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October 29, 2010

Shocker: People Who Kiss and Tell are Still Jerks

And don't even get me started on those who profit from such betrayals of trust:

Gawker was convicted Thursday in the court of Twitter opinion. The charges: misogyny and reckless link-baiting.

"Today, we are all Christine O'Donnell," wrote Salon's Justin Elliott.

He was one of several journalists and bloggers to criticize Gawker for posting an anonymous account by a Philadelphia man claiming to have gone home with Delaware Senate candidate on Halloween night three years ago, following a night of drinking.

Not many things still have the power to shock - or unite - people on both sides of the political spectrum. In a way, that's reassuring. What bothers me a bit, though, is watching so many people calling this misogyny (as though exposing private sexual information to literally millions of total strangers isn't objectionable and wrong no matter who it's done to).

Given the rash of recent news stories featuring men betraying women who were foolish enough to think what happens between two consenting human beings ought to stay between them (as opposed to being plastered all over the Internet), it isn't too hard to paint this as just one more instance of boorish male behavior.

That would be convenient for those who spend their days searching for shocking anecdotes that confirm their pre-existing hostility to the opposite sex. But regardless of who does what to whom more often (or whether it's fair to despise one sex and admire the other for engaging in the same promiscuous behavior) not every bad thing some men do to some women is misogyny. Likewise, not every bad thing some women do to some men is misandry.

Some people are just spiteful, self aggrandizing, inconsiderate jerks and they deserve every last bit of scorn that can be heaped on their heads.

Several liberal bloggers (and some conservative ones) are brandishing the sexism card. Oddly enough, none of them seem to be blaming sexism for prompting Lillian McEwen to reveal things best left private about her decades old relationship with Justice Clarence Thomas:

In 1991, the world divided itself into two camps: those who believed Anita Hill and those who didn't. I fell somewhere in the middle: She may have told the truth, but so what?

On bended knee, give thanks if you are too young to remember. A brief summary: Hill testified that then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her by verbally sharing his enjoyment of porn films and his sexual proficiency.

Yes, yawn if you must. This was scandalous, of course, because . . . well, I'm still not certain. You see, to be scandalized, one must be deeply sensitive to the mention of anything sexual. Indeed, in this case, one needed to be scandalized for an indefinite period of time.

Hill's testimony came several years after she worked for Thomas at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, where the alleged harassment took place. In other words, she didn't protest at the time of these conversations, which were boorish, assuming they happened as she described. Or were they merely lame attempts at humor?

The context has never been clear. In any case, other options available to Hill included telling Thomas to get over himself. Or, at the very least, assuming deep offense, complaining to a higher authority. She did neither, apparently.

Maybe it's just me, but every time some moron feels the need to tell me things I don't care to know about a public figure, I can't help thinking, "Why on earth would you TELL me this?"

What kind of person are you, anyway?

I don't trust the kind of person who would do such a thing, because the one thing I know for certain about people who reveal private information about their former lovers is that they don't deserve my - or anyone else's - trust. If there is a just punishment for such betrayals it's that in exposing their former lovers, these tattletales can't help but expose their own character flaws.

I'm not a Christine O'Donnell fan, and to this day I have no idea whether she did any of the things her anonymous accuser says she did. What I do know is that Dustin Dominiak - if we can believe his story - kept photos of a woman he didn't even have sex with for over three years.

Even though he wasn't really all that "into her". Riiiiiiiight.

I also know - because he told me - that the mere sight of a woman whose nether regions weren't waxed as bare as a preteen's so disgusted him that he was unable to... how shall we say it?... rise to the occasion. Make of that what you will. And then there's Lillian McEwen, who despite her indecent willingness to smear a man who - according to her - did nothing to deserve such a betrayal, assures us that she once cared about Thomas. Of course that was back in the days when he was a "raging alcoholic" with a consuming interest in hard core pornography. Not that there's anything wrong with hard core porn, at least according to McEwen. According to her, all men are into porn. Heck - the entire Supreme Court is into porn! Which begs the question: what are we supposed to take away from her revelations? That Thomas is no different from other men? Do all men who watch porn sexually harass their co-workers? Or are such men merely more likely to sexually harass women?

Trust me - I'm no big fan of hard core porn but the cognitive dissonance here is mind blowing. Here we have a woman who characterizes her former lover as a womanizing, porn obsessed drunk. Let's face it, ladies: what woman has not dreamed of acquiring a mate with these sterling qualities?

Of course all good things must come to an end. Sadly (again, according to Ms. McEwen) the future SC Justice gave up his binge drinking, porn loving ways and got into all sorts of freaky deaky activities like exercising and working hard at his chosen career. No wonder she dumped him - what sane woman puts up with a man like that?

To this day I still don't know whether Thomas said the things Anita Hill accused him of. McEwen's ill advised and despicable revelations neither corroborate nor disprove Hill's charges because she wasn't there when Thomas was supposedly doing things Ms. McEwen doesn't find the least bit morally troubling (but really wants us to know about anyway because of what they imply about his character).

And I still don't know whether Christine O'Donnell did the things Dustin Dominiak says she did. And I never will. Somehow, I think I can learn to live with that.

What I do know is that folks like Lillian McEwen and Dustin Dominiak are the last people on earth I would trust to protect my own reputation. Why, then, are we so willing to trust them with anyone else's?


Posted by Cassandra at October 29, 2010 09:28 AM

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Comments

Two things: one is the dishonesty and cowardice of attempting to smear an opposing candidate in the last days of an election campaign, carefully leaving little time for a rebuttal (or a carefully crafted ignore of the matter), as opposed to the dishonesty and cowardice of attempting to smear a person, period.

The other is what seems to be a central point of the post, other than the misogyny/misandry question (correct me if I've missed something; it certainly wouldn't be my first error): as though exposing private sexual information to literally millions of total strangers isn't objectionable and wrong no matter who it's done to. What has sex to do with this betrayal? Why isn't the beef here as though exposing private information to literally millions of total strangers isn't objectionable and wrong no matter who it's done to?

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at October 29, 2010 12:11 PM

What has sex to do with this betrayal?

I think sexual betrayal is worse than other kinds of betrayal for a couple of reasons. Intimacy usually involves some degree of trust, especially in the context of a long term relationship. We trust the ones we love with things we wouldn't tell just anyone, even friends. Heck, we let them see us nekkid and it doesn't get more vulnerable than that!

For a lot of men, a romantic relationship may be the one place they let their guard down.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 29, 2010 12:19 PM

What I do know is that folks like Lillian McEwen and Dustin Dominiak are the last people on earth I would trust to protect my own reputation. Why, then, are we so willing to trust them with anyone else's?

That's a good way of phrasing the logical problem. Why would we listen to people like this at all, let alone assume they are telling the truth?

The moral problem is, I think, tied up with sexuality because we take sexual morality to be so important as a sign of a person's general morality. Thus, to the degree that I convince someone to think of you as being sexually immoral, I've convinced them that you are generally immoral.

If I pass on your bank-card information, I've done you a quantifiable harm. If I destroy your reputation as a human being, I've done you harm that is not quantifiable. You may be able to overcome it in time, through virtue and hard work -- but you probably won't be able to do so, if experience is any guide in these matters.

Posted by: Grim at October 29, 2010 12:27 PM

we take sexual morality to be so important as a sign of a person's general morality.

And here is some of the rub. Sexual morality is, indeed, only _a_ sign of the larger matter, the person's general morality. And so it deserves no more concern than any other sign of a person's general morality.

To take the financial privacy example, the harm done by revealing my financial information may very definitely be destructive of my reputation. Between finance and sex, the spectrum from deadly ruinous to who cares runs differently for the two, but I don't seem them as different in any important respect: it's private, it's personal, and bruiting this information about without my permission, much less behind my back, is as completely reprehensibly dishonest and cowardly by the bruiter, no matter the information bruited.

My financial information is no less intimate than my sexual behavior. The person who sees my financial status, plans, history sees me just as naked and vulnerable. In the end, all I've done with the woman I love is to make love; all I've done with the casual woman is have sex with her. But with my finances, I've exposed everything, including, perhaps, a subset involving sex.

But these are side issues. The problem I see is in the nature of the betrayal, not in the nature of the matter betrayed. The betrayer is a coward and utterly dishonest (sorry I keep repeating myself) and a waste of human flesh. How do I discriminate--indeed, why would I bother to discriminate--between one coward and another?

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at October 29, 2010 01:03 PM

I don't know if "misogyny" is the right word, but it is sexist. Revealing of private sexual history and characteristics is a unique weapon when used against female political candidates; it doesn't work nearly as well against male candidates. The guy who did it may well just be a plan boor, but Gawker and the Coons campaign clearly are taking advantage of the sexist nature of this mode of attack.

Posted by: Cousin Dave at October 29, 2010 01:23 PM

but you probably won't be able to do so, if experience is any guide in these matters.

It's all about taking the offense and destroying the threat.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at October 29, 2010 01:31 PM

Revealing of private sexual history and characteristics is a unique weapon when used against female political candidates; it doesn't work nearly as well against male candidates.

And yet most folks here at VC would tell you that sexism is a thing of the past :p

Posted by: Cassandra at October 29, 2010 01:31 PM

How do I discriminate--indeed, why would I bother to discriminate--between one coward and another?

You may not be the specific target for the propaganda operation, though. There are plenty of others, feckless or foolish, in America that will believe easy lies and deceptions.

Instead of convincing you one way or another, it might be more profitable to go after the lowest common denominator, no?

Posted by: Ymarsakar at October 29, 2010 01:33 PM

I also know - because he told me - that the mere sight of a woman whose nether regions weren't waxed as bare as a preteen's so disgusted him that he was unable to... how shall we say it?... rise to the occasion.

Also known as the pedophilia wax job.

Posted by: RRRoark at October 29, 2010 01:42 PM

You may not be the specific target for the propaganda operation, though.

Define "target." I may not be the target in the sense that it's my information being revealed, but I am the target in the sense that I'm one of those being addressed by this...person...who's telling me your private information.

Selecting sexual information as the information to be revealed certainly is sexist, though.

I have to wonder at a definition of "most," too. I'm not sure most of us are saying sexism is a thing of the past, beyond saying it was a thing then, too. Show me the numbers. Thbbbt.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at October 29, 2010 02:07 PM

Definitely a pedophile right there. This Damitas.

I mean by target in relation to propaganda operations similar to what market strategies use a demographic target for. You've heard of how things are targeted towards teens or college graduates in marketing campaigns. The concept is similar.

The target of a propaganda operation is the primary pool of people in which the operation seeks to change the behavior/speech patterns of.

Other people see the propaganda product, yes, and if they get affected, then it can be considered a bonus. But they weren't the target.

The target, to clear something up, of a propaganda operation is The Witch or O'Donnel. The target is something more akin to the audience. Who gets assassinated or not, is simply the means to a greater end.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at October 29, 2010 02:52 PM

Correction: the target isn't The Witch or OD.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at October 29, 2010 02:53 PM

Good Lord??!! This is disgusting. This clown is the type that give men a bad name.

The way I see it, this a Code Duello situation. Just like Letterman's classless comment about Sarah Palin's daughter.

Posted by: OldSoldier54 at October 29, 2010 08:11 PM

I prefer to think of it as an anonymous beating situation more than a Code matter.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at October 30, 2010 05:23 AM

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