Slut Shaming

Ali Campoverdi

Ali Campoverdi

I set off a firestorm of criticism this morning when I posted this picture of Ali Campoverde.  Well, I’m really gonna piss ’em off now. 

The picture came from the article I linked to, and was published in Maxim magazine in 2004 and is available from multiple sources on the Internet.

Ms. Campoverde is a aide to a White House deputy chief of staff and is rumored to be the girlfriend of President Obama’s chief speechwriter Jon Favreau.  She grew up in upper-middle class Santa Monica, graduated from the University of Southern California and from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.  The picture was taken after she graduated from USC. 

After she appeared in Maxim she appeared  in the movies The Aviator and Constantine and the reality dating show For Love or Money (where she was a ‘million-dollar girl’) and she was a finalist for the The Apprentice.

As Gawker put it:

And does it say anything about the Millennial Generation’s take on feminism that she’s happily reconciled reality dating TV with an Ivy League education; lingerie photo spreads with a high-powered political job?

According to my critics, I am “slut shaming” Ms. Campoverde by publishing the picture she voluntarily posed for in her underwear.  “Shaming” is the present participle of “shame” which Mirriam Webster defines as:

1 a: a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety b: the susceptibility to such emotion <have you no shame?>

2: a condition of humiliating disgrace or disrepute : ignominy <the shame of being arrested>

The last time I checked, it was the official feminist position that pornography and the objectification of women was a bad thing, something to be disapproved of.  Some feminists seem to want to put all the blame for porn and the objectification of women on the “patriarchy” (men) and hold women blameless. 

You can’t have it both ways. If porn and the objectification of women is bad, then it should be condemned, along with the people (male and female) who willingly participate.  By “condemned” I don’t mean punished, I mean that we should disapprove of the conduct.

I’m not talking about expressing disapproval for a woman’s sexual behavior.  This isn’t about who she has sex with, how many people she has sex with, or her marital status when she has sex.  It’s not about her sexual orientation or the way she dresses either. 

Maxim magazine is Playboy without nudity.  Ms. Campoverde was not modeling “intimate apparel” for a catalog.  She was not helping to market lingerie to other women.  She was posing in skimpy underwear for the sexual gratification of men.

One of my critics asked:

Are underwear models “bad”?

To which I responded:

Would it make a difference if she was a Playboy centerfold, a stripper, Nevada prostitute or a porn star?

All of those are legal occupations. Are we supposed to completely non-judgmental about such things? Or where is the line?  

 

If someone wants to argue that Maxim magazine isn’t soft-core porn and/or doesn’t objectify women, I’m willing to listen.

The picture wasn’t taken without Ms. Campoverde’s knowledge, nor was it supposed to be kept private.  She posed willingly, and probably received monetary compensation.  While we often hear that many if not most women are compelled to participate in porn by economic or other circumstances, that is not the case here.

There is a basic fallacy in the idea that “women shouldn’t be blamed for trying to navigate the patriarchy the best way they can.”  First of all, engaging in pornography (softcore or otherwise) isn’t an option for all women, it’s only an option for women who are considered sexually attractive. 

Secondly, objectification affects all women, and men too.   If a woman flirts and dresses provocatively to get a job, is that fair to the women (and men) who don’t?  If some women are willing to trade sexual  favors to get a promotion, doesn’t that put pressure on the others?  If a man askes a woman for sex in exchange for a promotion we would call it sexual harassment.  But what if it was her idea? 

 Was it called “slut shaming” when we condemned Jon Favreau over the picture of him groping the cardboard cut-out of Hillary? Were we “slut shaming Obama” when we posted pictures and clips of him insulting and denigrating Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin?  What about when we criticized Amber Lee Ettinger (aka “Obama Girl”) for shaking her booty in that notorious video?

Women must be held accountable for their conduct just like men.  That’s part of the “equality” thingie.  Bad conduct can be mitigated, excused or forgiven based on the circumstances, but it’s still bad conduct.  We should express disapproval for conduct we disapprove of.  If that causes the people doing it to feel shame, well, that’s the point, isn’t it?

————————————————————————————–
BTW – I can tell you ahead of time that the response of the PUMA-obsessed blogstalkers will be to dredge up some lame joke I made months ago and accuse me of hypocrisy.  Those overflowing commodes of misogyny feel no cognitive dissonance lecturing me on feminism.  They attack me personally because they have nothing else to offer, no substantive arguments.  But then again what else can you expect from people whose sole purpose in the blogosphere is to stalk and harass PUMAs? 

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32 Responses to Slut Shaming

  1. This is not underwear modeling – neither is the Vic Secrets catwalk underwear modeling. This was brought home to me when I saw a real underwear ad. I think it was fruit of the loom. Muscularly fit women and those larger fit women as well in non sexual poses just showing the underwear – unselfconscious – not provocative poses– just showing the great cotton underwear and how well it fits. They looked happy not sexual. You have to see it — then all this BS can be seen for what it is. On the other hand I only saw it a few times and then it disappeared. i do not think the ad industry understands how distasteful this is – the pornification of America in every possible place where women are pictured.

    BTW because i expect women to live up to the responsibilities of equal rights and understand the limitations; I too am called not a feminist — the people who do this are actually still infected by patriarchal thinking and generally are looking for special treatment not equal treatment.

  2. Heather says:

    Many things. Starting with the photo.
    She posed for it. It’s readily available online (as Myiq points out). No one broke into her home and stole these photos or broke into an ex-boyfriend’s home and stole them. She posed for them and posed for them for money.
    Now if she was the Treasury nominee and these were forty year old pictures, I’d feel sorry for her.
    I’d feel sorry that the public photos resurfaced.
    I wouldn’t be mad at who ever broke the story.
    But I would take the attitude of, “Oh, poor thing. She did that so long ago and probably thought no one would ever know.”
    But even then, I wouldn’t be screaming at whoever broke the story. I would agree it was news.
    I am a feminist and I just don’t see how it’s some great shame to post those photos.
    Okay, now other point. George W. Bush’s White House posted each White House briefing with a transcript and video. The Big O has banished them. They are kept from the public. C.I. talked about that today and I want to point that out because I think it really says a lot that Barack’s already hiding in the shadows.
    http://thecommonills.blogspot.com/2009/01/iraq-snapshot_27.html
    I almost forgot my third point: Why “Myiq2xu”? Is it from a movie? A book? I’ve puzzled over that since June.
    Also, is anyone noticing that Lambert no longer links to people? He did away with Corrente’s blogroll two months ago. I wonder if all the sites linking to Corrente know that he no longer links to them?

  3. Heather says:

    Sorry to post again but does “Myiq2xu” stand for: My I.Q. is twice yours (two times you)?

  4. angienc2 says:

    I’m not your average moron. I agree with you on this point myiq. People who don’t understand your point are only constructing false rationalizations or miss the point entirely.

  5. myiq2xu says:

    Heather:

    Yes, but it’s meant as a joke.

    People with self-esteem issues still get all twisted up over it though.

  6. justus949 says:

    brilliant, myiq, absolutely brilliant post. I’m so glad I can comment here – the comment section is closed at RD’s site. you bravely and successfully navigated and exposed the murky underworld of pseudo-feminism that makes me sick to my stomach.

  7. Fran says:

    myiq – I got to TC too late tonight, to comment.

    One point I’d make, is that her face is covered with her hair. So it is definitely about the body, not about the person.

    You opened up a can of worms with this one. Some people see it as free expression. Young women seem to think it proves they are liberated.

    Personally, I think it is a stupid thing for a girl to do, and I think that the casual acceptance of it is not a good indicator of the health of our culture. I think it sets feminism back (kind of like the ‘liberated’ women of the 60s did with their sexual availability – they wanted to be like men, as if that was a good thing to be!).

    When I was an ivy league student, I was approached for this kind of ‘modeling’. There was NO WAY. Years later I see that many Ivy League girls do it. I think there is even a special issue for them. I was astounded.

    Personally, I always felt it would cheapen myself to show it all to the world – like spreading myself too thinly. It becomes meaningless. All a person can get from doing this is an ego boost. They are not going to get love or esteem, or even the satisfaction of a job well done this way. So what is the point?

    I have theory that the Amish enjoy sex more than the mainstream because 1) they are healthy, and 2) they don’t seem to be all hung up on it. Our culture is obviously hung up on it or it would not be out there all over the place all of the time.

    just my 2 cents…..

  8. Eleanor Rodham A says:

    Also missed the comments section before it got closed. IQ, I think you really got smeared in there by a couple of folks for one simple reason: You’re a man talking about feminism. There are some for whom you can never be qualified to discuss the subject, because you’re a man and therefore the oppressor.

    I’ve worked for many years to fundraise for and otherwise help women running for office, but as you just can’t please these people, I’m sure I’m somehow a traitor to their version of reality for not agreeing with them 100%. It’s thoughtcrime, in their worldview.

    Just as it’s not impossible, IMO, for blacks to be racist, it’s not impossible for women to be sexist.

    I used to live in D.C. and knew a lot of people who worked for Clinton 1 in the White House. Issue is? For them to have given Campoverde a job of this rank – assistant to DCOS is a big, big job for a 20-something – they’re sending the message that Obama’s staff thinks it’s a great thing to pose in your underwear for money. You can’t tell me there aren’t 10,000 other women with qualifications equal to or better than Campoverde’s who could have been hired, but nope, they picked this one. Are we to believe that somehow the skin pix didn’t influence the hiring decision? That’s just not how Washington works. If the hire-er didn’t know about them, why not?

    I got the point a couple of folks were trying to make at Confluence: In an ideal world, women would be able to pose for softcore porn pics for money and still be taken seriously. In practice, however, things just don’t work that way. I can’t believe anyone would seriously advocate for the kind of looks-ism this kind of mentality engenders.

    Hang in there.

  9. angienc2 says:

    Fran — thanks for sharing your 2 cents. I agree. The point I think people are missing here is that while no one is arguing that this woman doesn’t have the right to pose for these pictures, the fact that she consents to her objectification doesn’t make that objectification harmless. The objectification of women (and good point about her hair — also note the airbrushing that makes her skin appear doll like –i.e., not human) harms all women because it is directly related the the abuse & assault of women. The fact that she consented to her personal objectification doesn’t change that.

  10. Eleanor Rodham A says:

    Angie, do we think that folks are arguing objectification shouldn’t exist? I mean, it’s a lovely idea, but just not sure how in 10,000 years it’s ever going to happen.

  11. Fran

    The liberated women of the 60’s did not want to be like men.

    We wanted to experience and express our sexuality without marriage which is a trap – a trap baited with economic promises that are lies. We wanted to be free to leave a relationship which became too confining or was filled with subtle abuse or became dead.

    And we learned a lot about our sexuality which we had been lied to about all our lives. Don’t characterize what other women did to make cheap political points. You owe a lot to those brave women including what we know about female sexuality which had been defined by men.

    Men are still trying to define female sexuality. And some women are willing to act out male fantasies in order to gain a sense of power and self worth. Those women seem to get ahead but their lives are filled with competition. Men are still defining women’s sexuality. That is the problem, not women finding their own needs and the root causes of their own truth. In this way we take back control and live by the rhythm of our own bodies instead of pretending a sexual response we do not feel.

  12. angienc2 says:

    Eleanor — I’ve actually been thinking a lot about this (which I think is a good thing — I’m ok with uncomfortable discussions that cause me to question my preconceived notions — what I’m not ok with, btw, is how some people have seemed to jump to conclusions and put words in other people’s mouths). Anyway — the ultimate goal is the end of the patriarchy — ok, come down from la la land — yep, you are right — that will take at least 10,000 years *if* we are lucky. That doesn’t mean we don’t fight the patriarchy but we have to accept that men are not going to just destroy it because we point out to them how wrong it is. We need to get women on board — all women. I say this because I honestly think that most women who do participate in their own objectification (as this young women here) probably are unaware that they are doing that. They probably think, with all sincerity, that they are “empowering themselves.” I’m not saying BLAME them (because the reason they believe these things is because of the patriarchy) but ENLIGHTEN them. How are we going to do that if by even bringing up the subject we are “slut-shaming” them? I just can’t reconcile the two.

  13. Carol says:

    Should have photoshopped her head onto a nude in a graphic position with Obama and friends laughing!

    CAROL HAKA 👿

  14. Woman Voter says:

    Meet the new girl at the White House (good job Clinton’s not still President!)

    Ali Campoverdi stripped off for Maxim in 2004 – and told the men’s magazine that she was looking for a man who was ‘passionate’ about something.

    Mr Favreau has attracted a big following but his reputation took a blow when a photo emerged last December showing him drunkenly groping a cardboard cutout of Hillary Clinton at a Thanksgiving party and he was forced to apologise.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1127833/Meet-new-girl-White-House-good-job-Clintons-President.html
    …………..

    Who’d a thunk…the story is now INTERNATIONAL?!? Oh, and it seems to have the same photos as myiq2xu’s posts????????? They even did the bit about the cardboard groper…ahemmm.

    We must get the early news on these blogs.

  15. Woman Voter says:

    If we catch myiq2xu ‘S shaming’ anyone, I will personally take his famous fish and give him a good fish smack with it. 😯

    And please let me know if he has any bouncing testicles on his site like the bouncing boobs on the Maxim site…that will require a double FISH SMACKING! 😯

  16. Fran says:

    Green – I don’t know whether you will see this or not.
    I am glad to see you in comments again. We are generally on the same page, as I know from history.
    I feel as though you were attacking me, but I am not upset because I see how easy it is for things to be misunderstood, or ill-stated, in the comment forum.
    You may still disagree, but what I meant about the women in the 60s was that, free from fear of pregnancy, and freer of fear of disease than today, there was a lot of promiscuity. Women felt ‘liberated’ to have the type of casual sex that men always had wanted, or had. That is what I meant by wanting to be like men. I don’t happen to think that a lot of casual sex is a healthy thing for men or for women.
    Men can only define women’s sexuality if women let them.
    I paid a high price for not succumbing to the patriarchy. I could easily have gone along and had a very comfortable life. What I gained is that I am my own person. I never married, but along the way I raised a son who is a lot more considerate to all people than most of his peers, or most adults for that matter. (btw, his father and I remained ‘friends’, but he died.)
    It’s a little hard for me to ‘hate men’ when I have a brother and a son who have worked through the issues men have. And, they have paid a price also.
    Don’t know whether this helps to clarify anything or not. Hope so.

  17. Eleanor Rodham A says:

    I agree, Angie. I’m a bit worried about the arrival on TC of some folks with holier-than-thou attitudes about a few different things…isn’t that what TC was created to oppose?

    I live in an area full of mouth-breathing Republicans and am considered by many who know me to be fairly liberal. yet sometimes when I go on the blogs, I’m really amazed at the ideology of some, and how completely and utterly their ideas would fail if put into practice in many areas of the country.

    I mean, are we discussing practically how to do things? Or how to do them in la-la land? I’m just not sure I’m in the mood for reading more navel-gazing.

  18. Eleanor Rodham A says:

    should have said “more ideologically pure than thou”….as though approaching things from the standpoint of practicality is somehow totally unacceptable.

  19. kat in your hat says:

    I missed the whole discussion on this one. Seems like an interesting debate. Hope everyone has a good day!

  20. Eddie says:

    Heather said “Also, is anyone noticing that Lambert no longer links to people? He did away with Corrente’s blogroll two months ago. I wonder if all the sites linking to Corrente know that he no longer links to them?”

    Good point. I e-mailed Lambert asking about that at the start of the month and he didn’t think it was any big deal and maybe they’d get around to putting it back and maybe they wouldn’t.

    So it’s a laugh to read Chicago Dyke saying today:

    “FWIW, Corrente stayed on many people’s blogrolls after the Great Culling. I chalk that up to the quality of our content, which no matter how much it may annoy, is still valuable.”

    http://www.correntewire.com/evolution_blogroll_amnesty_day

    Yeah, other bloggers have kept Corrente on their rolls and I wonder how many of them know that in their latest upgrade months ago, Corrente ditched them from the Corrente site?

  21. Cindy Bragg says:

    Dear myiq2xu,
    I really appreciate your comments and applaud you for your bravery. My husband is a noble man, and feminist such as you. It’s so refreshing to see men who embrace the notion that men and women are equal, and should support each other……….and should take responsibility for their actions! All of my so-called feminist girlfriends have disappointed me greatly. And women like them, especially in my age group (62 yrs.old), happily perpetuate the patriarchy. It’s very, very depressing to me. These same women eschew anything that smacks of racism because, I believe, it’s so trendy now to be anti-racist and pro-sexist.
    Thank you for your insight, and for bringing that photo of Favreau’s girlfriend to our attention.

  22. myiq2xu says:

    Cindy:

    I don’t think women have achieved equality but they certainly deserve it.

    But equality means equal rights, equal priviliges, equal opportunities, AND equal responsibility.

  23. Fran, we still do not agree but I love the kindness of your response — yes, the hippie and feminist women I knew had many lovers but not because we were promiscuous like men. Maybe there were women who wanted to imitate men but most of the women I knew wanted to explore our own sexuality and be free. We were experimenting. What I learned is that your sexuality is hard wired young and is what you fantasize when you masturbate. It took years of sex before I got that and it seems so obvious now. But we were bred to see our natures as being whatever the current lover wanted us to be. Once we knew ourselves many women had no need to continue moving from lover to lover or experimenting with different life styles. But if I had stayed with one lover I would still be a child instead of a woman. So I never thought of being like a man because the men — all they were looking for is notches on their belts. That is what it seemed to me. Maybe I am wrong but at least for me and the women I knew, sex was a quest and partners were mirrors. I think a lot of that knowledge is underground now because everything is male defined sexuality – this woman’s picture — what play is she in — whose play is she acting in? We would have laughed and laughed at this picture – it is so phony.

  24. Cindy says:

    Fran—I totally agree with you. We WERE trying to be like men, since we, like men, were free from the fear of pregnancy. I’m never been ashamed to admit that.
    I love men and have always enjoyed their company. Even now, as an old married woman, I have more male friends than female. And actually have more male friends who are true feminists than female friends who are true feminists. It’s a crazy world!

  25. And Fran

    I just want to make clear that I too don’t think CASUAL sex is good for anyone at this point. Casual sex and this type of porny picture are all harmful.

    What was good then is not the way now. The thing that absolutely kills me is the lack of evolution in thinking. People are still using Viet Nam arguments about the current war and everything is so different. But people do not seem to change their arguments based on new times and different facts. What I did in the 60/70s and never regretted is not what I would do in the 2000’s, because things are different today.

    I think this woman was hired because she is what’s his name’s girl friend. Just like at the universities they make hiring the wife or significant others part of the job offer for professors they really want to recruit. And this photo is accepted because it shows what a trophy he has. As such it is very acceptable. But what will it be if he dumps her? That will be interesting.

  26. Joanelle says:

    Myiq – this post is terrific and has stimulated some wonderful discussion. Thanks.

  27. myiq2xu says:

    Joanelle:

    Unfortunately some people didn’t bother to read it before passing judgment.

  28. okasha skatsi says:

    I don’t have the groper pic in front of me, but isn’t Campoverde the woman in that photo?

  29. m Andrea says:

    Violet already took you to task once I think. Now let’s do it again:

    Are women equally to blame for sexism?

    Yes or no, pick one.

  30. m Andrea says:

    Sorry, I don’t mean to come off as unduly brusque, but I have little patience for non-logic.

    It seems as if you are implying that females are equal contributors alongside men in the continuance of sexism, kind of like how racist folks like to claim that black people share equal responsibility for the continuance of racism…

  31. myiq2xu says:

    Are women equally to blame for sexism?

    No – and I never said they were.

    Your turn:

    Are women brainwashed zombies that can’t think for themselves?

    Yes or no, pick one.

  32. wdib says:

    Thanks, Myiq2xu. Take a break, if you must. You deserve it. Shh. Delete my dumb comment if you care to. You’ve made me laugh so much. (And I loved the baby clown. So cute.)

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