up age? i only said that after the "perky" comments, referring to young people who apparantly know nothing about feminism. and basically that is what ann was saying when she insulted jessica. i'm done, this is stupid. ann just needs to realize that she is wrong and apologize for what she is doing to feminism.

Internet Ronin said...

I agree, MM. In fairness to them, they aren't the only ones. There are a lot of people like them (in all shapes, sizes and beliefs) who seem to think they have received some kind of marching orders from headquarters (whatever & wherever that is) and trot around armed with supposedly one-size-fits-all talking points that rarely do.

AlaskaJack said...

What about that promised phone call from Bill after the photo shoot? Jessica's not talking.

Fen said...

I don't think that her logo conveys the message that she really wants to convey, or, maybe it does.

It leaves me wondering if Valenti et al would support the lap dancers are exploiting men, not the reverse nonsense.

Fen said...

Please move on Ann. This is tedious. You can't really be worked up about this, can you?

She has a right to respond to distortions and lies about her. Of course you want her to "move on", so that your rewrite of the narrative will stand unchallenged.

Here's a hint - if you quit misrepresenting her and she'll stop correcting you.

lee david said...

I think that Jessica is very image aware but very blind to the content of them and what they project. Is this youth or ignorance?

My head still hurts.

Trevor said...

MadisonMan, I wasn't suggesting that Althouse could control her commenters, but once she started praising some and then making her own lame jokes about berets and blue dresses, she became complicit.

As for imagery, well, people who don't define Clinton by Monica, don't think of Monica when they have lunch with him. As for Valenti's supposed resemblance, I can't speak for the Democratic Party, but I don't see any resemblance other than the color of her hair.

Besides, what should they have said? "Move away from Bill, Jessica, you look like Monica." Can you imagine how inappropriate that would be? It'd be like making a Mission Accomplished joke after someone passed you the butter at a lunch with GWB. It's in bad taste.

Was it a bad idea to have Valenti stand where she did? Based on the response of people who think "Feministing" is a reference to "fisting," I would say that without a doubt it was a horrible idea. But it's pretty sad if even informal group photos have to be delicately arranged just to keep others from using them as ammunition.

MadisonMan said...

But it's pretty sad if even informal group photos have to be delicately arranged just to keep others from using them as ammunition.

You can moan all you want that it's sad. Until the Democratic Party recognizes that images matter (and acts like they recognize it), such a pearl-clutching woe-is-me mindset will be a problem.

Synova said...

L, you want me to look up the time stamps? I said "perky" in response to the post that you just claimed was a response to remarks about "perky."

And do you really think that Ann is harming feminism? What part of feminism is that? The part that has lately taken to actually promoting women as primarily sexual, that sponsors "vagina" events or tries to claim that being a sex worker is liberating?

I've never been a "feminist" because ever since I was old enough to notice the expressions of "feminism" have been... not relevant to my life.

Ann is older than I am and has claimed to be a feminist. But even she is a little young for the sort of things that my mother's generation faced. I know more about that than I did when I was younger and I truly admire what those women did and faced.

Ann mentioned "third generation feminism" and I'm not sure, exactly, what that term means to other people. I know that the feminism of my mother's age is not the feminism of my age and that is very different from the feminism today.

Looking at the feminism today, I don't see any reason to protect it. I think there is a sort of idea that "hurting" the feminism today is actually hurting my mother's feminism. I actually got accused once of spitting on the women who had gone before for nothing more terrible than making the statement, "I'm not a feminist, but..."

But what hurts my mother's generation of feminism? It's not Ann. It's not anyone pointing out that the attitude Clinton has (and demonstrated over and over, not just with Monica) are *exactly* what my mother's generation had to fight so hard against.

Fen said...

lee david: I think that Jessica is very image aware but very blind to the content of them and what they project. Is this youth or ignorance?

I think thats fair, and underlines the main point - feminist supporters of Clinton whitewashed his intern abuse to such an extent that their own acolytes are ignorant of it.

It would be like a civil rights advocate kneeling beneath a confederate flag in a photo op with David Duke. Easy to explain away as a simple error in judgement. Instead, Valenti chose to frame it along I'm proud of David Duke [Bill Clinton] and you're a racist [sexist] for "attacking" my skin color [physical appearance]

Trevor said...

I'm not moaning or clutching pearls about misrepresentation. We might look to this site's host for some faux-clutching, though. (Was this your first mention in the Guardian, Ann? Shame about being introduced to their audience in this way. But I think you've been pretty aware of the bed you were making. As you said, just keep thinking about Malkin and Coulter as your shining examples. You'll get there.)

MadisonMan, Bill Clinton is not the Democratic Party. A pack of very image-naive bloggers is certainly not the Democratic Party. I don't think one vulnerable photograph is enough evidence to draw the conclusion that the party doesn't understand image. And before you even cite other examples, save your typing. I don't disagree that there are plenty that don't get it. I do think the new guard (Reid, Edwards, Pelosi, Obama) understands just fine about how to handle image.

What's nice, is that plenty of folks in the party also understand the importance of presenting substance that matters to most of America along with that image, which is more than can be said for the image-conscious Republican Party.

But I don't want to get sidetracked here. The point I wanted to make, and have flogged I guess now, is that for me the outrage wasn't the dumb jokes at Valenti's expense, it was and continues to be the martyrdom and hypocrisy Althouse displays. That's what bugs.

Have a good weekend. Thanks for the entertainment, Professor.

JodyTresidder said...

I expect Mortimer got the heebie-jeebies over the original (filthily provocative!)Female Eunuch cover too.

"As Mark has been nobly trying to assert all along today, debating the merits of Valenti's adherence to "real" feminist principles is fine, but it is all after-the-fact subterfuge for an initial mean-spirited, humiliating, and "cruel" disparagement of a woman's appearance."

Yes, yes, yes Trevor!..as some of us will keep mumbling.

reader_iam: how strange, I've always managed to read your gender wrong! Yes, female here - two sons 19 & 16 and the (.)(.) thing continues!

Synova said...

Does Ann go around making mean comments about the appearance of young women who aren't standing next to Bill Clinton?

I could be wrong but I thought I remembered reading something about Ann being profoundly disillusioned about how feminism responded to the Lewinsky scandal. I don't think it can be considered "after the fact" at all, Jody.

Maybe it's "after the fact" with Valenti, who could have just been unaware of the "Monica" vibes the picture would evoke, but it's not "after the fact" about the failure of feminism.

I know that my mother was furious and absolutely clear on what *exactly* about the Clinton/Monica thing upset her. It was the fact that this was blatant workplace sexual harassment, something that exists despite consent to the degree that the parties involved have unequal power. This was the "secretary as a sexual perk" role right out of the bad old days when being a secretary was one of the very few career choices available to women.

If my mom saw that picture with all the happy girls clustered around Bill she'd probably have the same reaction as Ann to the visual prominence of the pretty young lady in the center.

Simon said...

reader_iam said...
"More curiosity: If the woman pictured on the front of the Valenti's book were of an obviously older one, or a fatter one, or sported stretch lines, would people be interpreting it the same way?"

Perhaps the better question is -- why doesn't it? Why tout an image of the female body that perfectly a lines with stereotypically male ideals of what constitutes an "attractive" body (young, thin, tan and with no stretch marks)? (I stress that these are stereotypical ideals, although I concede that none of those things are appealing to me).


Ann Althouse said...
"I'd like to see some hardcore feminist writing about what drivel so-called "third wave" feminism is."

I very much agree, however:

"'Beauty Myth' was pretty much nothing, and it's been downhill from there."

On this point, I respectfully dissent. It may have been "pretty much nothing" to those who had already been involved with feminism and feminist writing for some time, but whatever its shortcomings may be, it had a profound effect on the development of my thinking, and I suspect that's true for many people who were young when it came out and for whom it was essentially an introduction to feminism, of whom I can't be the only one. In my view, the most salient characteristic of the third wave - and the reason it isn't really feminism at all, but a submergence of mainstream feminism into liberalism - is its departure from issues that affect women qua women. To the extent that TBM fits chronologically into the third wave, and although I think Wolfe considers herself a third waver, I don't regard that book as being of the third wave. It may not be the most profound statement of feminist thought ever committed to paper, but it meant - and means - a lot to me.

Simon said...

Ann Althouse said...
"Interesting that this old controversy was reignited just as she has a book coming out."

Precisely. That it was reignited, and that it was reignited by someone who's a friend of Valenti's who went out of their way to get the subject into the diavlog.

JodyTresidder said...

synova,
I do understand Ann's disillusionment with Clinton And The Feminists came before Jessica's picture and doubtless continues; however, that's never been the substance of the objections.

One other thing - I support Ann responding to today's Guardian article. There wasn't an alternative.

But I can't see Ann having the material/angles/justification to write, say, an entire article about the disparagement heaped on her as a result of the ins and outs of boobiegate.

Even if she tried her best - the Guardian readers would think something was very odd indeed.

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