Sexual Harassment

Thursday, June 9th, 2011 · 46 Comments »

From the New York Times:

Gennette Cordova said she did not even think the photo was real.

It was nearly 9 p.m. on a Friday when Ms. Cordova, who was preparing to head out for the night with a friend, logged onto Twitter and discovered that Representative Anthony D. Weiner had sent her a suggestive photo of himself in gray boxer briefs.

“It didn’t make any sense,” Ms. Cordova, a 21-year-old college student in northwestern Washington State, said in her first extensive interview since Mr. Weiner confessed in a news conference Monday to sending her the photo. “I figured it must have been a fake.”

Ms. Cordova’s experience with Mr. Weiner appears to fit a pattern: in rapid and reckless fashion, he sought to transform informal online conversations about politics and partisanship into sexually charged exchanges, at times laced with racy language and explicit images.

Ms. Cordova, who had traded messages with Mr. Weiner, a New York Democrat, about their shared concern over his conservative critics, said she had never sent him anything provocative. Asked if she was taken aback by his decision to send the photo, she responded, “Oh gosh, yes.”

As Kirsten Powers said, this really is textbook sexual harassment. (Powers: “Just because a woman ‘likes’ your video on Facebook doesn’t mean you can send her a picture of your penis.”) And you don’t have to be a nuclear feminist to figure out that the handful of women who welcomed Weiner’s advances probably represent only a small percentage of the females he flashed.

For chrissake, people. Could you please stop pretending that this is just some private matter between Weiner and his wife? Could you stop with the “harmless flirting” bullshit? Could you stop with the idiocy that people are just being “prudes”?


Look, if you want to argue that Weiner’s value as a political advocate outweighs his negative foo as a goddamn maniac, then fine. Make that argument. Just do it honestly. (Example: “Lyndon Johnson was a sexist goat who assaulted his secretaries and every other woman in sight. On the other hand, he passed Civil Rights and Medicare.”)

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46 Responses to “Sexual Harassment”

  1. anna says:

    Once again we see that women are worthless to liberals. (Not that that makes the conservatives feminist, of course.) Clinton, Weiner, all the Kennedys: go ahead and harass and assault and even rape women, not to mention cheat on your wives, just make sure to vote liberal, and we’ll support you and throw women under the bus.


    I’m totally voting Green. Who knows, they might even run a woman.

  2. anna says:

    Shakesville is on the case with actual feminist principles:

  3. DavidByron says:

    I actually have several textbooks on sexual harassment. This is not even remotely sexual harassment.

    But that does raise an interesting question which is what on earth do you think the definition of sexual harassment is?

    It appears that you think it is (or ought to be?) something like, “Whenever a man makes an advance towards a woman, and that woman does not (after the fact) appreciate it”. Something like that.

    You make a reference to power in the relationship but this seems fake because your example is of a relationship where the man has no power over the woman (and also because sexual harassment does not require a power relationship).

  4. votermom says:

    Violet, sorry if this is OT, but something just got me really riled up.
    WaPo & NYT are asking for volunteers from their readers to help them “investigate” and “analyze” the 24000 Palin emails that will be released tomorrow.

    Here’s the link to WaPo (will post the other link separately so spammy doesn’t eat me)

    Has any male not-even-running-yet candidate ever faced this scrutiny? To me this seems like they are soliciting people to participate in a virtual public stoning of Palin. Someone tell me I am wrong so I can calm down.

  5. votermom says:

    oops, spammy got me anyway!!! curses.

    Here’s the NYT link

  6. Carmonn says:

    “Once again we see that women are worthless to liberals.”

    Oh, god, it’s absolutely revolting. A few days ago, Powers was our kind of woman for supporting our hero, today she’s an arch conservative tea partying fill-in-your-favorite-slur here, I’ve seen them all. It’s not like I was unaware that we’re all at best conditional members of the club according to usefulness, compliance and sexiness, but it’s still depressing to witness. She can’t get in no matter what she does, he can’t be kicked out no matter what he does–is there a name for that?

    Conservatives have been trashing Cordova since the presser, now that liberals will be jumping in with both feet I guess for fun we could keep track of which group logs the most ugliness in the shortest period of time.

  7. Teresainpa says:

    I feel sorry for his wife and his friends, all of whom must be shocked and humiliated for him. I do think his worth as a liberal advocate outweighs his behavior…EXCEPT… if the women he harassed want to press charges. That is totally up to them and I will respect their choices either way. But if there are charges pressed, he just becomes ineffective and a terrible distraction.

  8. anna says:

    Flashing your penis to a woman who has not asked you to do so or made any sexual comments at all to you, who was just having a friendly conversation with you, is sexual harassment. Just because it happened on the Internet instead of on a subway doesn’t mean it doesn’t count. If he wanted to make an advance he could have asked for a date. Do you see how that’s not the same as just assuming somebody wants to see his dick?

  9. bluelyon says:

    @DavidBryon – I don’t know what textbooks you’re reading, but Weiner’s behavior is classic sexual harassament. See here.

    Anyone engaging in the sort of behavior he did would be canned on the spot at my company.

  10. bluelyon says:

    Was it my link?

  11. Teresainpa says:

    David has a textbook! He has several of them. How fabulous for all of us. = )

    David, do you think sending a picture of your penis to someone is an appropriate “advance”?

  12. Cyn says:

    You nailed it, Violet. If I see one more pundit congratulating Morning Joe and the rest of the rat pack for not reporting on the story, I’ll barf. The reason they do not wish to discuss Weiner’s behaviour is because it has become the norm and no one wants to be held accountable for their actions. Like the dude above.

  13. Sameol says:

    I don’t know what sexual harassment is, but I do know that using one’s position as a Congressman to troll for women and harassing them with unsolicited inappropriate messages and obscene photos from his office computer sure isn’t it.

    Why can’t you listen to Violet and make arguments that make some kind of sense? How about “Any woman who objects to being forced to look at Weiner’s pe?is or have her t!ts rated on the way to the health care symposium just must not be serious about the issue, that’s all.”

  14. Violet Socks says:

    Mr. Byron is, of course, a moron. I let his first asinine comment through just for the laugh factor, and immediately banned him. His subsequent attempts to comment (permanently marooned in the spam filter) are, predictably, extremely misogynistic in nature. The usual references to porn, sluts, bitches, misandry, etc.

    There really is a perfect correlation between anti-feminism and extreme hatred/fear of women.

  15. Teresainpa says:

    Votermom, Unfortunately I think you are right about wapo and the public stoning. What makes me sad is that so many women have joined right in.

  16. simplywondered says:

    of course you have to consider the possibility that mr (!) byron is right and you are a prude, vi.

    i mean, briefly…

    or perhaps to save time, not at all.
    but everyone knew that.

    (oh hi, vi – long time, but delighted to see you’re still doin the stuff. as ever, you rawk – or whatever a young person might say.)

  17. Sameol says:

    votermom, I’m enjoying how about 90% of the people who think this is a distraction from the important issues facing the nation seem to spend about 90% of their time dissecting Palin’s every word, expression, and movement. I guess some distractions are just more distracting than others.

  18. Violet Socks says:

    hey there, simply! Actually I’m not still doin the stuff, or haven’t been. I’ve been off in my happy place. I came back just for this!

  19. Violet Socks says:

    I do think his worth as a liberal advocate outweighs his behavior…EXCEPT… if the women he harassed want to press charges. That is totally up to them and I will respect their choices either way. But if there are charges pressed, he just becomes ineffective and a terrible distraction.

    I really wonder if it will take legal charges to render him ineffective and a distraction.

    Weiner’s role has always been as a public bulldog. He’s not a legislative kind of guy; in fact, I don’t think he’s ever even sponsored a successful bill. What he does is go on TV and make the case for liberal policies.

    For now, his credibility as a spokesman is shot. He’s a laughing stock at best. Maybe after awhile he’ll be rehabilitated for a spot on cable news, à la Spitzer, where he can then do what he’s done all along: be a television bulldog for liberal policies.

  20. Nessum says:

    Ah, you’re back. Good. So much to read up on, but just wanted to say, I’m so glad I checked in here to be confirmed that I’m not necessarily a prude or member of “the pc police” (shakes head) to find Weiner’s behaviour disgusting (and disturbing!).

    Thanks for being here Violet. Seriously! Even when only for this.

  21. Nessum says:

    Oh, and don’t you know, it’s really nothing to get upset about, because … it was consensual!

  22. Teresainpa says:

    violet , you may be right about Weiner being ineffective already.

  23. angie says:

    Thought you all would be interested to know (in case you missed it) that that paragon of feminist thought Alec Baldwin has weighed in on Weinergate in HuffPo (I’m not linking to it) to let us all know that Weiner is simply a

    modern, high functioning man

    and that

    He exists under a constant pressure cooker of self-analysis and public appraisal. Like other politicians, he needs something to take the edge off.

    Harassing strange women on the internet? Flashing your penis? Fantasizing about gagging a woman with his c*ck? He’s just taking the edge off! Give the guy a break! What’s the poor guy supposed to do to “take the edge off” — yoga? Pee-shaw. Being f*ck dolls to relieve the stress of “modern, high functioning men” are what we women are for! So I guess now that Alec has explained it, we should all stop being bitter man-hating harpies & STFU. {rolls eyes}

    Re: David — Thanks a bunch for telling us gals what is & isn’t sexual harassment, sweetie. I don’t know what I’d do without you dudes to set me straight! MUAH.

  24. angie says:

    Re: Weiner’s policies outweighing his obvious hatred of me.

    You know, I’ve got to say that seeing the depth & breadth of his lies this last week as well as his giant, narcissistic ego, I don’t think his alleged policies outweigh anything. I don’t trust him as far as I can throw him. For all I know he simply took those positions & said the things he did to get himself some face time on tv. He believes in nothing but himself.

  25. Carmonn says:

    Dear Alec, I’m not Anthony Weiner’s mother, psychiatrist, or wife. I don’t care about his needs. If he’s so stressed that he’s incapable of functioning with professional propriety or conceptualiing half his constituents as anything other than mastubatory aids, then the job might be a wee bit to much for him to handle. Thankfully, he doesn’t have to remain so hamstrung!

    In a safe seat like his I’m sure we can find a nice woman who’s smart and supports single payer. This will save us a lot of time, because if she ever gets caught sending out nude photos over her very own verified twitter and Facebook (even if she’s unmarried and sends them only to her actual boyfriend or girlfriend), she’ll probably just step down immediately, no fuss, no muss, no angst, no defenders, no hope.

  26. makarov says:

    Thanks for these postings.

    My initial feelings were Weiner shouldn’t resign, pretty much on the basis that Republicans faced with sex scandals don’t.

    Not that losing Weiner would have been a body blow to liberals. He talked a good game about single payer health care at a time when he was the only liberal other than Kucinich or Sanders who could consistently get a cable news show appearance and would do so. In the end, though, he voted in lock step with all other “liberal” congress critters for a terrible, terrible law. His lies then, along with virtually every member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, made me more depressed about the future of this country than I have been at any time in my life.

    I guess because of that it didn’t come as a surprise that he lied initially about this scandal. What I didn’t think about, though, was the obvious things you’ve pointed out in the last several posts.

    In short, he’s a scumbag. Like many scumbags before him, he apparently never considered he’d ever get caught.

    Perhaps if more women like Ms. Cordova come forward, the greater media will actually promote the idea that this behavior simply isn’t acceptable. However, the only thing I trust less than truth from a politician is truth from mass media. I am not exceptionally hopeful this will be the case.

  27. spring says:

    Yes, it is sexual harassment. It may not be “actionable” sexual harassment in the same way that this behavior would be were it directed to a subordinate woman at work, but consider: can’t a young woman, perhaps a student, perhaps someone who wants a career in politics, or perhaps someone who is just very interested in politics and otherwise would welcome networking and making contacts, hope to carry on a conversation with a politician without being viewed as his potential sex toy? Otherwise, what are we saying? That, of course, these foolish young women must have no other purpose in wanting to converse with a powerful man? That these silly girls should have realized they aren’t people who merit someone so important spending any time on them and declined conversation? Pretty sick.

    [I'm gagging too over the set-up of Palin. WTF? May we have Obama's college records and senatorial emails? Why DOES he have the social security number of a Connecticut dead guy? Etc.]

  28. Nessum says:

    Need some uplifting thoughts in the middle of this? A girl can dream … and this even seems pretty realistic. :) By 2012:

    Christine Lagarde as head of IMF.
    Hillary Clinton as head of World Bank.

  29. votermom says:

    Greta Van Susteren at Fox (who seems to be the only feminist woman in media) has a sarcastic poll asking if this is good journalism or is Palin getting a media colonoscopy:

  30. votermom says:

    The WaPo ombudsman defends their “crowd-sourcing” idea, the first sentence in his post, I am not kidding, is this:

    Sarah Palin and her e-mails are just too darn irresistible.

    Yup, this is all her own irresistable, immodest, sack-of-sin fault, tempting virtuous men to fall from grace. Stone her.

  31. DarthVelma says:

    I only vote for female candidates and I get a ton of shit about that from faux-gressives. From now on when they try to convince me that “some Democratic men are feminist allies”, I have a three word response…Anthony. Fucking. Weiner.

  32. Richard Johnson says:

    At least with Clarence Thomas, you could justify supporting him by saying you believed his denials; there wasn’t any confession or documentary proof.

    And nobody suggested that his behavior might have been acceptable because his wife at the time might have given him permission.

  33. Violet Socks says:

    At least with Clarence Thomas, you could justify supporting him by saying you believed his denials

    Well, actually, people justified supporting Clarence Thomas by calling Anita Hill a liar. Nice of you to characterize it so impersonally, as if Thomas was denying some bodiless principle or hypothesis.

    Every woman I knew believed Anita Hill because we had all, every single one of us, been subjected to sexual harassment at some point (or at several points) in our careers. It was only men who were pretending that it was all just too weird to believe.

  34. Richard Johnson says:

    I apologize. I intended ironic understatement to underline the willful blindness involved, not minimization. It was a bad choice given how much actual minimization goes on. Let me rephrase:

    At least the slimeballs who supported Clarence Thomas could self-justify their willful blindness by pretending Thomas didn’t do it. There was unfortunately no confession or physical proof to force them to retreat from their scurrilous attacks on Anita Hill.

  35. Toonces says:

    Street harassment isn’t technically sexual harassment either, right? At least if the legal definition is that is must happen in an employment or educational setting. I guess feminism should just shut up about that one.

  36. angie says:

    Anita Hill was my “snap” moment. I was in high school & saw her testimony on TV (my dad watches CSPAN like it’s crack) and she was so obviously telling the truth, it didn’t occur to me that anyone didn’t believe her. Was I in for a rude awakening — what I saw Joe Biden and the rest of the Senators do to her blew my mind. (Even if I doubted my decision to not vote for Obama in 2008, which I didn’t, I would have known my decision was right the minute he picked Biden for the VP slot). I’ll never forgive those SOBs for what they did to Anita Hill & for shattering my childhood idealism.

    As for why Clarence Thomas & David Vitter are different –at least, IMO — I’ve always known those two dudes hated me. Finding out Wiener — who I actually believed was on my side — hates me too is more of a betrayal.

  37. m Andrea says:

    Street harassment isn’t technically sexual harassment either, right?


    And a HUGE thank you to Violet for both of these posts, without them I probably wouldn’t have seen how truly misogynistic Weiner really is.

  38. Alison says:

    Of course Amanda Marcotte is out there defending Weiner and calling us all prudes on Facebook. And the majority of New Yorkers say they would vote for Weiner despite all of this.

  39. Violet Socks says:

    Amanda is now objectively in favor of sexual harassment? Of course. This is the “feminist” who is in favor of sexism (against women she doesn’t like) and FGM, who has defended racist/misogynist porn, who—oh for fuck’s sake. She really is an embarrassment to feminism. I swear to God, some day she’s gonna come out in favor of rape as a tool of war.

  40. Alison says:


    The most disturbing thing about Amanda is how commonplace her viewpoint is amongst 3rd wave hipster women ages 20 something – 40 something. This subgroup does not know what sexual harrassment is – it is just seen as sexual expression and sexual freedom. I remember my college upbringing in this 3rd wave climate very well. We did not understand what rape or sexual harrassment was. We simply prided ourselves on what we viewed as our new ability to express ourselves sexually.

    My very liberal 3rd wave peers denied a rape that happened in my small liberal arts college and claimed it was consensual. (The woman was a virgin and drunk and semi-conscious in her unlocked room when the rapist entered and assaulted her). Everyone said it was consensual because she dressed sexy, was gorgeous and flirted with the rapist earlier in the evening. Eventual the victim herself said it was consensual after years of victim-blaming.

    I am only bringing this up to illustrate the insane extent of how we have been brainwashed to accept sexual abuse. Sex abuse has become to be viewed as a right versus an assault. It’s sick. It’s so mainstream that even Barbara Walters basically agreed with Amanda’s viewpoint and instead admired Weiner’s package on national television!

  41. Violet Socks says:

    Sex abuse has become to be viewed as a right versus an assault. It’s sick. It’s so mainstream that even Barbara Walters basically agreed with Amanda’s viewpoint and instead admired Weiner’s package on national television!

    That’s because Barbara Walters is old. Everything you’re describing is just the way it was before Second Wave feminism. Modern “post-feminism” or “third wave” feminism is in many ways a return to the pre-feminist status quo.

    Yes, of course Baba Wawa and Amanda would agree. Amanda is pre-feminist. She’s a perfect product of patriarchy and would fit in perfectly in the 50s or 60s. Her whole routine is just classic old anti-feminist crap that I remember from childhood: dismissing feminist critiques of pornography, prostitution, sexual harassment, etc., as the howlings of bitter old prudes who can’t loosen up. Even her crazed compulsive hostility to other women is reminiscent of the old snakepit days, when females were all supposed to be stabbing each other in the back.

  42. blackcherrypa says:

    The most common response I see from third wavers regarding sexual harassment is that if you want the man to stop, you need to tell him no really firmly. You can’t expect him to read your mind. The real problem isn’t his predation, no he’s just “clumsy” and unsure how to navigate the sexual world now that women are “equal”. No, the real problem is the timidity of women. This is a common response of women on places like Ask Metafilter whenever some woman asks what to do about her pervy co-worker/acquaintaince/congressman.

    This is my main problem with the third wave and why it is not merely ineffective, but retrograde: this so-called empowerment. No longer are the abuses of men the problem facing women, no, our inequality is due to thinking like “victims” and not seizing our own power.

  43. Teresainpa says:

    I only vote for female candidates and I get a ton of shit about that from faux-gressives. From now on when they try to convince me that “some Democratic men are feminist allies”, I have a three word response…Anthony. Fucking. Weiner.

    Hey are you me? vote for women first no matter what party. I refuse to vote for “pro-life” males, leave it blank or write in myself. “Pro-life” women I will vote for. I think we are better off when women have parity in government and corporations and voting for all women in all parties is the only way to get there. For those who tell me they can’t vote for conservative women, I say “get over it. You have been voting for conservative men for years just because they are democrats.
    My sister doesn’t say some men are our allies, she says conservative women will work against us.
    Yes some women will disagree with us politically, but so do EFFING DEMOCRATIC PARTY MALES!
    I am so tired of women refusing to use the power we already have. We are the majority. We could make the congress majority female if we were not fools for the divide and conquer men keep pulling on us.
    That is also what is wrong with the 3rd wave (the undertow), they folded under the backlash and now are pretending that being used like cheep meat and then walked all over and ignored, was their idea all along.

  44. djmm says:

    Wonderful post, Violet. But I have a question. Of course, it may be a(nother) lie but Rep. Weiner stated he had inadvertently sent the underwear picture to many women (including Ms. Cordova)instead of the one woman he intended. I agree that sending unwelcome sexual images to people is harassment. But if he sent it to more than one woman accidentally, and if the one woman he intended to send it to consented to such communications,is it still sexual harassment?

    Granted, his behavior was stupid all round and he made it worse by repeatedly lying.

    I also suspect his behavior was likely compulsive — remember the interesting thread you had on men addicted to porn?


  45. Violet Socks says:

    Rep. Weiner stated he had inadvertently sent the underwear picture to many women (including Ms. Cordova)instead of the one woman he intended.

    That’s not what he said at the press conference, or afterwards. He specifically acknowledged that he had deliberately sent the picture to Ms. Cordova, and said he’d meant it as a “joke.”

    Ms. Cordova’s response to the press was that she didn’t know what the “joke” was supposed to be.

  46. djmm says:


    I misunderstood what he said when I saw the news conference. I thought he intended to send it as a “private message” — to someone else — and accidentally tweeted it to Ms. Cordova and posted it to his account. Reading the transcript, I think your interpretation is correct. And he clearly did not send it as “a joke”: he was trying to initiate another sexual relationship with someone who had given no signs she would welcome such. What a dork!!

    He should be treated like any flasher in a park or at the neighborhood supermarket.