Once More, Into The Breach

Though I’m loathe to continue to point out this story, it seems to have hit home with many local bloggers, and, it sparked a long conversation on Google talk between me and Aunt B.  It was weird how fast we brought it full circle, and i was alarmed by something I’ll reference in a bit…

Sharon Cobb wrote about it, calling for the Prez-elect to fire the young speechwriter/symbolic molester.  Sean Braisted responded, Aunt B responded to that, Coma chimed in this morning (well, I read it this morning) and now I feel compelled to respond myself.

However, I don’t care to debate whether or not the young lads should canned.  I’ll just say that ending a promising career over a stupid prank seems counter-productive.  So are comparisons to date rape.  One cannot draw a line connecting the two, straight or otherwise.

Some time ago, I wrote about whether or not condescention was hostility.  I don’t believe it is, without really stretching the definition of that word, but the debate was lively and civil and very informative.  I have also been taken to task for using the word “shrill” to describe a woman’s argument.  I believe Aunt B would call that a “teachable moment.”  She may be right, but in our conversation this morning, I began to realize how little some very smart feminists understand about the average man.

So, I have to wonder how you teach, without knowing how your average pupil processes the information in the lesson.

Advocates tend to adopt “scorched earth” approach to their issue.  Every slight is elevated to a Class A Felony.  (Ha, I should admit here that Aunt B countered this by saying that burning ahead of the fire is good strategy, and i staggered a minute before composing myself)  By trying to connect something intended as harmless humor to something intended to cause injury, advocates lose their intended audience.  Then, I have to ask, who are you teaching?

An example:  The other day, I took my 12 yr old daughter and her friend to the mall to shop.  We were having fun, laughing at each other’s jokes, and we were cutting up inside a dept store.  Somewhere near the mall entrance, the store had a full sized mannequin wearing a skirt so short you could see it’s buttocks.  As I walked by, I patted it.  Of course the girls cracked up.  I have done this same thing in front of The Primary Wife, and she usually just shakes her head in feigned disgust, but gets the joke.  Sure, she knows me, and knows that I am not a controlling person, that I mean no harm, and that it is funny because it is so preposterous.

Now, she knows a little about rape, and its horrors.  I would wager that as a veteran E.R. Nurse, shes seen more rape victims than most feminists.  But it would never occur to her to connect that prank, or the one committed by Favreau to the act of rape, forcible or otherwise.  It is precisely that reason that if she braced me about something regarding women’s rights, (for lack of a better word) she would have my attention.  I’ve known this woman for 17 years, and she is never shrill.  Never.

This is getting too long, but my point is that sometimes, feminists assign an evil intent to an act where it does not exist, at least not in the mind of the offender.  And that is precisely where it matters.  Our legal system places a great deal of importance on intent, so the person who does something careless isn’t held accountable for some unforeseen outcome.


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36 responses to “Once More, Into The Breach

  1. I’m almost with you up until the end. But I’m certainly not buying that last paragraph. Intent might be important for the legal system. But hell no to it being the job of the person at the receiving end of bad behavior to have to discern the intent.

  2. By labeling it evil, hasn’t some discernment already taken place?

  3. The person at the receiving end of this bad behaviour being a cardboard cutout, or a store mannequin?

    Equating this to actual assault makes the equator (Ha!) come off as a kook.

  4. nm

    Yes, this is a teachable moment. It’s a moment when men might be able to learn that miming behavior that is used to keep all women in their objectified places, in order to show contempt for one specific woman, isn’t harmless — even when it’s done to a cardboard cut-out. And it’s a moment when men might realize that when a chorus of women they consider their friends and allies tell them the same thing, it’s time to start paying attention.

    Mack, I would sorta kinda be on your side about this if the guys in the picture had been fondling an anonymous picture of an anonymous woman. I would consider it boorish and stupid and a wakeup call to those who want to be in public service that, rightly or wrongly, in the internet age they have no privacy, but I would probably not bother discussing it. But that wasn’t what was happening; they were celebrating a victory over a female rival by demeaning her sexually. Not as a politician who hadn’t beaten their boss, not as a promoter of this or that policy which hadn’t resonated with the voters, but as a woman. And when a lot of the women you know, who are personally fond of you, who tend to agree with you on a lot of political stuff, tells you that this creeps them out and makes them feel that the party and people who claim to represent them actually thinks they’re meat, maybe you should ask what you can learn from this, not how they can learn not to be bothered by it.

  5. Well; that was certainly stupid of the Mr. Favreau. Canning him will make him a victim (if not to himself, then to others). Requiring that he do some form of penance would certainly be appropriate.

    We can, of course, be totally non-offensive if we don’t do anything that is deemed by others to be so. The devil IS in the details.

    I was speaking to a woman at an arts & crafts fair (that had a major sponsorship from a big Peace group) about her particular project, which is taking teenagers to Africa, usually Ghana, to spend some time in another culture. She is a refined, beautiful and articulate woman. As we were speaking about one thing and another she told me that she had spent some years in western Kansas as a young woman. She said that people there had called her “colored”. She was very offended by the term. She said she would have preferred the “N” word.

    Last friday evening I was having a beer at a nice restaurant and while I was talking to someone, a nice looking young woman (as I saw when I turned around) came up behind me and put her hands on my back, giving me a little tickle. I was surprised–and when I turned, even more surprised–as I didn’t know her. She said, “I just need my jacket”, took it off the back of the stool I was sitting on and walked away. I’m fairly certain that had I done something similar to her, she would have been quite upset.

    Just two example in the last four days; I’m sure you all have others. Women, those I know well and others that I know not at all, say some incredibly sexist things to me. I have no idea what, in many cases, their intent is. I either accept their comments without responding or not, depending on how I’m feeling. I certainly don’t want women, or men, to stop interacting with me, so I tend to weigh the comment (or action) in the circumstance.

  6. Pingback: On The Favreau Groping Hillary Thing « Heartbreaktown

  7. Except, NM, that i happen to live with a woman who I’m pretty sure is fond of me, but that thinks this whole flap is counter-productive. I guess she is just trying not to take a beating…

    Or, she could be right.

  8. Demo, the Devil is INDEED in the details. Good point.

  9. nm

    Mack, ordinarily would be happy that you value the words of the woman you love and live with over the combined words of such a high number of other women in your social and blogging life. In this case, however, you might want to consider the meaning of numbers, and avoid the “some of my best friends are …” trope.

  10. nm

    Ordinarily I would be happy. The shift key is killing me today.

  11. Tough luck, Mack. You’re caught in the “We’re all offended by it, so you should be too.” line of logic.

    Deduction by majority rule. That communist ideology can sure bite you in the butt, huh? ;)

  12. Naw, I ain’t big on appeasement for appeasement’s sake. NM, I value your opinion. I don’t happen to share it.

  13. nm

    Fair enough, Mack, but I really, truly think you’re seeing this one with both eyes closed.

  14. Nope.

    I would put one woman who is living out her feminism each and every day up against a thousand feminists who assign an evil intent to an act where it does not exist — which in turn diminishes their cause when it is really needed — any day of the week.

    This is preposterous. It is a drunk twenty-something kid who landed a big-time job joking with f*cking cardboard cutout.

    Save the outrage for something that REALLY MATTERS!!!!

  15. Thanks, Ginger. I’ll keep that in mind–you over here implying that I don’t live out my feminism every day but instead am wasting my time talking about stuff that doesn’t matter, diminishing my cause. In return, I’ll appreciate that the next time you feel outraged about something, you spare me from it, as well.

  16. nm

    Ya know, Ginger, I don’t see anyone on the local blogs assigning evil intent to that kid. As we’ve all pointed out, the problem was that without any evil intention at all, he buys into some harmful ways of thinking about women — or acting unthinkingly with respect to women. And that such unthinking actions hurt women although the harm isn’t intended, and we’d like it if those who claim to support women tried not to do such things, and admitted it when they did. There’s a distinction there that I think it’s important to keep in mind.

  17. Aunt B., I am not implying that you personally aren’t living out your feminism everyday–I know you better than that–and you should know by now that I respect you more than that. What I am stating is that there is definitely a pattern where the more vocal feminists automatically go haywire over things that, in the scheme of life, simply is not worth the energy they wish to draw to it. There is only so much attention to go around, and they should save it for what really matters!

    If you want to be outraged over a boy putting his hand on the breast of a cardboard cutout, fine. Go for it. It’s your prerogative. But do not be surprised if you get a negative response when the time comes you need the moderates to stand with you on a cause.

    That’s all I’m saying…save the outrage for the big stuff.

  18. Yuppers, thats kinda what I’m sayin too. Maybe it would matter more if I had me some ovaries…

  19. bridgett

    How I teach? Just fine, thanks. Two prof of the year awards, head of a Big Ten teaching and writing center, launched hundreds of students now into teaching careers of their own. No complaints, but I appreciate your concern.

  20. ?

    Someone ask for your resume?

  21. bridgett

    Yeah, you did:

    “So, I have to wonder how you teach, without knowing how your average pupil processes the information in the lesson.”

    Just reassuring you that I’m doing fine.

  22. Fair enough. Tell me, would you structure the lesson the same for grad students and 7th graders alike?

  23. Ginger–
    Aunt B’s post was very important to women, because we’re talking about our next President and his speechwriter going right to sexual assault and Adam…the other guy, who also works for Obama, adding date rape with holding back her “hair” and pouring beer down her.
    This is not about HRC. This is about attacking a woman via a cutout, which some are considering a harmless prank, but one has to ask why didn’t they draw a mustache or give her horns or whatever? No. They immediately made it about her gender with the grope and “Let’s get her drunk and take advantage of her” with the pulling the hair back and plying her with liquor.
    Yes, I know it’s “just a cut out,” and what they did was done to a cutout, but if wasn’t about her gender, and taking advantage of women, they would have drawn something else.
    For me, that’s the point.
    For me, Obama should have condemned the photo and publicly apologized (and you know I’m an Obama supporter) to HRC AND all women for the hateful “prank.”
    Aunt B may have a different take; I would never presume to talk for her, but I thought her post was very important as a feminist. For me, it’s also not about whether who gets along with whom, but all people getting together on issues like sexual assault (which I believe everyone I’ve met on this thread and some I haven’t) are against.
    And here’s the thing that underscores what I am saying.
    They (the media,Dem party,etc) have already swept it under the rug. It was just about a woman, and once again, we are shown how unimportant an issue is when it comes to simulating sexual assault and date rape against a woman, even when that woman is our next Secretary of State, and heads of state from around the world will see that photo and think it’s okay to grope women because we didn’t speak out about it.
    How is Hillary or Obama supposed to go around the world talking about the way women are treated in parts of the world when they can point to a very long list of how women are treated here?
    All the way around, the actions of the two young men underscored blatant misogyny within this administration by this new administration not taking action over it.

  24. Aunt B’s post was very important to women, because we’re talking about our next President and his speechwriter going right to sexual assault

    I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts it wasn’t very important to all women. Ginger isn’t the odd exception. The primary wife thought the flap over it was counter-productive. The fact is, it was written by a feminist for other feminists.

    And the phrase “Obama and his speechwriter going right to sexual assault” is possibly the most inflammatory thing I’ve seen written here in a very long time. Poorly thought out, and poorly phrased.

  25. Mrs Schwartz rolled her eyes and made some comments that included “fucking ridiculous” and “good God”.

    Purely anecdotal

  26. Ask her if she feels victimized. If not, she clearly needs to take advantage of this teachable moment.

  27. “fucking ridiculous” and “good God”
    Yeah…38 years after Coach Don Brooks of Coronado High School in El Paso sexually assaulted me when I was 14, I get the same response from the High School and the School District and the police won’t do a thing because of the statute of limitations.

    That’s what happens when you have a culture that doesn’t take sexual assault seriously.

    Mack–I fought (and was a big part) of getting Jessica’s Law passed in TN., and ironically, while it does nothing for me, Ginger’s little girl is safer for it.

    It’s not about being a feminist for me. It’s about not having any ramifications to simulating sexual assault on a woman. I’m not saying they should be treated the same as if they actually committed sexual assault, but the next President, whom I spent thousands of hours helping over two years, (just bringing that up to underscore I am an Obama supporter) shouldn’t have anyone working for him who isn’t even publicly contrite for simulating sexual assault.

  28. And Damn them for not locking up somebody without a shred of evidence, other than your accusation. Cuz THAT’s the kinda world I want to live in.

  29. Exador–
    Why so hostile? You have no idea what evidence I have.
    But the statute of limitations is one year for sexual assault? Shameful. Most children who are sexually assaulted don’t speak up at the time because they are ashamed and think it’s their fault.
    Your jumping to conclusions that the scum who molested me should go on without consequence.
    And if you knew me, you’d know I am a strong believer in the libel laws, not least of because I’ve been libeled, and I would not say something about someone publicly so egregious if it weren’t true.
    Man, it’s a shame that you jumped to conclusions without ever having sat down and talked to me and gotten to know me.
    Sexual assault is not funny, and simulating it with that cutout is not funny.

  30. Hostile? Not in the least. Call it an educated guess that if the statute if limitation has been exceeded, you have no evidence, especially if 38 years have passed. Of course I could be wrong. Your statement that “the cops won’t do a thing” implies that you want this person arrested.

    Besides, it was you that tossed your assault into this discussion of cardboard-gate.

  31. Ex–
    The statutes of limitations have nothing to do with evidence when it comes to rape, sexual assault, etc.
    It’s one year.
    How many young girls or boys do you know who are going to come forward in one year?
    I came forward in 1993 when I found out it was still teaching there, and went to the cops.
    He’s a criminal, that’s why I went to the cops.
    He is certainly entitled to a trial, but I should be, too.
    It’s a law that needs to be changed because most molested children don’t speak up until they are adults, if at all.
    But glad you’re not hostile! :)
    And that’s a cool title–“cardboard-gate.”

    The people who have sued the Catholic Church successfully did it in a civil trial, where there is not a statute of limitation for molestation, and you can receive a lot of money if you win.

    I’m not after money. I’m after justice, which I’ve been told is very naive to expect in our system.

    But enough about that–let’s get back to “cardboard-gate.”

    I think with Gov. Bdslkdfjsldkfjsldfj (I’ll never spell it correctly) carboard-gate may be over, which, to me, is still an indication of how lightly simulating sexual assault by two Presidential aides is being taken.

    I’m not sure how we take the moral high ground with countries that oppress women when they can point to that and ask, “Mr. President, why do you let your speech writers do this to a cutout of your Secretary of State?”

  32. I apologize for appearing insensitive. Mrs Schwartz has to remind me to temper by logic with consideration, and she’s right.

    Ya know, I was thinking of this on the way to work today when something occured to me.

    I would argue that, while stupid, this guy’s behavior is not directly harming anyone. I would guess that you would argue that his behavior influences others by contributing to an environment…

    How would you reconcile that with censorship of media? I could easily use that logic to say that John Lennon should have been censored because he contributed to drug use by children.

  33. Hmmm. I think I’ve wandered into the realm of Hillary Haters. If the woman had been someone you respected (and I trust there are women out there that you respect, Mack), you may have seen the offense. Or, maybe it’s the land of the Good Ole Boys (nudge, nudge, wink, wink – Boys will be boys).

    What say?


  34. Actually, Cyn, I really like and admire Hillary. I tossed and turned over whom to support in the Primary, and documented my reasons for choosing Obama here last Summer.

    It isn’t that I don’t see some symbolic “offense”, I just don’t think its fair to forever define Favreau by this one act. He has apologised, and I think that is all that should reasonably be expected.

    BTW, where the heck have ya been? Good to see you!

  35. democommie


    I think an apology, together with a demonstration of remorse (apologies without such are cheap), such as some sort of community service is in order.

    I don’t think it’s about a “bunch of Hillary haters”. Just the other day someone on another blog said something incredibly nasty about my mother (who is almost nine years passed away) and I thought about making a major dealie out of. I didn’t because it was an anonymous swipe. IF the same person said such a thing to my face, with or without my mother alive, I would have cleaned their clock. I just think that there IS context around these things. I am not excusing Mr. Favreau’s idiocy; I think it was incredibly stupid. But, he is young, let’s see if he learned a genuine lesson–and let’s see if he actually taught one, as well.

  36. Hey, Mack Daddy, glad to see you are alive and kicking and pissing people off. I hope all is well with you and the family. I happened to come across your blog when I was cleaning out my bookmarks (yes, I saved it), so I stopped by for a visit.

    The freaking Favreau thing really bothers me. Three sisters, two daughters, two granddaughters make me take this stuff seriously. At 27 years old and member of the President elect’s administration, he is not entitled to any free passes. I doubt you would be thrilled of a life size photo of your beautiful (and talented) daughter in the same position.

    In any case, you have a nice place here. I shall try to get here more often to stir the pot. ;-)

    Take care, my friend.

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