Is CPAC slutshaming the new thing?

As noted over the weekend, I had a pleasant experience at this year’s CPAC, which gave me the opportunity to listen to top presidential contenders shed light on the state of our country and catch up with old friends. Though some might argue that I shouldn’t use a political event as an occasion to meet up with friends, I’m glad to have shared the experience with people I care about.

According to several conservative bloggers, people like me should be set straight for having fun at the three-day conference. Keeping with the Valentine’s Day tone, Erick Erickson writes of his concerns with the way many young CPACers carry themselves during the annual GOP gathering:

“Being the good, intrepid blogger, I ran across the street to a CVS to buy a notepad, having left mine in my office back in Macon, GA. There in line were a half dozen young men, each with CPAC credentials around their necks and each buying condoms.”

"Animal House"

And what is the problem with protected sex? Better the men come prepared than use unsafe methods, impregnate women, or spread disease. Nevertheless, Erickson continues:

“That is part of life on the college circuit. Young men, regardless of political persuasion or ideology, are intent on having sex, being boys, getting drunk — doing what young men in college often do. All to often there are also a few young ladies willing to shame their parents if their parents only knew.”

Who cares if the “18 to 21 year old set” Erickson describes is going all the way? They’re adults, and if this bothers their parents, their families need a reality check. These aren’t kids here, but “emerging” grown-ups, as the New York Times puts it.

Erickson goes on to criticize the post-graduate men-children of CPAC for behaving as if they are still college boys and have an excuse to be irresponsible:

“[T]he twenty and thirty somethings who just can’t seem to grow up. It’s like they started out at CPAC this way in college and each year at their CPAC reunion descend back to their freshman year rush week…Unfortunately, too many treat CPAC like spring break. More than a few of the twenty and thirty somethings who go to CPAC seem to treat it like an extension of their college days doing their best to hook up before passing out. It’s not the majority to be sure, but it is a noticeable minority.”

Having witnessed a large number of young folks burn out before reaching age 30, I see nothing wrong with a three-day reunion with friends. It’s not as if they’re taking a 6-week trip to Cancun or quitting their jobs to booze it up in Prague. They take a few days off work to attend a political conference and be part of history. Sure they have fun in the process, but some of the monotonous, dry speeches warrant a little extra excitement and stimulation in the evenings.

Though I disagree with much of the article, which suggests future CPACs aren’t far from turning into giant fraternity parties, I applaud Erickson for noting the importance of maintaining chivalry:

“Eat, drink, smoke, be merry, but be chivalrous too. There really is, regardless of your age, no need to play the cad at CPAC to score points with conservative ladies…We should accept that duty as the opportunity to do what is right, not as license to behave like fools.”

I like Erickson and feel he articulates himself well in this piece, much more so than another blog post that likens CPACers to the cast of “Jersey Shore.” The writer, a female named Melissa, gripes about the apparel choice of CPAC ladies:

“Women will be future leaders, too, and I was dismayed to see how many of them either looked frumpish or like two-bit whores.”

First of all, what’s so wrong with dressing frumpy? Unless you’re superhuman, you should know that the east coast is freezing right now. It snowed in D.C. this weekend. It’s also February, one of the coldest months of the year. We’re entitled to some frumpiness. I thought I escaped the New York City fashion police during my CPAC trip, but I guess I can’t even avoid shallow style criticism in D.C., which I thought was considered “Hollywood for the ugly.” Too bad that’s no longer the case.

Really though, why label CPAC females as “whores”? When did it become acceptable for women to talk about each other like this? I’ve always found Tina Fey to be a bit overrated, but she’s spot on in “Mean Girls” when she tells her catty female students, “You have got to stop calling each other ‘whores’ and ‘sluts’…It just makes it okay for guys to call you ‘whores’ and ‘sluts’.” Let’s not send that kind of message into the world, Regina George.

Tina Fey

Here’s another unfair, mean-spirited swipe that I find offensive:

“[H]ave women so internalized feminist dogma that they see themselves in only two ways? Butch, men-lite wannabes or 3rd wave sluts who empower themselves by screwing every available horndog man?”

"Oh no you didn't!"

Again with the name-calling. Not cool. Her instructions for proper CPAC grooming, however, floor me:

“Skirts no more than three finger-widths above the knee. Why do I even have to write this? Well, because someone is allowing these girls out of the house with mini-skirts that reveal too much.”

Is this Catholic school?

The article becomes more and more malicious as you scroll down the page, and does nothing more than preach to women about why they’re failures and damaged goods:

“Young women, you degrade your own value by dressing and then acting the ho.

I cannot even tell you how many girls have told me that all they want is to get married and have babies. They do not seem to make the connection that a young man is not interested in getting married and making babies with a girl who is so easy as to have a one-night stand over a CPAC weekend (or any other weekend.)

You know what a guy thinks when you slut-it-up? He thinks: If she’ll do that with me, she’ll do that with anyone.”

It disappoints me to see women tear each other down over something as petty as clothing. Take it easy, ladies, no one showed up to CPAC naked. Of course, Melissa isn’t the only woman to blast fellow CPAC gals. Other female bloggers were quick to slutshame. LonelyConservative writes:

“In case any of you dear readers were wondering – no – I was not among the scantily clad ladies at CPAC. I’m a happily married woman, and even when I was single I always tried to dress in a way that would not embarrass myself or my parents. Here’s a passing thought that’s probably unrelated – when Red State ran the bloggers lounge I was granted access. If I were to dress up like a ho and post photos of myself prior to the next CPAC will I be allowed in?”

While I respect the authors of these blog posts, I resent the default labeling. So what if women want to reject the Hillary Clinton pantsuit look? Let’s not kid ourselves: Business attire is unflattering, uncomfortable, and dull, so I support the women who want to have some fun with their appearance. As long as they’re comfortable and not revealing any cleavage, I don’t see the issue with ditching the soul-crushing corporate look.

As earlier stated, I respect these bloggers and am sure that they intend to look out for today’s youth, but talking down to CPACers won’t make them listen to you. You can start connecting with them by refraining from hurling derogatory words their way and disparaging them for being young at heart.

This weekend, it boiled my blood when a former intern told me that an old man who identified himself as a Tea Party member pulled her out of a crowd to tell her she looked like trash. He said she did not know herself and that she needed more class. Then he had the audacity to claim that his daughter would never dress like my friend. For all he knows, his sweet high schooler was smoking opium at that very moment. I’ve seen plenty of blissfully ignorant parents hop on the “not my little girl” high horse until she gets into serious trouble. Besides, my intern looked fine. She was wearing a long black dress and tights. God forbid women break away from loose-fitting blouses, oversized slacks, and blazers. Could she have gone for a more professional look? Yes, but she was neither skimpy nor revealing, and it should be known that unsolicited remarks like that creepy man’s are inappropriate and could even be categorized as sexual harassment.

So, rather than slam CPAC women’s wardrobe or tell twenty-somethings to tone it down, take note of the hostility and unwarranted judgment in the above posts. It’s much more disturbing to watch women smear each other over clothing than to bump into a college girl whose skirt is above her knee. Let’s quit with the cyber attacks and instead present each other with constructive criticism.