Feminists cheer Olbermann’s demise


A progressive he may have been, but most in the feminist community just regarded him as another out-of touch misogynist. With Keith Olbermann on the outs at MSNBC, women’s rights advocates are saying “so long” with broad smiles.

Despite the fact that he posed as a sensitive mouthpiece for the oppressed and voiceless, many in the women’s movement point to Olbermann’s numerous, shameful comments and actions toward women as their reason cheer his demise.

Some of Olbermann’s greatest chauvinist hits include, but are not limited to:

– An exchange with Howard Fineman during the 2008 Democratic primary, during which Fineman suggested that a super-delegate would need to persuade Hillary Clinton to drop out. Olbermann responded, “Right. Somebody who can take her into a room and only he comes out” — implying Hilary Clinton needed to be violently beaten. Olbermann later apologized for his poor choice of words.

– Last year Olbermann roiled feminist sensibilities when he provided a polar opposite reaction to the news that sports reporter Ines Sainz was sexually harassed in the Jets’ locker room. “[U]ndermin[ing] every female sports reporter who knows the game,” Olbermann said, she was “dressed unprofessionally to cover a sporting event.”

– In a sadly memorable “Worst Person in the World” segment, Olbermann saw fit to call conservative columnist Michelle Malkin a “big mashed-up bag of meat with lipstick on it.”

– Carrie Prejean, former Miss California, felt his wrath as well. During the 2009 Miss USA imbroglio, Olbermann went right after her morality and physical appearance in one brief statement. “God and Satan battling it out for the future of freedom of speech inside the head of St. Carrie of La Jolla! Where exactly, Carrie, were God and Satan when the Miss California people came to you and offered to pay for you to alter your God-given body with breast implants so you stood a better chance of getting what amounts to a better job inside the Donald Trump Miss Whateva company?”

– Paris Hilton was also a victim of Olbermann’s insensitivity when, in 2006, she was punched in the face at a nightclub. Olbermann commented, “Paris Hilton claims she was punched in the face yesterday morning at a nightclub in Hollywood [pause] Course she’s had worse things happen to her face…”

With Olbermann gone, the women who have watched with incredulity as this progressive disparaged their sisters are speaking out.

Sady Doyle, a feminist writer who made waves last month by instigating a mass protest against Olbermann and Michael Moore for their on-air minimization of rape charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, told The Daily Caller that while Olbermann was a good showman and valuable opponent to the Bush administration, his grasp on women’s issues left a lot to be desired.

“I think Keith Olbermann was a great showman, and a valuable voice, especially during the Bush years. But his grasp of women’s issues always seemed sloppy. All that fiery rhetoric, when it was turned on someone like Hillary Clinton, could wind up just sounding violently misogynist. He was comfortable talking about women’s rights on air, and his support of them, but he was also comfortable calling Paris Hilton a slut and talking about how it was fine that she’d gotten punched in the face, because men probably ejaculated on it, too,” Doyle wrote in an email to TheDC.

“Olbermann wasn’t the primary target of the #MooreandMe protest, but I think that by the time it happened, women’s frustration with him had reached peak levels. Women are used to having their issues used as a political football by the left, and to hearing progressive men pay lip service to “women’s rights” while being sexist in practice, and we keep supporting the left, because the right doesn’t even bother to pretend that they care. Keith Olbermann seemed like the most visible example of that. Loud, acclaimed, “leftist,” and violently woman-hating in his rhetoric when it suited him. But his behavior during #MooreandMe made his limits, as a thinker and as a public figure, very visible: Instead of politely apologizing and rectifying his behavior, by taking down a link to an article that smeared and outed the women alleging rape against Assange, he tried to spin it as yet another story about Keith Olbermann being picked on because he stands for Truth, Justice, and the American Way. He failed to realize the basic point of the protest: That we weren’t Bill O’Reilly, we weren’t a bunch of haters, we were his constituency, and we were frustrated, as women and as progressives, that he could have such regressive stances while claiming to speak for us. Instead of understanding that it was about media coverage of rape cases, he acted as if it were about Keith Olbermann. Pretty disappointing, especially considering that we would have been happy to support him if he’d bothered to support women in turn,” she concluded.

Amy Siskind, president and co-founder of The New Agenda, told TheDC Olbermann’s exit was long overdue.

“Olbermann has had a long and tortured history with women, not only in his personal life, but clearly the disdain shows through in how he treated women on his show,” said Siskind. “This man is very clearly an individual who has problems dealing with women in a proper manner.”

Feminist blogger Melissa McEwan did not mince words when bidding Olbermann adieu. According to McEwan, Olbermann was a “fauxprogressive” whose supposed interest in compassion failed to encompass compassion for women.

“[H]e is a fauxgressive whose ideas of justice had boundaries extend only as far as whomever he wants to make fun of, be cruel to, or marginalize as unserious or uncredible. He engaged in misogyny and rape apology on-air, and, for all his rap about accountability and self-reflection, he was rigid in his refusal to address his biases against women,” McEwan blasted. “So the only thing I’m sad about is that his replacement is likely to be even worse.”

While McEwan lamented the likelihood that Olbermann’s successor will be “even worse,” there are others who have expressed excitement about the prospect that with Olbermann gone, Rachel Maddow will receive more attention and acclaim.

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