The political word of the week is "whore."
GOP California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman is offended that someone on her opponent Jerry Brown's campaign called her a "whore" in a taped phone conversation.
Krystal Ball, the Democratic candidate in Virginia's 1st Congressional District, was, in essence, labelled a whore, with the anonymous release of racy, college-era photos only weeks before the election and just after her campaign made a big media buy.
Even someone going as far as calling the National Organization for Women, the "National Organization for Whores."
So when it comes to calling political women "whores," is context important? If so, which is worse?
As for Jerry Brown's campaign, they say they were trying to come up with shorthand ways to describe alleged secret deals on law enforcement pensions Whitman had been a part of -- no one was questioning whether her sex life made her unfit to be governor. On the other hand, the release of the Krystal Ball photos (which don't even come close to Senator Scott Brown's Cosmo centerfold) were clearly meant to suggest, as she said in her own words, that she is a whore and not qualified to be in office.
According to one of the conservatives' faves, Ann Althouse, this is much ado about nothing, at least for Whitman:
... who cares if the word "whore" is used in private conversations to refer to politicians who sell themselves in one way or another? Virtually all politicians take money and much of that money is given by people that are hoping/expecting to get something. In that sense, they are all whores. It's unremarkable that rough language is used. So what's the problem with calling Meg Whitman a whore? Jerry's a whore too, isn't he?
I get it. Context can be king. But regardless of context, I still object to what happened in Brown's campaign, because, really, is the best way to criticize a political woman's decisions to call her a prostitute?
While many on the right have been calling for the political left to join in their righteous chorus against Jerry Brown, I've seen few to come to the defense of Ball. As much as I hate to say it, I applaud Fox News as pretty much the only conservative voice that's defended Ball, who told Megyn Kelly:
[T]he tactic of painting successful women as whores -- and I can't believe I'm using this word on your program -- that's nothing new. Ask Sarah Palin, ask Meg Whitman, ask Nikki Haley and Christine O'Donnell. Lots of women face this same thing. So I decided, although I wanted to just sort of hide in a corner and cry, that I couldn't let these tactics succeed.
Maybe if we had each other's backs on this sort of nonsense instead of baiting each other, people would stop paying attention to the silly menz who think making women candidates into sex objects of one sort or another passes for high-brow political discourse.
Image via Richard H. Hutteman/Flickr