Things I Agree With The O’Donnell Campaign About
It’s a short list. The campaign said about the Gawker piece that every friend of mine has condemned, many publicly:
“This story is just another example of the sexism and slander that female candidates are forced to deal with.”
First, and purely as an aside, the condemnation among feminists, from NOW to the big feminist bloggers (e.g. Marcotte and Valenti) to me, has been universal or near universal condemnation. The Gawker piece is vile, wrongheaded and actually manages to make O’Donnell seem consistent, human and somewhat sympathetic. I’ll never agree with her on policy; she’s a conservative, and a deeply sex negative conservative. (Also, there’s a strong appearance of impropriety, like she’s basically a thief who uses political money as personal funds. There is no place for corrupt and self-serving legislators in Washington. Those positions have been filled.)* But that doesn’t justify sexist attacks. Sexism is wrong, independent of the characteristics of the target. (Those who falsely claim that feminists only condemn sexism by the right will conveniently forget that we all said this as soon as they have the next opportunity to defend the sexism of the right.)
Second, and more substantively, people need to stop shoulding all over her personally. The Gawker story, which I won’t link because they have enough traffic without my help and because the piece is such drivel, essentially says she hooked up with a younger guy, got drunk, climbed into bed with him, but then declared her virginity (whatever that is) and didn’t fuck him.
And the problem with this is …?
She doesn’t have to do with him anything she doesn’t want to. She doesn’t incur an obligation to any particular sexual activity because she kisses him, goes out with him, gets drunk with him, climbs into his bed, or dresses like a sexy ladybug. (I diagree with Amanda that the costume was cute. I thought it was kitschy. Chocolate, vanilla. She still doesn’t owe the guy a fuck, a BJ, a handy or a goodnight kiss.)
I find it telling, actually, that the guy who spoke to Gawker noted that she didn’t wax her public hair, but then pulled the curtain over what happened between her declaration of virginity and the arrival of the sandman. He’s willing to reveal personal information about her, as long as he doesn’t feel like he’s revealing anything about him. He doesn’t want to say what he does when with a woman who doesn’t want to fuck.
And whatever could two consenting adults do to please each other sexually without intercourse?! As I think my readers mostly understand, everything. Everything but one particular act, elevated by the accident of its connection to procreation even in the context of nonprocreative just for fun sex. Readers, I had a relationship (on open one, I’ll grant) for years with a woman who didn’t fuck — who never had. Not an impediment, really. We got off together just fine. Lots of people partner sexually, even for a lifetime, without p-i-v. Some couples don’t have a flesh and blood cock between them, some have two, some have other arrangements of genitals, and the arrangements of our and our partners’ genitals don’t determine the kind of sex we have to have. That’s not just some asterisked exception for the queer, trans* and intersexed, some reject bin of “they do it different.” It’s freedom. Freedom from narrow constructions of sexual behavior around biology can apply (gasp!) to cis couples of one man and one woman, too.
Because he’s a narrowminded tool, and because he’s eliding all the details, I don’t trust the guy’s estimation. Is she sexually sheltered, or is he unable to process a woman who won’t fuck him any other way? She took her panties off; one can infer (not conclusively) that she intended some genital touching. He doesn’t make clear what happened after that. Maybe she gives a mediocre handjob. I can’t say, he doesn’t say, and I wouldn’t trust him if he did because he’s obviously biased. Maybe she gives a great handjob, and he’s too penetrocentric to appreciate real talent. Maybe he’s got nothing to offer except uninspired thrusting and has no idea how to get a partner off if she doesn’t want to fuck or can’t come that way.
This much Christine O’Donnell and I agree on: we can get in bed with someone and get naked, and it doesn’t mean that any of us must or should do something that doesn’t sit well with us. This guy is bitter that she didn’t go past her own limits, and I say that makes him the asshole.
*That punchline is old. I first heard it during Pat Buchanan’s run, as a response to Buchanan’s quote, “there is no place for a racist or an antisemite in this campaign.”