Following gossip website Gawker’s publication of an anonymous story alleging a one-night encounter between the author and Republican senatorial candidate for Delaware Christine O’Donnell, the National Organization for Women has refused comment. “We’re going to pass on this one,” Mai Shiozaki told The Examiner. I asked if this is generally a topic they try to stay away from. “Thanks, we’re passing.”
NOW played a prominent role in demanding Anita Hill’s charges against then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas “be heard in a public forum.” But that was politically convenient — after all, one of NOW’s “important missions” is “fighting the right wing.”
Similarly, the California chapter of NOW stood by Democrat gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown, even as it had initially been critical of him and his campaign for referring to his Republican opponent, Meg Whitman, as a “whore” in a private conversation that was recorded and released to the public. The president of the chapter merely dismissed it as a poor choice of words, but ultimately justified it: “The very troubling issue that is embedded in that call is what prompted the description of Meg as a ‘whore’ is basically that she sold out Californians for an endorsement and a $450,000 independent expenditure campaign.”
Talking Points Memo also reported her as saying: “Meg Whitman could be described as ‘a political whore.’ Yes, that’s an accurate statement.”
UPDATE: NOW has just issued a statement condemning the smear — only to add that they look forward to O’Donnell’s defeat. From the release:
Sexist, misogynist attacks against women have no place in the electoral process, regardless of a particular candidate’s political ideology.
Today the tabloid website Gawker published an anonymous piece titled “I Had A One-Night Stand With Christine O’Donnell” that takes the routine sexual degradation of women candidates to a disgusting new low. NOW repudiates Gawker’s decision to run this piece. It operates as public sexual harassment. And like all sexual harassment, it targets not only O’Donnell, but all women contemplating stepping into the public sphere.
NOW/PAC has proudly endorsed women’s rights champion Chris Coons, O’Donnell’s opponent in the Delaware Senate race, and finds O’Donnell’s political positions dangerous for women. That does not mean it’s acceptable to use slut-shaming against her, or any woman.
NOW has repeatedly called out misogyny against women candidates, and this election season is no different. Let me be honest: I look forward to seeing Christine O’Donnell defeated at the polls, but this kind of sexist attack is an affront to all women, and I won’t stand for it.
When I called to ask Mai Shiozaki why they finally did decide to release a statement, she replied, “I didn’t know we were putting out a statement. The president [of the organization] was traveling.” Unclear is why Shiozaki seemed so confident that they would not be putting out a statement when I asked her twice about it and she said, both times, “We’re passing on this.”
Follow @JPFreire on Twitter for more updates.