Leno tells Christine O'Donnell sex joke

Is it harmless comedy or sexist commentary? You be the judge

Published October 6, 2010 10:01PM (EDT)

The folks at Name It. Change It. just alerted me to the fact that Jay Leno made a sex joke about Christine O'Donnell on Friday's "Tonight Show." (Aside from the intended news, this teaches me two things: 1.) "The Tonight Show" is still on the air, and 2.) Apparently the show has a viewership of at least one.) The campaign reports that during an interview with Seth MacFarlane, Leno brings up the "Family Guy" creator's recent remarks about wanting to have sex with O'Donnell. (Which were not at all surprising for the eternally pubescent MacFarlane.) Then this exchange took place:

Leno: Now, why do you find ... does the fact that she's the anti-masturbation candidate --

MacFarlane: I think the second she opened her mouth, it would probably ruin everything.

Leno: Really?

MacFarlane: Yes, yes -- once we got into --

Leno: Or make it really good.

In case any of you are slow on the uptake when it comes to dirty humor, that's an oral sex joke. It's the sort of zinger I might laugh at if a friend managed it a couple beers into happy hour. Hell, it's the sort of shamelessly easy and inappropriate comeback that even I might deliver after a couple cold ones. The Name It. Change It. campaign isn't in the least bit amused: "This type of sexist commentary is extremely damaging to women running for public office and should not -- under any circumstances -- go unrecognized by the general public," says the group in a blog post.

I appreciate ribald humor. I've also certainly made my share of suggestive and I suppose objectifying comments about, for example, our current vice president (and I am not alone on that front). I'm generally a believer in equal opportunity for sexual objectification or, as I prefer to call it, appreciation. This is undeniably different, though: These men aren't getting giddy over the sexiness of a female politician that they take seriously. It isn't an aside in an otherwise respectful conversation. These are two guys using sex to diminish a female politician that they detest. I don't want to be a prude and I certainly don't want to be an unsmiling feminist -- and I hate to so obviously be on the defensive in that regard -- but I'm sick of the hateful, drunk frat-boy humor, especially when it comes to female politicians.

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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