Gawker Posts Salacious Christine O'Donnell Smear, Faces Huge Backlash
It's a strange day when feminist groups are defending an anti-abortion, anti-sex candidate. But thanks to some 25 year old dude who made out with Christine O'Donnell and got paid four-figures to tell the tale, that's what's happening right now. Gawker's team likely thought they had the scoop of the news cycle when they published an anonymous fratty-sounding account of a 25-year old's drunken Halloween night of canoodling with Senatorial candidate Christine O'Donnell in a ladybug costume--a night that the noted anti-masturbation and abstinence crusader actually stopped short before doing the deed. But despite the fact that the detailed story seems to paint O'Donnell as rather confused and repressed and perhaps somewaht hypocritical, the nasty, exploitative and sexist tone of the piece (particularly the guy's scorn over O'Donnell's lack of down-there waxing) compounded by the fact that O'Donnell's behavior in it doesn't explicitly contradict her public persona--have landed most of the outrage at the anonymous kiss-and-teller's feet, not at O'Donnells. Since when does consensual fooling around become an acceptable weapon against female candidates? For many women readers, the story was too reminiscent of the kind of locker-room talk that's leveled as a weapon against us. On twitter and blogs far beyond the feminist community, people have been raising their voices in displeasure, mostly at having to defend a candidate whom they otherwise loathe.
- "Not only is this piece piggish, but it reveals nothing relevant about her politics or character," writesSalon's Tracy Clark-Flory.
- "She didn’t do anything wrong. Suggesting otherwise is just pure sexism, particularly since the guy who wrote this clearly thinks he should be applauded for the behavior he condemns in O’Donnell," writes Pandagon's Amanda Marcotte.
- "Today, we became hardline feminists all over again," wroteThe Awl's Choire Sicha, referring to the way the story stoked outrage even among the nonpolitical.
- "Gawker chose to reaffirm the sexual values of the religious right," said TBD's Amanda Hess.
- Even NOW issueda statement, condemning O'Donnell's positions but writing "NOW repudiates Gawker's decision to run this piece. It operates as public sexual harassment. And like all sexual harassment, it targets not only O'Donnell, but all women contemplating stepping into the public sphere."