When I saw a picture of liberal bloggers who were invited by President Clinton for lunch, my only thought was that I wish he had invited a reasonable conservative like, for example, myself, since I am all in favor of a free lunch as long as it's not something the government hands out to poor people. But it turns out I was not looking at that picture closely enough. A couple of prominent female conservative bloggers began examining this photo with the obsessiveness of the bloggers who unmasked the Photoshopping of Reuters photos. Like scholars of Renaissance art they took out their rulers and compasses and examined angles of perspective to reveal hidden meanings in what appeared at first glance to be just a simple photo opportunity.
Leading the way was Ann Althouse, a blogger and law professor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, who often delightfully skewers her readers with a withering disdain that reminds me of The Paper Chase's Professor Kingsfield -- but with breasts. Professor Althouse posted the picture with a coy comment: "Let's just array these bloggers... randomly." I have to admit this comment went right over my head at first, but the word "randomly" seemed to have an effect on her commenters not unlike the phrase "Queen of Diamonds" had on Raymond Shaw in The Manchurian Candidate. In unison they all removed their protractors from their pocket protectors with their free hand and began immediately connecting the dots that ran on an invisible line between Clinton and the breasts of the woman standing in front of him. The very first commenter said what Professor Althouse didn't need to say: "Who is the Intern directly in front of him with the black hair?" Of course, we all know who "intern" refers to and once again well-thumbed copies of The Starr Report with the best parts flagged with Post-Its were flying off bookshelves in conservative households around America.
Conservatives were justifiably outraged when it was revealed that Clinton was only the second President in history known to have sex while in office (John Kennedy being the first) and that he got away with it. Everyone knows that our best Presidents have been those who successfully repress their sex drive into more constructive things like tax cuts and military action. The reason Clinton failed to exert enough effort to go after Osama Bin Laden is that all of his sexual energy was actually going into sex, which is why we can be grateful that we now have a President who apparently doesn't have any sex at all.
It turns out that President Clinton was not only responsible for 9/11, he single-handedly destroyed feminism. "I really don't know why people who care about feminism don't have any edge against Clinton for the harm he did to the cause of taking sexual harrassment seriously, and posing in front of him like that irks me, as a feminist," wrote Althouse. Althouse is angry that feminists don't believe Clinton's accusers and she is also angry that they do believe the accusers of the Duke lacrosse players. And she doesn't much care for feminists like Andrea Dworkin who are anti-sex and she's not all that happy with feminists who are pro-sex. Unfortunately, liberal feminists today seem to be partisan hypocrites who can't maintain a consistent position, unlike Professor Althouse who consistently opposes whatever position liberal feminists take.
At first Professor Althouse maintained her dignity as a respected member of academia by staying above the fray. But when Jessica Valenti of Feministing revealed herself as the blogger in question and accused Professor Althouse of judging her by her looks, Althouse just couldn't restrain herself any longer. Althouse politely countered by implying that she didn't even consider Jessica attractive enough to judge her by her looks by cuttingly remarking, "Don't flatter yourself." She wrote yet another post on the topic of this picture, provocatively titling it "Let's take a closer look at those breasts," which took Jessica to task for "posing" in a way that allegedly accentuated her breasts instead of slouching demurely like a good feminist would. She took her to task for even supping with Clinton. Then she attacked Jessica's blog, and in a shameless bid to immortalize herself in the Urban Dictionary, she coined a new word to describe it: "breastblog." To tell you the truth, I'm not exactly sure what a "breastblog" is supposed to mean, but if I understand the term correctly, I would have to say that I am probably more of a "thighblog" man myself. I am, however, certain that it's not a sexist term because Professor Althouse says she is a feminist so it must be okay. Also, I suppose, it's a term that could easily be applied to a male blogger, like, say Hugh Hewitt.
Soon Dr. Helen Smith, a forensic psychologist from Tennessee, piled on, bringing her expertise at analyzing evidence to this feminist crime scene. Dr. Smith is possibly the most brilliant blogger on the planet and I'm not just saying that because I hope her husband, Glenn Reynolds, will link to me someday. She congratulated Professor Althouse for "dressing down" Jessica for "posing in a rather provocative stance" in front of President Clinton, whom she called "one of the biggest gropers and sexual harrassers around," a claim that is no doubt based on extensive analysis of the forensic evidence. After she accused Jessica of not properly de-accentuating her breasts according to strict feminist guidelines, the nasty boys at Sadly, No posted a picture of her in a rather provocative pose herself. But, she explained, "I do not give a damn if women want to put their breasts all over the internet--unless they have a political agenda that is hypocritical." In other words, it's not that she is against provocative poses per se, only provocative poses by liberals because they are supposed to be against provocative poses. It's not the posing, it's the hypocrisy. Duh! It's a little like when Christians complain that liberals are intolerant of Christians, we are not saying the intolerance itself is bad--intolerance against, say, gays and Muslims, can be a good thing--only that it is hypocritical for liberals to be intolerant of our intolerance when they claim intolerance is a bad thing. We welcome intolerance against Christians from people who don't have a problem with intolerance.
I must say, however, after several days of reading Professor Althouse's and Dr. Smith's attacks on Jessica, who admittedly asked for it by dressing and posing provocatively, I began to feel a little sorry for her. I recently saw a report on ABC's Prime Time about something they called "Mean Girl Syndrome." Apparently, teenage girls are using the Internet to transform themselves into cyberbullies. Though they occasionally pick on boys, sometimes with tragic results, they seem more often to aim their poison PDAs against other girls, making fun of their rivals' bodies and spreading vicious rumors about them. The ABC report quoted Madeleine Albright, who said, "I'm not a person who thinks the world would be entirely different if it were run by women. If you think that, you've forgotten what high school was like."
I began to wonder if Professor Althouse and Dr. Smith weren't engaging in a little cyberbullying themselves. All the while professing to be bored to tears with the whole topic, Professor Althouse spent the weekend writing post after post and leaving comment after comment on her blog, and even making a podcast on the subject. I wondered if it might not be more constructive if she spent that time preparing lesson plans or reading the latest law review articles to hone her fine legal mind. I imagined her sitting in her office drawing beards and mustaches on pictures of Jessica and thought balloons with crude comments coming out of her head like some of the girls in the ABC report.
So I hope Professor Althouse will soon get back to attacking female judges for being "barely literate" and Dr. Smith will resume her campaign to protect drunk men who fondle women in bars from being violently attacked by their irate victims. Someday, a new generation of empowered women will be defacing pictures of fellow world leaders and gossiping behind their backs and they will need good female role models like Professor Althouse and Dr. Smith to emulate.
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Jon Swift, Internet, Weblogs, Ann Althouse, Dr. Helen Smith, Jessica Valenti, Clinton, Bush, Feminism, Liberal, Conservative, Duke Lacrosse, Politics, Jessica Valenti Breast Controversy