Weinergate, slut-shaming, and right wing invalidation of women

I’m not going to lie, I’d like to be done talking about “Weinergate.” When the photo in question first emerged, I assumed it would blow over for the sheer ridiculousness of the whole thing. But it hasn’t, and it’s really illuminated how people on the right feel about younger women. So I still have something to say.

Let me get this out right away: I am one of the “young girls” that Anthony Weiner follows on Twitter. I won’t get into the details of that, because I have written about them elsewhere — at my personal blog as well as at a website I regularly write for. But to sum up: I follow him because of his speech at the Planned Parenthood rally in February, he follows me because I used the #WeinerYes hashtag, and I’ve never seen him tweet anything sexual, lewd or anything other than political and hilarious. Oh, and I don’t think of myself as a “young girl” because I’m 27.

But because I am on of the “Weiner girls,” my Twitter activity is suddenly open for scrutiny. Yes, I realize that by having a public feed on the site I am, in a way, always on display. But now, the activities of myself and the other women (just women, not the many men he also follows) Weiner follows are being shared and shamed by conservative users.

I have no problem with people disagreeing with articles I write. That comes with the territory when you write anything with your opinion in it. So if right-wingers want to pass around my blog posts they can do as they please with them. Where I take issue is the judging of my — and the other so-called Weiner girls’ — unrelated activities.

For example, a Twitter user was sending out links to one young woman’s Facebook page. It would seem that her crime is being young and pretty and wearing a bikini top in her profile picture. Essentially, it was a form of slut-shaming by saying that her somewhat revealing outfit meant that Weiner was following her because he’s some kind of perv. The whole argument also implies that young women couldn’t have an interest in a Congressman because he’s intelligent, funny and fights for our rights. We couldn’t possibly be politically-minded and simply admire his work. No, any interaction between him and women must be sexual and predatory.

Part of the reason I hadn’t paid attention to this Weinergate fiasco at first was that I spent last weekend in Las Vegas attending the Punk Rock Bowling music festival. Did you know that my taste in music is relevant to Anthony Weiner in any way? Well, apparently it is, because the same Twitter user that was shaming the swimsuit-wearer also felt compelled to share one of my tweets about Punk Rock Bowling. I’m sure there’s a stereotype out there that I’ve been ignoring for the past decade, possibly that I’m hyper-sexualized or simply young, stupid and irresponsible. He also added the tag #huma, so I guess he wanted Weiner’s wife Huma Abedin to see what kind of punk-loving delinquent her husband follows.

I happen to believe that Weiner is being in some way set up and that he didn’t really send that photo, but that’s barely even relevant at this point. What this whole situation has done is illuminated how little the right wingers think of young women. We couldn’t possibly be legitimately interested in politics, we must be sluttly little temptresses. A politician who fights for our rights couldn’t possibly be a good person who cares, he must be a creep and a predator. Our political opinions and ideological thoughts has been ignored in favor of using our age, appearance and perceived gender against us and the Congressman.

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One Comment

  1. Posted June 3, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    “What this whole situation has done is illuminated how little the right wingers think of young women. We couldn’t possibly be legitimately interested in politics, we must be sluttly little temptresses.”

    You are on the right track, but I think it works more like this:

    “Most of the politically-motivated right-wingers will take every story and every little bit of information they can find, splice it together, and narrate it in such a way that most effectively propagates their agenda, regardless of the consequences or the original context. While their followers are generally not as unscrupulous, they are usually willing to leave the veracity of their party’s claims unchecked, emboldening the leadership to produce more spin.”

    The left does it, too. They are generally not as committed, effective, or ruthless. The severity is notably less severe for them, but you don’t want to excuse such politically-motivated spin either.

    Shifting back to the right-wingers, though, while they generally do not care about women’s rights, their motivations in terms of misrepresenting Rep. Weiner’s twitter followers are motivated by gamesmanship rather than social attitudes. They are using this scandal as much as they can to discredit left politicians and to diminish attitudes towards left supporters so as to elevate their faction’s own status. You are, quite unfortunately, the target of the right’s actions, but it is simply part of their broader purpose of doing whatever they can to win elections.

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