October 10, 2010

Who called Meg Whitman a "whore"? And who cares?

"The person who said that word is someone who can't be fired... Jerry's wife can't be fired" — according to an anonymous source.

By the way, who cares if the word "whore" is used in private conversations to refer to politicians who sell themselves in one way or another? Virtually all politicians take money and much of that money is given by people that are hoping/expecting to get something. In that sense, they are all whores. It's unremarkable that rough language is used. So what's the problem with calling Meg Whitman a whore? Jerry's a whore too, isn't he?

This fuss is phony. The only way it has any substance is if you think there's something especially wrong with using the standard rough language against a woman. If you think that, you don't believe in the full equality of the sexes. And it would mean that women don't belong in politics or wielding great power in the public sphere. If we can't criticize women the same way we criticize men, then we shouldn't trust them with power.

When I wrote "Jerry's a whore too, isn't he?" maybe you started thinking about the substance of the charge. Who has Jerry taken money (or other support) from and how has he, in the past, served the interests of the people who helped him? Well, the same thing goes for Meg Whitman! What was the substantive criticism? Why aren't we talking about that? Let's treat male and female politicians the same.

IN THE COMMENTS: YoungHegelian said:
If Prof Althouse thinks that politicians are "whores" because they take others' money, shouldn't Ms Whitman get a pass because her campaign is self-funded?

I mean, she may be a political masturbatrix, but she's not a whore!

I think apologies are owed here, Professor!
I said, the discussion should shift to the substance of it, and I agree that, with so much of her own money, Whitman has more chance of winning on the substance than most politicians.

Dave points me to PJ O'Rourke's "Parliament of Whores." O'Rourke wrote:  "Every government is a parliament of whores. The trouble is, in a democracy, the whores are us."

53 comments:

The Drill SGT said...

I think I differ. Sure, male and female politicians "ought" to be treated the same, but at this point they aren't.

Since they aren't treated the same, we need not condone that bad behavior from one side or the other.

We all think that if the political polarity of this had been reversed and it had been a GOP campaign that had called some liberal woman a whore, there would have been NOW pickets in front of every GOP event from then on instead of a NOW endosement.

MayBee said...

The fuss over this is phony.
The fuss over Christine O'Donnell being a witch is phony (although SNL can't let go of it).
The fuss over the actors in the West Virginia ad is phony.

I thought we'd grown up, but we are still surrounded by phony outrage in elections.

lucid said...

Good for you, Ann. At last no hypersensitive faux outrage over something that happens to a woman.

Time for men to be as tough on women as they are with each other.

Dave said...

See "Parliament of Whores" by PJ O'Rourke.

Paraphrase: "In a democracy, the whores are us."

MayBee said...

Sure, male and female politicians "ought" to be treated the same, but at this point they aren't.

Male and female politicians are treated the same sometimes. The real problem is that in electoral politics, women aren't really treated like people. We're special interests. We have "women's issues". Politicians send out their wives to woo us, and have events with Sarah Jessica Parker and Patti LaBelle to woo our votes. Female politicians talk to us about abortion and equal pay.

Pundits want to hold women politicians up as some sort of ground breakers. But when the female politician doesn't represent "women's issues", all hell breaks loose.

Skipper50 said...

What would be the MSM reaction if a Republican was overheard saying this about a Democrat woman? All hell would break loose.

edutcher said...

Again, it's not a male-female thing; it's a Left-Right thing - it's an Alinsky thing. The media doesn't care that the Brown campaign said it or that the LA chapter of NOW endorsed him the next day.

But if Carly Fiorina or Dino Rossi called their opponents something like that, it would be the great club to beat them for the rest of the campaign and for the Lefties to portray them selves as the defenders of downtrodden women everywhere.

To say, "This fuss is phony", misses the point. Of course, it's phony. This is about using constituencies to gain an advantage, they don't care about actual people.

Bill said...

@Skipper50: Just so. That's the only reason this story has any relevance for me. I always feel like I'm on a sports team looking at the supposedly impartial ref (the press) with this incredulous look on my face. "Didn't you see that?! When one of ours said 'whore' they were ejected from the game. Why the double standard?!"

Fred4Pres said...

It is a stupid thing to say. So Brown's wife should not have said it.

Dagny said...

Well, like it or not, the word "whore" is loaded with respect to females. Of course it's a phony controversy if you can think into it a couple of levels, but when has the electorate demonstrated a capacity to do so? That's why it's pertinent that, if the parties were reversed, this would be fodder for the muckrakers, rather than just a "meh".

MayBee said...

Is that really Jerry Brown's wife's voice?

YoungHegelian said...

If Prof Althouse thinks that politicians are "whores" because they take others' money, shouldn't Ms Whitman get a pass because her campaign is self-funded?

I mean, she may be a political masturbatrix, but she's not a whore!

I think apologies are owed here, Professor!

realwest said...

Well I guess I'm kinda old. Used to be a "whore" was a woman (or man) who traded SEXUAL "FAVORS" for money.
And I think that ole Jerry Brown was not thinking of Meg Whitman as a "whore" in the sense of trading favors for endorsements; if he was, then surely he must consider President Obama to be the biggest Whore in politics today - among many other things, he just exempted the United Federation of Teachers from Obama Care.

Bruce Hayden said...

I do think that the issue is the hypocrisy of the MSM outlets here. Coverage up the ying yang for the witchcraft stuff by O'Donnel, bunches of stuff against Angel here in NV, but actively suppressing this story.

Besides, how do you know that it wasn't misogynistic? Is it because you want it to be that way? Or because Democrats are incapable of such (given their stand on abortion)? Or because all these left leaning outlets are telling you that there isn't a story here?

The reality is that male Democratic politicians at the top are more sexist than their Republican counterparts, on average. Maybe because the Democrats know they will get that pass. But there hasn't been a Republican sexual predator in the White House at least in any our life times, nor is a recent Chief of Staff of theirs famous for intimidating men by calling them pussies and worse (ok, Rahm has now resigned, and Chicago is getting him back). And, it wasn't just Clinton. Kennedy was infamous too (remember that waitress sandwich, or the rape down at their compound in Florida, where he was angling for seconds?)

lyssalovelyredhead said...

I don't know, Professor. Jerry wasn't called a whore, was he?

Thing is, since 2008, at least, we've seen a huge wave of democrats going absolutely balistic with sexually based attacks against conservative women. If this were isolated, I'd agree with you. If the context were clear (If I thought this was just about money), I'd agree with you. But, given what I've seen against conservative females in the past few years, I'm inclined to believe that this was just one more example, out of many, of liberal misogyny against a woman who went off the plantation, plain and simple.

- Lyssa

Bruce Hayden said...

Is that really Jerry Brown's wife's voice?

Or, is that a campaign ruse designed to get them out of trouble, and her husband back into the governor's mansion (with a wife this time, will he actually live there?)

I would think the logical solution would be to get recordings of her voice and see if they match. Police do this all the time, and the technology should be available commercially. Assuming of course, that there were any reporters in CA that weren't in the tank for Brown.

El Pollo Real said...

Jerry's more like pimp. They all love him in the Sac.

William said...

If a Republican had made such a comment, you may be sure that there would be plenty of talking heads explaining how this comment reveals the deep contempt that Republicans feel for women. What is wrong is not the comment but the hypocritical reaction of the press and liberal women's groups toward it.

NotYourTypicalNewYorker said...

You can't rationalize politics like the Professor is doing because it isn't rational, it's emotional.

That's the way it gets played and that's the way it is received.


WV:fabanest- Like it? I just got it!

William said...

How are liberals hypocritical? Let me count the ways: A Democrat who believes in abortion rights is allowed to a call a woman a whore and pinch his secretary's ass. Such behavior is intolerable in a Republican..... A Democrat who believes in amnesty for immigrants is allowed to hire whoever he damn well pleases as a nanny or landscaper. Such behavior is vile when practiced by a Republican. If such Republican takes extra precautions to make sure that his employee is not here illegally, such behavior is profiling and is also vile.....There's more but I'm constrained by the limits of eternity and infinity.

tim maguire said...

The Brown campaign made the mistake of letting us see how the sausage is made. The Whitman campaign can hardly be blamed for jumping on the opportunity.

The fault, if there is any, lies with the media which has decided to report on the scandal rather than the facts underlying the scandal. They have hyped the use of the word "whore" without bothering to explain the rather pedestrian meaning it has in context. Should politics be purged of all color in the name of political correctness just as so much else in life already has?

bagoh20 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bagoh20 said...

I agree, it's phony, especially when operatives claim it's an insult to all women, etc.

I think it was meant in the non-gendered way, but you can see how it's not the same when you imagine Meg Whitman's campaign calling Jerry Brown "impotent". That too can be said without gender reference, but it also would not be heard that way.

bagoh20 said...

I think our media is in worse shape than the economy. Can congress and our President get on fixing that ASAP?

Charlie Martin said...

The difference is that Jerry's a Democrat whore.

AllenS said...

You want outrage? Let Sarah Palin get caught calling Hillary! Clinton or any other Democratic woman a whore. You'll never hear the end of it.

jr565 said...

lucid wrote:
Good for you, Ann. At last no hypersensitive faux outrage over something that happens to a woman.

Time for men to be as tough on women as they are with each other.


I guesss its about time to give Imus an apology for firing him over his nappy headed ho comment. If he had just said ho all would be forgiven. Though, is saying someone is nappy headed really an insult? Hair styles are neutral. Saying some has straight hair or nappy hair or a shaved head is simply describing a physical feature that has no judgement attached. Whore and ho do though.
Sorry Imus for your being fired,and shame on the feminists and racial grievance mongers, who turned it into an issue, when clearly it really wasn't.

Or, yet another example of the different standard liberals hold for themselves and for their enemies.

Jenner said...

Bill said: "I always feel like I'm on a sports team looking at the supposedly impartial ref (the press) with this incredulous look on my face. 'Didn't you see that?!'"

Exactly! It's like it's opposite day, EVERY day.

How could the hypocrisy be any more obvious and "up in your grill"? Until they get called on it, I say hammer away.

jr565 said...

THis should be a wake up call for what is now permissible for conservative politicians. They should start calling all female democrats whores and sluts, and all liberals nazis, and warmongers and especially those who thought that iraq was a diversion from the real war on terror but didn't sign up to fight that war, and let others go to war to die for their war of choice chicken hawks.
The main thing is they have to keep the quote EXACTLY the same as the democratic one (just change the names for effect).
Then have a copy of the original utterance on tape or video which they will play whenever a reporter asks about it. And simply say "Hey Jerry Brown used the exact same phrase and democrats weren't too fussed about it, in fact NOW then endorsed his candidacy. So I figured it was ok to utter the exact same phrase, since it was a non issue before. Why is the media now making an issue of identical language? Double standard anyone? And when is NOW going to endorse my candidacy?".

chuck b. said...

The substance is that Whitman would exempt police and firefighters from pension reform in exchange for their endorsement. Brown says he won't, which happens to be more in line with my views.

mm said...

Whitman's gender does elevate the insult...just as calling a pol a 'lying c**ks**ker' would invite more heat if the pol was Barney Frank.

Belkys said...

It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first.
Ronald Reagan

Cedarford said...

Brown's winning, so Whitman has nothing to lose playing the aggrieved woman. It worked for Hillary.
Both sides play it. Palin made a series of snide, emasculating comments on Obama - and Obama's proxies are dishing out corresponding insults that Palin is a dimwitted hillbilly floosie.

In Brown's case, we all know the narrative that liberals and progressive Jews who dominate the media will employ. "In the rules of race, gender and class grievance and outrage - a white male oppressor calling a victim class female a whore is a serious matter - fortunately it wasn't Brown that said it but a fellow victimized female. Which makes it just fine! By the rules of Leftist media outrage. Sort of like a black politician is free to call another black politician an uppity nigger...provided by the rules..that the name caller isn't a black Republican oppressor."

jr565 said...

This fuss is phony. The only way it has any substance is if you think there's something especially wrong with using the standard rough language against a woman. If you think that, you don't believe in the full equality of the sexes. And it would mean that women don't belong in politics or wielding great power in the public sphere. If we can't criticize women the same way we criticize men, then we shouldn't trust them with power.


So can we call women politicans c*nts? In the age of equality, can only women call other women hoes and men can't get in on this without it being sexist? Then women and men aren't actually equal are they. But if they CAN call women whores or b*tches, why not c*nts? A word is just a word. Sticks and stones as they were.

Rocco said...

mm wrote:
"Whitman's gender does elevate the insult...just as calling a pol a 'lying c**ks**ker' would invite more heat if the pol was Barney Frank."

Which is interesting, considering it would be 100% literally true for Frank, versus only 50% literally true for a (presumably) heterosexual politician.

Joe said...

I don't care. If you go into politics, you better be prepared for it to get nasty. I doubt Whitman cares either--I'm sure she's got called a whole lot worse to her face as CEO. This is clearly a place where letting the speaker damn themselves is the best course of action.

sean said...

Prof. Althouse is like me, an equality feminist, but, as I have noted, we are both dinosaurs. Difference feminism is the prevailing discourse in contemporary law and politics, and one of the principles of difference feminism is that women are very sensitive to language, and you can't talk crudely in front of them or about them.

The difference between this attitude and Victorianism? You aren't allowed to refer to women as "weak" (like the "weaker sex"), because that's derogatory; you have to refer to them as "sensitive." But the basic rule, that you cannot say the same things to a woman that you would say to a man, is not too different from the Victorian rule.

rick said...

Sorry about being late to the party...But Whitman ought to milk this (eh, eh) for all it's worth.

Remembering the never-ending fallout from the George Allen "macaca" comment still fries me. The media is the only reason Allen lost.

Menley said...

There's a double standard.

At least this story diverted attention from Gloria Allred and the Whitmans' part-time housekeeper.

Menley said...

Sorry, they aren't the Whitmans. I meant the Whitman-Harsh family.

I'm in California and the controversy about the whore comment doesn't seem to be in the news. It only prompted NOW to endorse Brown immediately.

SteveR said...

So many of us agree, if this had been a democrat woman being called a whore by a republican male campaign staffer, all hell would be breaking loose. No honest person can deny that.

As bad as that might be, now we're criticizing Whitman for being outraged. Good grief.

traditionalguy said...

Then I can call Jerry Brown a used up whore that cannot get a customer anymore unless he gives it away to blind people with a poor sense of smell. Come to think of it, that is what he is today.

jr565 said...

Sean wrote:

The difference between this attitude and Victorianism? You aren't allowed to refer to women as "weak" (like the "weaker sex"), because that's derogatory; you have to refer to them as "sensitive." But the basic rule, that you cannot say the same things to a woman that you would say to a man, is not too different from the Victorian rule.


This is true for all minorities by the way. Black can call other blacks n's but if you're white and call a black a n*gger, or n*gga even in a friendly manner (ie aping blacks who use it as a friendly greeting) you run the risk of getting a beat down. Even if you're at a cub singling the lyrics to a rap song and it has the word n*gger in it and you repeat the lyric and there are blacks present, you run the risk of looking racist. Not always and in all cases, but true more often than not.
However, you'll note that feminism is built on calling men oppressive, and insulting men and equating the relationship as a war between the sexes and the society as an evil patriarchy run by men. Is calling a man a chauvanist not derogatory?
Perhaps men should demand that they stop being referred to as chauvanist pigs and instead as "traditional" or "strong" so as not to enflame the man with insensitivity.

madawaskan said...

Did you miss this study-

the results of which just came out September 22nd?

The female candidate lost twice as much support when even the mild sexist language was added to the attack. Support for her initially measured at 43% fell to 33% after the policy-based attacks but to 21% after the sexist taunts. The drop was significant among both men and women, those under 50 and over 50, and those with college educations and without.

• The sexist language undermined favorable perceptions of the female candidate, leading voters to view her as less empathetic, trustworthy and effective.

• Responding directly helped the women candidates' regain support. The rebound occurred both after a mild response — the female candidate calling the discussion "inappropriate" and "meritless" and turning back to issues — and after a more direct counterattack that decried "sexist, divisive rhetoric" as damaging to "our political debate and our democracy."

Bennett herself faced the issue when she unsuccessfully ran for Congress in Pennsylvania's 15th Congressional District in 2008. A blog posting derided her with vulgar, sexually explicit language that was reported in the local newspaper.

"I was advised, 'Ignore it,' and I consistently said, 'No comment,' " she recalls. "I realized after my race was over that was a mistake."


USA Today

So of course the liberal media "advice" is to say -no big deal.

madawaskan said...

additional:

Harder-edged attacks, such as referring to her as a prostitute, were equally damaging among voters, according to research commissioned by a non-partisan coalition of women's advocacy groups.

The survey said the advice often given to women — to ignore the attacks rather than risk giving them more attention or legitimacy — turns out to be wrong. In the study, responding directly helped the female candidate regain lost ground and cost her opponent support.

Lucien said...

Hey! Cedarford got away with using what the rest of us are supposed to call "the N-word" or something. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!?

At least no one said Meg Whitman was "nappy-headed" -- you could lose your job for that.

But seriously, there seems to be a growing, casual, misogyny in which calling women whores or sluts as generally pejorative terms is allowed, without even including any plausible assertion of untoward or improper sexual activity. Why aren't people called for this, no matter where they lie (lay?) on the political spectrum? Should Slate ask whether anyone who uses the terms thus can call themselves a feminist?

(And isn't "slut" defined as a woman who has more sex than the person calling her that?)

Whiskey Jim said...

People call each other all kinds of names in private. So what? I highly doubt it is sexist.

More importantly, if California elects Jerry Brown while teetering on default because of over-spending, they deserve everything that is coming to them.

And if the federal government bails them out, there will be an uprising in the USA.

rhhardin said...

The point is to lose Whitman the Hispanic vote, which she was pandering to.

She was mean to her maid, is the take-away for Hispanics.

So now pretty much everybody is fed up with Whitman, the others being fed up with her pandering to Hispanics after being all border control in the primary election.

The problem is that the alternative is Jerry Brown.

The libertarian can't win, though he may do pretty well this time.

AST said...

I agree with Ann. While I don't think Meg Whitman is a whore, I don't think someone said in an unguarded moment and accidentally overheard is much of a basis for outrage. Personally, I think that California has employed Jerry Brown long enough, but I don't think either one of them is going to be able to solve its problems any more than Ahnold was.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

It is written that Republicans may not screw the baby-sitter. That would be HYPOCRISY.

By the same token, Democrats may not use terms that are derogatory to any of the identity groups they claim as allies. That, too, is HYPOCRISY. Calling Whitman a whore is derogatory to sex workers.

For NOW to unconditionally endorse Brown now is a total abdication of principle on their part, but that sort of HYPOCRISY is easy for Democrats. To them, winning is more important than national prosperity, more important than national security, and more important than principle.

lucid said...

"Whore" is the sort of term that women and girls use against each other. It is actually not a term that men would use a lot (unless they are accusing their girlfriend/lover/wife of infidelity).

John0 Juanderlust said...

I don't believe it was an unguarded moment. Jerry comes off looking like he'll hold to a principle while fretting that Meg will trade principle for support.
It was a rope-a-dope.
And while there is the usual faux outrage over the language, it did its job.
No way I believe that he was unaware the phone did not hang up. No way I believe Jerry has any principles as the play acting tried to portray.

Methadras said...

It doesn't matter if she is called a whore, but you can clearly understand the level of dirty politics that leftards will go to to acquire and retain power. Since she is funding her campaign, I can't see how she can be called that with a straight face. If anyone is a whore, it would be Jerry Brown, the man has zero shame and has never held a real job in his life. He was a failure as governor of California before and this time will be no different. Even Whitman as gov. will face an opposition because of the strangle-hold that the leftard state legislature has on Sacramento and she will most likely end up vetoing just about everything that comes before her desk.