Antithodoxy

Jon Favreau and the Facebook Incident

The Washington Post)

Jon Favreau, Barack Obama's chief speechwriter, and a friend pose with a cardboard cutout of Hillary Clinton. (Source: The Washington Post)

For about two hours on Thursday afternoon, the picture on the right was posted on Facebook. It could be a scene from a frat party, except look more closely and you’ll notice that the man on the right is wearing a shirt that reads “Obama Staff.” On the left is 27-year-old Jon Favreau, Barack Obama’s chief speechwriter. The two are shown posing with a lifesize cardboard cutout of Hillary Clinton. Favreau is shown cupping his hand over Clinton’s breast while the unidentified person on the right is pulling back her hair, placing a beer in her face and giving her a kiss.

Since the photo first surfaced, I’ve seen reactions ranging from outrage and calls for Favreau to be fired to apathy and “boys will be boys” type justifications (see blog posts about this issue here, here, here and here). According to The Washington Post, Favreau “reached out to Senator Clinton to offer an apology.”

The Washington Post reported that “Clinton senior adviser Philippe Reines cast the photos as evidence of increased bonhomie between the formerly rival camps.” Reines stated that “Senator Clinton is pleased to learn of Jon’s obvious interest in the State Department, and is currently reviewing his application.” Campbell Brown criticized Clinton for not taking the incident seriously after having denounced sexism throughout her campaign. As a blogger pointed out on Shakesville, it’s possible Clinton responded this way to avoid being labeled a “humorless feminist,” or maybe she really doesn’t see it as a big deal. Either way, I think the blame should be placed on the men in the photo, not Clinton.

The photo could be easily dismissed as silly, immature behavior at a party, but I think more should be expected from someone with a high profile position in the Obama administration. It shows a lack of judgment on Favreau’s part, and I don’t think it’s overreacting or being a “humorless feminist” to call him out on it. Of course there are other pressing issues to be concerned about, but excusing actions like this sends the message that it’s ok to disrespect women. Just because sexist behavior is often normalized in our culture doesn’t mean it should be viewed as acceptable.

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December 9, 2008 - Posted by | politics, Sexism |

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