Dear Male Defender of Schwarzenegger's Groping,
Do you have a wife or past-puberty daughter? Great. Let me ask you, are her tits real? Let me feel 'em. Mind if I reach under her skirt and feel her ass?
I'm not going to ask her, mind you. Because her consent doesn't matter. I mean, this kind of feels like a "rowdy" atmosphere, so I think I'll do a little playful groping.
I'm sure you won't mind, because you've already declared that consent doesn't matter.
Bob Somerby notes how some men in the media just don't get it:
GROPE THIS: How low in character is Washingtons press corps? Chris Matthews has long been the low of the low, and he proved it again on last Friday nights Hardball. That morning, the Los Angeles Times had reported that six women had accused Arnold Schwarzenegger of groping and grabbing, without their consent. Matthews has been the musclemans chief shill in the media, so he quickly got to work, standing by his man. But uh-oh! Friday night, trouble was brewing! On Hardball, Gloria Allred expressed concern about the Times report:
ALLRED: What Im concerned about is what Arnold Schwarzenegger has done, what he has allegedly done to women, to the six women who reported incidents to the L. A. Times. We dont know if it is true or not, but Mr. Schwarzenegger himself, Chris, said where theres smoke, theres fire. He suggested that he acted badly.
ALLRED: He suggested that he apologize. But he didnt specifically say what he did. Were not stupid. The Times reported that he grabbed womens breasts, that he grabbed under their skirt and to their buttocks.
Uh-oh! It didnt sound good! So Matthews began misdirecting. By the way, where were you on Clinton? he asked, specifically mentioning Monica Lewinsky. And soon an obvious distinction was offered. This is a different situation, Allred said. This is unconsented-to conduct.
Hmmm. Lets see if we can puzzle this out. Lewinsky engaged in consensual conduct. These six (now fifteen) women say they were groped. The distinction seemed fairly clear to us, but the Hardball host was thoroughly flummoxed. Allred voiced the distinction again. But he just couldnt figure it out:
ALLRED: The situation with Monica Lewinsky was consented-to conduct. She consented to that conduct. In the newspaper article in the L. A. Times, the situation with the six women with Arnold Schwarzenegger
MATTHEWS: So its OK if its
ALLRED: is unconsented-to, if you believe its true.
MATTHEWS (openly sarcastic): OK. Just to get this straight, just toGloria, so your record is straight here. So its OK to have consensual relations with a woman who is 30 years or whatever younger than you in the workplace. Thats OK. And it is OK to lie about it. But in this case, he admitted he did it and thats not OK. What is your value system here?
Cant you see the total clowning, and one of the clowning clowns who produce it? Matthews feigned utter confusionhe just couldnt figure this value system out! And now, concluding his segment with Allred, he showcased his low, smutty character:
ALLRED (continuing directly): Well, it is very clear. It is not unlawful, although I dont think it is wise, to have a sexual relationship that is consented to in the workplace.
ALLRED: But, if it is unwelcome in the workplace, as is alleged against Arnold Schwarzenegger, thats unlawful. If it is true, it is sexual battery that he committed, Mr. Schwarzenegger. And that is potentially a crime.
MATTHEWS: Great. OK. My producer is telling me to shut you up. OK? I'm trying to be polite. Go ahead, Kim [Serafin].
Matthewstrying to be politedidnt tell Allred to shut up himself. He just said his producer was saying it!
But Matthews was hardly alone this weekend. Many pundits seemed confused by the concept of consent. Of course, few of them clowned any harder than Matthews. But hes long been an industry leader.
THEYVE GOT YOUR CONSENT RIGHT HERE: Many pundits were having trouble with the consensual/nonconsensual distinction. Wow, it was hard to sort out! Luckily, Susan Faludi explained why that might be. Why was Matthews so utterly puzzled? Why should Allred just shut up? Writing an op-ed in Sundays Los Angeles Times, Faludi offered a general suggestion:
FALUDI: A Schwarzenegger spokesman told The Times that [one of the alleged groping episodes] was just a case of locker room humor. Which actually explains a good deal of Schwarzeneggers appeal to male voters. He comes out of the testosterone-ruled world of weight rooms and action movies, where women are the designated observers and adorners, and where men find their place in the wolf pack through a well-established ordeal of hazing and humiliation.
The men who dont make it to the top in that world still have the compensation of identifying with the one man who does, as long as they dont identify with any of the women, as long as they dont say nothing. They still belong to the pack, by virtue of being male.
No matter how much sand gets kicked in their face, they still can fantasize that one day they, too, like Charles Atlas, will do enough leg lifts to rise in the ranks The locker room game works as long as only men get to play, and only as long as they agree to play by certain rules. One rule is that sensuality is verboten, but aggressive jocularity is not. Humiliating women in a playful way can signal a powerful rejection of the feminine and a powerful reinforcement of male bonding.
Of course, Matthews has always been a sand-kicking bully when female guests talk back on Hardball. We have written in the past about his rude putdowns of Norah ODonnell, Elizabeth Holtzman, Kiki Moore, Mary Boyle. Lets say this for Bill OReillyhe tells men that they ought to shut up. Matthewsa 98-pound bully and cowardlikes to say shut up to women.