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Friday, April 11, 2008

The Jong-Taibbi Kerfuffle

posted by on April 11 at 17:45 PM

There’s been a bit of a shitstorm between Matt Taibbi and Erica Jong over on the Huffington Post today.

The background: Jong suggested, in a much longer piece about the media’s misogynistic coverage of Hillary Clinton, that Rolling Stone writer Taibbi and several others are sexist because they writes about Clinton’s physical appearance while ignoring male candidates’. In her typically loopy fashion, Jong suggested that male journalists’ obsession with (and judgment of) Hillary’s appearance stems from “a kind of Oedipal obsession with the bad mother — to counter a boy’s attraction to his good mother.”

Predictably, Taibbi—a hot-shit young Rolling Stone reporter who peddles outrage for a living—lost his mind. In a bizarrely self-centered post titled “Erica Jong Thinks I Want to Do my Mother,” Taibbi argued, somewhat convincingly, that he’s also made fun of male politicians’ appearance. He also called Jong a “hack” and an “eight hundred year old sex novelist.” Jong responded, basically, by congratulating Taibbi for being an “equal-opportunity insulter,” and added, “insults are not arguments.” (If anything, Taibbi is relentlessly lookist and fattist—a point CJR writer Megan Garber makes here)

Things might have ended there, had Jong not ALSO gone on to compare Taibbi’s description of Hillary’s “flabby-armed wave” to the stereotypical depictions of Jews circulated by the Nazis—adding, “Similar caricatures were used against African-Americans. And against women.”

Which, again predictably, gave Taibbi an aneyurism. Calling Jong both “silly” and “hysterical” (way to prove you’re not a sexist!), Taibbi responded that Jong was calling him a Nazi and comparing him to the Ku Klux Klan.

Now, I’m not saying Jong wasn’t off the deep end with the Oedipal stuff; she was. And her use of the Nazi analogy was just retarded. Moreover, Taibbi is hardly the worst of the male reporters covering this presidential race. (Though he did run enthusiastically the myth of Hillary’s “manipulative” “tears” in New Hampshire.) But the fact remains: Had Jong been really trying (instead of just being inflammatory), she could have found plenty of examples of male writers covering Hillary in a way that’s both sexist and fundamentally different from the way they cover male politicians. Jong’s point was dead on; it’s unfortunate that she resorted to pop-psych mumbo-jumbo and Nazi references to do it.

Update: Meanwhile, Keith Olbermann made Clinton supporter Elton John his “Worst Person in the World” for suggesting that sexism might exist.

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ECB's notes on satire through the ages:

Juvenal: Outrage peddler and fattist.

Swift: Predictable, though hardly the worst.

Twain: Racist, totally.

Mencken: Had actual aneyurism [sic]. Also, a lookist.

Posted by mistermix | April 11, 2008 6:07 PM

In getting all worked about sexism you displayed your ableism Erica with the use of "retarded".

Posted by Frank | April 11, 2008 6:08 PM

Is hysterical still sexist? Can't you, like, reclaim it, or something?

Posted by Ziggity | April 11, 2008 6:12 PM

Irrelevant feminist writer, irrelevant journalist ... the proper tag for this was "ZZZZZZZZZZ".

Posted by tsm | April 11, 2008 6:13 PM

I dunno, elenchos gets hysterical more than any woman I've ever known.

Posted by Nobody in Particular | April 11, 2008 6:17 PM

I'm with Frank. You had me entertained/outraged until the ironic retard comment. Seriously, get some fucking sensitivity and realize that we're beyond 4th grade.

Posted by mind_your_ps_and_qs | April 11, 2008 6:20 PM

"retarded"? Odd you should use that term while decrying sexism. Gee, why didn't you just call Jong a "tard" for pointing out that two of the last centuries hate groups utilized exaggerated visible difference to oppress the other? Wouldn't that have been funnier? Maybe you should spend a little time with the developmentally disabled and ask them what they think about the term "retarded."

Posted by LMSW | April 11, 2008 6:22 PM


Posted by The CHZA | April 11, 2008 6:47 PM

I think the reaction that some people have (what amounts to closing their eyes, plugging their ears and screaming) to the discussion, acknowledgment, or existence of sexism is fucking retarded AND hysterical.

Posted by Soupytwist | April 11, 2008 7:08 PM

I'd totally fuck that Taibbi dude.

Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | April 11, 2008 7:11 PM

Boo Hoo.

Not to get all picky, about oppression, but when 1 and 9 black males between the ages of 18 and 45 (not sure on the age range), and Muslims aren't given even basic legal protection. Why aren't people more critical about Obama, and all the fat headed comments about him?

Look, sexism exists but to suggest that being a women is more of a detriment then being black in our society is silly. Structural violence occurs at a deeper level against a black man then it does a white women. Yes, being a woman has served as a chip on Hill's, shoulder in this race, but what chip is bigger?

African American men's bodies are instromentalized and sexualized just as much as women's bodies. I addition they also have additional negative stereotypes and myths assocaited with their identity that hold them back socialy and economicaly that white women doen't have to deal with.

I agree with Elton John, our society is sexist, but its also racist, and classist.

Posted by bubbles | April 11, 2008 7:19 PM

@11 - It's not a fucking contest.

Posted by Soupytwist | April 11, 2008 7:22 PM

Yes it is, and I claim victory! Everybody else should just drop out of the race now. And if you don't agree with me, you're worse than Hitler.

Posted by The Emperor of the World | April 11, 2008 7:31 PM


Hey, you have my job!

Posted by keshmeshi | April 11, 2008 7:46 PM

Oh dear. I earned my Master's degree and yet I so honor my Associate's from Seattle Central. I have denied for the longest time that undereducated and uneducated people make-up the blue collar class (Hillary's base). Erica, dear, you are so much blue collar. Keith Olbermann placed the big ole queen Eltonia as the "Worse" NOT Worst person in the world. I'm an Obama supporter and a real gay man (which puts me in the true 1-3%). Let's be honest. I don't like you. You and anyone related to you would never be welcome in my home. If I knew that you were in need of my help and I was the only person around who could help you, I wouldn't. That Dan, that big ole faux "gay", keeps you employed should be solace enough. Don't worry, your girl will be the nominee and, if not, she will have destroyed the Democratic Party to such a point that they'll be licking her back (eeewww!). If McCain becomes our next president, we will all need wire hangers then. Won't we? ;-) Quit being so lazy and do your research.

Posted by Mark in Colorado | April 11, 2008 7:47 PM

There's sexism, racism, ageism (Didja catch Limbaugh's impersonation of McCain), on and on and on. What an obvious statement. In spite of the media buying the bit of dribble that Hillary is the heroine of women voters across the country, most women I know (including me) are too busy trying to pay mortgages, pay for child care, get a little sleep and get a little exercise to cry any tears for Hillary being a victim of sexism. She's rich, politically powerful, and a real contender for the presidency of the United States. So what if the price is stupid, sexist-inspired comments from the media? If she were a man running for president she would still have to endure stupid comments and insults. Opponents, attackers, the media, etc. would just find different inspiration (See Limbaugh on McCain, above). This constant whining about Hillary not getting the nomination because of sexism is just feeding the perception that she feels entitled to the nomination and the presidency.

Posted by Mary F | April 11, 2008 7:57 PM

@16 -- Go girl!

Posted by Mark in Colorado | April 11, 2008 8:00 PM

Mary F gets it.

ECB never will.

Posted by andthatisthat | April 11, 2008 8:06 PM

It is so not cool to use the term "retarded" anymore. Fucking grow up please.


Posted by KeeKee | April 11, 2008 8:10 PM

Meanwhile McCain's support increases the more the Clinton folks attack the eventual Democratic nominee ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 11, 2008 8:18 PM

#1 wrote the comment I wish I had. Perfect.

Posted by Bob | April 11, 2008 8:28 PM

@19 - Who thinks using the word "retarded" is cool? Is it the same people who think "fucktard" and "celebutard" are clever?

Posted by Soupytwist | April 11, 2008 8:56 PM

Actually, ECB: Olbermann made Elton John number three on his list that day, for suggesting that sexism was the primary reason why Clinton isn't winning the nomination.

He went on to point out that this argument may well cut both ways, since there's a not-insignificant amount of racism headed Obama's way, and that it makes roughly as much sense to say that Obama is benefitting from sexism as it does to say Clinton is benefitting from racism.

Basically, he called out E.J. on his attempt to play the Oppression Olympics.

Posted by AnonymousCoward | April 11, 2008 9:07 PM

What #4 said, and further, to show that "male reporters" actually are sexist in their coverage, all you can do is link to a bunch of hacks? I count one link to LA Times, two to O'reilly, two links to Media Matters, a link to the WSJ editorial page...

You mean hacks are.... hacks?

Posted by w7ngman | April 11, 2008 9:21 PM

Only women comment on HRC's appearance, ever since that wapo chick mentioned Hill's nonexistent cleavage. That's just a thing that chicks are into -- what does Obama have to do with that?

OTOH I hear about Obama's jug ears on a regular basis. I never read about Hill's fat ass.

Posted by lookist sexist | April 11, 2008 9:26 PM

what sexism! when folks right here on Slog thought it hillarious to make fun of how barack's caucus is bigger than Hillary's -- cuz, ya see, she don't got a cock hyuk, hyuk, hardy har har -- that were downright funny not sexist nor nuttin like that.

Duh yup yup, do-do-do doooo-doooo....

And @ 13 mr. coward:

once again folks feel free to twist and find words that were not said.

EJ just said he was amazed at hte maount of musogyny in this country.

He didn't say it was the "sexism was the primary reason" Clinton isn't winning -- you made that up totally.


Olberman saying "this argument may well cut both ways, since there's a not-insignificant amount of racism headed Obama's way" is no critique at all of EJ. Ej said seixsm is a factor relevant to HRC. Did he also have to say "oh yes and here at a big old HRC rally we must give equal time to all factors such as racism that might affect Obama"? No what a load of crap to imply he had to say that or by not saying it he somehow is evilly denyiing it.

It's a fucking HRC rally he doesn't have to say anything good about BHO at all.

O;berman saying "and that it makes roughly as much sense to say that Obama is benefitting from sexism as it does to say Clinton is benefitting from racism."
Well no. EJ DIDN"T SAY THAT Olberman made it up and you made iut up by repeating it.
No. 2, BHO is benefitting from sexism in some degree because duh, THERE IS SEXISM which hurts HRC which benefits BHO. See how easy it is if you just think logically? And duh HRC IS BENEFITTING FROM RACISM in some degree because duh THERE IS RACISM and this would hurt BHO which helps HRC.

Duh, duh duh.
"Basically, he called out E.J. on his attempt to play the Oppression Olympics."

What a load of crap. There is sexism. Sexism hurts the woman in the race. For you to decry this because EJ didn't then go on to be "balanced" and note racism and say
"and that hurts the black guy in the race" is YOU PLAYING THE OPPRESSION OLYMPICS not EJ.

OR do you think Barack's caucus is bigger than Hillary's too, hyuk hyuk hardy har har, too?

Why ya getting angry baby dol? It's a jkoke don't you got a funny bone? Hey you're cute when you're angry! Hey it's a joke because she don't got a penis. dontcha git it? Hyuk hyuk c'mon here lil' darlin.....

jesus it's amazing to see sloggers adopt the worse parts of redneck hell just because they are pro Obama....and can't give one inch of recognition about anything good about HRC or that anything bad happens to her.....nope she's just a bitch and evil with and everyone bad that happens to her? it's all her fault the cunt.

Got it. There is no sexism. She don't got no penis. Hyuk, hyuk, hyuk, pass me som dat kool aid thar.

Posted by unPC | April 11, 2008 9:50 PM

I'm actually pro-Clinton, though I think her odds of winning the race are approximately zero. Don't assume that everyone that disagrees with you on some point must necessarily be against your candidate.

Elton John wasn't saying that Obama's getting the benefit of sexism, and Clinton's getting the benefit of racism, and wouldn't it be nice if were weren't so bigoted; the unstated implications of his statements were that, but for sexism, Clinton would be doing much better (because there's "no one more qualified"). That may be true, but it's true to roughly the same extent as Obama doing better but for racism.

There's nothing wrong with pointing out the sexist narratives that ECB pointed out in this post (note: I didn't say there was in my first post, either); I just noted a difference of opinion on the Olbermann bit at the end.

Posted by AnonymousCoward | April 11, 2008 10:05 PM

Eltonia is a has been old queen. Living off his past success. UnPc you are as useless as a fart from Eltonia. No more, or no less entertaining. Who knows, maybe out of some twisted fate I'll meet you someday. And laugh. Oh, that's right, Hillary's calling and she's still standing. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Posted by Mark in Colorado | April 11, 2008 10:27 PM

Won't it be great when this is all over & done, and we can determine who, the pro-HRC peoples or the pro-Obama peoples, was the bigger jackass?

Yah, that'll be nice... Nothing quite like saying I told you so.

Posted by KeeKee | April 11, 2008 10:27 PM

KeeKee is my cousins nickname. Are you really KeeKee?! No way! Oh Sorry, Hillary's calling as the New York sunset is disappearing. Have to go now.

Posted by Mark in Colorado | April 11, 2008 10:38 PM

Actually this really is a cool song KeeKee:

Posted by Mark in Colorado | April 11, 2008 10:47 PM
a hot-shit young rolling stone reporter who peddles outrage for a living
did you bold that to be ironic because that is the funniest thing you have ever written in the _serious_ stranger bold.
Posted by some (drunk) dude | April 11, 2008 11:22 PM

If someone's being silly and hysterical, and that someone is a woman, what words am I supposed to use instead? Until those words become sexist too, that is?

Posted by Phoebe | April 12, 2008 2:43 AM

Another classic ECB post! Not only did she blindly accept and endorse a fairly debatable point ("Jong suggested, in a much longer piece about the media's misogynistic coverage of Hillary Clinton"), but she also managed to engage in some hot pot/kettle action ("who peddles outrage for a living"), coin not only new word but a new disingenuous denial of the reality of human nature ("Taibbi is relentlessly lookist and fattist"), claimed the word "hysterical" is exclusively applied to women ("way to prove you’re not a sexist!"), and scare-quote two words in a row (“manipulative” “tears”).

With all of the rhetorical (and hysterical!) flourishes, I'm not even sure what the actual point was. Something about Nazis and misogyny and, well, I'm not sure. But even if it makes little sense, you have to admire the sheer enthusiasm and willingness to self-parody.

Er, that was *intentional* self parody, right, ECB?

Posted by also | April 12, 2008 3:02 AM

Why did Hillary lose despite starting the race with more advantages than any non-incumbent ever?

It's not because of sexism.

It's because she *still* doesn't believe her vote to invade Iraq was a mistake. She's psychologically incapable of admitting she fucked up.

Add that to the entitlement to the nomination she feels, the shitty campaign she's run, her penchant for secrecy and hypocrisy and valuing loyalty over competence and you've got a detailed picture of why Obama won the nomination and Clinton did not.

Sexism isn't involved no matter how much you want to pretend it does.

Posted by ru shur | April 12, 2008 6:00 AM

Elton John? Why not get Britany Spears opinion? At least she's an American citizen and could vote. Elton John is a singer why is his opinion note worthy in any way?

Posted by Mikeblanco | April 12, 2008 7:12 AM

@35: Obama has won the nomination? Gee, that's news to me.

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | April 12, 2008 10:41 AM

@36 - Gee, I don't know. Maybe because Elton John held a concert that raised $2.5 million for Clinton? So no, he doesn't get a vote, but he's potentially able to influence the election far more than you or me. That's why his opinion is noteworthy.

Posted by sleestak | April 12, 2008 12:05 PM

@13: "Yes it is, and I claim victory! Everybody else should just drop out of the race now. And if you don't agree with me, you're worse than Hitler."

Wow, only 12 comments before a Hitler comparison. Very impressive.

Posted by Jo | April 12, 2008 6:23 PM

Matt Taibbi is a fuckwad. He is the worst writer Rolling Stone has. His coverage of this election has been outstandingly bad.

Seriously, read one of his articles. My husband gets that crappy mag. I wish they had a real political writer who could cover the 2008 race with some class.

Posted by Taibbi sux | April 12, 2008 10:24 PM

If I kissed you where it's sore would you feel better, or feel nothing at all?

Posted by Regina Spektor's Squeaky Larynx | April 13, 2008 3:25 AM

"Ableist?" "Lookist?" God you people are so far up your own asses with this PC bullshit. And you wonder why liberals aren't taking the nation by storm. I'm sorry but if people aren't to be judged by their abilities, then what the fuck standard is left?

Posted by Comatose | April 13, 2008 12:05 PM

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