There’s always some low-level antagonism towards Ann Coulter going on amongst the socially progressive bloggers, and fair enough too. The woman is a hateful bigot who deliberately stirs up anger and fear towards anyone not fitting into her conservative WASPangelical worldview (I really wouldn’t trust her not to believe that Catholic Marian veneration is actually Satanic, although as long as the American Right needs conservative Catholic votes she’ll never say it).
But I could really do without the inevitable handful of oh-so-helpful lefty men, self-professed allies of feminists, who inevitably come up with some sexist and transphobic slur: “Mann Coulter” the drag-queen etc.
Slurs against Coulter-wannabe Michelle Malkin based on her Filipina heritage, as well as alleging that she is her husband’s puppet, are sexist insults as well. Malkin’s journalistic career was all her own work while her husband was off working for thinktanks: sure they probably discuss topics together and toss ideas around, but she owns her own words, every spiteful one.
Calling a woman whose opinions you despise names based on her appearance is good old-fashioned misogyny. It doesn’t matter if she is a rancid warmongering boil on the buttocks of humanity: distilling it down to appearance is sexism, plain and simple.
Professedly pro-feminist men shouldn’t wonder that feminists might be suspicious of their commitment to anti-sexist ideals when they can still make jokes about drag-queens if the odious opponent is tall and muscular like Coulter,
or love-you-long-time jokes about Malkin,
fat jokes about Amanda Vanstone,
or even “hey, of course I’ll vote the Dems, Natasha‘s hot”.
Every remark like that trivialises every one of these women, and not just these women but all women, assessing them in terms of hot-or-not instead of by their principles and contributions. Diminishing women’s achievements with a fuckability rating – useful women are irresistible sirens, alarming women are repellent hags – is one of the patriarchal status quo’s oldest tricks. It’s a cheap shot.
Women used to buy into it, shaming other women in terms of whether men found them fuckable or not. The Malkins and Coulters still do, and certainly the American Right does:
Ms. Miss Ann “I am emboldened by my looks to say things Republican men wouldn’t” Coulter should be concerned about that poster set. If she, through no fault of her own, should develop some metabolic imbalance that resulted in her stacking on 10kg or so, she would find that suddenly Republican men wouldn’t want her on TV any more, and who reads books written by people who aren’t on TV?
See? Cheap shots, playing around with unflattering stereotypes and fuckability ratings, are really, really easy and really, really pointless. By all means be insulting if a woman’s principles consist of shoring up the corporatocracy and her contributions reek of greed and arrogance. Call them on it as vividly, pungently and profanely as you like. They are, after all, arseholes (a fabulous ungendered disparagement).
It’s fine that in general we don’t find people whose opinions we detest in any way physically attractive: that’s natural. Just cut out the fucking sexist fuckability ratings, OK?
UPDATE: the topic of leftist sexism as shown by misogynistic insults against Coulter has exploded in the wake of her infamous “faggot” abuse hurled at Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (the abuse received cheers and applause). Much to see at the following blogs:
Pam Spaulding at Pandagon
Twisty Faster at I Blame the Patriarchy (which generated a flamewar continued here)
Piny at Feministe (aka the Thread That Would Not Die which started being about fat-jokes on Sadly, No! directed at Dafyd ab Hugh and morphed into a Coulter-faggot thread after that story broke – 681 comments so far).
There’s plenty more out there as well, for those that care to look.