Sexism and the Petraeus Scandal
[Editor's note: One of the fascinating aspects of the David Petraeus sex scandal that evolved over the past month is not so much the revelation that he cheated on his wife, Holly, with a much younger woman. (Though I do think the general is a scumbag for doing so. For that matter, I have no idea what Gen. John Allen was up to regarding the thousands of emails he was exchanging with Tampa "military liaison" Jill Kelley. Isn't he supposed to be running the war in Afghanistan or something?) But what has really fascinated me is how quickly the media savaged Paula Broadwell and blamed her for Petraeus's extraordinary fall. K. Salis has an interesting take on the whole sordid mess at Fem2pt.0. What do you think?--Mona]
To me the bigger concern is how the media coverage of this story is re-playing the same virgin/whore dichotomy about the women involved, and slut-shaming away through anonymous sources about trivial actions that apparently make someone a harlot. The fact that Petraeus is being alternatively portrayed as an extraordinary man who had a big lapse in judgment is sexist in that women, regardless of their status, do not get that consideration. This characterization of women as non-complex, good or evil, in this cartoon fashion is damaging.