Pre-Feminist Attitudes Dominate the Response to the Herman Cain Scandals

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
Nov. 30 2011 12:13 PM

Define "Bimbo," Jon Huntsman

Jon Huntsman
Jon Huntsman can now be added to the list of flippant comments made by GOP candidates this season

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

One of the great joys of the Republican primary season is watching all the long shots give voice to the way that conservatives actually speak if they haven't been groomed by an entire staff of people who run drills with you on how not to create a national scandal with casual slurs or openly longing to put the children of poor to work in factories. For whatever reason, Jon Hunstman has largely been reluctant or unable to provide that kind of entertainment, leaving all the heavy lifting to the Michele Bachmanns and Newt Gingriches. Until today, that is, when he responded to the allegations of a 13-year affair with Herman Cain made by a woman named Ginger White.

“We’ve got real issues to talk about not the latest bimbo eruption,” Huntsman told the Boston Herald editorial board today. He went on to imply that the recent allegation of a 13-year extra-marital affair created “too much of a cloud, in some people’s minds, as to whether or not they would be able to support us going forth.”
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This is the year that Republicans have really taken to speaking like villainous millionaires in melodramas written by hacks and/or Mr. Burns from The Simpsons. Does the GOP keep a vatful of white men from 1940 frozen cryogenically to be thawed out one at a time to run for office? It would seem so. You can just imagine Huntsman leaning languorously back in his leather armchair, puffing a giant cigar, and telling the bushy-tailed young journalist in shabby clothes and a short-brimmed hat, "Let me tell you something about the world, son. There are two kinds of women: wives and bimbos. When it comes to the bimbos, well, a man's got to do what a man's got to do. So there's no use in wasting your time running around listening to these women crying about how you got a little fresh with them in a car or stopped their charge account at Tiffany's. No one cares about that stuff but wives, and who really wants to see the chickens with their feathers in a ruffle?" Cue montage as our naive young journalist becomes a hardened cynic and picks up a drinking habit, perhaps before coming across the big scandal that renews his faith in his profession. 

Of course, the problem isn't just with the predictable pre-Kennedy attitudes of the GOP slate of candidates. For some reason, many in the media are struggling right alongside Republicans to understand that the allegation of a 13-year consensual affair is a much different beast than accusations of sexual harassment or previous settlements made with women who claimed that Cain harassed them. Just yesterday I glimpsed CNN calling Ginger White an "accuser," which is a word I hope is never applied to me if I recollect a consensual sexual relationship of my past. Nona at GOOD and Dave Weigel have further examples of how this newest scandal of consensual sex is being rolled up into the previous sexual harassment complaints, or worse, being treated as if it's a much more serious problem for some reason. I realize the grabbing hands and stirring penis can be a distraction, but really, there's no excuse for disregarding the important distinction between consensual and nonconsensual. 

Amanda Marcotte is a Brooklyn-based writer and DoubleX contributor. She also writes regularly for the Daily Beast, AlterNet, and USA Today. Follow her on Twitter.