Groping Hillary Without Consequences: The Case of Jon Favreau
Curiously, Mr. Carville sets out what he believes are the truly important areas for women, citing violence against women among his top three issues. Apparently he feels confident stating that violence against women is a serious matter while simultaneously demeaning women for expressing concerns about that very issue as such concerns pertained to Favreau's behavior.
Kevin Madden focuses his attention much as Blitzer did regarding how careful one must be in this day of modern technology. This perspective suggests that the behavior is not what we need to focus on, but more importantly, one's care in not getting caught! He comments, as did Carville, about Favreau's speechwriting talents, as if they had any bearing on the matter.
Kathleen Parker's piece in the Washington Post also minimized Favreau's actions, noting that everyone needs to lighten up and have a sense of humor. She slapped the wrist of feminists by suggesting energies would be best directed to the more serious matter of, "say, Iran, where yet another woman recently was sentenced to death by stoning for adultery." Ms. Parker traded solid investigative research for a snide remark since many feminist organizations in America are concerned about and involved with taking action against the treatment of Muslim women and all oppressed women around the world. Unfortunately, Ms. Parker could not see her way clear to realize that a college student getting date-raped because some young man thought it perfectly fine to exploit her in this way is horrendous in it's own right. We needn't look overseas for egregious acts against women. Sadly, we have plenty right here at home.
Robert Schlesinger of U.S. News and World Report acknowledges that Favreau's behavior was "dumb" and "crass" but is "not reflective of deep-seated misogyny." Mr. Schlesinger appears to have the astonishing ability to crawl into the heart and mind of Mr. Favreau and determine the nature and the depth of his attitudes toward women.
The confused and misguided notions expressed by major media commentators suggests numerous double standards:
Double Standard No 1: Partisan Politics -- If the speechwriter in question had worked for a Republican and not a Democrat, would the press would have handled the matter differently? In light of the persistent media bias in favor of Democrats and critical of all things Republican, it appears reasonably safe to assume they would have pounced all over it as a sign of something very wrong, which of course, it is.
Double Standard No 2: Race vs. Gender Bias -- If the image on the cardboard cut out had been Michelle Obama or any other prominent black woman, would Obama's response and the media's response be different? Based on what we've witnessed all year, I would venture to guess that the response would be radically different. There would be outrage. There would be cries of racism. It would be a front and center issue, as it should be.
Double Standard No 3: Clinton vs. Female Family Member of Media Commentators -- If the image were not of Senator Clinton but rather the mother, wife, or daughter of one of the commentators, would they have a different view of the entire affair? If not, that would be disturbing in and of itself. If so, then they have a double standard regarding their treatment of this situation.
Double Standard No 4: Favreau and Staffer vs. Ordinary Guy -- What if the men miming the act of getting a woman drunk while groping her breasts were not privileged, "talented" young men? Perhaps blue collar. Maybe not quite so handsome, so seemingly charming. What if they were a couple of guys that looked like they lived on the other side of the tracks? Would people be more offended? Would they find it wrong that such young men were engaged in these kinds of behaviors toward a person who will likely be our next secretary of state?
Double Standard No 5: Heterosexual Image vs. Homosexual Image -- What if Favreau and his buddy were interacting in a sexually provocative way with a cardboard cut-out of a man? What if the image were of Barack Obama? Would the Obama campaign feel differently about it? Would the media take offense?
What Jon Favreau did is important and it is not only women who should be outraged. We all should be.
Violence against women often begins with the behaviors mimed by Jon Favreau and his buddy. A woman is rendered semi-conscious and then fondled, often raped. In some cases, she is killed. If you're female, you don't have to live in Iran to wind up dead because of the simple fact of your gender.
What Jon Favreau did was wrong. It was wrong because of the powerful symbol it conveys and the message it sends. Obama's silence on the matter condones the action. The media's dismissal reinforces the message to those who may be inclined to emulate Jon Favreau that it's fine to do so. And it tells women and girls that demeaning treatment will be tolerated.
Women across America are being beaten as we read these words. Such behaviors do not occur in a vacuum. They occur within a social context that accepts it by participating, nurturing, minimizing, or simply ignoring it.
Jon Favreau, through his actions, Barack Obama, through his inactions, and the media, through their complicity, have all fueled, just that much more, a cultural context that accepts what we all must reject at every turn: the full range of degradation toward women.