There She Is, Miss Conservative…

John Hawkins at Right Wing News:

The 20 Hottest Conservative Women In The New Media (2010 Edition)

One of the most popular articles at RWN last year was, The 15 Hottest Conservative Women In The New Media. So, when you have a big hit, what could make more sense than  doing a sequel?

This time around, we had a new distinguished panel of judges. Besides myself, they included,

1) Glenn Reynolds from Instapundit.

2) Jonah Goldberg from National Review.

3) Andrew Malcolm from the LA Times’ Top of the Ticket.

4) Dan Gainor from Newsbusters (Among other places).

5) Van Helsing from Moonbattery.

6) Alfonzo Rachel from PJTV.

7) James Joyner from Outside The Beltway.

and

8) Blackfive.

The judges voted on over 50 contestants. After dropping the low score for each woman, the highest remaining scores made the list. Here are the women that made the final cut.

Jonah Goldberg at The Corner:

Yes, I was a judge of the Hottest Conservative Women in New Media “contest.” My shame spiral is bottomless.

Kathryn Jean Lopez at The Corner:

Snark and Boobs? The things you learn … I suspect you didn’t enlist an AEI intern for this assignment, but covered it yourself.

Tommy Christopher at Mediaite:

Today marks exactly one year since my firing by Politics Daily’s Melinda Henneberger over Playboy’s list of “Top 10 Women I’d Like to Hate F***,” (I wrote an article denouncing it, and Henneberger deleted the story, then deleted me) which is what made me realize that ranking conservative hotties must be a seasonal thing. This year finds a much milder fleshfest, judged by a panel of doughy bloggers for the website Right Wing News. I’m going to have a problem with any list that includes Elizabeth “Media Lizzy” Blackney at any rank other than #1. I have several with this one.

Now, I’m not one of those people who think it’s never acceptable to notice that a beautiful woman is beautiful, and I understand the lure of easy linkbaiting (hence the headline). But there are ways, and there are ways.

In the modern media landscape, sex appeal is certainly a relevant factor to consider. What Right Wing News’ 20 Hottest Conservative Women In The New Media misses out on is that it’s not the only factor.

Their list consists of just that, a list and a photograph. No biographical info, no descriptions of their accomplishments, or critiques of their work. Just a picture and a link. There’s nothing there that would make anyone want to read anything these women write. Lest you doubt the level of the pig factor here, there’s this from one of the judges, James Joyner:

I would note that it would be useful to break the contest down into age brackets, as it’s a bit silly to have 20-somethings pitted against 50-somethings.

Maybe they ought to bring in a livestock scale, too, and break it down into weight classes.

My perspective on this list is influenced by the fact that I know a lot of the women on it. Aside from the fact that if I went up to Mary Katherine Ham and said “You’re hot!” she’d probably punch me in the arm, it’s just not an adequate measure of her worth as a human being. Sure, she has a beautiful smile that lights up a room, but she also pounds the pavement with an old-timey reporter’s notebook, noticing things that escape me.

And what about Michelle Malkin? You mean to tell me that a panel of 8 right-wing bloggers couldn’t crank out a paragraph about Michelle Malkin?

Which brings me to Lizzy. Like everyone on this list, I couldn’t disagree more with her politics, nor she with mine. However, she’s been a loyal friend and fan since before anyone had ever heard of me. She’s a Gold Star Wife, widowed at the age of 25, and mother of a now-14 year-old daughter. Much to my shock, she and I share many common views on parenting.

When I got into trouble for denouncing that Playboy article, Lizzy risked, and ultimately lost, a very beneficial relationship with AOL in order to do the right thing, not just out of loyalty to me, but to her own closely-held values.  While we don’t get to gab nearly often enough on her radio show, she’s always in my heart.

I don’t expect a link-baiting top 20 list to be able to take the full measure of Lizzy, or Tabitha Hale, who does huge work for Freedomworks, or Lori Ziganto, whose tweets will make you laugh out loud. But this list doesn’t even try.

Jonathan Chait at TNR:

This pretty much seems to be the conservative view on women in the movement. They are welcomed in and valued for their ideas, provided they are first deemed suitably attractive by a panel of men.

Certainly this would explain the apparently widespread conservative belief that liberal women hate Sarah Palin because they envy her looks and happiness. It’s basically the gender analogue of the right-wing belief that progressive taxation is rooted in envy of the rich.

Henry Farrell:

It seems to me a wee bit unfair that all them healthy heterosexual Republican gals (and, for that matter, the five or six Log Cabin Republicans who have stuck it out despite all) can’t get in on the fun. So let me propose an alternative competition to find the Hottest Conservative Man In The New Media. And by one of those funny coincidences, the eight finalists for this much coveted award are the members of the “distinguished panel of judges” that Right Wing News has chosen to adjudicate which of the laydeez is the smokingest.1 Ladies and gentlemen, I give you:


Glenn Reynolds


Jonah Goldberg


Andrew Malcolm


Dan Gainor


‘Van Helsing’ from Moonbattery (artist’s depiction)


Alfonzo Rachel


James Joyner (who is actually a good bloke imo who really ought to have known better)

And remember! You can only pick one.

David Graham at Newsweek:

It’s hard to know where to start here. The whole thing feels pretty gross, but a little casual objectification in search of clicks is fine, right? No harm, no foul? (Goldberg tries to play it both ways, saying that his “shame spiral is bottomless.”)

Well, no. It’s great that there’s such a vibrant female presence in the conservative commentariat—Coulter and Malkin in particular have a stature that’s equaled only by the likes of Rush Limbaugh—but by any sensible standard, it’s clear-cut sexism: women trying to compete on the same intellectual playing field as the men being ranked for how sexy they look in their online profile, not how scathingly they dissect Obamacare.

But let’s say you don’t buy the idea that this is objectification. Come on, you say, anyone who calls her blog Snark and Boobs knows she’s trading on sex appeal. And it’s possible for men to both value a woman’s political criticism and find her attractive. (It’s also important to note that RWN also published a list of the 15 hottest new media guys on the right last year.)

But the right walks a narrow line when it comes to ogling women. In conservative circles, it’s more acceptable for women to be praised for both their brains and their beauty. But if that praise turns to criticism, looks becomes off limits, and critics are condemned (rightly so) for sexism. (See: those staunch defenders of women who railed against NEWSWEEK’s cover image of Sarah Palin in running shorts; they’re silent on the top-20 list.)

Lori Ziganto:

Listen, Newsweek. Most women like being complimented. Here’s an estrogen-insider secret for you; when a woman asks you if her arse looks fat, it is because she knows it does not. She just wants to hear you say it.  She knows she looks good; she’s already run the outfit by three girlfriends and her sister. She wants to be told she’s purty. And being told she is pretty doesn’t somehow magically remove her cerebral cortex (except maybe in Janeane Garofalo’s case. I’m pretty sure that’s what happened there).

Secondly, If any of your distinguished journalists had bothered to simply ask me, I would have told you what the name meant. No, it is not “trading in sex appeal.” It is meant in good humor. You see, we conservative women like our girl parts and will even poke fun at them from time to time. Good thing I didn’t name it my other thought, Boobsandsammiches, huh? Your heads would have exploded. Oh well, better luck next time!

I’ll speak only for myself because, unlike you, I don’t speak out of my arse – which doesn’t look fat, by the way, even if that offends your sanctimonious sensibilities – for others. I’m not trading in sex appeal. I’m a mother who home schools her daughter. I am a bookworm, a nerd, a person who cares deeply about the state of our country and the world, and someone who is quite content staying home.

I blog at several sites, most of which are comprised of mainly men, and I didn’t “trade on sex appeal” to get there, nor do I bring sammiches. (Although I would, if asked. Cooking doesn’t demean me either. I’m good at it and also enjoy the ego stroke of being told so). I’m also a woman who will not apologize for, nor feel demeaned by, the fact that she can, at age 39, wear a bikini to the pool and look darn good in it.

The problem is, you don’t truly think that is possible. How could a woman look feminine, yet still be accomplished? Worse, a mother! That’s crazy talk! You made that perfectly clear with the oh-so-respectful cover that you ran (shown above) on Sarah Palin. A Governor. With more executive experience than our current President and Vice President combined (and it sure shows now, doesn’t it?) To you, none of that mattered; She can’t possibly have a brain. She’s a beauty queen and all!

Y’all never stopped writing in your slam books, did you? Still smarting from the sting of being shot down for prom? It’s time to grow up. Learn these lessons first: Women are beautiful and successful. Women are feminine and accomplished. Women can look good and spout political opinion with the best of them. Women are not children and can handle being told that they are attractive and not feel diminished by it.

Melissa Clouthier:

Priorities people! Today is the day when we focus, laser-like, on the hottest conservative men for 2010. Unlike last year, the judges this year are out and proud and gorgeous in their own right. Wow, what fabulous, beautiful, accomplished and smart women. I was chief judge and jury, so any gray areas were mine to figure out. If you’re mad, get mad at me.

[...]

Now, to get to it. What were the criterion? Hot, hot and more hot. I can tell you that the women did vote based on whether they liked someone or not. They couldn’t help it. Hot + Jerk = Lower score.  But they all liked/disliked different folks, so there you go.

We sifted through 75 men and there were more we could have considered.  Each woman judged the guy on a simple 1 to 10 scale (10 being I’m-passing-out-delirious) and then we did it on straight percentage (so the guys who got a “2″ because of the jerk factor, that was factored in).  If that doesn’t sound fair, welcome to this thing called life. The fact is, women are wired differently than men and personality skews our judgment. Also, when there is a tie, we went with the face over the body. The ladies on Twitter made that decision. And so some guys tied in pure score and again, we chose the face because that’s what happens (or can happen) in life. There are no ties in baseball or something.

Tabitha Hale at Redstate:

John Hawkins of RightWingNews.com released his 20 Hottest Women in New Media last week. As these lists always do, it’s brought about a fresh round of controversy – both from those whose crush was left off the list, as well as those who are righteously indignant about the objectification of the women on the list. The objectification of men seems to not be an issue… Who knows, maybe Newsweek will rage about us making poor Jeff Emanuel take his shirt off for the 20 Hottest Conservative Men list. Or something.

Is it shallow? Yeah. So what? Here’s the thing: every woman on the Right Wing News list is fighting the good fight, and we’re confident in our work. We’ve all contributed substantially to the conservative cause. Some are more establishment, and some more grassroots. Some are more well known than others, and some are new to the field. The list of accomplishments varies… all are contributors with their own strengths and credentials.

The New Republic’s Jonathan Chait got his knickers in a twist about it, stating that conservative women are “welcomed in and valued for their ideas, provided they are first deemed suitably attractive by a panel of men.” What he ignores is that we’ve ALREADY been welcomed. Women like Michelle Malkin and Ann Coulter have decades of work behind them. SE Cupp and Laura Ingraham are both published best selling authors. All of the women there have established themselves and are in demand among conservative circles.

His comment is obviously a jab that extends beyond John’s Top 20… all I have to say is look at the response the grassroots has had to Sarah Palin. To Michele Bachmann during the health care fight. Gov. Brewer on immigration in Arizona. Some of the top fighters on the Right are women, and time and again they’ve displayed the cajones that our men couldn’t seem to find.

The idea that a woman could see her name on a list of that nature and do nothing but take it as a compliment and move on just seems to make their heads explode.

[...]

And if there’s a woman out there who says she doesn’t like being told she’s pretty, she’s lying. When it’s not done, you know, by creepy old men leaning out their car window offering you a ride or something.

Melissa Clouthier facilitated the obligatory response to the list: LibertyPundits.net’s Top 20 Hottest Conservative Men. Four of the nine female judges were on the RightWingNews list – and the rest easily could have been.

I have yet to hear, well, anyone decry the objectification of these fine men. Newsweek, we even put aside our white supremacist overtones and added a couple non-white faces! It’s a fine collection, if I do say so myself.

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Filed under Conservative Movement, Feminism, New Media

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