Favreau has reportedly attempted to apologize to Clinton. While she has not publicly responded, a spokesperson dismissed the picture saying: "Senator Clinton is pleased to learn of Jon's obvious interest in the State Department, and is currently reviewing his application." This response sent CNN's Campbell Brown into orbit. On a weekly show that she anchors, Brown scolded Clinton for not taking "sexism" as seriously as she did during her campaign:
I'm sorry, but this is the same woman who, during the campaign, pointed to example after example of sexism directed at her saying that, quote, "It's been deeply offensive to millions of women"? Is this the same woman who pointed outHold on a second Brown. First, Clinton did not spend her campaign pointing to example after example of sexism. In fact, she attempted to downplay gender discrimination during most of her campaign; I always wished she had spoken out on the subject earlier. We heard far more about Obama's race and racism than we did about sexism towards Senator Clinton. When Clinton finally became more vocal about sexism towards the end of her campaign, commentators bickered and groaned that she was simply exploiting sexism to win sympathy. Brown's argument similarly tries to suggest that Clinton was simply manipulating sexism for political gain.
the references to her cleavage or her cackle, the comments by certain pundits and the media? The same woman who concluded, quote, "the remnants of sexism are alive and well" after someone at a rally shouted out "iron my shirt"? She made a point of calling people out during the campaign, and for that, she became a hero to millions of women. But now, the campaign is over. She is joining Team Obama, and, apparently, this photo of her likeness being groped by another key member of Obama's team doesn't bother her a bit. Just good-natured fun, or so her spokesman says. Really, Sen. Clinton? Boy, have you changed your tune. You really think this photo is OK? Put another woman in that photo, just an average woman who supported you during the campaign. Have it be her image being degraded by a colleague of hers. Would you be OK with that? You drove an important conversation about issues just like this during the campaign.
The media also whined endlessly about her supposed effort to exploit an under-developed tear in New Hampshire in order to save her campaign. Given the immaturity and nastiness of the news media, I am not surprised that she did not raise the issue of sexism as much as she could have.
Second, I believe feminists can have an interesting conversation about whether a young man placing his hand over a cardboard breast is inherently sexist (in addition to being desperate and stupid). Brown simply states the picture is sexist as if all must agree. Personally, the picture made me uncomfortable, and the word sexism came to mind immediately after I saw it. But thinking that the picture might constitute sexism and calling Clinton a hypocrite for not protesting it are two different things. Before accusing her of downplaying sexism, I would rather spend a little more time considering how women feel about the issue. Although Brown is a woman, she can hardly speak on behalf of all women in saying the picture is undeniably sexist.
Finally, even if the picture is sexist, this does not mean that Clinton (or other women) have to respond to it the same way they would respond to other acts of sexism. People who face discrimination often develop a set of "coping skills" to deal with the situation without always mounting an explicit protest. Typically, when people encounter discrimination, they want to diffuse the situation and move on from the moment. During the primaries, for example, Clinton often ignored sexism and just kept campaigning.
Victims of discrimination learn to prioritize the battles they fight. It was very important for Clinton to challenge men in the media and Democratic Party leadership who failed to appreciate the significance of a potential woman president and who acted with blatant sexism in their treatment of her. Their power and influence potentially inflicted harm upon all women and was offensive to all persons who want a society that takes women politicians seriously. Although the "iron our shirts" neanderthals probably lacked power relative to Clinton, they shouted at her during a critical town-hall meeting. Her witty response was tailored to the situation.
This picture, by contrast, essentially involves a kid, far junior to her in the administration, behaving inappropriately. Given Favreau's relative lack of power over Clinton, he is probably crawling to her in order to apologize. They can simply deal with this matter on a personal level without heightening the situation through public verbal exchanges which the media would spin into an unseemly circus.
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