Unintentional Sexist Irony of the Week

by Shaker Katherine

I appreciated very much the message from Joan Walsh's blog earlier this week. Ms. Walsh, Editor-in-Chief of Salon, wrote a post entitled "My last word (for now) on sexism." It began:
I never intended to spend so much time on this blog arguing that Hillary Clinton has faced sexism in her historic presidential run because it's so self-evident. It doesn't mean that without it, she'd be defeating Barack Obama; it doesn't mean she is without flaws; it doesn't mean Obama doesn't face racism; it doesn't mean she deserves to be either the Democratic nominee or the president. It just means sexism is one of the unfair disadvantages Clinton has had to deal with. It's just a fact.
The post just before also decried sexism in news coverage of Hillary Clinton's campaign, concluding:
If you disagree, and you'd like to argue on behalf of calling female politicians "fucking whores," please marshal your best arguments in my comments section. But also, if you feel that way, please feel free to stop reading Salon. I passionately want to grow our audience, and I'm proud to have tripled it in the three years I've been editor in chief. But truly, some readers we can live without. There must be someplace where people who want to call female leaders "fucking whores" will feel welcomed and at home, but this isn't it.
Nice. I appreciate it. As a woman, as a feminist, as a Salon reader, and as a human being, I appreciate a media executive willing to put principle over ratings, so to speak. I appreciated it so much that after I read the posts, I decided to spend a little more time on Salon's site, soaking in the principled journalism it produces.

Imagine my surprise when I clicked to Salon's home page to find a headline about Hillary Clinton's hiring of only "girly men." (Apologies for not saving the screenshot.) Seriously. Same day.

Ah, Camille Paglia. Pretending to legitimately answer letters from readers, but really just setting up vehicles for her favorite rants. The title of Camille's column? "Hillary's slick willies." Some highlights from the letter she answered (emphasis mine):
The men you always see under [Clinton] are to a person passive-aggressive, sadistic, mean, little, petty beta-male pieces of work who would not naturally succeed in a common male-type hierarchy. By that I mean an environment that values straightforward achievement rather than the darker political arts.

That statement is in no way meant to exclude women. In fact, I work with many women who succeed just as well in this environment. It is just a shorthand for an environment that values achievement and straight talk. Hillary's persona is simply not compatible with another strong will, male or female -- but definitely male, and that itself is a big red flag.
Ms. Paglia's answer just throws logs on the sexist fire:
I agree that the male staff who Hillary attracts are slick, geeky weasels or rancid, asexual cream puffs. (One of the latter, the insufferable Mark Penn, just got the heave-ho after he played Hillary for a patsy with the Colombian government.) If I were to hazard a guess, I'd say Hillary is reconstituting the toxic hierarchy of her childhood household, with her on top instead of her drill-sergeant father. All those seething beta males (as you so aptly describe them) are versions of her sad-sack brothers, who got the short end of the Rodham DNA stick.
Perhaps I should be thankful that Ms. Paglia deigns to acknowledge that Hillary Clinton's double X chromosomes aren't entirely worthless. But so much for getting principled journalism from Salon.com. Thanks for your leadership, Ms. Walsh. I won't be checking in again any time soon.

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