The internet is a weird place, with the constant taking and publishing of photos of oneself fueling our society's love of exhibitionism, narcissism, and voyeurism. There is no personal space anymore and some people seem very happy about that. Take Twitter, for instance. Does anyone really need to hear what I think every minute of the day? Of course not. But the utter lack of anything interesting to say hasn't stopped millions of people from hopping on the bandwagon. Twitter and Facebook simultaneously service our need to feel important / interesting and the voyeuristic tendencies of what is fast becoming a nation of creepy, asocial shut-ins.

Meghan McCain created a controversy by posting a revealing photo of herself on her Twitter account. I could care less what she chooses to do, but her effort to play it off as unintentional is pretty stupid. Could one share this picture with the world and say with a straight face, "Boobs? Why, I hardly noticed!"

Yeah, no. "Girl who takes a lot of pictures that 'accidentally' show massive amounts of boobage" is a stock character in everyone's online social circle at this point. Big deal. Great. Do what you want, Meghan. Wear what you want. Show what you want, or don't. People who complain should promptly be told to kiss your ass. But why pretend like this is anything other than what it is: one of 100 million Americans who get a cheap thrill out of exposing themselves (in this case quite literally) on the internet. McCain indulged her exhibitionist tendencies and her Twitter "followers" indulged the kind of creepy, lurking outside the window voyeurism that is Twitter's implicit raison d'être.

This guy, on the other hand, could keep an army of psychiatrists busy. (via S,N!)

Taking into account the cesspool of personality disorders and barely restrained sociopaths that is the internet, this guy is the most obvious candidate to become a serial rapist I have ever seen. To wit:

We control the way we portray ourselves in this bizarre medium; this is the photo he wants you to see. Someone said "Hey Ben, you look like a sexual predator who may also bomb a Federal courthouse someday" and his response was, "Yep, that's what I'm going for." As his screed makes it perfectly clear that he has never spoken to a woman without first giving his credit card number or being maced immediately afterward, his choice to embrace this makes sense. His ranting reveals his belief that Ms. McCain is more popular because she has big boobs, which is a natural compensatory response for a person who realizes that his own lack of talent and terrifying personality shortcomings are consigning him to a life of insignificance.

Is Ms. McCain, as Ben claims, an attention whore? Of course. Who broadcasts his or her life on the internet without being one? We write blogs or maintain Twitter accounts because we want people to pay attention to us. If taking pictures of one's chest, which just happens to look like one was struck in the upper back by a pair of large rockets, furthers the efforts to get more people to pay attention, great. If it attracts a bunch of faux-puritans seething with fake righteous indignation at her "sluttiness," that's the downside. Both outcomes are possible in this bizarre world we've created, one in which we invite possibly deranged strangers to peer into our lives and in which we compete with one another for the bragging rights concomitant with attracting the greater number of voyeurs followers.


  • Marx Was Right says:

    Dangerously close to claiming she was asking for it, Ed. Your post should be focusing on how male privilege in our society is exhibited on the internet. The only people who should be chastised in this whole fiasco are the creepy ass pieces of shit who believe they have dominion over women's bodies and should be able to tell Meghan how to act just because she has the audacity to have breasts.

  • Meghan posted the picture, people responded like horndog dorks, and then Meghan issued the non-denial denial expected of her. When a famous woman shows too much the world provides ample attention and it's become expected that she'll issue a denial of the event to proclaim her non-sluttitude. It's a charade, but the ones getting played are the prudes.

    I remember the Fatal Attraction silliness over Sharon Stone's pudendum. She actually said that she was tricked into removing her underpants for that scene by a lighting guy who said they were reflecting too much. Why this is supposed to restore the virtue of a flasher, I couldn't say, but it was something that she felt compelled to put forth. That this explanation was so obviously bullshit is immaterial: that she had any excuse at all was enough to make her acceptable again to those dolts who blamed her for having woman parts and showing them.

    Same went for Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and all the other starlets who just happen to be wearing nothing underneath their dresses and haven't figured out how to get out of a car without revealing where they are on their waxing schedule. In such cases, an "Oops!" was enough of an excuse to call off the culture warriors, which suggests that we've come a long way in twenty years and also that nudity is something we'll never get enough of. We men are often complete and total dorks, but it takes a special kind of dork (I'm talking about Ben Shapiro) to try to blame women for their dorkishness.

  • Marx Was Right says:


    Basically agreed. The issue at stake here is that women, as members of the sex class in our patriarchal society, are expected to walk a tightrope and establish themselves within ever-changing, undefined, and amorphous boundaries. No one is going to get upset at a "racy" picture of, say Jenna Jameson or Pamela Anderson or whoever happens to be the wank-off fantasy du jour. However, when a woman who has been categorized as "professional" (McCain, or perhaps a Naomi Klein, maybe a Mika Brzezinski for example) intentionally or accidentally reveals to the world that yes, she is a woman, and yes, she has woman parts, men often chastise them vociferously until she is beaten back down into her place, usually after issuing the kinds of mea culpae you described.

    Women are thusly forced to walk a fine line between the dichotomous expectations of male society, and those who have been categorized by patriarchal decree on one side or the other are not allowed to venture across the imaginary wall. I mean, how dare that woman give me a boner, she can't possibly think I'll take her seriously now!

    All of this adds to and compounds the intense psychological stress of existing as a woman in this society.

    (minor correction to your reply: Stone was in Basic Instinct, Fatal Attraction was Glenn Close. Easy mixup.)

  • I am not sure this really as much about gender as it is about understanding the appropriate use of social media and professionalism. As a professional women I am constantly aware of the double standard that exists and the fine line that has to be walked when I get dressed for work every morning. (See Ed's previous post on petals) However, the picture that Meghan posted is not just a picture of her in a tank top, she clearly is making every attempt to take advantage of her capacity to be sexually objectified. This is perfectly fine and appropriate for social media. If I want to do the same and post it on my facebook page that wouldn't be a problem, EXCEPT if my students and coworkers also happened to be on my facebook page. Her credibility was hurt because she is trying to meld both worlds without considering how that might affect her reputation as a young professional. I don't think this is entirely about gender. If Ed decided to post a picture of himself in a sock stuffed banana hammock, I would take him less seriously too.

  • I didn't have many illusions about how quickly this would devolve into a look-how-much-more-sensitive-and-feminist-I-am-than-thou contest. I suggest you re-read what I wrote as opposed to unleashing lengthy responses to what you think I was saying.

    She wasn't "asking for" criticism. She was asking for attention, and she got it. People who obsessively Twitter to 60,000 followers have quite a need for it. I'm sorry for her that some of the attention she craves has devolved into sexist nonsense.

    Linking IBTP is generally frowned upon here, but I did read the whole thing.

  • Marx Was Right says:

    So that's your analysis of this situation? She was looking for attention, she got it, and you're "sorry" that she brought that on herself? That's the extent of the sociological insight that you have to offer?

    I guess I understand, I mean you must be busy, I'm sure you have some undergrads to chastise for complaining about being raped at frat parties.

    Why would linking IBTP be "frowned upon", by the way? I mean, I know the answer to that question, but I'm curious to hear the official stance.

  • Marx Was Right, as Ed's stridently feminist partner, it often falls to me to act as an informal sounding board for how hard ladiesbane, Peggy, and the other smart, feminist members of the commentariat are likely to come down on a given post (and I feel that Ed manages to cover gender-related social commentary more often and better then most Liberal Dude Bloggers). It may be because I can a) read his meaning between the lines pretty easily and b) engage him in discussion about his posts (which we have done most of the morning so far) but I have to say that while I also agree with your analysis of how patriarchy rears its ugly head in this situation, I think that his decision to focus his analysis on the dynamics of the use of social networking by both tweeters and followers was pretty clear.

    Based on our (many) conversations about Twisty over the years and this morning I'd say that Ed's beef, if it can be called that, with Twisty is the same as that of many other feminists on the Internet: she's a brilliant writer with no off switch (whom I happen to love) and engaging her and many of her commenters is an exhausting exercise.

    By the way, Twisty has linked to Ed before: http://blog.iblamethepatriarchy.com/2009/03/23/spinster-aunt-biffs-off-leaves-link-in-stead/

    and I believe that he inherited some pretty rad regular readers from that post.

  • Did anyone read the first comment on Creepy Conservatard's Blog? Notice that when these mouthbreathers fail to understand WTF they are talking about they change the subject and their commentary dissolves into projectionist drivel ( the Left is full of big meanies that persecute me! WAH!).

  • Well Marx, I certainly can't offer insights as deep as "male privilege in our society is exhibited on the internet." I mean, wow. I guess I'll have to leave that heavy lifting to your blog.

    See, my goal here is to attract people who can figure really obvious things out for themselves ("ZOMG, our society is really misogynist!") and are perhaps interested in talking about issues a layer or two deeper than that. The consequence (see, everything we do in this exhibitionist medium has consequences!) of attracting a lot more traffic is that some people who can't get past that first level will wander in.

    I understand if that went completely over your head and you had to resort to (really unimaginative) insults – I am busy justifying rape, after all! – of the type we might naturally expect from a man who identifies himself as "Marx Was Right." So really, feel free to drop a link here. I'm sure we could all learn a thing or two from your thoughts.

    I'm not a huge Twisty fan because, like you, she's too busy accusing people of -isms to have a constructive dialogue with anyone who doesn't meet her ideological litmus test. I'm not a huge fan because every single thing she has posted for five-plus years now boils down to "Look at this! It's really misogynist/racist!" and while I find that insightful sometimes, my mind needs a little more stimulation than that over long periods.

  • Recap for those jumping in late…

    M: "He touched me!"
    E: "Did not!"
    M: "Did so! And he's stupid!"
    L: "Shut up!"
    E: "Quit looking at me, idiot!"

  • This duality of argument is a constant source of frustration for me also. It boils down to "realists" versus "idealists".

    Idealist: "I should be able to leave my Porche unlocked in a seedy downtown neighborhood with the keys in the ignition without it being stolen."

    Realist: "If you leave your Porche unlocked in a seedy downtown neighborhood with the keys in the ignition, you're an idiot."

    Both are right, but somehow neither can see the other's argument.

    Pointing out that a conservative posting a boob-tacular photo (complete with sexy come-hither face) on her twitter page was bound to cause a firestorm… that's a realist viewpoint. Pointing out that she should be able to post said boob-tacular photo without it affecting her credibility or subjecting her to scorn is an idealist viewpoint. You're both right. Now let's all have cake.

    For the record… the photo has positively affected my personal opinion of Meghan McCain, despite her idiotic political viewpoint. That probably makes me everything that's wrong with this awful, awful, patriarchy.

  • Meghan’s posted photo was perfectly appropriate for a bulk-mail friend request on MySpace, complete with glitter graphics and a moniker such as -^*^-PinkGypsee69-^*^-. The only remarkable aspect of the event was that Meg was SHOCKED SHOCKED I TELL YOU at the contempt (from conservatives) and horndoggery (from horndogs) it received. “I’m a serious conservative commentator who should be taken seriously! That’s why there was a book in my vamp shot!” It’s her life, she’s an adult, who cares?

    As an aside, I’ve seen the milk of feminist kindness dry up awfully quickly in the presence of hot, bitchy girls with big mouths and modest IQs, so let me point out the obvious: Megs does not deserve abuse for slinging her tits all over Twitter, but she does merit eye-rolling snark for acting surprised that she is getting the Sarah Palin treatment. Phyllis Schlafly wasn’t going to ask her to speak to Christian Ladies’ Gun Club anyway. No big loss. Megs should be more embarrassed that she doesn’t know who Ronald Reagan was.

    Also, @MarxWasRight : for penetrating sociological insight, let’s start with negative framing, which is usually the purview of conservative wingnuts. Please explain your understanding of the Straw Man fallacy and why you applied it here.

  • There's no way in hell I'm getting into the fray re: whether or not one is sufficiently feminist, so I'll stick to a safer topic. Ed, is this seriously your first exposure to the Virgin Ben? You lucky bastard.

  • I agree with OneMadClown in that I probably shouldn't weigh in on the feminism issue. On the other hand, I feel compelled to it anyway.

    I am not a radical feminist that believes that all of the problems in society can be traced back to the evils of patriarchy. I believe that is a terribly shortsighted argument; the same way that Marxism is incredibly shortsighted to argue that the economy is to blame for all of life's ills.

    I argue for a feminism based on equality – meaning that men and women are capable of performing the same tasks in society. Men and women are both perfectly capable of holding the same jobs, raising children, holding political office, or any other role society deems necessary to perform. With that in mind, had an aspiring male political commentator, like Luke Russert perhaps, posted a similar picture (shirtless, maybe a little drunk) I believe the outcome would be the same – he would lose credibility just like McCain has.

    The internet is a lecherous place and lecherous things happen there. I do not excuse the actions of people lusting over the picture – it's gross and weird and probably a symptom of a personality disorder. However, people that choose to be in the public eye, like McCain, have to understand that they are going to be under increased public scrutiny. The things that they used to consider private are less so now.

    To say this post is an evil of patriarchy is either evidence that someone didn't read the post completely or simply a by-product of myopic thinking.

  • I actually came to Ed from Twisty.

    I'm glad Ed provided commentary on this topic. I have enjoyed seeing various bloggers take on the subject. I liked Twisty's take, too.

    I gotta say that Ed "gets it" waaaay more than other "Liberal Dude Bloggers". It surprises me and I am way impressed. (Not that my opinion of Ed matters.) But Ed manages to call people on their bullshit and -isms in a way that is humorous and above Straw Man arguments.

    I mean…Ed has to be one of the few white, male bloggers whose work I actually like and respect. I don't even feel that away about the women on IBTP. Whoa.

    Ahh, but to the point of post: what SeaTea and ladiesbane said.

  • She is as incongruous a sight as Alexis Texas parading a copy of Alexis the Tocqueville, or Madonna announcing everybody that she has started reading Kant.

    I read that, a few years ago, Cindy McCain ran her skeletal fingers through J-Mac's thinning hair, and remarked, "You're getting a little thin up here." To which the indefatigable patriot snapped, “At least I don’t plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunt.”. Too bad the librul media didn't choose to question the aging short-fuzer about his reaction to the girl's picture. To judge from his selection of running mates, it seems his vocal opposition to trollopery might have subsided a bit.

    The old veteran ran on a platform of allegedly putting country first. The daughter appears to beg to differ about what she would put first. Moreover, her priorities are twofold. She's probably better at handling two things at once, unlike the old codger, for whom the typewriter is still a baffling contraption.

    I presume I speak for all academics around here when I say that B-Shap looks like the kind of passive-aggressive jackass who writes flat, uninspired, lumbering papers, yet shows up in your office to argue with you about every single 0.05 of a point you deducted from his grade. The kind of little shit who makes you want to slap the motherfucker senseless.

  • I think it's incredibly sexist to assume that a woman is always or almost always a victim. McCain posted that photo of herself and she's responsible for her own actions, including hiking up her boobs, doing her hair and make-up to match, and posing for a photograph of the results. Do you know what it takes to make your breasts do what hers are doing? You'd need a structural engineer to achieve that kind of lift.

  • I actually came to Ed from Twisty.

    Me too, and I'm really glad that I did. This is one of my favourite blogs now, and I think the writing is sharp, funny and clever. I have a lot of admiration for the way that Ed gets his righteous on when tackling gender issues.

    I also have a lot of time for IBTP, and credit it with opening my eyes to some pretty egregious systemic shit. However, I think that the comments on it can sometimes resemble a 'how pure is your ideology?' competition, and that it's not always helpful to frame the discussion in the same way that happens over there, elsewhere.

  • I love comments that start with "your post SHOULD have been about…"

    I'm pretty sure blogs are free.


    LOL@Nathan. And Susan of Texas, I am 100% in agreement with you re: structural engineering…

  • I find it really fucking annoying that because I think it's stupid to manipulate one's breasts into a painfully elevated position, post a photo of them to the Internet, and then complain when a bunch of people who think Jesus personally signed the Declaration of Independence get all retarded about it, suddenly I'm not a 'real feminist.' Or, in the words of my sometime feminist blog home, I am a 'fauxgressive.'

    I hate that word.

    Bullshit is calling McCain fat when she's just standing there. This boob stuff is not bullshit. Seriously you have to try really hard to get breasts to do that.

  • What do you all mean about the difficulty of getting breasts to do that? That's just how Meghan looks when she's sitting around the house on the weekend! No preparation involved. That's just how her boobs look. Deal with it.

  • I originally came to G&T through IBTP too, and I also read and enjoy both blogs. I also only read the comments here, not there. Internet sanity: achieved!

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