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.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.
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.
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.
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?Johnstodder has this (beginning with a quote from Mark):
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.
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.Hey says:
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.
What's the thing that Bill Clinton is most famous for? Lecherous behavior with younger women, even not especially attractive ones.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.
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.
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.And don't miss mikeinsc, who gets into a big debate very late in the comments. Sample:
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.
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.