To everyone over the age of 30, I have a message: The world is changing. Your ideas of what is “personal” versus “private” are outdated. The kids today, they share things. Now they’re on the facebook (yes, they’ve all left friendster!). They think it’s funny to post photos of themselves passed out drunk, for their friends to see. They send each other “sexts” (that’s a portmanteau word combing “sex” and “text,” and it means they send each other sexual text messages, sometimes even with photos of themselves). They take photos of themselves at parties, engaged in the act of “partying.”
This is the way of the world now. At the cutting edge of this new standard of behavior is Paris Hilton. She made a tape of one of her sexual encounters, and now she gets paid to make personal appearances. She has acted in movies and appeared on reality shows. She has another new show coming soon.
That’s right, you old fogeys — Paris Hilton built her career on something that you would probably think is embarrassing. When you were young, you didn’t make tapes of yourself having sex, did you? You didn’t take photos of yourself passed out drunk. You didn’t take photos of yourself jokingly mimicking sexual acts at a party.
Sure, you actually had sex. You passed out drunk. You jokingly mimicked sexual acts at a party. But you didn’t document it. And if you did, you had enough sense to not pass the photos around. Not like these kids today. They take photos of themselves doing all sorts of embarrassing things, and then they just post them onto the internet, for anyone to see!
And they are getting older themselves. They’re taking jobs. Many of them are excelling at those jobs, and rising to positions of authority. Many of those same people who took photos of themselves passed out drunk and posted them to the web are actually hiring people. What was once “embarrassing” — to someone over the age of 30 — is now becoming an accepted part of a person’s past.
Into this world has sprung the politician named Krystal Ball, who is running for some office (it doesn’t matter what), as a member of one of the two major political parties (it doesn’t matter which one). She is now 28 years old. A few years ago, when she was just out of college, she appeared at a party with her then husband. She posed for some photos which are quite mundane, although a number of people over the age of 30 might consider them provocative. These photos were posted to the internet. Some of those photos can be found here, at Gawker.
Here is one of the photos:
Boring. Who cares? Most of the photos are like that, but there is one that is actually kind of funny, playing as it does with the male fantasy of two women making out with each other:
Ah, yes. Two young, attractive women, just… about… to… lick… Their lips are so close, can you feel the antic…i…pation?
But still, boring and who cares? Some people did, apparently. Some old people.
A candidate for Congress in Virginia running against incumbent Rep. Rob Wittman has called the leak of raunchy photos of her “outrageous” and “incredibly sexist.”
First of all, only the most prudish among us would think of these photos as “raunchy.” For most everyone else, they represent a typical Tuesday night. Second of all — look at how Ms. Ball shamelessly behaves like a politician:
“Of course, I am embarrassed by these photos; that was the whole point of these political operatives when they put them up,” the 28-year-old Democrat said in a statement. “But more than just embarrassed, I’m angry!”
She is pandering to the over 30 vote, feigning embarrassment over something that is plainly not embarrassing. Well, actually, the photos might be a little embarrassing, showing as they do that Ms. Ball was once married to a doofus. Seriously, look at that guy.
Regardless. It’s generally accepted that young people are less likely to vote than those who are older. Ms. Ball has to claim to be embarrassed, because the elderly would be, too, if such photos of them were made public. Oh, and while she’s at it, she might as well say the release of the photos for which she willingly posed is “incredibly sexist” (as opposed to “just a little bit sexist”). She can maybe pick up some sympathy votes from aging feminists.
And get some completely-missing-the-point copy over at the Huffington Post.
There’s a certain group that has taken to attacking us liberal gals pretty regularly because they think we only call out sexist treatment of women when it happens to “one of us.” (Of course, at least one conservative guy thinks it’s not possible for there to be sexist treatment against conservative women, but that’s another story!)
That’s a nice rallying cry, but nothing could be further from the truth. Though I suspect that’s exactly why there has been nary a peep from those same conservative women in calling out whoever released the irrelevant, racy photos (though fully clad) of a 22-year-old Ball taken by her ex-husband. (Her Republican opponent denies he was involved — we’ll see how that one shakes out).
So if these women get so upset when they feel they’re treated in unfair and sexist ways, constantly complaining that the liberal sisterhood refuses to defend them, where are they for Krystal Ball, not to mention all women and their daughters?
Deafening silence. Crickets chirping. Dead of night kind of quiet.
So I have to ask conservative women — if you’re all that in the world of speaking out for the sisterhood, where are you for Krystal Ball? Because I know you’ll find a way to claim her as a kind of mama grizzly when she takes the oath of office in 2011 as the youngest woman ever to be elected to Congress, as she carries her toddler daughter in her arms up the steps of the Capitol.
I am neither a conservative, nor a woman, nor a conservative woman, so I can’t speak to the silence of any of those groups. But I can tell you that it takes a certain kind of thinking (the over 30 years-old kind) to believe that the release of these pictures might in any way harm a politician’s career. They depict a young woman playing around with her husband. Her husband is clearly a doofus and she could have done a lot better (which she seems to have realized, since he is now her ex), but that is beside the point. And it also takes an over 30 years-old way of thinking to believe that the release of these photos is “sexist.” To most of us who aren’t stuck in the past, the photos would be met with, well, deafening silence. Crickets chirping. Dead of night quiet.
Because seriously, who the hell cares that some young woman was at a party a loooooonnnngggg time ago, and posed for some silly pictures that aren’t nearly as provocative as a bunch of old fogeys would like us to believe?
On the very same page on which a blogger is decrying the great double standard of the Krystal Ball story, the Huffington Post teases the “SIZZLING DETAILS” of an “Alleged Affair” with a (female) politician. And then, there are also the teases of TWO, count ’em, TWO stories about Kim Kardashian, a woman who, like Paris Hilton, made her fame in a sex tape.
One of those stories features NUDE PHOTOS of Kim Kardashian. (If you’re interested, here’s a link to that story. You can help Huffington Post take a stand against the double-standard in the treatment of Krystal Ball by clicking away.)
The other story is about Ms. Kardashian going bowling in a strapless dress.
The “SIZZLING DETAILS” can be found here.
Like Ms. Ball, the Huffington Post has a reason to pander. They’re trying to get “hits,” which are sort of the internet version of “votes.” Putting the word “sizzling” and “affair” together in a headline is certain to help drive up traffic (even if that reluctant “alleged” is stuffed in there to spoil all the fun). And, of course, the words “photos” and “NUDE” are also quite helpful. (How do you think Huffington Post became the second most valuable blog [after Gawker!]?)
There are still a number of reasons for people, even those who know better, to perpetuate the idea of the “embarrassing” “raunchy” party picture, and other outdated mores. But it won’t be much longer now. Thanks to the efforts of young people like Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian, we’re all going to be Krystal Balls, and no one’s going to care if we have a few harmless photos of ourselves on the internet.
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