PRIVACY AND SEXISM.

Weboy took issue with my post criticizing Dee Dee Myers yesterday about Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau, particularly where I said Obama hasn't shown a tendency to react emotionally to racial slights:

Never mind the horrendous parallel example, the usual "let's compare oppressions" logic...it's the overall dismissing of sexism as a problem that gets me, the kind which leads one commenter to say "And he wasn't harassing an actual woman, he was goofing around with a cardboard cutout."

I can't stand the Oppression Olympics either, but I also didn't bring up the comparison, Myers did, in order to argue that sexism is worse than racism. I've made clear on this blog that I see sexism and racism as intertwined if not interdependent. My statement was also meant to imply that, by hiring Hillary Clinton, Obama has shown his ability to let this kind of stuff go. It's a good thing that most people didn't respond to Hillary Clinton being Obama's pick as SoS by saying that her comments on race during the primary made her an inappropriate pick. "How can Hillary Clinton be SoS," the hand-wringing might go, "she clearly thinks her white employees work harder than her black ones."

But even if someone had, her statement would have been more relevant than Favreau acting the sexist fool among friends, because it was public. My point was not that what Favreau did wasn't sexist, but rather that it was in a private setting. If he had done that in a workplace, or if he had done something comparable in any kind of professional context, that would have been one thing. But what the picture amounts to is some gossip sniffing through his facebook page for an image of personal idiocy. There's a continuum here; I'm not saying all private behavior is completely off limits. But there's a difference between getting the Klan newsletter in your inbox every day, or advocating for "traditional marriage" while visiting prostitutes, and making an ignorant joke among friends outside the workplace. A distinction needs to be made.

I don't like the idea of the government telling me who to marry, or phone tapping my "pillowtalk," or confiscating my laptop. I don't like the idea of the police searching me because they don't like my clothes, or because I'm on the wrong block. And I don't like the idea of strangers scouring my private life for evidence that at one point in time, I did something stupid -- and then demanding that I hand over my job for it. And because I don't like those ideas, I'm objecting to the idea that Favreau should be fired over an act that was sexist, but that is completely irrelevant to him doing his job.

--A. Serwer

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