The Left Is Just Fine With Misogyny, As Long As It’s Against Conservative Women

What Women Really Think
May 24 2012 2:18 PM

The Left Is Just Fine With Misogyny, As Long As It’s Against Conservative Women

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Is it OK to put a woman's face on a pinata just because you don't like her views on unions?

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

With two incidents that were reported yesterday, the left is showing that it’s just fine with misogyny and violence against women as long as the women in question aren’t card-carrying liberal feminists. As David Weigel mentioned on his Slate blog, Donna Dewitt, the outgoing president of AFL-CIO South Carolina, bashed a piñata bearing a photograph of Gov. Nikki Haley, while men and women in the crowd shouted “Whack her harder” and “hit her again.” Dewitt continues to smack the piñata long after it’s knocked down, which is a nice touch.

Elsewhere, Hustler has published an image—“a composite fantasy” in the magazine’s description—of conservative commentator S.E. Cupp with a phallus in her mouth. Hustler’s reasoning? “Cupp … is undeniably cute. But her hotness is diminished when she espouses dumb ideas like defunding Planned Parenthood.” So let’s shut her up. And, even better,  use a penis to do it.

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On the bright side, Planned Parenthood and Sandra Fluke have condemned the photo of Cupp, and the Women’s Media Center has issued a strong statement supporting Cupp. (Meanwhile, the National Organization for Women is still complaining about Rush Limbaugh on its website.)

The reaction is largely heartening. But I don't see it having a long-term effect, wherein we all rally around Cupp to improve the level of discourse. That's because incidents like this happen with such frequency and casualness that it's clear people think there won't be any pushback if they attack a conservative woman. Back in 2008, when some idiot hecklers shouted “Iron My Shirt” to Hillary Clinton, we talked about sexism for three days. But, like Weigel pointed out, no one at the AFL-CIO even thought twice about not only GETTING a piñata with Nikki Haley’s face on it or hitting said piñata, but similarly had no problem recording the event and UPLOADING IT TO YOUTUBE. If you do something sexist against a liberal, expect a firestorm. If you do something sexist (or pseudo-violent) against a conservative, well, they had it coming.

I have been most impressed by Cupp’s response. She commended Hustler for being honest: “They have uncomplicated this belief system that my political views, my being pro-life, my political views make this kind of behavior OK. It justifies it and I essentially deserve it. That is honesty and I have never seen it before.”

Indeed, it’s tiresome to hear someone preach about tolerance while only being tolerant toward those with whom they agree.  But that has become par for the course.

Rachael Larimore is Slate's managing editor.

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