The Favreau Picture

December 9, 2008

OK, so here’s the picture everyone’s talking about:
picture-3

That’s Jon Favreau, 27, President-elect Obama’s chief speechwriter, on the left.

So here are the two questions: first, is this sexist?; and second, what should be done about it?

Let’s put aside the fact that these are men in their 20s, and that for men in their 20s this is far from unusual behavior, as that’s not the point. Whether it’s typical behavior or not does not excuse. I’m not sure I can give a good answer on whether this is sexist or inappropriate. It’s certainly politically regrettable. I’m inclined to say it’s only barely inappropriate at best. I think there are several things that need to be considered before coming to any judgment on it, though, and context has to be established. First, is it significant that it’s Hillary Clinton as opposed to some other woman? Second, is it important to consider Favreau’s intentions (e.g., what is he trying to make fun of?). Third, does it matter that Hillary Clinton has essentially laughed this off? And fourth, to what degree does this behavior demean and humiliate others?

I’m not sure what the answers to the above questions are, and I’m cognizant of the fact that as I man I may not be sufficiently sensitive to how such behaviors can be offensive and demeaning. Again, though, I’m inclined to say that this is mildly inappropriate at worst. I could imagine very similar things being done in a Saturday Night Live skit without anyone batting an eye.

I’m very open to criticism on this, however. Your thoughts appreciated in comments. Keep in mind this guy is a VERY talented speechwriter with a promising future, and one way or another it’s unlikely that Obama will cut him lose for anything short of public outrage.

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