Sean King

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Knoxville, Tennessee, United States

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dee Dee Myers Calls for Punishing Unpopular Thought?

Vanity Fair: At what point does sexist behavior get taken seriously? At what point do people get punished in ways that suggest this kind of behavior, this kind of thinking, is unacceptable? At what point do we insist there will be consequences? [emphasis added]

If she had to do it again, I think Dee Dee would probably leave out the bolded part above. I hope she would anyway. It's bad enough when one person assumes to know the thoughts/intentions of another, but its a whole other thing to advocate punishing them.

Dee Dee does make one insightful comment, though:

Imagine how different the reaction would be if an important aide to John McCain had been caught in similar picture featuring Michelle Obama? Or if the picture had shown a cutout of Barack Obama and, say, a white hood? Why is it when ideology and race are eliminated, so is the outrage?

Good question, unless maybe the outrage shouldn't have been there either way. Sometimes a joke is just a joke, ya know?


Anonymous said...

I admit to feeling emotional confused by the photo of the aid fondling the Hilary cutout. Part of me is offended, because I do think it is offensive, even as a joke, because it has a feeling violation to it. While it is JUST a cut-out, the "humor" of the photo lies in the fact that the Hilary in the pic is just smiling cheerfully while being fondled by a guy and being "forced" to drink some beer. It reminds me uncomfortably of predicaments that mainly women are exposed to -- being at a party where girls are smiling and laughing while being plied with alcohol or drugs for the sole purpose of getting them to the point where they, like the cardboard cutout, can't/won't protest what is being done to them.

At the same time, I find myself thinking, "It's kind of nice that these guys might be interpreted as saying that Hilary Clinton is an attractive woman whose boobs are worth fondling." Because it would be nice to think that a poweful, older woman could be considered attractive and sexy and sexual.

BUT, I think that isn't what they were saying with their "humor" -- what they were doing with the humor, and what makes it funny (and utterly inappropriate), is that they were mock-violating Hilary, and, thus putting the bitch in her place. Even old, powerful women need put in their place, right? Especially by young men at drunken parties.

I don't know. It might've just been a joke, but it does have a lot social meaning to it, and I think it does probably bother women more than it bothers men, because when we see it, we know that if it were a cardboard cut out of US, what that would mean, and how we'd feel, and what that message would be.


Your Sister

Anonymous said...

Oh, dear, it appears that I'm still thinking about this. Back to the idea of Hillary Clinton as a sexually attractive woman shouldn't be offensive, and how the photo isn't about that and we all know it. Because it is about the KIND of sexuality being expressed here. The offense isn't in the fact that an Obama aid did this to Hillary Clinton cut-out. It would still be offensive if it was a picture of, say, your daughter fifteen years down the line. It's a kind of humor that IS offensive because of what it is really saying. I don't think I am more or less offended because it is of Hillary Clinton, but because it is a glaring example of how there is a constant sexual threat of violation for women that is condoned in society. It's a means of control and it is something that we all laugh about. The effects, though, are deeper than that, and since you've got a daughter, I think that considering it in that light might be useful in understanding. She'll grow up a little more afraid than she should have to be because of things like this and what this particular instance represents about sexual dynamics in our culture as a whole.

Still rambling,

Your Sister

Sean King said...

Wow. I think you and Dee Dee are reading an awful lot into that one picture. You both assume a great deal about the intentions and motivations of the actors.

For instance, you assume that they intended to somehow "violate" Hillary. Maybe they did, but I don't think you can fairly conclude that simply form the picture. "Hillary" looks like she's having a good time, not being "violated."

And you assume that they are "forcing" her to drink in order to take advantage of her. Well, "she" seems pretty happy about the drink to me.

So, as a dumb male who has never had to deal with sexual harrasment issues (well, except for that one time at the Madonna concert, LOL), I simply see Hillary as having a great time drinking and cavorting with two attractive, young men. I don't see them as having any sort of undue influence over her whatsoever.

Now perhaps if the cardboard cutout showed a scowling Hillary, one who was clearly displeased or frightened at what was happeing, then I might feel differently. But....

Don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting that I agree with whatever sentiments these guys were trying to express (whether they are consistent with your interpretation, or mine, or some other). And, I can certainly appreciate that you and Dee Dee might find their actions offensive, and either or both of you have every right to voice your offense. But, if free speech means anything, it means being able to express even unpopular, politically-incorrect viewpoints-- ESPECIALLY unpopular, politically-correct viewpoints.

So, I don't take offense at Dee Dee's offense, only at her demand that the thoughts/ideas that these guys were trying to express (whatever they may have been) should be punished, supressed, and/or censored.