The Sexism Salon

Last week I wondered how Elizabeth Warren's rousing sermon espousing core progressive beliefs, which brought so much joy and hope to the left, would affect those on the right. One libertarian parody was posted by Glenn Reynolds at Here's how it starts:

There is no woman in this country who got hot on her own.... You got to the gym on roads paid for by the rest of us. You hired a plastic surgeon the rest of us paid to educate. You're safe from hotter, foreign women because of INS agents and boarder [sic] security the rest of us paid for. ...

It gets worse from there. Here's how I understand Reynolds' core idea: Just because the state helps create the world in which I live and thrive, it doesn't therefore own what I create and therefore, me. In this, he is equating taxation with ownership. Personally, I disagree with him that taxation is equivalent to state ownership, but I can see the point.

But this particular parody, as you'll see, does more than merely object to progressive beliefs. It also suggests that women have no value aside from their appearance and bodies. How is it libertarian to suggest that women have no place in public life? Were Warren a man -- call him Edward Warren -- would his statement have been parodied in such an ugly way, complete with a sniggering rape threat?

Speaking of which, what's happened over at Salon? It used to be filled with smart women (cf: Rebecca Traister) writing in a careful and nuanced way about sex and gender issues. Now we get this startling rant, in which Gene Lyons ridicules anyone who suggests that there may be racism in the attacks on Obama. Hey, I'm fine with disagreement; I'm open to discussing the possibility that we've become a country that's no longer bedeviled by racial bias (and yes, pigs have recently been spotted flying). But more honestly, I'm open to discussing the possibility that perhaps some people spot racial bias where it doesn't exist, which seems to be part of his point.

But really, Gene (and Salon editors), do you have to call Melissa Harris-Perry a fool for her ideas? Do you have to compare her to Michele Bachmann because she's good-looking and disagrees with you -- treating all women as interchangeable and primarily valuable for their looks? Apparently, not all ugly anti-female bias is on the right.

(Feministing has a longer analysis of all this here; Melissa Harris-Perry analyzes responses to discussion of racism here.)

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