28-year-old congressional candidate won’t let slut shaming make her quit

description hereVirginia congressional candidate Krystal Ball, 28, was shamed by pundits and opponents when “racy” photos of she and her husband at a Christmas party were mysteriously released. Well, this week she is speaking out:

My biggest support during this whole sad episode of my life has come from supporters of Hillary Clinton. In effect, they have been telling me that what happened to me could have happened to one of their daughters. They will not see their daughters called whores when they run for office just because of some college or post-college party. They will not watch the tide of everything they fought for washed away by the public exposure of female sexuality. Once again, like the heroes that they were a generation ago when they made their careers, they are stepping up to protect young women like me and to support us and to help us to grow up. We are young women. And we are dedicated to serving this country. And we will run for office. And we will win.

There is so much here, of course. For starters, Ball’s experience is representative of a new normal among a generation who has come of age on Facebook (from which the damning photos were unearthed). Our lives–including the less sober, salacious parts of them–simply aren’t as forgettable in a day-and-age when social networking sites help memorialize everything (untagging can only get you so far).

In some ways, this sucks. Do we all have to assume that we just might want to run for office someday, policing our profiles like miniature Tracy Flicks? Sure some good old common sense is important, even online, but how can anyone be expected to anticipate what will be appropriate in some hypothetical political future?

Rather, a situation like this makes it even more clear that the continued double standard regarding sexuality (see Joan Walsh on Scott Brown) is one of the least changed social forces in this country. For all the ground that feminism has covered, all the legislation introduced and social norms stretched, we have made depressingly little progress when it comes to the stud/slut dichotomy. I don’t know about Ball’s qualifications to be in political office, but I sure as hell admire her for putting herself on the line and speaking out about some of the forces keeping women, especially young women, from running for office.

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  • http://cabaretic.blogspot.com nazza

    Unfortunately, part of this is because she is physically attractive. If she were not, this would not be an issue. Or, if she were ugly, she’d be treated like Justice Kagan.

  • http://feministing.com/members/kleenexmcadams/ Jennie

    Not that it matters either way, but she’s not allowed to do racy things with her husband?? I thought that was the only time those people approve of that sort of thing.

  • http://feministing.com/members/kaelin/ Matt

    I don’t really know anything about this campaign, but “racy photos” are pretty banal. Media is too obsessed about other people’s appearances, because that sort of thing is quite irrelevant compared to one’s character and actions (life is hard as it is — why obsess over the things that don’t matter?)

  • http://feministing.com/members/tstamp/ Joy Brondite

    “For all the ground that feminism has covered, all the legislation introduced and social norms stretched, we have made depressingly little progress when it comes to the stud/slut dichotomy. I don’t know about Ball’s qualifications to be in political office, but I sure as hell admire her for putting herself on the line and speaking out about some of the forces keeping women, especially young women, from running for office.”

    Sadly, that dichotomy is a force that also negatively impacts women who choose to enter into a long term relationship with a man. Many men, even those with a highly promiscuous past, are “ok” with a sexually experienced women but not so much when considering marriage. This is so unfair. It is rejection for no good reason and yet this phenomenon is pervasive. How do we change how men feel about this?

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