This morning, I was planning to write an aggressive defense of conservative political commentator S.E. Cupp, who was recently viciously maligned by the porn rag Hustler which Photoshopped a picture of Cupp with a penis in her mouth (please don’t Google said picture, it only feeds the beast).
I still plan to defend S.E. and express my horror that Hustler or anyone for that matter would attack any woman, of any political stripe, simply for expressing her view points.
But now, I have to express dismay that after simply tweeting my support for S.E. yesterday and my outrage at Hustler, I was hit with a barrage of tweets from conservatives. In addition to bizarrely accusing me of trying to “co-opt” the situation, many of those who tweeted at me resented my assertion that sexist attacks come from both the right and the left. Just a few highlights:
— Adam Baldwin (@adamsbaldwin) May 24, 2012
— Sally Kohn (@sallykohn) May 24, 2012
— Edwin F. Buckley (@OHenrysStepchld) May 24, 2012
First of all, it’s worth noting that S.E. has I think appropriately and graciously embraced the defenses of her from the left as evidenced by her Twitter feed. The attacks on my original statement had definitively more of a Michelle Malkin-esque tone to them. After all, Michelle has long tried to make the case that racist and sexist smears come more from the left than the right. This is, of course, to anyone who has studied history around the periods of the civil rights movement and the women’s movement, a hysterical assertion. Moreover its incongruous with other conservative smears against liberals, including the assertion that liberals are the politically correct thought police. Pick a characterization and stick with it, won’t you?
But no matter. I have said on air to Michelle and will say here again that I don’t think it matters who gets worse hate mail or who gets called nastier names by radio talk show hosts. Sexism is sexism, whatever side it’s aimed at. Racism is racism. Period. Anyone who doesn’t believe conservatives vociferously and voluminously sling the same sorts of slanderous mud at progressives should check out my inbox — or, probably much worse, the inboxes of Soledad O’Brien and Rachel Maddow. Heck, folks, I’ve been called racist slurs in hate mail and I’m as white as they come. The fact of the matter is that people on both sides of the political aisle all-too-easily resort to fanning the flames of bias and hate in attempting to try and shut down their opponents — but especially women, people of color and gay folks — from speaking up. It’s shameful and we should all condemn it.
Women are under attack from all sides and no matter what political party you are in, I’m going to defend you from sexist attacks. I will not stand by in silence when a woman, any woman, is attacked in this way and belittled as nothing more than a sexual object. It’s about disagreement over ideas; smearing and demeaning women should not part of the equation.
Exactly. Which brings me to feminism. Feminism is based on the simple premise that women and men should be treated equally. Any female political commentator, whether on the left or the right, receives daily reminders of how far we are from that goal. The attack against S.E. is only the latest, particularly egregious example. At the same time, the fact that we even have prominent women leaders like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann who use their prominence to attack the feminist movement is a sign of how much feminism has transformed America for the better. Yet the ways in which those women — and Hillary Clinton and Debbie Wasserman Schultz – are treated also shows us how far we have yet to go.
So perhaps the next time Michelle Malkin professes to be defending the interests of women from “feminazis” and “femagogues”, she and others would be wise to remember that not only have feminists long been the ones to stand up against these sorts of hateful attacks but that we wouldn’t even have female political voices and leaders were it not for the advances of feminism. It’s understandable that some conservative women want to try and rewrite history to pretend conservatives were the heroes for women’s equality more often than the villains they actually were, but the fact that Michelle Malkin and others like her even have a platform at all is in no small part because of feminism. It’s a shame that in the wake of a sexist attack that undermines all women, some conservative men and women want to turn around and attack progressive women. But I guess solidarity just sounds too socialist….
Anyway, ideology be damned, I know S.E. Cupp to be a kind and intelligent opponent. #IStandWithSECupp against any vicious attack against a woman for speaking her mind. Sign the Women’s Media Center petition against Hustler here (which includes a great statement from Gloria Steinem in defense of S.E.) and let’s all work to put a modicum of civility back in our politics and discourse.
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