December
9th 2008
The Epistle of Miranda the MBA, 1 Manhattanites, chapter I: Yea verily I say unto you, this sucks

Posted under: American history, Gender, the body, women's history

UPDATED BELOW

Here at Historiann.com we’re so pleased and surprised that anyone other than whiny brilliant, insightful academics reads us that we’re happy to post this rant straight outta Manhattan from Miranda, a twentysomething new MBA who knows a thing or two about having to go along to get along in a male dominated workplace.  The Apostle Miranda writes:

Warning: rant ahead.

I’m too late to this topic to post my thoughts on Historiann.com, but felt compelled to email you to let you know that I’m totally, 100% enraged that Jon Favreau has not been fired. The sense of entitlement that underlies this sort of crap is so pervasive and it kills me that people don’t see it. I see this sort of stuff (not this exact stuff w/ cardboard cut outs, but the sexualized frat house antics) all the time and it just sucks. It sucks to be a woman in that situation, where your options seem limited to: saying something about how offensive the behavior is, risking that you’ll be isolated professionally because you “aren’t a team player” or “can’t take a joke” OR you can try to make a joke to neutralize the behavior (which is what I think HRC was trying to do w/ her thing about “reviewing his application”). I’ve tried both and they both suck, but in different ways. Every workshop/dinner/lunch/mentoring session I’ve gone to about being a woman in business recommends the second option, but I often find that I have a hard time thinking of a clever retort in the moment because I’m so enraged by the behavior and, as a result, unable to think of something appropriate.

The other issue is the total lack of professionalism this shows. The Obama transition team rules clearly state that they’ll be going through your Facebook page to find anything embarrassing. So, he was on notice, which indicates that he allowed this to be posted despite the fact he knew that it could become public (or at least that his boss might see it)–totally, 100% unprofessional. (There’s also something about thinking you can get away w/ having something like this on your facebook page and thinking that it’s OK that strikes me as another sign of entitled behavior, but I haven’t fully unpacked that yet.)  Ed. note:  I think commenter ej made this point on the previous post here–but there’s surely more to say on this topic.

I’m really, really shocked (and saddened) that more liberal male bloggers have not picked up at this story.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Obama fires him. I think it would be a good lesson for guy like this to learn that sometimes there are consequences to this sort of crap. But I’m certainly not holding my breath.

No, please don’t hold your breath, Miranda!  We need people like you.  I appreciate your perspective as someone who works in an environment that sounds a lot like that of a political campaign, and as someone close to Favreau’s age.  If it’s consoling at all, please remember that lesser men with much greater offenses have been appointed to the Supreme Court.  (I’m not sure why that should be consoling, now that I think of it…)  Here at Historiann.com, we’re no longer shocked at all to see what many so-called liberals and progressives really think women are for:  public boob grabs.  That’ll keep us in our place!

The events of this year have shown me that feminism is simply not a progressive or liberal value, unless it’s useful in scoring a point against the political opposition or a foreign enemy.  (Remember in 2001 the Bush administration’s argument that “we need to go to war against the Taliban because of burkhas?”  Good times, good times.)  2008 has clarified a few things for me:  I’ll probably save thousands of dollars in 2010 and 2012 because I won’t be donating them to male political candidates, only to women candidates.  Yes, I know it’s essentialist, but quite frankly, it’s essential that we get more women of any party elected so that we can expand the nation’s understanding of women in politics.

Readers:  your thoughts?  Should Miranda and I give up all hope?  (And, by the way, if you write in the comments that we have to keep supporting Democrats regardless because of abortion rights, that’s more than a bit of a cliche now.  In fact, on feminist blogs, I now delcare that anyone who says “But but but teh Roe!” proves Godwin’s Law.) 

Here endeth the Epistle.

UPDATE, 3:30 P.M. MST:  Apparently, Dee Dee Myers and Miranda have a mind-meld thing going on.  (H/t to Herb the Verb at Corrente for posting on Myers’ comments at Vanity Fair today.)  Some flava for you:

I can’t stop thinking about this picture, and I confess I find it really upsetting. And, no, it’s not because I don’t have a sense of humor. I like to think I have a well-earned reputation for often irreverent, sometimes ill-advised humor. But I’m not laughing now.

.         .         .         .         .          .

What’s bugging me is his intention. He isn’t putting his hand on her “chest,” as most of the articles and conversations about the picture have euphemistically referred to it. Rather, his hand—cupped just so—is clearly intended to signal that he’s groping her breast. And why? Surely, not to signal he finds her attractive. Au contraire. It’s an act of deliberate humiliation. Of disempowerment. Of denigration.

.         .         .         .         .          .

[T]here is a larger issue at stake. At what point does sexist behavior get taken seriously? At what point do people get punished in ways that suggest this kind of behavior, this kind of thinking, is unacceptable? At what point do we insist there will be consequences?

Thank you, Dee Dee.  Don’t worry about staying off the phone because you’re waiting for invitations to appear on cable TV shows to talk about this–it won’t ring.

17 Comments »

17 Responses to “The Epistle of Miranda the MBA, 1 Manhattanites, chapter I: Yea verily I say unto you, this sucks”

  1. Astraea on 09 Dec 2008 at 8:36 am #

    I’m not an academic, but I’d like to be! I’ve been reading your blog for a few weeks and I wish I’d found it sooner.

    Thank you for posting Miranda’s e mail. Miranda, thank you for pointing out the consequences of this kind of behavior for women in the workplace. It’s an important part of the discussion, and one that has been missing from most of the feminist blogs I’ve read. The terms “sexual harassment” and “hostile work environment” have been noticably absent from all but a few comments.

    It seems clear at this point that Obama and other Democrats are just going to ignore the whole thing. No problem here! That was ages ago, get over it already!
    How far have we really come if the leaders of the Democratic party which professes to be so good for women don’t even recognize behavior that creates a hostile work environment, much less care to do anything about it? I don’t believe they deserve the support of feminists. They certainly are not entitled to it by virtue of being better than Republicans.

  2. Historiann on 09 Dec 2008 at 8:50 am #

    Hi, Astraea–thanks for stopping by to comment. I think that lambert, Erica, John S., blue ephiphany, and others in the comments in this thread have made the hostile workplace point, but it’s interesting to hear their instincts confirmed by Miranda, who’s on the inside of a work environment like that.

  3. Notorious Ph.D. on 09 Dec 2008 at 10:22 am #

    I’m really, really shocked (and saddened) that more liberal male bloggers have not picked up at this story.

    Saddened? Yes. Shocked? Not at all. Just try posting this on something like Kos. Chances are you’ll get told to focus on the “important things.” As if pervasive discrimination weren’t important.

    Then, at about comment #81, the misogynist jokes will start.

    ((shakes head sadly))

  4. Historiann on 09 Dec 2008 at 10:36 am #

    Comment #81? That would be showing restraint. I think it would be closer to comment #21: “Yeah, the cardboard bitch deserved it.”

    Notorious, it sounds like you speak from experience. Do you get the impression that a lot of the commenters there don’t get to touch a lot of boobs?

  5. Indyanna on 09 Dec 2008 at 12:11 pm #

    That’s a knee-slapper, Historiann!! (as my grandpa used to say). Best line of the month, maybe of the fall!

  6. Susie from Philly on 09 Dec 2008 at 12:40 pm #

    The guy didn’t post it on his Facebook page. When something is posted on someone else’s page and it’s tagged with your name, it shows up in a feed on YOUR page. You then have the option of deleting it when you see it, which is what Favreau did.

  7. Historiann on 09 Dec 2008 at 12:45 pm #

    Interesting. So, somebody please explain why anyone in politics or working a campaign would have a Facebook or Myspace account? It seems idiotic, given that anyone can post something and “tag” it to your page.

    Social networking sites are the fabulously successful invention that no one needed that will offer a feast of information for anyone doing opposition research for decades to come. Oh well–good luck with that, kids!

  8. Ann Bartow on 09 Dec 2008 at 1:28 pm #

    Rename it Historiann’s Law! Godwin is no feminist, trust me on that…

  9. Historiann on 09 Dec 2008 at 1:29 pm #

    Excellent–thanks, Ann. I will be happy to take credit for it.

  10. Indyanna on 09 Dec 2008 at 2:50 pm #

    I do fear that the news out of Chicago today (a governor in ‘cuffs, a connection to Obama, etc.) will be all the smokescreen it takes–if any were needed–to make this one go away quietly. Not clear if it would have gone away anyway. From what I could see, the mainstream media wasn’t exactly jumping on the story. The Chicago Tribune is also in ‘cuffs today, of the bankruptcy variety. Has anyone checked on the O’Leary barn lately?

  11. Historiann on 09 Dec 2008 at 2:57 pm #

    From what I hear, Blago was no fan of Obama. He’s on the wiretap screaming “F him” (Obama.) A good thing for Obama!

    From Talk Left:

    ROD BLAGOJEVICH said that the consultants (Advisor B and another consultant are believed to be on the call at that time) are telling him that he has to “suck it up” for two years and do nothing and give this “motherf*cker [the President-elect] his senator. F*ck him. For nothing? F*ck him.” ROD BLAGOJEVICH states that he will put “[Senate Candidate 4]” in the Senate “before I just give f*cking [Senate Candidate 1] a f*cking Senate seat and I don’t get anything.”

  12. Bing on 09 Dec 2008 at 3:09 pm #

    Astraea: No, you really don’t! :) (Also, I did not use a smiley. I don’t care what you think you saw!)

    I think that turning his fate over to Clinton would be completely fair. She is, after all, the one who was sinned against. Oh, can you imagine the lesson learned by his being called into her office to explain himself? I would love to be the 4 million dollar robotic spy-insect on the wall during that confrontation!

    HJ

  13. cgeye on 09 Dec 2008 at 4:52 pm #

    Oh, sure, when *I* discuss the Obama data mining of one’s Internetting, I get the pat on the head, but when a *MBA* broad notices it, she gets her own post… *sigh*.

    Aren’t we tired of the MBA-ization of America? Where has that brought us, ladies and gentlemen?

    ;>

    But I think the larger issue is what stories of sexism in the Obama campaign exist? I know there are broads who whooped it up and called Clinton and Palin the worst names possible, to be one of the boys, but even they had their limits. When were those limits breached? What women had to swallow all that crap and stay silent, for the good of the campaign?

    We might not know their stories now; we will know their stories after the hiring frenzy for the Administration has subsided, and they’re left odd girls out.

  14. cgeye on 09 Dec 2008 at 4:55 pm #

    (sorry for the errors, above; passion ruled.)

    If the leaders of one of the most sexist campaigns in modern electoral history doesn’t address their problems with sexism now, when will they ever confront it?

  15. Historiann on 09 Dec 2008 at 5:05 pm #

    Welcome, cgeye. We’ll see how this plays out, and how the other appointments go. I remain optimistic that with Clinton, Napolitano, and Susan Rice as high-level appointees, there’s a chance that things will improve. I hope we’ll see more women in the cabinet and–just as importantly–on the inner circle of the WH staff. (Then again, we thought that about Janet Reno and Madeline Albright in Bill Clinton’s administrations too, didn’t we?) I hope that those women will lay down the law in their agencies about appropriate behavior and that those who create hostile working environments will not be tolerated.

    Anyone want to bet against me that Favreau keeps his job? I say it’s 12-1 that he stays. But, remember, I am Historiann, not Futuriann, and am very bad at predctions. (I never predicted the level of Hillary Clinton hatred within the Democratic party we’ve seen all year long, for example!)

  16. nwmom on 09 Dec 2008 at 5:11 pm #

    The “boys will be boys” shtick is killing me. How on earth a 27 year-old cannot be held responsible for his own behavior staggers the imagination. As a lawyer, I have male criminal defendants as clients who would love that excuse…er, defense. When anyone suggests the age issue, I always want to ask them at exactly what age should someone be held responsible?

    For those Obama fans serenely floating above this, I wonder if someone posed an Obama cardboard cut-out as if enjoying some friend chicken and watermelon would be seen as racist if done by drunk young Clinton staffers. Heavens knows the Obama folks saw racism in everything other than mindless adulation of Obama.

  17. Indyanna on 09 Dec 2008 at 9:47 pm #

    Yeah, a lot of much younger than 27-year olds are in places where “War Room” is not a metaphorical term of art and it doesn’t have 24-7 pizza delivery or Chinese takeout. Imagine if a young captain in one of these places was doing that with a cutout of the daughter of an area clan strongman? Probably get hir a ticket straight back to corporal in the mailroom at Fort Hood. I don’t think they should fire him. Give him a more developmentally-appropriate assignment, though. Like what I had at 27: GS-4 Park Technician, I think they called it, in a National Recreation Area somewhere. (Actually, that was a bit of a step up from a grad student who had run out his stipendiary money string). That kind of bureaucratic tough-love would probably sober a lot more people up than just dramatically firing the punk and sending him off on his memoir/book tour.

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