Condi vs. Boobs
(US News & World Report) Foreign Affairs, the Economist, and certainly U.S.News & World Report are titles you’d expect to see at the two State Department newsstands visited by the public, employees, and their kids, but Playboy and Penthouse? Yikes! Or so thought Condoleezza Rice a while back when she began receiving briefings in Foggy Bottom before her confirmation hearings as secretary of state. Alerted by an aide that the skin magazines, partially clad in brown paper covers, were placed beside newsmagazines and close to candy, nuts, and stuffed animals, she said, “I want them out.”
So, lemme get this straight. There is some sort of newstand at State. They sell many magazines. Two of the magazines feature women’s naked bodies, but are tastefully covered by brown paper bags. No one at State is forced to purchase these magazines. State does not issue the magazines to employees, and I doubt they allow the magazines to be open and lying around or read within the work environment.
So, what’s the problem?
A few weeks later, when she took over from Colin Powell, the eviction began. “The secretary wanted them gone immediately,” says senior adviser Jim Wilkinson.” She didn’t understand how a department that claimed to fight for the rights of women worldwide could sell pornography that degrades women.”
Condi, you kindasleezzy reptilian Aunt Thomasina, how dare you say that while your administration denies federal funding to assist with women’s birth control and abortion choices, while you support the Catholic entities that won’t distribute condoms in AIDS-ravaged Africa, while your slimy brethren like Tom DeLay fought like hell to keep the government from enacting worker protection for the women and children exploited in the Philippines and Marianas for cheap labor and sexual slavery, and while you and the government do nothing to fight against the ritualized clitoridectomies happening throughout the world!
I am so sick of the “pornography degrades women” bromide. Yes, there are levels of pornography and the sex industry that take advantage of and degrade women, but that’s not the Playboy or Penthouse level. Those magazines are highly professional and pay very well. A centerfold within has been the launching point for many successful careers.
And, he adds, the magazines “could be seen as contributing to a hostile work environment.”
OK, if the centerfolds are taped up on a cubicle wall, that’s hostile. If they’re taped up in a well-hidden locker, that might be hostile, assuming someone who takes offense ever got a peek at it. But merely selling the closed magazine in a brown paper envelope… that’s supposed to be a hostile work environment? Puh-leaze. Long ago we passed the milestone demarking where “sexual harrassment” jumped the shark and became too politically correct for our own good. (My employer supplies medical devices to the military. All throughout sales and marketing are pictures taped on cubicles of various soldiers in MASH units being treated with our equipment. Now, if I’m a Gulf War vet with PTSD, and I get queasy everytime I see an image of an injured soldier in the desert wearing beige/sand BDUs, is that a hostile work environment?)
He teamed with State’s internal manager and several State women who had been campaigning against the publications but had gotten nowhere. Now that they have succeeded, some of those women are eyeing other lad mags like Maxim and FHM. But State News’s Richard Williams isn’t listening. It was no problem banning the XXX fare: It didn’t move very fast. “But Maxim,” he says, “is a bestseller.”
Read: low-selling naked boobies; go ahead and take them. High-selling barely-covered boobies; over my dead body! (Perhaps the Playboy and Penthouse ban came about because the articles are written at too high a comprehension level for government employees. If so, that would explain why Maxim and FHM are OK.)
P.S. Russ’s Rule of Naked Women: The only thing better than a naked woman is a another different naked woman.