Anti-feminists, on the other hand, are blatant

Several A-list New York bloggers, including Jessica, got to meet Bill Clinton three days ago. The meeting would have been a non-story if Ann Althouse hadn’t decided to write about it on her blog. Althouse’s angle was that Jessica stood in front of Bill Clinton, looked good, and had an above-average breast size; that was enough to say that Jessica was a slut and Feministing was all about attracting readers with pictures of boobs.

The sort of bullshit analysis Althouse engages in to justify vicious attacks on people is a common tool for perpetuating authoritarian systems. Generally, the method is identical to how argumentation worked in the medieval era: you pick a position using your prejudice, and then find every supporting point, no matter how trivial or farfetched. Once Althouse decided Jessica was a slut, it didn’t matter that the pictures she based her decision on were inconspicious; every trivial little detail was proof that Jessica was a slut, and damn rationality.

Although in the last few months I’ve mostly associated this sort of bullshit analysis to radical feminists and ethnic nationalists, it’s in fact more characteristic of conservatives, especially racists and sexists. For every feminist who hates men, there must be twenty anti-feminists who hate women and are keen on interpreting everything as evidence that women are inferior and/or feminists are depraved. If a (female) feminist doesn’t look good, it’s evidence that she hates modern standards of beauty and hence men; if she does look good, it’s evidence she’s just a whore.

That’s not how you do it. First, there’s something very heinous about attacking individuals using any sort of analysis, especially when it comes to personal lives. That particular line of attack is inappropriate against anyone, up to and including Presidents; even less abusive attacks, which might be appropriate when made against politicians, are inappropriate against activists and writers.

And second, even if you do want to analyze something, there are ways to do that, which generally involve looking at evidence impartially, making falsifiable predictions, and laying off issues that are too inherently subjective to be analyzed.

6 Responses to Anti-feminists, on the other hand, are blatant

  1. I agree that this seems totally strange; I’ve looked at the photo in question, and it seems at least completely insignificant, and at most, if it should draw a snicker that Bill Clinton is standing in front of a young woman with breasts, being that he once had sex with a young woman with breasts, then at least make a good joke out of it. My favorite was:

    Q: What did Bill Clinton say when the Grand Jury asked him if he recognized Monica in a photo?
    A: “Yeah, I think I’ve come across her face a few times.”

    But good or bad, the jokes are, like, 8 years old already? If we’re going to beat a dead horse that was pantomime or Trojan to begin with, shouldn’t we be resurrecting that oh-so-plausible Vince Foster charge?

  2. Oh, oops–meant to add that although I agree it’s a bit ridiculous, I think it stems from good old- (and I mean OLD; will we still be bringing this up even after the next Democratic President?) fashioned Clinton hating, not so much women-hating.

  3. Kian says:

    i once had sex with a young women with breasts… no one snickers when im in pictures with them. (yes, i realize its not the same, blah blah blah – spare me.) in the case of jessica and ‘the pose’ i think it was a case of liberal/feminist hating.

  4. Alon Levy says:

    I don’t know what the whole episode stems for. I’m not really into arguing over who is more oppresed, or over which form of oppression/inequality/stupidity is applicable here.

    The reason I invoke anti-feminism is that the nature of the comments about Jessica’s pose was definitely a sexist stupidity. If I can hate Clinton without making sexist comments about women’s breasts, then so can Althouse’s commenters.

  5. Do you hate him, my friend? I disagreed with him over NAFTA, but I still love the guy in a lot of ways (again, no snickering please).

    Well as to what her _commenters_ said, yes, they responded to her Clinton-hating red herring by discussing mostly the herring. Their comments were definitely adolescent gawking and some feminist hating.

  6. Alon Levy says:

    Let’s see… he bombed Iraq for no good reason, bombed Serbia when a ground campaign was more appropriate, wavered on abortion (but to his credit appointed pro-choice justices), stepped up the War on Drugs, instituted welfare reform… he’s a moderate Republican.

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