Technology, Sexism, Young Women and Krystal Ball

By Erin Matson, NOW Action Vice President

Krystal Ball has been enthusiastically endorsed by NOW’s Political Action Committees in her run for Congress in Virginia’s 1st District. If elected, she would be the first woman under 30 to serve in our nation’s history.

Already she is the first woman to be subjected to the neo-sexist attack of using sexy photographs to attack her qualifications for leadership. In her case the photos were private photos between her and her ex-husband, but the reality is that many young women have somewhat racy photos out there on Facebook. This problem will grow if we don’t fight back.

In a piece on Huffington Post, Ball says that she finds the photos tremendously embarrassing “but mostly because I’m shy, not because I think that what I did was wrong.”

I agree with her. I don’t think she did anything wrong and I’d also like to spotlight something she said that I find amazingly right: “Society has to accept that women of my generation have sexual lives that are going to leak into the public sphere. Sooner or later, this is a reality that has to be faced, or many young women in my generation will not be able to run for office.”

We do not see men having this problem. Senator Scott Brown was elected after posing nude for Cosmopolitan (we can be certain he didn’t think those photos were just for his friends when he took them). And growing up, racy photos of men are seen as proof of studliness or sowing wild oats.

Fact is, there’s nothing particularly dirty about being sexual. Sexuality is an important part of our capacity for joy as human beings, and we must stop holding it against women, particularly as more and more of us begin to live in public given the increasing role technology plays in social life. It’s sexist and unfair to hold women to different standards than men. One of my favorite bumper stickers reads, “Women Make Great Leaders, You’re Following One Now” and I believe that also applies to Facebook — even if (gasp) cleavage is showing.

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