Krystal Ball: Campaigning against sexism?

The Virginia candidate uses a sexy photo scandal as a political platform

Published October 11, 2010 10:15PM (EDT)

Krystal Ball
Krystal Ball

It seems Krystal Ball, she of dirty Santa fame, is spinning her photo scandal into a real campaign issue. Last week, the Virginia congressional candidate was in crisis containment mode: She acknowledged that the photos exist, characterized their release as part of a "smear campaign" and seemed ready to move right along. But today she published a lengthy blog post that builds substantially on some of the points she made when she spoke with Salon last week. She writes:

The tactic of making female politicians into whores is nothing new. ... It's part of this whole idea that female sexuality and serious work are incompatible. But I realized that photos like the ones of me, and ones much racier, would end up coming into the public sphere when women of my generation run for office. And I knew that there could be no other answer to the question than this: 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.

This is absolutely true. As I argued earlier, there is a broader generational issue at play, but it's hard to disagree with Ball's focus on the impact on young women. We've already seen how differently photo scandals tend to play out for men. As Salon editor-in-chief Joan Walsh said of Sen. Scott Brown's Cosmo pinup: "No female candidate would ever survive a race for Senate with a photo spread like that in her past. It's unthinkable. The double standard is appalling."

Of course, this says nothing about Ball's actual worth as a candidate. Indeed, her drunken youthful exploits with a dildo-nosed Rudolf shouldn't be relevant to her campaign -- but the more she speaks out about it and casts herself as representative of the fight against the sexist double standard that could keep the next generation of young women from running for office, the more it becomes her platform.

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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