10.29.10

My Heart Goes Out to Christine

Meghan McCain may not think Delaware's Tea Party candidate is fit for office but she's outraged by Gawker's slanderous post on her—and says it will harm other women in politics.

Thursday the gossip blog Gawker paid and published an anonymous Philadelphia man’s “one-night stand encounter” with the now infamous senatorial candidate Christine O’Donnell. If you haven’t read this posting on Gawker, there is no need. It is the pathetic rantings of an opportunistic, infantile frat boy, who allegedly spent a PG-13 night with Christine O’Donnell and decided to sell his soul to Gawker “for a low four figures.”

It is all unbelievably disgusting and I am not sure who is worse, the anonymous man who wrote it or Gawker for buying and publishing it. Although sex scandals and morally corrupt opportunists waiting to capitalize on another person’s fame are so common it is a cliché, I think what is so disheartening about this specific case is that there are many reasons to dislike Christine O’Donnell. I have written before about what makes her an unqualified candidate for Senate, but now, thank you Gawker, you have made her a victim of our disgusting political environment facing any woman brave enough to put up with this kind of slander and run for office.

What we are creating is a world in which no woman will ever be courageous enough to want to run for office.

I have said in the past that I disagree with Christine O’Donnell politically and I continue to believe she would not be a good senator. Not just as a fellow Republican woman, but as a fellow woman, period, this posting is infuriating. I refuse to believe that if this type of story was presented to Gawker about a one-night stand about a male candidate for Senate or a Democrat they would have felt so inclined to print such a tabloid hit piece. But because Christine O’Donnell is unabashedly conservative and a possible candidate to be the next senator from Delaware, she is subjected to this outrage.

Of course, we live in the age of Facebook, and lots of women (and men, too) have grown up with pictures posted of them that they didn’t want or weren’t expecting. What are women supposed to do? Live in caves and never go out and live their lives? Never experience anything that could in anyway shape their character and by default make them a more rounded person? This story about Christine O’Donnell (accompanied by pictures) is just an unfortunate glimpse into what women in politics are experiencing today. Somehow a picture of Christine O’Donnell out drinking in a bar in a ladybug Halloween costume all of a sudden seems much more scandalous than a naked Scott Brown in Cosmopolitan magazine! All this does, is give women another reason to be disenchanted with the state of the media, and give women yet another reason not to be involved in politics, let alone be brave enough to ever run for office.

What I find most interesting is not just that no matter what side of the aisle you are on, people have angrily protested that Gawker would post something so slanderous. The National Organization for Women has come out condemning Gawker and accused the site of sexual harassment against Christine O’Donnell: “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.” As far as I am concerned NOW is right on the money. Women decide to run for office and then it becomes socially acceptable for the media to sexually harass them. It is pathetic and there is quite clearly a direct correlation between the media’s treatment of women and the women seeking public office. What we are creating is a world in which no woman will ever be courageous enough to want to run for office because, god forbid, one night they drank beer and dressed up in a ladybug costume. Which at this point is just about the only thing that has been proven that Christine O’Donnell did.

My heart goes out to Christine O’Donnell, having something like this written about her cannot be easy, and at the end of the day all she is trying to do is run for office (even if I don’t personally agree with her) but as women, we need to disregard politics at this point and simply support her as someone who has been subjected to something no man probably ever would.

Meghan McCain is a columnist for The Daily Beast. Originally from Phoenix, she graduated from Columbia University in 2007. She is a New York Times bestselling children's author, previously wrote for Newsweek magazine, and created the website mccainblogette.com. Her new book, Dirty Sexy Politics, was published in August.