Christine O'Donnell, Literary Critic


The "Christine O'Donnell-is-a-nutcase" camp (everyone in this country except for Redstate and about 30,000 voters in Delaware, basically) got a fresh shipment of O'Donnell-being-a-nutcase porn yesterday when this clip began making the rounds on Twitter. In it, the Delaware Republican Senate nominee engages in an actually quite fascinating inquiry into gender roles in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and eschews the kind of gender determinism into which a lot of right-wing feminism unfortunately strays. If social conservatism entails the state's implicit (and, in the case of a possible ban on abortions, explicit) reinforcement of certain gender roles, then she is no social conservative, at least on this point. Through presenting various different yet equally valid models of womanhood, she believes Tolkien is trying to say that "all types of women are necessary to the health of society…that women should be respected but that some of society's chivalrous ideas were doing more harm than good, isolating women rather than protecting them."

This places her on the more permissive side of the feminist gulf. It is even somewhat consistent with the candidate's famously puritanical views on sexuality, at least when you consider that extreme prudishness has recently been defended as a legitimate expression of one's feminism. Recall this article about True Love Revolution, in which the founder of Harvard's upstart pro-abstinence group explains that her group is about celebrating one's individual choices, and not with telling people what to do:

She said she read in Mill that women are subordinated in relationships as a result of "socially constructed norms." If men are commonly more promiscuous than women, it is only because the culture allows it, she said. Fredell was here to turn society around. "It's extremely countercultural," she said, for a woman to assert control over her own body. It is, in fact, a feminist notion. Conventional feminism, she explained, teaches that control of your body means the freedom to have sex without consequences — sex like a man. "I am an unconventional feminist," Fredell said, in the sense that she asserts control by choosing not to have sex — by telling men, no, absolutely not.

Now the fact that O'Donnell's feminism is more tolerant than one would expect when it's applied to Middle Earth doesn't mean that that tolerance carries over to actual Earth. All evidence points to the contrary. And it definitely doesn't mean that she should be a U.S. Senator. I sure as hell wouldn't vote for her. But this clip sort of turns her into a Fredell-type counter-cultural figure, in my mind at least: an outspoken prude who is nevertheless capable of articulating a surprisingly non-oppressive notion of gender roles (through a sort of bizarre discussion of the Lord of the Rings, no less). It's kind of refreshingly weird, even if it suggests a pretty glaring tension between her now-infamous sexual fascism and her apparent belief in feminist self-ownership…

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  1. Is it lonely here because all of you are masturbating?

  2. People wonder why a political candidate would be talking about masturbation. Is it because the media fails to explain that the remarks were made (15) years ago when Christine O’Donnell was part of a faith-based advocacy group for abstinence? We don’t think much of people like Christine O’Donnell who was raised a Catholic and indoctrinated by nuns and actually believes this kind of stuff.

  3. If I had written this piece of shit I wouldn’t have signed my name to it either.

    1. It wasn’t there earlier today. That took balls, Armin Rosen. I like balls.

  4. David Friedman on O’Donnell:

    Almost anybody can be made to look nutty by a suitable selection of past comments?consider that the current Vice President is a man who apparently believes that FDR was President at the time of the stock market crash and went on national TV to reassure people. Given a press sufficiently hostile to one candidate and friendly to another, it isn’t that hard to create the illusion that the outsiders are all nut cases, their opponents all reasonable folk.

    1. Plus 1.

      This lady seems to be off-kilter, but so are most people who run for office, and certainly most people who are good enough at coalition-building to win anything.

      Does this lady’s lone public mention two decades ago of a philosophical hostility towards masturbation really disqualify her from sitting next to Harry Reid? She probably believes fewer “strange” things than he does, but he’s an insider who votes the right way, so nobody dwells on it.

      1. Running for election to a national office is prima facie evidence of mental instability and should be considered automatic grounds for disqualification.

    2. “Almost anybody can be made to look nutty by a suitable selection of past comments”

      I can find people in all 57 states who will dispute that claim.

  5. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of editing.

  6. We should all be very suspicious of her. If she signs a Masturbation Pledge, then we’ll overlook it.

  7. If social conservatism entails the state’s implicit (and, in the case of a possible ban on abortions, explicit) reinforcement of certain gender roles

    cmon. your cosmotarian is showing. I’m basically pro-choice, but pro-life people aren’t pro-life because they want the state to enforce gender roles. They are pro-life because they consider a fetus to be a human being and hence believe that killing it is murder.

    1. it’s an obsession

      rack up the hits reason. how many times can we say o’donnell, o’donnell, o’donnell, o’donnell, o’donnell, o’donnell, o’donnell.

  8. We would all be better off if Congress spent more time regulating Middle Earth and left the USA alone.

  9. Does anyone here actually want to learn more about Christine O’Donnell?

    1. Not really.

      She did her job and she did it great.

      Tea party 1
      Republican establishment 0

      Lets move on and look at other contests.

    2. Reason thinks she’s a loon. What more could you possibly need to know?

      1. She is a loon. She’s a religious nut.

  10. New poll shows O’Donnell losing to Dem. 53% to 42%

    The whole point of O’Donnell was to kill Castle. She did it and is therefor a huge success for the Tea Party.

    Instead of actually reporting on that simple truth we get “middle earth feminism.”

    1. Making republicans look bad while giving democrats the win in a general election isn’t going to further their goal of less taxation in America.

      1. Agreed in theory.

        But before a political entity can change all of DC, it needs to transform itself. This process of government transformation will take a while, assuming that these TP candidates don’t fuck it all up by being nanny statists too.

    2. She was down more than that at the beginning of the primaries. Lots of time left.

  11. I’m quite surprised by the reaction to O’Donnell (here at least). I see all these references to instability and mental problems, but when you look for specifics you find she’s a virgin (well, maybe) who’s read LOTR. Has she promised to enforce virginity and feed fornicators to the Balrog? WTF, why does anyone care about this bullshit?

    Did we give the liberals one trump card each election cycle promising to help trash whichever candidate they play it on?

    Get specific about her legislative priorities or don’t write anything. This article sucks.

  12. You keep suggesting that any intelligent idiot would shun this O’Donnell person, but is anyone actually going to tell me why?

    I hope the author didn’t receive compensation for this blog post.

  13. Armin, I think you have to be careful when writing “Christine O’Donnell is a loon” posts. If you take it as a given, there’s no reason to write the post. If you want to prove it, you need to be a little more thorough.

    If I understand you correctly:

    1) O’Donnell was asked about sexual agency in Tolkein and gave an answer that you find sane and thoughtful.

    2) O’Donnell also thinks that women should voluntarily remain chaste until marriage.

    Nothing in that is necessarily looney. #2 is an outlier, but it’s within the range of non-loon opinions, surely.

    1. That’s not why she’s a loon. She’s a loon, in part, because she believes that the government is breeding mice and men and have bred a mouse with a fully functioning human brain.

      Seriously, the woman is nuts.

  14. Looniness aside, whenever anyone beyond the age of a college sophomore talks about the Lord of the Rings, I tune them out. And I still call “graphic novels” comic books.

    1. Hogwash. To insist that a work of literature only carries meaning to a particular demographic is fucking stupid and myopic. Get over yourself.

  15. I’m trying hard to not think there’s a lot of misogyny at the heart of all this O’Donnell bashing. It doesn’t sound very Reasonable.

  16. You win. I’ll sign the “Bring back Weigel” petition. Just fucking stop.

  17. It’s kind of refreshingly weird, even if it suggests a pretty glaring tension between her now-infamous sexual fascism and her apparent belief in feminist self-ownership…

    It could also suggest that O’Donnells believes have been widely misrepresented. I don’t know. I wouldn’t be at all surprised.

    1. beliefs

      1. O’Donnell’s

  18. Funny how there’s zero coverage in the liberal media or the liberal-libertarian media, about Christine O’Donnell being the guest speaker at the June 20 meeting of the Libertarian Party of Dover.

    No mention either of her views on drug legalization. The Kent County Libertarian Chair Will McVay says she took a Ron Paul position, feds out of the drug war.

    But ya see, that doesn’t fit the “she’s a social prude” template. So, it goes un-reported.


  19. So yesterday the news broke that she has a lesbian sister who’s a former wiccan new ager etc etc etc…. the thing is, I used to watch Bill Maher back in the Politically Incorrect days when she was a fairly regular guest, and I could *swear* I remember her admitting that SHE was a former wiccan…. [insert obligatory notthattheresanythingwrongwiththat]. Does anyone else remember that? Am I misremembering? Just curious why nobody in the media/conservasphere has brought this up – it seems like something they’d jump all over.

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