Just one more take on the whole Ann "BREASTS!! BREASTS!!!!ZOMG BREASTS!!!" Althouse thing, because it is a slightly different angle. It's one that kind of understandably got missed due to the, well, see above wrt BREASTS!!!1ONE!ELEVEN!!!1 business.
Actually, I think I'll be covering quite a bit of ground here; hopefully you'll see how it comes together by the end of it.
I'm going to start this with a comment taken from Bitch PhD.'s wonderfully acidulous take on the whole matter:
How about this: they are both wrong. Althouse's commments are disgusting and inappropriate but Jessica is old enough to know that when you have lunch with the former POTUS, one should wear a dress or a jacket.
Oh, and isn't it Laura Ingraham or Anne Coulter who now has a career because one or the other wore a leopard print miniskirt for a photo shoot on new Republicans in the NYT several years ago?
As it happens, I agree completely with Bitch's response to this:
Um, excuse me, a dress or a jacket? What-the-fuck-ever. NONE of the non-Clinton people in that photo are, in my humble fucking opinion, dressed especially well. This is probably because none of them are as rich as Bill Clinton.
Also, last I checked this country was a fucking democracy, and the president or ex-president of the nation was not a king for whom one is expected to dress as if appearing at court. These folks were at a working lunch. Far as I can see, they're all wearing appropriate work clothes for same.
Wacky notion, right? Not everyone can afford to dress themselves in head-to-toe Prada? We don't live in an aristocracy (supposedly), that would have been sort of the whole point of this whole United States project?
O, but, well, one can still wear a JACKET, can't one? At least cover up one's more prominent naughty bits (back to the boobies, sigh) and shockingly bare arms. Respect! Respect for the ex-President!
Well, a couple of things about that bit before we move on:
1) Not that I think the above-cited commenter is among these people, but just an awful lot of those who voiced similar sentiments at Ann Twerp's and similar sites were the exact same folks who make it abundantly clear that they have NO respect for this particular ex-President; were, in fact, among those who fervently wanted his pervy, lyin' ass tossed from that hallowed Office. Oh, and that a real feminist (sorry, I can't type this in this context without cracking helplessly the fuck up) wouldn't dream of being seen with the likes of That Man. So, which is it? Not enough respect? Or too much?
2) BC himself, of course, unlike the current "Grownups Are Back In Charge" Commander, never did put much stock in the wear-a-suit-and-tie thing, especially. He's always been a shirtsleeves kind of guy...
and, o. Well. That does tend to segue rather directly into my next point:
Clinton himself. Not Classy. Point of fact, he is and always will be to a lot of...minds, the charming moniker known as White Trash.
What's that you say? Snobbery against the white folks who are poor-to-blue-collar, not-formally-educated, Southern (especially, not exclusively) and/or rural (ditto) is mainly a liberal cultural elite thing? Well, I won't deny that this and other snobberies/bigotries are alive and well among the loosely-defined left. Matter of fact, I'm going to get back to the "other" eventually here. But for anyone tuning in who's still possessed of the belief that the Republicans, whatever else about them, are more in touch with the salt-of-the-earth, just-folks people (hey, would Rush Limbaugh have had the degree of success he did if he couldn't give that impression?), I give you, just for a taste: White Trash Wednesdays, a lighthearted little game participated in by (apparently) some of our current RW leading lights (or maybe mid-level lights, I'm not that au courant) in the blog O'Sphere.
Or, well, I don't know: apparently there are folks, and then there are folks. Something. It's just lovely, whatever it is. Only meant with the best of gentle affectionate intentions, I am sure. Or, you know, irony: the all-purpose ass-cover. No doubt.
But what does this have to do with the luncheon in question, I hear you ask? Surely no one is suggesting that Jessica or any of the other bloggers are white trash.
Well, no. Not that. Obviously.
Let me come at that one in a slightly oblique way. Let's go back to the Ur-Scandal here: Monica Monica Monica Monica Monica Monica.
If I weren't a feminist, I guess I'd call her a pathetic little slut.
Lewinsky -- coiffed, painted, coached and at times poised -- tried to present herself as the girl next door. Only if the house next door is a bordello.
Let's see, what would we normally call a woman so slovenly, so avaricious, so promiscuous........Ah yes, a slut - that's what we would call her. Do we have sluts anymore?...The Lewinskys are indeed one strange family. Shamelessness, or is it vulgarity, seem to grow on the family tree.
Clinton was in the Oval Office fiddling with his "Jew's harp," while Hillary burned.
..oh. ah. That last one.
Well, all in good time.
First the really important question: "Do we have sluts anymore?"
Well, apparently there's a pressing need for them. It's true that cutesy terms like "sexbots" and hinting around like "trashy" and "not classy" don't quite cut it. It is certainly a word with a fine and venerable history, is "slut:"
Although the ultimate origin of "slut" is unknown, it first appeared in Middle English (1402) as slutte (AHD), with the meaning "a dirty, untidy, or slovenly woman." Even earlier, Chaucer used the word "sluttish" (c.1386) to describe a slovenly man; however, later uses appear almost exclusively associated with women. The modern sense of "a sexually promiscuous woman" dates to at least 1450;
Another early meaning was "kitchen maid or drudge" (c. 1450), a meaning retained as late as the 18th century, when hard knots of dough found in bread were referred to as "slut's pennies." A notable example of this use is Samuel Pepys's diary description of his servant girl as "an admirable slut" who "pleases us mightily, doing more service than both the others and deserves wages better"
In other words: low-class. Quite literally. She serves a lot of purposes, doesn't she. Good help: so hard to find these days. Yes, of course she spends all day cleaning up our shit; but dammit, does she have to look so, well, dirty? Ew. Icky. Gross. O well then: she must prefer it down there. Down in the cinders. Down in the gutter. Down doing all the dirty work. Which, let us not forget, also includes those particular vulgar sexual acts, the ones no lady would ever perform (which is why the menfolk often have to go see those other women, the...ladies of the evening, on the down low). Including, but not limited to, blowjobs. Yup, even still. Certainly the memory of oral sex as taboo, even illegal, is still quite fresh in our collective psyche, even if individually we may not quite clock this:
A common misperception is that oral sex is still nominally illegal in some states in the U.S. However, in the U.S. Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas (2003), Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, struck down all anti-sodomy laws in the United States, declaring that such laws violated the liberty phrase of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
There, you see? We are a modern, enlightened society, the You Ess of Ay. We've struck down all such antiquated laws. Three whole years ago.
But so, what happens when there is both a need for a "slut" and a vast overwhelming contempt for both her and the services she performs*? No one can stand the designated human toilet; and yet, what would we do without her?
(*Prostitution in towns is like the sewer in a palace; take away the sewers and the palace becomes an impure and stinking place."
- Saint Thomas Aquinas)
Why, you give the job to the women who don't count...as much. The next rung down the ladder, as 'twere. Historically speaking. Currently it is officially ever-so-slightly more fashionable to tag the "white trash" among us as safe bearers of this role. Anna Nicole. Jenna Jameson. Britney. Even good ol' Paris Hilton, vexing everyone with her inexplicable "trashiness" despite her fine background. Well, we can all breathe easier now: all these women are now wealthy, and therefore it is more than acceptable to stick 'em in the "trash" slot, if any of us were feeling just a tad guilty about making fun of the women who look/act like this and aren't rich. I mean, look at them! Especially the first three: they have no self-control whatsoever. Slovenly. Loud. And: FAT. oh, could I ever do a whole post on the connection between "too much womanly flesh" and class! Between FAT and class! And if it's not fat per se, it's "baby got back" and BIG TITTIES. You begin to see some of the connections here, perhaps.
But, and perhaps this is what is sticking in a lot of peoples' craw, ultimately: these days, call it "raunch culture" or "political correctness" or what you will, the lines are, on the surface at least, a bit more blurred. Where are the sluts of yesteryear? Goddamit. Why can't they know their place? They're making more money in a day than I ever will in a lifetime! And now suddenly I'm expected to look and act like that, now it's GOOD I guess to be all painted and blow-job-giving, even if I don't want to, don't I already have enough troubles surviving as a woman in this pig-dog sexist culture? Where is the justice?!
But, but, but. Point. The other thing about the sluts of yesteryear...yesterday...yesterhour...is that (more) traditionally, they are not blonde. They are brunette. They are, in fact...dark. Like Monica. Like Jessica.
I don't even have time to get into the real end point of that particular equation except maybe tangentially, at the end of this post: I will save that for my continuing coverage of the Angela West book "Deadly Innocence," specifically the part wherein she talks rather smartly about how one of the main reasons black feminists have tended to look at white feminists pleas for sisterly unity with a rather jaundiced eye is in fact because traditionally they have been rather emphatically shoved into the "slut" role. If that isn't too mild a word for "slaves," of course; but even after slavery officially ended, why: yes indeed, Brown Sugar, and good help, and and and, well, more on that later, I think.
But there are layers and layers here; and somewhere between the white lady of the manor and the chattel, there have been these other folks, who are also considered white...now. They weren't always, however. The Italians. The Irish. And oh yes. the Jews. All part of our colorful American melting pot history, yesyesyes; and by God, we're all melted now, aren't we? Sure we are. Especially the folks whose ancestors were from Europe; hey, they worked hard and got ahead, and we all admire that, right? Hard work, getting ahead: would never dream of calling such things "climbing," and if some of "those people" are, well, vulgar...well, you know, vulgar: loud, obnoxious, grasping. No class. But damn, that's got nothing to do with...what century do you think this is, anyway?
And so, coming back to here and now and the Clinton luncheon, here I will post this one comment I found over at Miz Twerp's, because I really found it rather, well, extraordinary:
" her blog uses sexuality for promotional purposes."---Althouse
(commenter response to AA starts)
Yes, but it's a certain kind of sexuality.
I've looked at her Flickr photos....hers is a a kind of wholesome--
---sort of a look.
She has pictures of her cherub father interspliced between semi-wholesome, yet all-knowing, shots of her emphasizing breasts.
Women know how NOT to expose body parts. I don't care if you are a 44 DD, there's a certain style of dressing, and body language, whereby you can turn it completely off.
Jessica hides behind this veil of the good-Jewish-wholesome-Italian-Ethnic-brunette facade, which probably makes her unassailable on the surface.
Yet, it's so obvious what she's intentionally contriving to put out there.
It's that wholesome/semi-ethnic look....you can't criticize her, she's got her father up there, for God's sake.
Yes. Very clever, pretending to be wholesome. And of course you can't say anything about..such people...these days. Nice (semi-ethnic) girl next door. With a father and everything! Just like Monica. Wants us to think she doesn't have any ulterior motives. That she's NOT a slut; that she's NOT just a jumped-up vulgar shameless climber. But we know better, don't we.
And, you know, I was going to say something about the author of that particular comment, whom I followed back to her own place out of sheer morbid curiousity. I'm not gonna provide the link, because I've made myself pretty clear that I think spotlighting an off-the-radar blogger for the purposes of piling on is creepy. I just mention it because, well, it would appear that the commenter in question is in fact "semi-ethnic" herself, or at least semi-Jewish; and, well, I got a strong sense of...look, I'll be honest, her blog nearly did my head in. I'll leave it to you to do the legwork if you really want to guess why. For now I'll just say this: as I have been noting recently, the fact that ones' evangelical Christianity means one is well conversant with both the Old Testament and a big ol' Friend O' Zion, even coupled with "some of my best distant relatives are Jewish," does not in fact mean that one cannot be anti-Semitic. There are, you see, Jews and Jews, just as there are folks and folks; and there is a difference between the admirable religious family-values-keeping sort and the more, well, purely ethnic sort.
Anyway, to answer the Bitch PhD. commenter's question, way up there, the thing about Ann Coulter, perhaps Laura Ingraham too, don't know her as well, but Coulter can wear a micro-skirted little black dress to a breakfast interview or anything else she chooses and still not be called out by the right-wing slut-baiters, ever. Because, well, first of all, her politics, of course; but second of all, well, she's, you know, classy. Yes! Ann Coulter, classy! Know why? Because she has stick-straight blonde hair and a properly rail-thin body and a lovely proper name and Daddy and that lovely boarding-school accent, you know, the one that sounds like you're only just keeping from vomiting in sheer disgust at the crassness of it all.
I will just conclude this section by noting that I still don't know exactly what the commenter at the Ann Twerp thread meant by asking me,
And Are you gonna eat that last bagel?
but said genius is cordially invited to take a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut.
And so we come back full circle to the luncheon in question. Well; yes. Layers and layers here, aren't there. And so it comes to pass that we have a pearl-clutching right-winger slut-baiting the middle-of-the-road, "semi-ethnic" Democrat in the Gap top; at the same time, we have,, Bill Clinton, the "first black President," scorned for his "trashiness" but proudly embracing his of-the-people-ness by putting his office in Harlem, not only has only white bloggers at his high-profile networking event, but the luncheon, as noted by one of the attendees:
had some local Harlem cuisine (fried chicken, cornbread, sweet potato fries, salad, spinach, corn, and sweet tea)
(quotage found via Bint Alshamsa)
Ah yes. Local cuisine. Served and prepared by...? Mm.
And then, when bloggers of color note the irony and protest the lack of inclusion, they are responded to with such gems as,
So, Liza, dear, before you go assailing your betters and making Jane stand in for every blond white woman who ever pissed you off, maybe you should head back to eighth grade English and, you know, learn to spell and to write in a linear fashion.
Yeah, damn that Liza, anyway. Doesn't she understand how it works yet? Doesn't she know her place in the pecking order--because there always has to be a pecking order of some sort. How dare she question, much less "assail," "her betters?"
"It's a dirty job, but somebody has to do it."