Woman Up Editor
About a year ago, the nice people at Aol.welcome screen
, who let so many of the site's users know about interesting stories here at Politics Daily
, wondered if, as an uppity blogger at our ladies' blog WomanUP
, I might want to make an argument that (future Sen.) Scott Brown had a sexist advantage. Brown, then a political newcomer, had posed in his 20s for Cosmopolitan Magazine in re-revealed naked pictures, but he had suffered no political damage. Could a woman in a public position have survived the news of such brazen sexuality in her past?
Even with his Y-chromosome advantage, I wrongly doubted
Brown would win the race as the GOP candidate for the reliably Democratic Massachusetts Senate seat vacated when Teddy Kennedy died, but I looked into the electorate sexism premise. As a basis for comparison, however, I found only one example
of a woman who had indeed been imprudent in her public image and was duly branded with the political equivalent of a scarlet letter. (A 42-year-old Oregon single mother was recalled from her unpaid mayor's position after photos were discovered on MySpace, and she "refused to delete images of her black lingerie
and positive body image.")
Now the wonderfully named Virginia House candidate, Krystal Ball
(she blames her father for the whimsical appellation), has given us all an opportunity for the sexism question to be truly tested. The 28-year-old potential public servant had some embarrassing "racy
" pictures taken at a long-ago costume party and they were recently discovered on Facebook
and posted on two Republican blogs
Her advisers told her she "was finished -- that this was not what people wanted from their member of Congress." Many a candidate would have folded her campaign, but in the "I am not a witch
recently made iconic by Christine O'Donnell, Ball had another approach. Noting that although her name evokes images of "stripper" and "porn star," she reminded voters that she doesn't appreciate being made to feel like "a whore."
She has released a statement
that reflects the clarity implied in her first name and the courage by the plural of her last. Given the open nature of sharing images and information on the Internet over the last decade via MySpace, YouTube, and Facebook, Ball wrote, "Society has to accept that women of my generation have sexual lives that are going to leak into the public sphere."
The Democratic candidate noted that in this humiliating experience where her opponents "wanted me to collapse in a ball of embarrassment and to hang my head in shame," she was supported by feminists of a certain age who "will not see their daughters called whores when they run for office just because of some college or post-college party," nor let exposure of female sexuality destroy "everything they fought for."
Citing Hillary Clinton as her inspiration for the way she "held her head high" in the scandal "the next day after her private life was public" (maybe slightly more acknowledgment than Mrs. Clinton may have wanted), Ball thanked her sister party women from "a generation ago when they made their careers." These "heroes," said Ball, are stepping up to help "young women like me" grow up.
It looks like Ball, for one, is well on her way.