It all started, apparently, with this photo of several "a-list" liberal bloggers. It seems that conservative Ann Althouse took issue with Feministing Jessica Valenti's breasts ... and that nutter Reynolds and other buttheads and beavises got off on how Jessica gets off having breasts.
Says Althouse from a very high horse:
Making this colloquy into this new blog post, I actually click over to Jessica's blog, and what the hell? The banner displays silhouettes of women with big breasts (the kind that Thelma and Louise get pissed off at when they're seen on truck mudflaps). She's got an ad in the sidebar for one of her own products, which is a tank top with the same breasty silhouette, stretched over the breasts of a model. And one of the top posts is a big closeup on breasts.
Lovely insight there, Ann. Did they ban the concept of irony from your university?
Sooooo... apparently, Jessica writes one of those blogs that are all about using breasts for extra attention. Then, when she goes to meet Clinton, she wears a tight knit top that draws attention to her breasts and stands right in front of him and positions herself to make her breasts as obvious as possible?
The sexual hang-ups apparent in right-wing Clinton obsession are well known by now, so this boob-phobic bombast should be expected, I suppose. Even the juvenile Beavis and Butthead-worthy sentiments in the comments threads trod the well-worn ground of little green-with-envy right-wing bloggers.
But really, Ann, Glenn and you other dittoheads seemingly driven by nether puckering over other people's bodies and sexuality, this is 2006. It's been 23 years since Madonna danced around in lace singing "Lucky Star" on MTV. It should not be a big shocker to consider that women are entitled to their sexuality.
But of course, that's the "problem," isn't it? Women claiming independence from patriarchal claims on their sexuality? That's why all this fuss over Plan B, sex education, the cervical cancer vaccine, reproductive rights and the ERA, right? Women (and our breasts) should know our place, right?
Guys love breasts. I think Jessica knows that quite well. And I think for all her gasping outrage, she's thoroughly pleased to get this attention.
And that somehow seems to be wrong, according to Althouse. Women must not be sexual. That is wrong. That is dangerous. That threatens the self-control of men. It threatens men's control of women.
Women can only be free of they self-abnegate their sexuality, according to our good professor. The straw-feminist must be pilloried! Break out the burqas!
You know, I was psyched to be invited to this lunch and was feeling pretty honored. But then things like this remind me that no matter what I do or accomplish, because I'm a young woman all I'm good for is fodder for tacky intern jokes and comments that I don't "represent feminist values" because of the way I posed in a picture.
What's worse is that this comes from other women, other progressives, and other supposed feminists. How are we supposed to move forward as a movement if we're busy bashing each other with this ridiculousness?
For more on Althouse's boob obsession:
Anyway, about breasts. My feminist view on them is a very simple one: they are the property of the person who has them on her chest, having breasts does not preclude having brains and having breasts is perfectly acceptable in the public sphere. And women are not responsible for controlling the reactions of some men to the presence of breasts, women don't have to don burqas for the sake of these men or to bind their breasts, either....
...Sadly, the pragmatic approach often boils down to choosing the least unpleasant of the available options and the Democratic party is still the better choice for feminists, especially now that the Republicans have handed over all posts having to do with women's rights to their Taliban section.
Althouse wasn’t the only one trying to put Jessica in her place; as I also mentioned, there were any number of commenters across the progressive blogosphere that made comments about Jessica’s fuckability. They didn’t know who she was, or why she was there, but they sure as hell felt free to speculate that it had something to do with sex.
Even those defending Jessica have often focused on the appropriateness of her posture, her pose, her clothing and her smile, as if those were really the issues. They’re not. The issue is that Jessica was invited to that lunch because of her accomplishments and her intelligence, but people like the commenters discussing her fuckability and Althouse criticizing her for having breasts are reminding her that no matter how much she’s accomplished in her life, no matter how smart she is, she doesn’t really belong in that group.
In other words, they smacked her down for being so uppity as to think that she had the right to be there.
(She also calls out some pertinent questions about the (lack of) racial diversity at this lunch in Harlem. Liza Sabater wonders, too. So does Elayne Riggs. Pam Spaulding has a thoughtful post on the dynamics and demands of blogging politics, and how that can shake out in the A, "B, C, D lists of Blogistan.")
Ann then accuses Jessica of not being a “real” feminist (compared, apparently, to… Ann…), and tells her that she’s misappropriated the word feminism and has done nothing for the movement....
I know [Jessica]'s inspired many more than just me. And talking about her breasts all the live-long day won’t change the fact that she is an amazing, brilliant, good human being who I’m sure will shape the world in more positive ways than Ann Althouse could ever aspire to.
What Jessica did wrong was show up at a political event in a female body. End of story. Ann, you should be ashamed.
Stone Court's Fred Vincy:
Who Killed Feminism?
Ann Althouse solves the mystery.
Last week, it was Ann Bartow and Belle Lettre, for not joining in the hilarity of David Lat's "hottest ERISA lawyer contest" and pointing out that being featured against one's will on a prominent website as a "hottie" might not be the best thing for a lawyer's career or psyche. ("I wonder if Belle has considered whether this grim, censorious, humorless -- nay, humor-phobic -- attitude helps women. I know you want to be taken seriously, but being so intent on being taken seriously is one of the main things that make people want to mock you. And not just you, but feminism.")
This week, it's Jessica Valenti for daring to stand up straight when she met with President Clinton.
Althouse seems to think feminism would be thriving, if only we didn't have all those feminists....
Would Althouse really be happy if Jessica were to bind her breasts, don a mumu, and cast her humbled gaze toward the floor?
PS - Irony of ironies, Althouse is running a Blogads ad for a Barry Goldwater documentary. Considering the guy couldn't get nominated for dog catcher in today's fascist-phillic GOP, it's a wonder wingnuts still invoke his name. Amanda notes, John Dean wonders, too.