That Is Some World-Class Slut Shaming

In the wake of an affair involving a powerful man, the attempts by some people to blame the whole thing on the Jezebel he willingly slept with are inevitable. But when it’s this egregious, it’s pretty special. Let’s hear from a “senior military source“:

One day, she’s celebrating her birthday as an accomplished (if you want to use that term) author and PhD candidate, the next she’s Paula Jones. [ed. note: Paula Jones did not actually willingly engage in any sexual activity with Bill Clinton. But if he harassed her, that's probably here fault too! Also, a woman might be accomplished, or she might have nonprocreative sexual intercourse, but certainly not both.]

[...]

Over that time, she went from someone very likeable to a shameless self-promoting prom queen.

[...]

You’re a 60 year-old man and an attractive woman almost half your age makes herself available to you — that would be a test for anyone. The timing of the rumors of the administration throwing him under the bus after the election is suspect, but in the end I believe she got her claws — so to speak — in him. He had enough honor to know that a cover-up is much worse than a public admission. As a result, I think he can recover and continue to be a player on the national stage, but she’s toast. Her reputation is unrecoverable, in my opinion.

In fairness, as disgracefully misogynist as that last paragraph is, it’s probably one step up the evolutionary ladder from what’s to come from NRO and Pajamas Media, where I’m sure they’ll be busy explaining that the slut conspired with Barack Obama to force the helpless Petraeus to have sex with her. Certainly can’t blame him under those circumstances.

100 comments on this post.
  1. Jonathan Dresner:

    Over that time, she went from someone very likeable to a shameless self-promoting prom queen.

    Translation: she didn’t sleep with me.

  2. Colin Day:

    the attempts by some people to blame the whole thing on the Jezebel we willingly slept with are inevitable.

    We? Don’t you mean he?

  3. Anderson:

    “Paula Jones did not actually willingly engage in any sexual activity with Bill Clinton”

    You know this?

  4. Scott Lemieux:

    Does anybody suggest that she did?

  5. j.e.b.:

    I agree with you on the massive misogyny here, but will also say that it is probably true that her academic “reputation is unrecoverable”. She had an affair with the person her dissertation was about. That doesn’t make her evil, but it’s very unprofessional, and academia only accepts unprofessional behavior post-tenure.

  6. Dr.BDNH:

    I have no more respect for Petreaus than any of the Pentagon spawn who have perpetuated the military-political-corporatist empire than has sapped our country’s wealth and honor, but Jesus, can we get over this sex-is-bad faux moralism? Men are generally sexual assholes (Clinton, et al) and women apparently want to fuck power even when it’s as disgusting as Kissinger. As for the CIA, it should be dissolved. Unfortunately, that won’t be the result of this “Hey, we’ve got humans running the world’s most powerful military/spy complex.”

  7. Anonymous:

    {A}s disgracefully misogynist as that last paragraph is, it’s probably one step up the evolutionary ladder from what’s to come from NRO and Pajamas Media, where I’m sure they’ll be busy explaining that the slut conspired with Barack Obama to force the helpless Petraeus to have sex with her.

    I’m not so sure. Every Brazen Hussy, Wanton Temptress, and Crazy Stalker Lady has an ulterior motive–usually linked to our Mortal Male Enemies, of whom she is merely a pawn. (No woman on earth is simply interested in sex for the sake of sex; that would mean men would have to tart up like inferior females and make themselves desirable._ So, what was Broadwell’s reason for getting her claws into him, then?

    You forgot this gem:

    The General fell victim to the one thing that can destroy a military leader’s reputation faster than death: Seduction.

  8. Paula Jones:

    I did.

  9. hells littlest angel:

    “You’re a 60 year-old man and an attractive woman almost half your age… “

    That would be a woman no more than 29 years old. Paula Broadwell is 40.

  10. DrDick:

    WOW! I am not sure that they could have crammed one more misogynist stereotype into the passage. I am impressed, disgusted, but impressed.

  11. Aloysius:

    Um, can we agree that sending threatening e-mails to a perceived rival for the married man you’re having it off with constitutes something less than admirable behavior?

  12. JazzBumpa:

    Yes. Yes, we can.

  13. JazzBumpa:

    It was supposed to be almost coming from the high side.

    Still, the math is not very good.

  14. LosGatosCA:

    That’s just wrong.

  15. Jonas:

    We are all St. Petraeus now

  16. Uncle Ebeneezer:

    to a shameless self-promoting prom queen

    So, she turned into Sarah Palin?

  17. ploeg:

    That’s not what we’re talking about when we talk about the “senior military source” that said that “she got her claws — so to speak — in him,” is it?

    Contra said “senior military source,” this pretty much frosts Petraeus’s cake for any national job for which he’s qualified.

  18. LosGatosCA:

    I think he just wrote came to him naturally. If he had been trying for the record he could have broken it easily.

  19. LosGatosCA:

    OT – we need a BCS/Oregon (#2) thread.

  20. charles pierce:

    Yeah, but it was a Josh Beckett-caliber hanging slider.

  21. Anonymous:

    What’s your point? Since when did the world at large–pearls very much clutched–give a toss about “admirable” behavior ‘cept when it comes to policing women’s sex lives?

  22. NonyNony:

    but Jesus, can we get over this sex-is-bad faux moralism?

    Sure, if you’d like. He’s still an idiot.

    Men are generally sexual assholes (Clinton, et al)

    Ah we’re going to combat the faux moralism with … misandry and misogyny! First we see the misandrist argument “boys will be boys”. There’s bound to be an equivalent argument about women coming up…

    and women apparently want to fuck power even when it’s as disgusting as Kissinger.

    … and there it is. “Wimminz are sluts”.

    I prefer the argument “it isn’t anyone else’s business what two consenting adults do in their private lives”. Partly because I believe it, but mostly because it is neither misogynist nor misandrist.

    (Though again – political officials who haven’t realized that post-Clinton the game has changed and they need to either work to change the culture or keep it in their goddamn pants are idiots.)

  23. Visitor:

    Touche, but in this case the original translation stands as the more accurate one, I think.

  24. Curmudgeon:

    This pattern of defending women who do indefensible things–like allegedly sending threats of violence to a rival–simply because some of the condemnation doesn’t pass a sexism litmus test is really quite bizarre.

    Anyone who violates basic norms of behavior deserves whatever response they get, even if that means they are described in terms that are objectively sexist or even objectively racist.

    It’s really, really not worth crying over some woman who allegedly sent threats serious enough to justify an FBI investigation being called a slut. Save the moral indignation for women who get called sluts after being victimized by others.

  25. Warren Terra:

    I don’t recall the Clinton Wars, and don’t care to read up on them. My recollection is that Jones is the one Bill is allegedly supposed to have summoned by state trooper to his hotel room, where he supposedly sexually harassed her, quite crudely. Whether it is alleged that they subsequently had a sexual relationship i do not recall, nor as I said do I care to look it up.

  26. Warren Terra:

    What about her career as a biographer / a journalist of sorts? I mean, this scandal would seem to be disqualifying there as well, but I know of one enormously respected and successful nonfiction author and feature writer for a national paper about whom I have it on very good authority that a couple of decades ago they slept with three of the subjects of a rather hagiographic book they wrote, a book I believe is still in print. It didn’t make the news (and wouldn’t, the subjects aren’t famous people), but the conflict-of-interest was the same, and the stories are quite widely told.

  27. DrDick:

    Shorter Curmudgeon: Slut had it coming!

  28. T. Paine:

    Right, she should have known better than to wear a skirt in that neighborhood.

    Wait, what were we talking about?

  29. Both Sides Do It:

    Nov. 24th will be the first (and hopefully last) time everyone who is good and decent will be cheering for USC with all their strength

  30. LosGatosCA:

    I think you meant:

    He should have known better than to wear his uniform around nubile women.

    Or, maybe, you meant:

    He should have used an aspirin for sexual impulse control, like that Republican donor suggested.

  31. JazzBumpa:

    But not because she’s a slut, rather, because she threatened another person, and it was taken so seriously that the FBI got involved, if you had read with comprehension.

    The “shorter” meme only works if don’t omit the most vital part of he argument you intend to parody.

  32. JazzBumpa:

    The irony is that Broadwell really did bring this situation to light, and all this trouble onto herself – if the reports are accurate – by sending a threatening e-mail to Kelly.

    Which [so very avoidably] brought in the FBI.

    Without that, she and P4 could still be snuggling, and nobody else any the wiser.

    Hoist on her own petard – no?

    This reminds me of a kingdom lost for the want of a horse shoe nail.

  33. Manju:

    I don’t recall Paula Jones suggesting a sexual relations either. Either that was an unfortunate joke (ie, her “baseless” sexual harassment suit itself constitutes a suggestion, ha ha) or there is some confusion with Gennifer Flowers.

    IIRC Flowers filed a defamation suit against Clinton… which boiled down to this:

    Clinton hurt her reputation by claiming that they did not have an adulterous relationship. The joke writes itself.

  34. Both Sides Do It:

    I think Curmudgeon is saying that because she did bad things she deserves to be called sexist things. Because that’s what he said.

    And that’s wrong-headed. Using a sexist/racist framework or terms in any instance re-enforces that framework or those terms as something acceptable to use. And they’re not.

    It’s not about what Broadwell deserves. It’s about the consequences of using that kind of thinking and rhetoric. They’re bad consequences. They shouldn’t be used.

  35. Joey Maloney:

    But her case was undermined by witnesses reporting that beforehand she was bragging she was going to bag the Governor; and afterwards bragging that she bagged the Governor. IIRC.

  36. DocAmazing:

    ‘Scuse me, I don’t remember getting any of that…

  37. DocAmazing:

    A veritable Lolita.

  38. LosGatosCA:

    Almost triply so.

  39. LosGatosCA:

    And still well under the bar for a ‘youthful indiscretion.’

  40. Anonymous:

    If a woman wants to fuck you, you fuck it up by being a douche, she has second thoughts, and then you wildly grope at her, she got what she had coming and she’s a liar and you win foreve and ever amen. Got it.

    This is just the long version of non-virgins can’t be raped / harassed, right?

  41. jon:

    It takes two to have an affair. Blackwell showed poor judgement, much lest any attachment to journalistic principles of detachment. This would be excluding any duty she has as a reservist. I could care less about her affair w. Petraeus, except as she may have wanted to continue to exploit the relationship, and as it may have manifested a security breach.

  42. Anonymous:

    If you don’t want to be called a dirty, crazy whore, don’t do anything ever that might give dumb misogynists an excuse to ply their trade. This includes: living, breathing, not being a virgin, being too good-looking or young, et al. You brought it on yo’self, bitch!

  43. Scott Lemieux:

    This pattern of defending women who do indefensible things–like allegedly sending threats of violence to a rival

    Can you point to someone defending this behavior, or is your comment just an utter non-sequitur?

  44. Anonymous:

    We only have so much moral indignation on tap. I’m saving mine for the muslimas, or whatever.

  45. thebewilderness:

    If you give it the merest moment of thought you might recognize the pattern of a standard misogynists sexist bloviation instead of criticizing the actual behavior of the parties that was inappropriate.
    I will splain it for you. Two married peeps had an affair together.
    One of the had a top secret security clearance.
    The other one sent harassing emails to a third person and when it was investigated the affair was revealed.
    The quote has nothing to do with any of that. All it does is demonstrate the degree of the writers misogyny.
    Get it?

  46. Both Sides Do It:

    Biographet

  47. wjts:

    Anyone who violates basic norms of behavior deserves whatever response they get, even if that means they are described in terms that are objectively sexist or even objectively racist.

    THANK YOU! Finally, someone who UNDERSTANDS why it was not only acceptable but IMPERATIVE that I subject the fucker who cut the line at the grocery store to an eight-minute tirade full of racist and sexist epithets.

  48. Ed:

    It didn’t make the news (and wouldn’t, the subjects aren’t famous people),

    If it didn’t make the news and remains mostly gossip in a limited circle, it’s a completely different situation. When this guy says Petraeus can recover but Broadwell can’t, he’s probably right. Our culture has not yet changed that much and Broadwell as the less powerful partner and as a woman will be hurt more in the long run. (Nor is Broadwell an established writer; her relative lack of credentials didn’t go unnoticed in Afghanistan.) I feel for her family, and Petraeus’s. I hope they can recover.

  49. BubbaDave:

    Anyone who violates basic norms of behavior deserves whatever response they get, even if that means they are described in terms that are objectively sexist or even objectively racist.

    So, let me see if I’ve got that straight: Herman Cain was apparently abusive/gropey to multiple women, therefore Ni-CLANG?

    I think I’ll continue to look for non-sexist/racist ways to call an asshole an asshole, thanks.

    (Oh, and sending threatning letters to women you fear your partener in adultery might be tempted by? Asshole. Just sayin’.)

  50. BigHank53:

    In my defense, I did think you were just checking out the swimsuit page in People magazine, and not actually in line.

    Thanks for all the information about my ancestors, too–the things one’s parents won’t tell you!

  51. BubbaDave:

    Remember kids, tequila and spelling don’t mix. Sigh. And I was a copy editor once upon a time….

  52. Linnaeus:

    I don’t think she’s actually defended her dissertation yet, though I could be wrong. If she hasn’t, her next meeting with her dissertation committee will likely not go very well. An affair in of itself is not an academic issue (though it would be unsurprising, and sexist, if that alone were held against her) but I think having an affair with the person about whom you’re writing your dissertation and concealing that would be in the realm of a breach of research ethics and would call the scholarship into question.

  53. Joey Maloney:

    No, it’s the long version of you making up some crazy shit out of my recall of the facts of the case.

    Damn, your head must be a weird place to live inside.

  54. Manju:

    Its better on top of the bar, imo. But I guess if you’re looking to hyde, then under it is.

  55. ajay:

    I know of one enormously respected and successful nonfiction author and feature writer for a national paper about whom I have it on very good authority that a couple of decades ago they slept with three of the subjects of a rather hagiographic book they wrote

    That was that slut Tom Brokaw, wasn’t it?

  56. Warren Terra:

    There’s a reason he thinks it’s the Greatest Generation!

  57. Manju:

    Our culture has not yet changed that much and Broadwell as the less powerful partner and as a woman will be hurt more in the long run.

    Broadwell seems like quite a character. I think she’ll go on Oprah and just change the culture instead.

  58. Manju:

    Also, Patricia Harriman. Many tried to slut shame her, but she remained shameless.

  59. Manju:

    Patricia Harriman.

    Pamela

  60. cpinva:

    he exposed himself to her, she was offended (and rightfully so), and left. that was pretty much it. she was later promoted. i guess that could be defined as “sexual harrassment”, except for the lack of “harrassment”, as defined by law.

  61. bradP:

    Anyone who violates basic norms of behavior deserves whatever response they get, even if that means they are described in terms that are objectively sexist or even objectively racist.

    Because you haven’t appropriately shamed and discriminated against an individual until you have shamed and discriminated against that person’s entire race and/or gender.

  62. BigHank53:

    On the other hand, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for some wag on her dissertation committee to ask, “So, what’s he like in the sack?” What’s she going to do, try to take the fifth?

  63. Karen:

    The post being disused is bad, but this one, suggesting the General strayed because his wife is old and ugly, is several orders of magnitude worse. Don’t go there within an hour of eating; it will cause digestive trauma.

  64. Karen:

    Crap. DISCUSSED, not disused.

  65. Karen:

    Paula Jones. For those not interested in a wiki article, Jones was referenced as “a girl named Paula” in a David Brock hit piece on President Clinton. Brock later apologized for the story, in which he claimed that said Paula, whose last name did not appear in the original piece, bragged about wanting to be Clinton’s girlfriend. Right wing lawyers found her and bankrolled her harassment lawsuit. It was during one of the very many depositions in the Jones case that Clinton denied having sex with Lewinsky.

  66. joe from Lowell:

    I wouldn’t my name on such a dishonest bit of misdirection, either.

  67. joe from Lowell:

    Cheating on your wife is bad.

    I hope that isn’t too “faux” for you.

  68. joe from Lowell:

    Anyone who violates basic norms of behavior deserves whatever response they get, even if that means they are described in terms that are objectively sexist or even objectively racist.

    That does not make any sense.

    Violating “basic norms of behavior” means you deserve “whatever” response they get?

    Dude, WTF?

  69. DrDick:

    Exactly.

  70. spencer:

    Yeah, I notice there is no way to leave a comment on that blog. I’m sure that’s just an oversight.

  71. Aaron B.:

    I do think that the affair reflects more poorly on Broadwell from a professional standpoint since the ability to maintain a professional distance from one’s subject is essential to the whole “journalism” thing, while the ability to be faithful to one’s wife does not really impact Petraeus’ competence as a military leader (other than the whole blackmail thing, which could be solved by publicly or privately admitting the affair). So Broadwell failed a test of professional ethics, while Petraeus’ failings are purely private. That said, they’re both clearly responsible for this mess, and some of the commentary I’ve seen around the issue is ridiculously blatant in its misogyny and slut-shaming.

  72. Linnaeus:

    Heh. I wouldn’t put it past some dissertation committees to do just that.

  73. joe from Lowell:

    Since extra-marital affairs are not considered “purely private” for CIA employees, I don’t think this argument works for Patreaus the way it would for some Congressman or Governor. You lose your job in the CIA for that.

  74. Karen:

    I’ve noticed that few hard-right blogs allow comments, and the ones that do aggressively filter comments. I was banned twice from the Crisis Magazine site for disagreeing with one of their writers. Anthiny Esolen has a a serious problem with women, and anyone who disagrees with him while possessing ovaries gets banned quickly.

  75. Bill Murray:

    That was Kathleen Willey, not Paula Jones

  76. Jesse Levine:

    I think it’s very interesting that Eric Cantor was told of the investigation by a Congress critter who was briefed by a rogue FBI employee before the election, and couldn’t figure out a way to use it politically.

  77. mpowell:

    President? If the Republicans could get close with Romney, I don’t see how Petraeus wouldn’t have a shot. This will be forgotten by the voters that matter in 4 years (if they ever even hear about it). And you can be sure the DC media won’t bother reminding them.

  78. ajay:

    The General fell victim to the one thing that can destroy a military leader’s reputation faster than death: Seduction.

    There is a rare moment of comedy in Alistair Horne’s book about Verdun, The Price of Glory. The French high command decides to put Petain (unmarried) in command of the battle, but the officer they send with the message can’t find him. So he asks around Petain’s HQ and eventually one of his staff officers says quietly “well, look, you could always ask for him at this out-of-the-way hotel, he goes there quite a lot, but for god’s sake be discreet.” The officer heads to the hotel and looks down the corridors till he sees a door with two sets of footwear outside: one pair of French army riding boots, one pair of silk slippers. He knocks, politely. Petain emerges in just his shirt. The officer gives him the news. Petain nods, thanks him, and goes back to bed…

  79. Aaron B.:

    Petraeus does at least something to mitigate this line of criticism by making the affair public so it can’t be used against him. He certainly should never have engaged in the affair in the first place, though.

  80. mpowell:

    Sure, but if Petreaus later wants a regular civilian job, like President say, this may not be much of a disqualifier. Broadwell’s doesn’t have an immediately available alternative career that isn’t supposed to require objective and honest writing, which is a problem in her case.

  81. MosesZD:

    That’s a tricky one. Either she’s a pariah (most likely) and that’ll be the end of her, or she manages to successfully transform herself and ‘gets Jesus’ and becomes a big celebrity on the ‘fallen but reformed’ circuit that works the evangelicals.

    I’m really betting on #1. This is America and slut-shaming is what we do.

    If she were a man, I’d have given her even odds on #2.

  82. djw:

    Of course, I don’t believe for a moment that Curmudgeon actually believes this view as stated, which would justify a wide variety of brutal atrocities (lynching black men for looking at white women) and absurd overreactions (road rage-inspired beatings of the guy who cut you off three miles back). But if we leave that aside and pretend he does mean it, and accept this absurd position in arguendo, his argument is still indefensible. The reason I don’t want to misogyny directed at, say, Ann Coulter or racist insults directed at Herman Cain isn’t because I’m particularly worried about either of them, but rather because the circulation of these insults is bad for society, and in particular for women and minorities in society.

  83. Davis:

    So is cheating on your husband, which she did. She also wrote threatening emails to another woman. It’s possible not to take sides on this.

  84. Julia Grey:

    Just like Sandra Fluke did!

  85. Julia Grey:

    We only have so much moral indignation on tap.

    Speak for yourself, Nony.

  86. joe from Lowell:

    That was my reaction, too.

    A celebrity biographer with her own racy past isn’t exactly a ticket to food stamps.

  87. Anonymous:

    Dude, you’re suggesting that because she wanted to have consensual sex with him, that precludes the possibility that he harassed her.

    It’s just about possible to assert your right not to have a dick waved in your face while simultaneously wanting to fuck somebody.

  88. Anonymous:

    This is irony taken to a new, impossibly sophisticated level.

  89. Anonymous:

    Nah. Speaking for Curmudgeon (while using Dawkins’ terminology) is a lot more interesting.

  90. joe from Lowell:

    Perhaps the Alanis Morrisette definition of irony.

    It’s becoming more and more clear why you’re afraid to use a recognizable handle.

  91. Anonymous:

    Don’t know about that, sweets. You seem to recognize me just fine.

  92. Frankly:

    Its weird for me. I’m 60 and I have been married for 38 years so there is a harmony with this jackass. Would I like to think a 30 year old woman would want me? Sure, I guess. Would I act on that? Hell no. I don’t think I am any superman or somehow superior to the jackass in question. But I do think there is a question of honor and commitment, the sort of thing the jackass in question is supposed to be committed to. Maybe I just don’t think I am that special that I am entitled to women.

  93. DrDick:

    This. I have been married (and divorced) three times and may not be all that great at this marriage thing, but the one thing I never did, or even had any serious desire to do, was to cheat on any of my wives.

  94. ema:

    …while the ability to be faithful to one’s wife does not really impact Petraeus’ competence as a military leader…

    Um, no. The timeline of the affair is now under investigation precisely because, under the UCMJ, a[n active duty] military leader engaged in extramarital affairs is subject to prosecution.

  95. ema:

    I read that Cantor‘s the one who brought the FBI in:

    Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) confirmed Sunday he first learned of the affair several months ago from a friend who knows Kelley. Reichert told House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who put Kelley in touch with FBI Director Robert Mueller.

    Cantor’s staff didn’t immediately tell the House Intelligence Committee or other House leaders because they didn’t know whether the information was credible, Fox News reported.

  96. Aaron B.:

    I think the professional ethical complications involved in having an affair while in the military are less grave than having an affair with your journalistic subject. The law doesn’t reflect this, but the law does not have the final word on ethics.

  97. chris:

    I thought death generally improved a military leader’s reputation. Except maybe a really nonmartial death like Alexander’s, but he seems to have kept a pretty good reputation nonetheless.

  98. CD:

    requirement: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/sspp/departments/warstudies/study/phdmphil/index.aspx

    also

    http://www.kcl.ac.uk/sspp/departments/warstudies/study/phdmphil/mphil.aspx

    It would be interesting to know if the M.Phil part has been finished. OK, maybe not that interesting.

    from http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323894704578112642702767394.html
    “Her dissertation is on innovation in the 101st Airborne Division in Northern Iraq in 2003, which then-Maj. Gen. Petraeus led.”

    If I were on the cte I don’t think I would have a problem, as long as the dissertation was well-sourced to a range of evidence. Whether this would be enough for an academic job is a different question. European Ph.D.s work differently and have fewer overall requirements.

  99. thebewilderness:

    We totes knew that.

  100. Olivia:

    Karen, Esolen is a seriously dipshit misogynist and homophobe. I feel very sorry for his daughter! Imagine growing up with a father like that:-O

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