Delaware Republican Christine O’Donnell is not the ideal US Senate candidate in the eyes of most pro-choice, pro-sex thinkers, though, interestingly, she is a site of important feminist dialogue outside the question “how do we we keep her out of our legislative body.”
Gawker ran a story this week titled “I Had a One-Night Stand with Christine O’Donnell,” detailing a night three years ago apparently involving O’Donnell and a man in Philadelphia. Most national media attention to O’Donnell isn’t exactly positive and mostly aims to discredit or ridicule her. Some of it is funny, but the Gawker story is something else entirely.
O’Donnell spoke out against the Gawker attack, backing her claims with the National Organization for Women’s defense:
The National Organization for Women (NOW) on Thursday condemned the tabloid website Gawker for publishing an anonymous account: NOW issued a statement late Thursday stating that “sexist, misogynist attacks against women have no place in the electoral process, regardless of a particular candidate’s political ideology.”
“NOW repudiates Gawker’s decision to run this piece. It operates as public sexual harassment. And like all sexual harassment, it targets not only O’Donnell, but all women contemplating stepping into the public sphere,” said NOW president Terry O’Neill.
Gawker’s piece brought together two groups that I never would have imagined standing in solidarity. I struggle with how to reconcile this relationship and the knowledge that both parties probably don’t agree on anything else. Should O’Donnell be recognized within feminist politics for speaking out against sexist and misogynist targeting?
Yet, campaign attacks driven by sexism and misogyny seem to be a constant in elections with female candidates. Where was the fallout when Alaskan mayor candidate Levi Johnston posed naked for Play Girl?
Regardless of whether we choose feminist blame or recognition or both for situations like this, will this social response be enough to end a tradition of campaign ads like this or sexual scrutiny of our female candidates?