Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Skip if you hate interblog battles
Normally, I stay out of blogger wars. It's none of my business. I don't know Ann Althouse (and at this moment in my life, I'm quite happy that this is the case) and I don't know Jessica of Feministing.
I think this, however, tells me everything I need to know:
I wanted to elevate a discussion from the comments section of a post from Wednesday, you know the one with the photo of the Daou-wrangled bloggers posing in front of Bill Clinton? The first commenter, Goesh, picks up on my prompt -- "Let's just array these bloggers... randomly" -- and wisecracks: "Who is the Intern directly in front of him with the black hair?"
Eventually, Jessica from a blog called Feministing, shows up and says: "The, um, 'intern' is me. It's so nice to see women being judged by more than their looks. Oh, wait..."
Snarky but somewhat conciliatory, I say: "Well, Jessica, you do appear to be 'posing.' Maybe it's just an accident."
Althouse admits that she was trying to get snarky comments by posting that picture and making the comment she did, calling it a "prompt".
And then, refuses to back down.
And then, and this is the part that really gets to me, later on tries to paint it in a grand, moralistic manner:
Jessica: I'm not judging you by your looks. (Don't flatter yourself.) I'm judging you by your apparent behavior. It's not about the smiling, but the three-quarter pose and related posturing, the sort of thing people razz Katherine Harris about. I really don't know why people who care about feminism don't have any edge against Clinton for the harm he did to the cause of taking sexual harrassment seriously, and posing in front of him like that irks me, as a feminist. So don't assume you're the one representing feminist values here. Whatever you call your blog....
Take a look at the picture. Do you see a woman flashing her tits, or even showing a bit of cleavage? I see people standing in a group, shorter people in front, taller in back, trying to get close enough together to make a good group shot.
Ah... but that Jessica has breasts is clear through her knit top!
So, now she can be objectified, and mocked. Why? Because she doesn't hate Bill Clinton as much as Althouse does.
If you ever feel that feminists engage in a lot of pointless battles over objectification, well, one of the reasons is that it's used so often, in so many nasty ways.
I mean, I grant you, holding a random woman up to mockery is not ever going to make the top ten list of nasty crimes anywhere. But this is nasty, petty, and most of all, entirely and completely pointless. That upsets me, and I admit it, it upsets me out of proportion to the nastiness of the "crime". I don't like nastiness under any circumstances, but when you're trying to accomplish something important, I can deal with it. When it's just an attempt to hurt someone else, it infuriates me.
What makes it even worse is that Althouse then tries to insist she's acting on behalf of feminism, when she just admitted that she did the equivalent of saying "Let's laugh at the girl with the tits, because I don't like the way she looks."
Oh, and for the record, since Althouse mentions it... I've never looked at Katherine Harris, nor gave a damn what she did with her body. I cared that, when an election was in doubt, and democracy was at stake, she was not concerned with getting a full, fair, and to-the-vote accurate count for the people of the state of Florida.
Some of us, apparently, care more about what women do, than trying to be snarky about their appearance. Maybe Althouse can learn a lesson from ths.