Sometimes people ask my about feminism, and this post touches on that topic. Its long, but its important to me, so I didn’t put it behind a jump. Live with it!
So, recently a friend of mine and I were talking about how in some political circles, people can do really crap-tastic things, and face no repercussions because they are so good at lobbying or campaigning or whatever the hell it is political operatives are responsible for. I told him about my run-in with Bernie Kieklak on the blogosphere in 2007, and how at the time I was torn between wanting to remain anonymous and wanting to storm into Lisa Boscola’s office demanding an apology from the both of them and her acceptance of his (meaningless gesture) resignation. In hindsight, I should have chosen the latter of those options.
My friend was pretty shocked to hear that Kieklak kept his job, given the extraordinarily offensive, misogynistic, and disgusting comments he made on Lehigh Valley Rambings to/about me, and about Sam Bennett. In the private sector, that kind of outburst would lead to a same-day firing, most likely. In political work, apparently no one cares – or at least not Lisa Boscola. If the Morning Call and Express Times had not picked up and rolled with that story, he probably would not have even been encouraged to seek help (another pretty meaningless gesture in my opinion) or told to discontinue blogging.
This morning’s Morning Call features an article by capitol-beat reporter John Micek, outlining how legislative staffers make more than their bosses. This doesn’t surprise me, since staffers are really the ones who do the majority of the work in most political offices, but some of the salaries were pretty outlandish. In any event, on the website, there is also a link to the full list, and I, of course, had to go and see what Bernie Kieklak made in 2008.
Not only did this guy NOT get fired, or demoted, or in any way punished for his outburst, but the creep got a RAISE!
UPDATE: For posterity’s sake, I’m also inserting a blog I wrote on another blog when this all took place, which I think articulates how I felt and still sometimes feel about the misogyny that I, and women everywhere, face, on a regular basis. There is some offensive language, so… FYI (but he started it).
Hi, Janet. I’m sorry it took me a while to respond but quite frankly I’ve been very conflicted about everything that has happened.
Admittedly, when the story first broke I wanted it mostly to go away. I was glad that he had been called out, but I wasn’t really thrilled with the idea of it being a big story. Not because I thought what he said should have been ignored or condoned, but just because I thought, in the grand scheme of things, this really doesn’t mean much. When I think of the many, many injustices in the world, being called a slut by a middle-aged political hack doesn’t really make the short list of problems I care about.
As it turns out though, I guess I do care. Boscola called both Sam and Charlie to apologize, but makes no mention at all anywhere that she’s sorry that her chief of staff verbally attacked a 23 year old private citizen. I guess maybe as far as they are concerned its no big deal that I was spoken to this way since neither of them will ever have to convince me to give them funding or support for a bill. I’m not saying I want a phone call from Boscola apologizing to me – I want Lisa or Bernie K to stand up and say “Its inappropriate for him/me to speak to anyone the way I did, not just other elected officials or candidates.” One of my coworkers said to me yesterday “well, they’re all just missing the point.”
At least from my perspective, the really BIG point was not that Kieklak had nasty things to say about Dent and/or Sam, but that when he responded to my original post, he attacked Dent for political/personality issues and attacked both me and Sam Bennett over our sexuality and our bodies. I’m not saying its cool to call Charlie a shitbag, but if he’s going to call Dent a shitbag, I want him to call Sam and I the same, instead of calling me a slut and Sam a whore. The Express Times headline was about Bernie K’s comments about Charlie Dent. Really, THAT was the story?
So officially there is no fallout from all of it, and the solution will be that Bernie doesn’t post on blogs anymore – which is a fine solution to the problem of a State Employee using vulgar language on the internet, I guess, but is no solution to the misogynistic attitude displayed in that comment. And to be honest, I don’t really care if people curse on the internet, state employee or not.
Anyway, to respond to your post on the LV Political Blog, I don’t like anyone speaking for me – man or woman, I think that its dangerous for anyone to assume that their position is representative of a larger group of people, but I do see what you are saying sometimes in the posts on local blogs by men. Often I feel that a female perspective is lost, or brushed aside. The women who do post, myself included, seem to adopt a more “ballsy” style (or so Bernie K would say) of posting, but that is also disturbing.
in the original lehigh valley ramblings thread, Bernie O’Hare chastised Bernie K for his comments to me, and someone annonymously made this comment:
I respectfully disagree with your comments on BTNP and women bloggers. It is like anything else in life if you bring it, you can expect to get it. Besides, annonimity on the blog should boost confidence. Politics is a blood sport for men and women. Some of the most vicious pol’s are women…… Sound advice for both men and women, you want to play the game , wear a cup.
I hate this kind of thinking. Why should women have to “man up” to participate in the conversation? You know why its stupid for me to wear a cup? Because I do not have a penis, and its sexist to imply that in order to be in the room I have to pretend like I do. I am not the kind of feminist who wants to pee in the men’s room. I am the kind of feminist that wants there to be a ladies room in the club! I don’t mind bringing it and getting it back, but see my above problem for how I brought a well thought out political question about a congressional race and got told that I spend 4 hours a night deciding whether to wear the ‘fuck me like the pig that I am’ pumps or the ‘fuck me like the slut I am’ pumps. I think its fair to expect that someone will argue with me point for point about any blog or comment I make, but its ridiculous for someone to tell me that I need to accept being spoken to that way because politics is a blood sport.