If you read or receive updates from Media Matters, or are masochistic enough to do your own right-wing media watch, you’ll have probably heard of Marc Rudov. He’s a frequent guess on The O’Reilly Factor, apparently has his own radio show now, and has made his pathetic career off of telling the world what exactly is wrong with women and how they fail to live up to his standards. Most of the time, it comes off as petulant whining about how women are such big whores who will fuck anyone but for some reason won’t fuck him.
I haven’t seen very much written about him in the feminist blogosphere, and I think it’s for a good reason. He has a bit of the Ann Coulters about him; getting pissed off at the things he says only pleases and encourages him.
Which is why personally, I believe that it’s better to mock. Two days ago, he was on The O’Reilly Factor discussing beauty pageants (because O’Reilly likes to cover those hard hitting issues and because the Miss USA pageant was apparently last night), and used the opportunity — again — to call women filthy slutbags for having bodies and stuff. Check out the video and partial transcript below — the video even rewards you with some of the old Fox News Porn.
RUDOV: Well, I think [Republican strategist] Margaret [Hoover] is completely wrong. The reason that the beauty pageant industry is failing is because it has a marketing problem. It has no unique identity.
First of all, is it a talent contest? We have other talent contests, like American Idol, America’s Got Talent, Dancing With the Stars.
Is it a skin contest? Well, we have the Internet. So it’s very diffuse now.
And the other thing is, the contestants are supposed to be good girls, and there aren’t good girls. They’re always getting into trouble for drugs and alcohol and nudity —
O’REILLY: Well, some of them are. I mean, come on. You can’t condemn them all.
[. . .]
O’REILLY: But I believe that most of these ladies are competing because they want, you know, to do something with their lives, and this might be a springboard into that.
RUDOV: Come on, Bill, there’s no shortage of women who want to put themselves on parade and have men throw money at them. That’s the reality. And so, this feminism hasn’t done anything —
O’REILLY: We have — we have Gretchen Carlson here. We have a couple of other women working at Fox News who did participate in these things and won scholarships and got some visibility and got into positions where they could do some good. So I don’t think these things are totally useless.
RUDOV: But it’s really changed because of the Internet and because of society, and as I said, you showed a segment yesterday — it’s spring break. Girls just love to expose themselves.
Am I the only one to see a bit of projection there? My theory: Rudov thinks that if he talks for long enough about how women love to take their clothes off and fuck anyone who waves a dollar bill in their faces, he might be able to get in on some of that imaginary action. I don’t think that Rudov thinks women are whores so much as he wishes they were. Either that, or he finds the modern day assumption that women too deserve something out of a relationship, like financial independence and their very own orgasms, to be utterly unreasonable and a threat to his masculinity, and hopes to discredit them as them money-grubbing, mindless sex machines. I almost feel bad for him. Except that I don’t.
I think that my favorite thing about Rudov is how he makes O’Reilly look progressive by comparison. I still disagree with virtually every word that comes out of O’Reilly’s mouth, and his defenses of women against Rudov usually amount to behaving like Captain Chivalry and demanding that Rudov take back the horrible accusation that women like sex. And here, he’s defending beauty pageants. But while he completely misses the point that beauty pageants being many women’s only option (or what they see to be their only option) for success is a problem, he does at least recognize that the women who partake in them deserve some basic respect as human beings, no matter how much their participation makes me personally cringe. Of course, he doesn’t get a pass. First of all, he’s Bill O’Reilly. Secondly, he keeps giving this asshole a platform and that’s hardly an accident. But when O’Reilly comes out of these conversations looking like the less-misogynist man, Rudov really ought to hang his head in shame.
While we’re on the topic, though, I would like to point out that Rudov has completely missed the point with regard to beauty pageants. They’re not talent contests, they never were, and come on, we always knew that. And they’re not nudity competitions, either. Beauty pageants are a competition to see which woman can best live up to the patriarchal standard of being pretty and fuckable but not too slutty (read: appearing to have any sexuality/desire of her own), able to string a few words together but not have them mean a whole lot, and show moderate prowess in an area that will not likely upstage the abilities of her husband. It’s about titillation guised in wholesomeness; it’s Trophy Wife Training. And it’s particularly insidious because it uncritically teaches young girls what the patriarchy expects of them.
As to why their popularity is dwindling — and I think it is undeniable that this phenomenon is occurring — I don’t know. It could be because the battle lines have been redrawn, and the perfect cultural object of male desire has transformed from girl-next-door someday housewife to porn star. Or it could be because no matter how prominent and prevalent the porn star expectation is, it’s still far less dominant than older models of male-imagined female perfection used to be. I hope this is the case. And I’m pretty sure that Rudov’s anxiety comes from a sneaking suspicion that I might be right.