Twitter Responds to #GawkerFAIL on Christine O’Donnell

If you were within a stone’s throw of the interwebs yesterday, odds are you read the piece Gawker ran by anonymous dude (of course, it looks like the race to uncover his identity has already been won) about his (almost) hook-up with Delaware Republican Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell.

It was a piece so grossly sexist and sexlessly gross, it forced many feminists, who hate every last thing about O’Donnell’s politics, to not only condemn the article and the decision to run it but also note that it made O’ Donnell seem like a rather sympathetic, relatable figure. Yes, that’s how much this piece backfired.

Twitter also had lots to say about this #gawkerfail. So if you somehow missed the drama yesterday, here’s a little roundup of Twitter reactions that should get you up to speed.

First of all, did someone say “link bait”?

@agolis: The secret reason Gawker thought the world would be better if it published its Christine O’Donnell scoop: http://bit.ly/aRlXr0

So what else is new?

@amaditalks: Oh, Gawker posted some bullshit? It’s a day of the week ending in Y, right? (Why are people surprised?)

My god, this guy is a douche.

@amandahess: worst guy ever, thurs. oct. 28 edition http://gaw.kr/bxxKnY

Oh, hell no, he’s talking about her unshaven…

@studentactivism: On the O’Donnell story: If pubic hair on a woman you’re fooling around with freaks you out, the sexually sheltered one in the bed ain’t her.

Double standards much?

@annfriedman: “When his underwear came off, I immediately noticed that the waxing trend had completely passed him by.” #pullquotesyoullneversee

Further proof that, just like love, slut-shaming is blind.

@jaclynf: #GawkerFAIL gross hit-piece on O’Donnell is proof that slut-shaming doesn’t protect you from being slut-shamed. We’re all in it together.

In the end, O’Donnell was right: she is us!

@elliottjustin: Today, we are all Christine O’Donnell

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17 Comments

  1. Posted October 29, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    I disagree with the idea that this was sexist. It was vulgar, tabloidy and wrong, but not sexist. The piece below is what I wrote about this. To sum up, if this is sexist, then so were the attacks on Bill Clinton, Mark Sanford, John Ensign, Larry Craig and Mark Foley. It does not work that what O’Donnell did was alright while what these men did was wrong.

    Should Gawker have run that article- no, but I do not think it is sexist and I think it is time that we stopped running around claiming that any and all attack on a woman is sexist or misogynist. This article was beyond the pale, but not for the reasons that you are stating.

    http://lezgetreal.com/2010/10/gawker-story-was-not-sexist-but-it-was-vulgar-and-tabloidy/

    • Posted October 29, 2010 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

      In response to your article:

      I think you’re looking for sexism in the wrong places. Sexism goes beyond telling women they’re not as good as men; this article contains several examples of grossly sexist attitudes about women’s sexuality and appearance.

      Also, re:

      No. Calling out sexism does not hurt other women, but telling women to stop “pulling the sexism card” can; there’s a long, ugly history of silencing women by dismissing their opinions as hysteria or whining.

    • Posted October 30, 2010 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      In your article, you write:
      Just because Ms O’Donnell is a woman does not make what is said or done to attack her sexist…In order to be a sexist attack, it has to call into question whether or not O’Donnell is fit to serve as a Senator because she is a woman, not because she is a hypocrite.
      Sexism goes beyond telling women they’re not as good as men; this article contains several examples of grossly sexist attitudes about women’s value, sexuality, and appearance.

      Also, re:
      Pulling the sexism card when what you want to do is force women back into the days where we were not allowed to vote, control our own bodies, or serve in public office is rather ridiculous. It also serves to degrade and destroy the sexism allegations in the same way that pulling racism or homophobia at the drop of a hat does.
      No. Calling out sexism does not hurt other women, but telling women to stop “pulling the sexism card” can; there’s a long, ugly history of silencing women by dismissing their opinions as hysteria or whining.

      • Posted November 1, 2010 at 10:30 am | Permalink

        First of all, I accidentally hit the report button, that was not my intent.

        MKE,

        I think you missed some of my point. I am not telling Ms O’Donnell to shut up. I am just doubting that this is a sexist piece. Ms O’Donnell has been crying that attacks against her are sexist- and it does not matter if it her statements about mice with fully functioning human brains or this Gawker piece.

        This piece was vile and vulgar, but I do not see it as being sexist. When Carl Paladino went after Kirsten Gillibrand using very sexist language, she did not respond by claiming sexism. She just countered. There comes a point where what has been done to the term sexism is to turn it into a catch all for any attack against a woman whether or not the attack is legitimate. It weakens the arguments and destroys the power of what sexism stands for.

        I have had a lot of sexist attacks leveled at me, and I always try to respond by countering on points not rhetoric.

        Ms O’Donnell has every right to go after this Gawker piece- and she should. It is a vile piece of character assassination. It just is not sexist. I am not dismissing her right or even need to go after this piece, but I am questioning the way in which she is attacking it. There is a difference, and I know that it is hard to see in this day and age when the attack on someone’s statements are an attack on them.

  2. Posted October 29, 2010 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    As much as I loathe O’Donnell, I kind of called shenanigans on this story when I first heard about it. So he got a bunch of pictures of her in a Halloween costume, that doesn’t prove anything. I’ve seen enough instances of people of both genders who claim to have had a sexual encounter with someone that never actually happened, to make me question how much of this story actually took place. It seems like he met her once and now that she’s in the public eye he wants to catch a little reflected glory for himself. The way the guy went out of his way to let us all know how heavily SHE came on to HIM—a sure sign of someone concocting something to puff themselves up.

    I don’t believe she’s a witch and I don’t believe she’s good for this country, and sorry, I don’t believe this guy’s story either.

  3. Posted October 29, 2010 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    It is so hard when idiots like Gawker have to make you come to the defense of your enemies. Christine O’Donnell represents everything I am opposed to and I get a deep feeling of joy in my soul when she herself or others reveal her unbelievably ignorant and often childish belief systems.

    But this is not enough is it, Gawker? You needed to tell us what O’Donnell offense really tops the pie. And what is it?:

    She has pubic hair. She has a full bush. And as we all know a woman with pubic hair is an inherently disgusting creature.

    It is just so tiresome to be constantly assaulted with this idea. We have trained a generation to think that it is an unnatural abomination for a female to grow hair on her mons veneris, that it should be perennially prepubescent and should have nothing on it but perhaps a lovely arrangement of Vajazzle crystals.

    There are young men out there today, I am certain,who, being fed on a generic diet of modern porn become mystified and horrified to find that women have hair growing between their legs. Certainly one of them was the jerk who sold Gawker his story. Well guess what?; it grows on my pussy, around my anus, under my arms, etc…and it does so because I am a mammalian organism and not some sort of plastic sex doll idealized for your infantile fantasies.

    About a year back, my daughter was made fun of at high school in the gym showers by a group of girls because she didn’t shave or wax her pubic hair. I had always bolstered her to be secure with her body and not to just mindlessly give in to self-esteem undermining beauty standards. But in this case, it did not work. The misogyny had worked it’s way deep into the girls themselves (as it always does) and they were policing their own. My daughter succumbed, but it wasn’t for long. She was able to climb out of it and find what she wanted for herself and that a full bush wasn’t a thing to feel ashamed about, but a badge of womanly pride.

    And that is why this Gawker piece angers me so. It may simply be a hit piece on O’Donnell, but it squarely takes aim at a beautifully natural symbol of womanhood and reinforces the cultural idea that it should be regarded with derision, humiliation and horror.

    • Posted October 30, 2010 at 12:57 am | Permalink

      I think it’s important to note, for one, that the Gawker piece is not (at least, presuming that at least from Gawker’s side, it’s not fabricated internally and that someone actually did submit it to them in full) even written by their staff. So therefore, whatever misogynist and offensive comments that are contained IN it, are technically the work of the jerk that submitted the account, not Gawker. The fact that some douche was offended by pubic hair, is really his own fucking problem. It makes him a douche; it doesn’t make airing the dirty laundry of a would-be polititian any more inherently sexist than any other airing of political dirty laundry. (Hey, Eliot Spitzer anyone?)

      I also hartily agree with the poster above that suggests the whole story is bull-crap anyway. It savors way, way too much of the type of rejection-laden anger of a young adult man who wants to tear down the object of his affections with the best insult he can muster: that she’s unattractive and easy, and he would never have wanted her anyway. So in that sense, yes it’s ridiculous. But neither the purpose, nor the impression, that the article leaves is really centered on “omg Christine O’Donnell DOESN’T SHAVE! How gross can you get?!”

      Although in general, I find the trumpetting of other people’s sex lives out in the open (hello, the Clintons) shameful regardless of whether I agree with their politics or not, simply because I think that using a person’s sexuality as a weapon against them is inherently morally reprehensible… I kind of agree with Gawker’s stance found here, that O’Donnell herself has been trying to make people’s private bedroom lives into a public political issue (as does technically every politician that makes an issue of homosexuality, deviancy, fetal personhood, anti-sex, contraceptives, premarital sex, sexual purity, etc.), and it’s no less relevant than finding that a judge ruling against strip clubs secretly has a habit of frequenting them.

    • Posted October 30, 2010 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      “And as we all know a woman with pubic hair is an inherently disgusting creature.”

      It is worth noting that these are your words, not the Gawker dude’s. His words on O’Donnell’s pubic hair are as follows,

      “When her underwear came off, I immediately noticed that the waxing trend had completely passed her by. Obviously, that was a big turnoff, and I quickly lost interest.”

      You claim that this article, “squarely takes aim at a beautifully natural symbol of womanhood and reinforces the cultural idea that it should be regarded with derision, humiliation and horror.”

      I have a different interpretation that goes something like this: “a man decided that he did not want to continue a sexual encounter, despite the apparent wishes of his female partner. The man chose to end the sexual encounter.”

      Now, part of me does not want to defend the Gawker guy, given what he has written and how it has been received. However, I also feel like you are setting up a massive double standard for men, here.

      Imagine for a second that the roles are reversed, and we were talking about a woman having a sexual encounter with a man. Now, the woman has the right to end the encounter at any point, for any reason, that she does not want to continue. Any other perspective here, including identifying some reasons for ending an encounter as appropriate and others not, would be a strong endorsement of rape culture. Any other perspective, frankly, is ludicrous.

      One such reason that any woman ought to be able to end a sexual encounter is that some aspect of a man’s personal grooming turns her off. For example, if a man has a hairy back, or hairy genitals, whatever. If that were the case it is perfectly OK, and not particularly sexist, for her to say, “Obviously, that was a big turnoff” and end the encounter. I also don’t think anyone would argue that back hair is a pretty normative turnoff for heterosexual women (some may like it, but as a man with a hairy back, and hairy most other places, I can tell you that many women don’t!).

      You have set a very different standard for men, however. For a man to consider hair a turnoff means that he is not only sexist, but a pedophile. He likes women who are”perennially prepubescent,” after having been “fed on a generic diet of modern porn” leading to “infantile fantasies.” Would you say that all these things are true of women who don’t like back hair?

      Lastly, you state that, “Well guess what?; it grows on my pussy, around my anus, under my arms, etc…and it does so because I am a mammalian organism.”

      That’s fair enough. If you are proud to rock the natural look, more power to you. However, please don’t mandate that I have to find your hair attractive, and definitely don’t call me a sexist pedophile for it. I don’t call my girlfriend a pedophile when she asks me to do something about my back hair (and prepubescent boys sure don’t have back hair).

      • Posted November 1, 2010 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

        That’s fair enough. If you are proud to rock the natural look, more power to you. However, please don’t mandate that I have to find your hair attractive, and definitely don’t call me a sexist pedophile for it.

        The problem with your point of view is that you’re acting as if your choices were entirely your own and not influenced by the culture you have spent your whole life breathing in. And as if your choice had no wider consequences than which woman you have sex with.

        If, as I would guess, you are under 30 or so and live in the USA, you’ve lived all your life in a world in which body hair on women has always been presented as unusual and disgusting. If you refuse to examine how your preference for no body hair has been shaped by the beauty standards that you’ve grown up with, and how this idea of what is and is not acceptable on a woman’s body hurts women, or if, after having it pointed out to you, you continue on with business as usual, then you are perpetuating sexism. The fact that you don’t realize what you are doing, or rather, choose not to realize it, doesn’t make it any less sexist.

        • Posted November 1, 2010 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

          Am I really acting as though my point of view is of my own free will? That’s odd to me, because I really don’t believe that. Also, I’m curious if you actually found anything in my above statements to indicate a lack of reflection on this preference, since I said nothing about the origins of my own preferences. Are you maybe assuming that based on some other features?

          I actually take it as a pretty central assumption that experiences guide preferences like that (the notion that there is some either evolutionary mechanism behind a preference for body hair seem dubious, at best, and the idea that it’s some sort of latent pedophilia seems ludicrous). Actually, as someone with a background in behavioral psychology, I ALWAYS think about the origins of my current behavior in terms past experience, and this is one that is pretty clearly shaped by culture. Your assumption is incorrect.

          I’m not sure I understand the point of your second paragraph. You seem to be suggesting that if one is to “continue on with business as usual,” after examining privileged, that is somehow sexist and hurtful to women. That, once again, sounds like you attempting to police male preferences. Is it possible for a man to have a preference that is shaped by cultural factors -as all preferences are- without that preference hurting women? Again, I fail to see how that is any different from the hypothetical woman who doesn’t like my back hair. Suppose she examines her preference, understands that it is culturally shaped, but still doesn’t like sleeping with hairy-backed men (“goes on with business as usual . . .”). Is that hurting men? Is it sexist? I would say it’s narrowing her pool of sexual partners, just like my preference narrows my pool of sexual partners, but not much more than that. Since I don’t think I’m God’s gift to women -what with my hairy back and all- it’s really no great loss!

          Am I wrong here? If you can point to specific ways that women are hurt by any one man preferring hair or no hair, or how that is different from a woman having a similar -and similarly culturally-mediated- preference for back hair, no back hair, I’m all ears. However, because your final paragraph is diffuse and vague, I’m not really sure what you mean.

        • Posted November 1, 2010 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

          This is true of LITERALLY EVERY BEAUTY STANDARD, both for men and for women.

          The idea of acceptable beauty will always be somewhat exclusionary. However, the harm only occurs if we vary our public treatment of those considered “beautiful” compared to those outside of that category. Our private preferences, conversely, affect the way we pursue our own desires.

          It’s unfortunate that we’re influenced by social norms, but we are, and we can only go so far in order to limit the effects of those norms on our subconscious desires.

          Personal sexual desires that do not involve unethical conduct ought not be subject to policing, and that includes bodily preferences. I may reflect on why I prefer certain things, and this reflection may in fact alter my behavior, but it may just give increased understanding without altering my core desires. That means accepting that some things tend to run deep.

          It’s not any woman’s job to shave any of her hair to please me, just as it’s not my job to shave my face to attract women. I do it, though, to better achieve my goals, because living in a society with a variety of tastes means making compromises.

          • Posted November 4, 2010 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

            [Quotes slightly reordered from original]

            Again, I fail to see how that is any different from the hypothetical woman who doesnt like my back hair.

            The difference is that you don’t have the majority of women (and men), plus the full power of the media (and your mother), lining up to tell you that there’s something wrong with you if you don’t shave your back hair. And “no back hair” isn’t just one small piece of a society-wide expectation that you will spend an hour or more per day modifying your appearance in order to be acceptable in polite company.

            You seem to be suggesting that if one is to continue on with business as usual, after examining privileged, that is somehow sexist and hurtful to women.

            Give the man a cigar! That’s exactly what I mean.

            In my youth, the phrase was, “if you’re not a part of the solution, you’re a part of the problem.”

            That, once again, sounds like you [are] attempting to police male preferences.

            You just jumped the shark.

            Whenever someone says “you’re policing X”, it really means “I don’t want anyone to challenge me on X.”

            BTW, the right not to have your choices, preferences, opinions, etc., questioned is almost the essence of Privilege.

  4. Posted October 30, 2010 at 12:59 am | Permalink

    I’m sorry, but I cannot defend this woman. I take Dan Savage’s stance on the issue:

    “[...] when a candidate’s entire political “career” prior to winning her party’s nomination consisted of railing against pre-marital sex, slamming queers on behalf of the rightwinghaters at Concerned Women of America, pushing abstinence, and condemning masturbation, then the candidate’s sexual conduct is 100% relevant and open to scrutiny, vagina or no vagina, penetration or no penetration. There are, no doubt, female candidates out there who whose sex lives have been discussed, speculated about, and exposed unfairly. Christine O’Donnell isn’t one of ‘em.”

    Agree one hundred percent. If your entire career is based on slut shaming and dictating people’s sexual mores, then you are not allowed privacy when your obvious hypocrisy is exposed. This isn’t about pubes, or drinking, or whatever. This is all about hypocrisy.

    • Posted October 31, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

      Amanda Hess had an interesting take over at TBD on the question of hypocrisy in all of this. She argues that the Gawker piece doesn’t succeed in exposing any hypocrisy because “a story that says, “Christine O’Donnell thinks sex is bad. Guess what: It is!” basically just “reaffirms the sexual values of the religious right.”

      • Posted October 31, 2010 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

        But the values that Christine O’Donnell espouses aren’t exclusively limited to PIV sex. It’s hard to imagine that she’s somehow in favor of “hook-up culture” given her track record and statements. However, this article (if true) exposes her as having gone out on Halloween and gotten drunk, seeking a Halloween hook-up, albeit a limited one.

        Christine O’Donnell brought this type of scrutiny on herself by judging the sex lives of others. One doesn’t get to do that and then expect privacy in regard to one’s own hypocritical antics.

        Her behavior stands in contrast to her political positions. That’s newsworthy.

        Could it have been presented in a better, less sexist, less sensationalistic way? Absolutely.

        However, Christine O’Donnell builds her campaign on sexism and sensationalism. I have no sympathy for her when those same awful tactics end up biting her back.

        I’m sorry, but this is a political candidate who still has an on the record position that masturbation is morally wrong. She doesn’t get to go out an party like this on Halloween without it being newsworthy.

  5. Posted November 1, 2010 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    I did not read the Gawker article, and don’t plan to. Just reading the name “Gawker” didn’t inspire me with confidence that there would be anything there worth reading, or that truth or accuracy would play any role in what they print/post, and this blog post hasn’t changed my mind. If anything, I now know more than I wanted to about Gawker and about the “story.”

    My reactions, based entirely on this blog post:

    1. I’m inclined to doubt the story. It might be true, but it’s too much like the sort of thing a guy would make up, and I can’t even seriously entertain the idea that a site with a name like “Gawker” is going to fact-check anything.

    2. I don’t know if I’d call it sexist; from what I read here, the sexism would have to come from the assumption that someone having casual sex is worse if that someone is female. Would, say, an anonymous woman telling how she almost had casual sex with Sen. Charles Schumer, complete with graphic descriptions of his endowments (or lack thereof) be less offensive?

    3. On the other hand, I don’t agree that Ms. O’Donnell “deserves” this kind of treatment, and it’s not because I don’t think her politics are loathesome. Nobody deserves that kind of treatment, and I don’t want to live in the kind of world where it’s considered a reasonable response to much of anything. What she deserves is to get soundly trounced in tomorrow’s elections. And if the voters in Delaware don’t do that, then Delaware has a bigger problem than one scummy politician — it also has a state-full of scummy voters.

    • Posted November 1, 2010 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

      For what it’s worth, I have read the article and your three bullet points describe my reactions, to a T, so I wouldn’t bother!

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