Your thoughts, dear readers?


This is a photograph of Barack Obama’s 27-year old chief speechwriter Jon Favreau mock-groping the breast of a Hillary Clinton cardboard cutout, while another “Obama Staff” member mock-nuzzles its ear.  It’s been a hot topic on some feminist political blogs this weekend–see for example the threads at Corrente, Shakesville, and now Talk Left.  (The original source of the story appears to be this posting at the Washington Post blog “44.”Susie at Suburban Guerrilla offers some interesting thoughts on the context of this behavior–she says that it’s testosterone and alcohol that fuel most local, state, and national political campaigns, and so she is unsurprised to see Favreau & company behaving like this.  

Most commenters on the aforementioned blogs see this photograph as confirmation of a disturbing misogynist frat party culture they see in the culture at large and saw in the Obama campaign all along, built around male privilege and the objectification and subordination of women.  Some commenters agree that the photograph (and behavior it documents) is objectionable, but hey, it would be ridiculous to trash a young man’s career for a foolish prank.  (File this one under “social networking sites can be professional suicide,” all you twentysomethings!)

What do you think?

UPDATE, 12/7/08, 3:30 P.M. MST:  This squib at CNN (posted yesterday) suggests that the photo was on Favreau’s Facebook account, because after using the passive voice to say that the photo “appeared on Facebook Friday,” it then states that “the picture was reportedly up for a scant two hours or so before Favreau removed it, along with every other picture of himself beyond his profile photo.”  So if he removed it, presumably he was the person who posted it, unless there are other people he has permitted to post things to his account.  This article also says that the photo was taken “at a recent party,” which is rather odd.  Did they think that they were campaigning to defeat Hillary Clinton in the general election?  She campaigned her heart out for Obama, so that level of hostility and need to express sexual dominance strikes me as extremely strange.  Does anyone else think that this guy should keep his job now?

85 thoughts on “Your thoughts, dear readers?

  1. Chris–do you really think a public boob grab can possibly be a consensual sex act?


    Please explain to me how being groped in public would be pleasurable or a mark of respect towards a woman.


  2. @Chris — How about if Favreau had mock punched the cardboard in the face, does that make it clearer? An action towards an effigy (in this case cardboard cutout) is seen as one which you would like to be able to do to the real person, and have the real person not put up any resistance. This can include hanging in effigy, burning in effigy, and groping in effigy. Speculating on the possibility of this being mock consensual goes against thousands of years of effigy abuse.

    For it to be considered mock consensual, there had to be a premise on Favreau and the other man’s part that such an advance would be welcomed reciprocated. I have no doubt that neither one would consider such actions to Clinton in person, therefore there is no way that they could have thought she would appreciate such contact, THEREFORE it was not “consensual”. And I’m kinda creeped out to even have to make that argument.


  3. Historiann,

    You were too quick to concede the grammar point to Joey Null. Click on the link HE PROVIDED and check out the section on stative passives.


  4. Historiann – I’m not arguing that it was at all respectful, but that’s a different issue than consent. And I’m not arguing that it was definitely mock consensual, just that it seems like a big leap to assume that it absolutely was not. However now I understand that you had imagined the fantasy act taking place in the same public setting as the mock act. That seems reasonable, but not the way I had imagined it. (I actually do think that touching a breast in public could possibly be consensual, but I’ll stipulate that a public setting makes the non-consent assumption much more likely to be correct.) Again, I completely agree that it was outrageously disrespectful and should have consequences. But I’m still not comfortable assuming that these guys were acting out a sexual assault.

    Erica – So sorry you are “creeped out” by the discussion. Please don’t let my response coerce you into further unpleasant participation. A punch in the face would indeed be clearer as to the question of consent. Surely you aren’t equating physical violence with sexual contact. I’ve never received a punched-in-the-face type of reaction from a woman whose breast I just touched. “Action… which you would like to be able to do to the real person, and have the real person not put up any resistance.” Seems to me that consent is one scenario that fits this description, though I admittedly have no knowledge of the history of effigy abuse. I think it’s entirely possible that in that 27 year old male mind, Hillary would love to have a secret tryst with a young, liberal, hotshot speechwriter. Maybe for pleasure, maybe for revenge on Bill. Who knows? I don’t. And I don’t think you do either.

    Disrespectful, aggressive, dominant? Yes. Assault? Maybe, maybe not.


  5. I think I see where you’re going, Chris. It seems that the difference between your perspective and Erica’s and mine is that she and I can’t help but think about this action in terms of a real woman’s body, whereas you’re seeing as an action done to a photograph. And I’m certainly not arguing that assaulting a cardboard cutout is equivalent to the assault of a real woman’s body. This goes back to the issue of context discussed in this thread yesterday. We live in a real world where there are many more women’s bodies assaulted and manhandled than cardboard cutouts.

    To me, and I think to many other commenters here, Favreau’s action speaks to a sense of entitlement and sexual aggression. In no way would that action be read or interpreted by a woman as a sign of attraction or respect.


  6. Chris, speculating on whether Senator Clinton might want to have a fling with a speechwriter is simply disrespectful. It’s a level of creepy that Favreau didn’t even reach — he apologized to Clinton, he didn’t say he believed she would appreciate such an homage and then offer a more personal approach in future.

    For this to be viewed as mock consensual, there are pretty big questions which have to be asked. Did Favreau have a sexual understanding with Clinton at the time the photo was taken? How about beer-bottle-guy? If so, were all parties also fine with sexual contact being photographed and publicized? If you base “mock consensual” on “in that 27 year old male mind, Hillary would love to have a secret tryst with a young, liberal, hotshot speechwriter” — that’s only in his mind, and Favreau’s thoughts alone are not enough to make things consensual.

    Without a pre-existing relationship (or understanding that a relationship is starting, whatever), a man fondling a woman constitutes assault. I’m assuming that since you’ve never gotten punched in the face after touching a breast, you’ve always been touching breasts with permission. However, if you touch breasts without asking permission, it’s unreasonable to be surprised when you get smacked. (The last few sentences sound a little snarky and antagonistic, which isn’t how they’re intended; I’m just trying to point out how boundaries and permission generally work. Not hoping you get punched or anything :) )


  7. “To me, and I think to many other commenters here, Favreau’s action speaks to a sense of entitlement and sexual aggression. In no way would that action be read or interpreted by a woman as a sign of attraction or respect.”
    Exactly, Historiann.
    Chris, your argument seems to be:
    These two men could be acting out a fantasy in which they and Hilary Clinton are making out, and one of them’s groping her chest while the other licks her ear and holds her head as he pours beer in her mouth.
    Do you seriously think that’s more likely than, they’re degrading her by sexually assaulting her effigy? Really? And even if that is the case – is that better? If they had bought a Sarah Palin blow-up doll and imagined it was consensual, is it any less creepy than if they pretended to sexually assault it? Because that’s the parallel I’m drawing here – a sexualized Palin effigy, a sexualized Clinton effigy, and too many people say “It’s just a joke!”


  8. The ACTION of Favreau in the picture clearly says to me, as you have noted Historiann, “THIS is what women are for”. But I have a small bone to pick. I do take it as personal to Clinton – THIS is what women are for, not being President of the USA. And THAT matters to all women.

    It may be that final issue that aggravates me past the point of how I would feel if this had been a cutout of anyone else. Whether it was consciously in Favreau’s head or not, the picture says, if you want to step out of your “place” women, you can expect this kind of treatment, because this is what we REALLY think about you. We will beat you (as in the Primary) and we will ave no respect for you before, during or after your run for office. So give it up.

    Amazing conversation. Thanks Historiann.


  9. Historiann – Fair enough. I don’t completely agree, but I understand your position better. Thanks for addressing the issue and clearing up my confusion.

    Erica – I think you’ve misunderstood what I meant by “mock consensual”, so we’ve probably been talking past each other. My original confusion was regarding why people seemed to assume that the act Favreau was *simulating* was an act of sexual assault. He simulated touching a breast, and I thought, “Why are we assuming that he imagines he’s assaulting her? Couldn’t he be imagining touching her in a consensual way?” We don’t need to discuss that question further, but I want to be clear on my original meaning. I’m not saying that Favreau had or thought he had Clinton’s consent. I just meant that the act being simulated, touching a breast, can be consensual or not and we don’t know what was in his mind.

    As far as my speculation, I’m not sure how it’s disrespectful, but I was only disagreeing with your speculation that “there is no way that they could have thought she would appreciate such contact”. But given the confusion over terms, I may have misinterpreted your argument.


  10. Whoa,
    Aren’t we all over-analogizing a wee bit? The legal elements of second degree sexual assault: physical contact of a sexual nature, without consent, with . . . a woman’s breasts. An assault is an act intended to cause an apprehension of offensive contact in the victim. Both require a) specific intent on the perp’s part and b) a human victim.

    As many have pointed out above, we have no way of knowing what Favreau’s intent was.More to the point, he manhandled CARDBOARD, not a human being! This is carnivalesque in a Bakhtinian sense, not criminal.

    I feel like this discussion is stuck in a Catherine McKinnon moment we can’t get out of…


  11. Ignatz – Yep, and I’m sorry if I touched that off.

    blue epiphany – No, that isn’t my argument. Perhaps I’ve made it badly. However I absolutely agree that it was about degradation (or at least dominance), and I’ve said that it was disrespectful and should have consequences. But that is a different issue than consent/assault, which was the subject of my original question.


  12. I don’t know if I have a lot to add here, but let me throw in this observation: having read all of these comments, I find it telling that the comments defending (even if obliquely) Favreau’s actions seem to traffic in the hypothetical or speculative much more than the comments criticizing his actions.

    In other words: to me the “sexual dominance” aspect of this seems extremely plausible on the face of it. Favreau and his associate have a adopted a pose in which they appear to be taking sexual advantage of a defeated rival; this is time-honored tradition that dates back as far as the period I study (17th-18th centuries): the powerful shows his/her (usually his) power over the weaker through sexuality. This is a pretty well-established historical trope. The fact that it could be an effigy of John McCain and not Hillary Clinton, to my mind, strengthens this reading: assertions of sexual dominance by men over men have been an important symbol of conquest, at least in American history, as well. Saying that Favreau is merely trafficking in the symbolic language of sexist power dynamics rather than homophobic ones hardly removes the power relations here. The history of sexuality, power, and dominance in American history makes this, on the surface, the reading that many of the people calling for Favreau’s firing extremely plausible. It’s a symbolic display of power that has a pretty first order relationship to real world displays of power in American history.

    Making a counter argument, however, has has led to discussions of Bill C. cheating on Hillary C.; questions of whether or not HRC would want to have an affair with Favreau, etc. These are things that don’t leap immediately to mind–how, exactly, do they explain his behavior, or place it into context? Was he possibly thinking those things? Were they anywhere in the back of his mind?

    Though I have spent more time than I would like studying the semiotics of symbols, I really prefer an Occam’s Razor approach here. All things considered, I’d go for the more obvious relationship.

    If we can see reasons to condemn the conduct on the face of it, and have to strain to find reasons to defend it, then that speaks volumes.


  13. @Chris — yes, we were apparently talking past each other! So I feel a bit less creeped out, thanks.

    I’m still going to stick by the point that speculating over whether or not Senator Clinton would be sexually interested in a man her daughter’s age is disrespectful, in the same way that it was disrespectful when a co-worker of mine started talking about vibrators and sex toys that women in the office might like. It was completely irrelevant to the environment and none of his damn business and he got in trouble for it. Similarly, Clinton’s sexual preferences aren’t any of our business or Favreau’s business, so speculating on how she’d feel about it is disrespectful.

    @Ignatz — Extending your logic, there is then no reason to be upset by an effigy of Obama or Palin hung from a noose? No, Clinton wasn’t actually sexually assaulted. Nobody is saying Favreau should be arrested. But visual symbols are powerful, and that action towards her picture makes a statement about the attitude Favreau and friend hold towards her.


  14. John S., thanks for stopping by to add your professional expertise to the mix. I agree with you: what’s so hard to interpret about this photo?

    Erica, you are the queen of cutting through the B.S.–my hat is off to you, madam. You seem to know what I’m trying to say much better than I’m actually saying it.

    Ignatz, I don’t understand your stake in defending this guy. He’s a jerk who has created “drama” on the famous “No Drama Obama” team. He needs to be cut loose. No one is talking about prosecuting him (as Erica points out). By the same token, no one is entitled to a high-profile job.


  15. Erica–of course I would be more upset by a photo showing, say,Favreau pretending to shoot Clinton in the head. That would be an explicit and unusual expression of hatred. What Favreau did was an expression of–let’s construe this at its worst–“We won, you lost, we dominate you.” That’s icky, but not nearly as icky.

    Historiann, I could give a d-mn about Favreau. What disturbs me about this thread is some posters’ quickness to condemn-I even discern a hint of glee, or is it schadenfreude? Think of Mettray: “‘The least act of disobedience is punished and the best way of avoiding serious offenses is to punish the most minor offenses very severely . . .’
    The judges of normalcy are present everywhere. We are in the society of the teacher-judge, the doctor-judge, the educator-judge, the ‘social worker’ judge; it is on them that the universal reign of the normative is based; and each individual, wherever he may find himself, subjects to it his body, his gestures, his behavior, his aptitudes, his achievements.”
    The Net has become the Panopticon–and we’re taking our turns as guard.


  16. Ignatz, I think the commenters here are judging behavior they see as objectionable. This is a feminist blog. Most of us have a feminist viewpoint, regardless of political affiliation. And, since none of us have any authority to “punish” Favreau, I don’t understand why you’re quoting Mettray. My views, and that of my readers, are hardly mainstream. That should be consoling.

    Just because he works for Obama doesn’t mean that his behavior should get a pass. Please imagine, if you will, that this was a photo of gleeful Republican operatives. Does that make it any more unpalatable for you?


  17. Now a little response to why I brought up Bill Clinton, though I really don’t have much more to say than what I’ve already said, though perhaps here more explicitly.

    If one is going to take somebody’s actions towards women into account when determining whether he or she should be in a public position or associated with a campaign, then I don’t see why the same standard shouldn’t be applied to Bill as it is being applied to Favreau. Bill was long associated with Ms. Clinton’s campaign, yet these questions didn’t arise with anywhere near the intensity they are being discussed here. Of course there are good reasons why they weren’t discussed: whatever happened between Bill and the two women who accused him of inappropriate advances, most people see the totality of the man and judge him in that context. Others often see Clinton’s serial affairs as an issue to keep inside the marriage.

    So why is the same benefit (of being judged by the sum of his actions) not being applied to Favreau? Both men had their intimate affairs born into the world from their indiscretion. You commenters likely have your own answers. I would guess that since we know little about Favreau, this is all the material we have to judge him on. He’s a blank slate and he’s being filled in with the interpretations of this photo, which (to me) have more to do with predispositions of those making the interpretations than with whatever he was thinking at the time. He strikes me as having a mildly transgressive moment at a private party with some friends, but neither I nor you know what was in his mind at the time…nor do I think it really matters, though I appreciate that many of you do.

    My grandmother was serially raped by advancing Soviet forces in 1945. She had three young children with her at the time, one of whom was my father and another who died on the journey west. I was several feet away when a potted plant was thrown at my aunt’s head by her husband when I was nine. It went crashing through the kitchen window. My half-sister just divorced a meth addict who was arrested as an accessory to armed robbery. Two of my three girlfriends have had date rape experiences. I was the first person my high school best friend told that he’d hit his girlfriend in a jealous fit over her infidelity. A friend of my wife’s was killed by her abusive husband. Many of you have likely been associated with or had similar experiences. I’m not an expert in this stuff, but enough of it has hit close enough to home that I don’t take it lightly. Just because I see little significance in this picture doesn’t mean that me or anyone else arguing that he shouldn’t lose his career doesn’t think critically about issues of gender and violence.

    Someone asked Ignatz why she was defending Favreau. She’s speaking for herself but I’m going to answer that same question. We may share a similar Nietzschean/Foucauldian resistance to having thoughts monitored and judged with regards to what some see as socially healthy (and in need of sanitization). I think men do best accepting the thoughts they have and learning to channel them into an appropriate outlet. The sex drive manifests itself in various ways…sometimes playful, sometimes cuddly, sometimes lusty and yes, sometimes dominating. It’s a part of who many of us are. I also grew up in an extraordinarily judgmental family, and it’s been one of my life’s tasks to overcome that background.

    The rewards have been manifold.


  18. @Geoff, I have no idea what Favreaus’ thoughts were and I have no thoughts on Nietzschean/Foucauldian resistance to monitoring thoughts either. What is being critiqued here is not what Favreau thought, but what he DID. If he’d only thought about what he did, he might not have done it and if he’d only thought it, no one would have anything to say about it.

    In my former profession, law, issues of trust and public behaviour often arise. People may be forgiven by their family and associates and be given “another chance” by those who trust them. Trust from the public, however, and from one’s professional colleagues, is another issue. There is such a thing as accountability and people need to see that it is so. The way that a “punishment” or professional accounting is measured is an important thing. Sometimes a fine can be “enough”. Sometimes a “suspension” is in order. And occasionally, people must be disbarred, even if they are not entirely “evil” – and I’m not sure anyone is. The punishment is not just for the person punished, but also for the public, so that justice is seen to be done and so that certain values are reinforced.

    If nothing happens to Favreau that is made public, none of these goals can be met. The measure of response will tell us a little something about how serious the Obama administration is about anti-sexism – my guess is, not very serious, but I’d be happy to be wrong. My best guess is that Favreau was likely more guilty of NOT thinking than of having “nasty” thoughts. I just can’t tell you how disinterested I am in what he was thinking, in any case. However, what Favreau DID was unworthy of someone holding the position he does. I’m not sure at all how it is helpful to compare what he did to things that other people do or did that we think are worse.


  19. BTW, in an earlier comment, I said that if my 27-year old son acted the way Favreau did, the women in his life would have him in stocks in the public square. This was an exaggerated way to describe the response and an attempt at levity where, perhaps, it was inappropriate. I just want to be clear that I don’t think that’s a punishment I would find appropriate for anyone and I didn’t say it’s what I think should happen to Favreau. My son would laugh if he saw that comment of mine, though. What it means is that the women in his life would never choose to be victims and that they have enough power in their relationships with him that they are more than able to stand up for themselves. I should add that one of the reasons that kind of equality is possible is because it is viewed by all parties to the relationship to be important. There ARE consequences when that understanding is violated, though obviously, not the metaphorical one I mentioned.


  20. @hysperia–I think that your previous two comments are right on. The public private distinction is an important one, and may be particularly helpful in getting at the question of who exactly might be harmed by by Favreau’s actions. I break this down into three categories, in my mind:
    1) HRC herself. This is honestly something I’m not overly concerned with. This isn’t out of a lack of respect to HRC; it’s more that I suspect she’s suffered more disrespectful displays than this. She doesn’t deserve any of this, but I would be surprised if she spent more than a minute of her time thinking about what particular impact this would have on her. (This relates, I think, to hysperia’s most recent point–HRC can do a better job standing up for herself than any of us could do defending her.)

    More significantly, however, I think this display has a corrosive effect on
    2) people working for Obama. I would imagine that Favreau’s actions could easily have a negative impact of the workplace environment. I’ve worked before in situations where sexual harassment was tolerated and can say that it most certainly affected morale. As many have noted above, you just can’t tolerate this kind of behavior.

    I can see, however, that dealing with the Favreau incident might not require his firing or resignation; a good manager probably has a better sense than an outsider of what is necessary to create a healthy workplace environment. A zero tolerance attitude towards sexual harassment can mean that the behavior is never tolerated, but it doesn’t have to mean that the offender is always fired. I’d certainly think twice about putting Favreau in a supervisory position, though; I would think (though I am not a woman) that working for someone who’s done this could be hard. But I am projecting there.

    It also has a negative impact on
    3) the general public. Here is where exemplary punishment seems very appropriate. The fact is, Favreau has (to my mind), broken his public trust with this. I can see why many people suspect that he may not have been thinking consciously about being sexist (though I don’t buy that for a second). But think about that defense. Our public servants are supposed to be mindful. They’re supposed to think about the signals they send to the public. This particular incident seems to suggest that it’s okay to demean not just women in general (bad enough), but to demean one of the most respected women in our country. No matter how successful you area, some young jerk can “put you in your place.”

    And moreover, think of Favreau’s job. A speech writer, of all people, should be mindful of the symbols of leadership. This is a guy who writes the fancy words that try to convince us Obama isn’t a hypocrite (or, at least, more sincere than other politicians).

    Thinking about category #3 makes me think the guy’s got to go. Maybe that’s a shame, because if he worked on some of Obama’s speeches that were so wonderful then he’s a talented guy. But yeah, sometimes one stupid mistake *should* cost you your job.


  21. Geoff, we disagree. But I urge you to see hysperia’s point, which is that for most of us this is not about “thought crimes,” it’s about his actions. Those of us who think he should be cashiered and are commenting here don’t have any decision-making authority of course, but I think that a staffer who has been caught in something publicly disgraceful like this–after having been warned that he would need to submit his Facebook account for scrutiny–has got to go. It’s nothing personal–it’s just business.

    I don’t want to speak for anyone but myself here, but Geoff’s comment has helped me come to grips with the nature of the dispute here, so bear with me:

    Geoff, Chris, and Ignatz disagree with most of the other commenters here (myself, Erica, hysperia, and John S., just to name some who have kept the conversation going) because they don’t see Favreau’s faux pas as an action since it was enacted on a cardboard cutout. That makes it a thought crime instead of an action, in their view–a simulation of a public boob grab instead of a public boob grab of a living woman. I can see their point, but I disagree. I think Erica said it best when she recounted the role that violence done to symbols has played in controlling and disciplining people (the hanging and burning of effigies, etc.) So, the difference of opinion here is about the role that symbols play in our political discourse, and I don’t see any of us changing each other’s minds in this thread! That’s perfectly fine.

    One last thing: Geoff, I still think Bill Clinton is irrelevant to this discussion. Hillary Clinton is her own person. You write, “Bill was long associated with Ms. Clinton’s campaign, yet these questions didn’t arise with anywhere near the intensity they are being discussed here.” They didn’t arise because Bill Clinton kept his hands to himself this year! Give the guy a break. He’s at least had the class never to be photographed making a public boob grab or something else equally crude.


  22. I wanted to reiterate something I said that Geoff apparently overlooked – Bill Clinton was known to be a sexist ass about 10 years ago, and was impeached and dragged through the coals over it. Favreau was a sexist ass within the past couple of months, and….what. Had a bunch of bloggers say he should get fired? Oh, the horror!
    Hysperia, for what it’s worth, I agree with you that Favreau’s actions were directed to Clinton personally, but I don’t think it matters; the message being sent is, party on, dudes! Because life should just be one big frat party, and woe to the women who aren’t members of the right sorority, or piss off the wrong frat brother.


  23. It doesn’t matter what Favreau was thinking. It matters what he did.

    If I have trouble with sexual harassment at work, I have trouble with public overt actions, such as John whispering to me how nice Jane looks today in that blouse and he wishes she’d dress like that every day. In that situation, I’m stuck with knowing that John is visually undressing Jane. I don’t speculate about whether John is doing the same to other female co-workers (including me) when I complain, because despite it being highly likely, I don’t know that for sure.

    Here, we’ve got a complete picture of an action taken by Favreau and another Obama staffer. It doesn’t matter what was going through their minds, although it’s possible to speculate and we’d probably be right — it matters what they did, and it also matters what will be done about it. They’ve fondled Jane and cheerfully let the other women in the office know about it; what’s going to happen next?


  24. the difference of opinion here is about the role that symbols play in our political discourse, and I don’t see any of us changing each other’s minds in this thread! That’s perfectly fine.

    I was thinking last night that this is one of the most civil disputes I’ve managed to have online :) While I’d like to “win”, I’d rather have intelligent discussion. So thanks everybody.


  25. kudos all,

    this is the best discussion of this topic I have found anywhere.

    I feel like I just attended a very interesting and timely AHA panel or something.

    Thank you for the education.


  26. I really like the tone of the last dozen and a half posts. They’ve given me encouragement about participating in constructive dialogue on other threads in the future. While our interpretations of what did or didn’t happen, and what the significance is or isn’t will continue to vary, I appreciate your thoughtful and lengthy responses to posts. I’ve been grappling with why this topic acquired so much energy over the past few days, and am happy to have what feels like a conclusion, and can again look forward to seeing some of you socially.

    Historiann is right, after all…I really do not like Bill Clinton.



  27. There is one bottle in this picture. One. Which is assumed to be a beer, probably b/c it’s a green bottle. Favreua isn’t drinking from it. Isn’t even holding it.

    There is NO indication that this was a “drinking party”, that anybody was drunk, or that this was any kind of a party. Indeed aside from the fact that there is one open (assumed) beer bottle, there’s no evidence that anybody was drinking.

    My understanding is that everybody in that photo has been identified as an Obama speechwriter. It’s equally as likely that they were all there working as that they were all there partying and drunk.

    As to Bill Clinton: his actions with Monica Lewinsky were 100% consensual on both sides, as Lewinsky herself has said.

    As to the sexual harassment suit brought by Paula Jones: Clinton was sued for his alleged behavior. So, he at least had to face some consequences for what he allegedly did. I say allegedly because the case was dismissed on the rationale that even if Clinton did what Jones said he did (which the Court made no finding on), it wasn’t legally actionable as sexual harassment. After an appeal was taken from the dismissal, Clinton settled with Jones without any acknowledgement or finding of liability or wrongdoing by Bill Clinton. Whatever one might want to say about Clinton’s alleged behavior, it cost him $850,000 plus more in attorney fees and litigation costs.

    But Favreau should get a free pass because Bill 1) engaged in consensual sexual behavior with another adult and 2) got sued for sexual harassment and paid over a million dollars to settle it? Really?


  28. Hysperia: The ACTION of Favreau in the picture clearly says to me, as you have noted Historiann, “THIS is what women are for”. But I have a small bone to pick. I do take it as personal to Clinton – THIS is what women are for, not being President of the USA. And THAT matters to all women.

    It may be that final issue that aggravates me past the point of how I would feel if this had been a cutout of anyone else. Whether it was consciously in Favreau’s head or not, the picture says, if you want to step out of your “place” women, you can expect this kind of treatment, because this is what we REALLY think about you. We will beat you (as in the Primary) and we will ave no respect for you before, during or after your run for office. So give it up.

    YES. You have absolutely NAILED one of the things that is SO egregious about this act, Hysperia. It is male sexuality as dominance, i.e., “this is what you’re good for, and this is all you’re good for, and the fact that our guy beat you proves it, so take THIS.”

    The arguments about Facebook are to me not relevant. If the guy had only e-mailed this photo to one person, it would still have been horrible. The issue isn’t the fact that Favreau got caught and all the reasons why he should have been more careful. The issue is that the speechwriter for the President Elect thinks this kind of thing is funny in the first place. He’s a misogynist and should be fired posthaste.


  29. This photo was an outrage to all women. An Obama staff member should be fired for doing something like this. Any HR department at my company would take this very seriously indeed if it involved the photo of a woman in the office.

    Folks, this is what sexism and the contempt for accomplished women looks like. It’s the same sort of thing frat boys do — they hire strippers, they commit date rape, they harass women on the streets.

    Imagine a card board cutout of Obama as a slave in chains. Good fun right? When it’s women, liberal men feel free to be as sexist and rape promoting as they want to be. Just recently a man gropped my breast at an event. I took him out in the hallway, and we had quite a talking to. His terror was complete. He might think twice about ever messing with women again!

    Fire that sexist pig immediately Mr. Obama, just clean house now!!


  30. Pingback: “Feminist Law Profs” in the WaPo this A.M. : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present

  31. Pingback: Dumbest. Comment. Ever. : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present

  32. Pingback: Dumbest. Comment. Ever. | Historiann

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