Ann Althouse

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Ann Althouse is the "Robert W. & Irma M. Arthur-Bascom Professor of Law" at the University of Wisconsin Law School and a resident of Madison, Wisconsin.

Althouse also created and moderates a weblog on law and politics under her own name since January 2004. While she claims to abhor partisan politics and describes herself as a libertarian, many of her postings have closely followed the Republican Party line and she has often criticized Democrats and leftists more sharply than conservatives.

Althouse has also served as a guest blogger for Glenn Reynolds on Instapundit.

Feminism controversy

In November 2005, Althouse was skeptical of Pajamas Media, a project intended by fellow conservative and libertarian bloggers to challenge the mainstream media with a blog-generated news service, and made plenty of critical posts to her blog. In turn, she was viciously attacked by commenters at Little Green Footballs, a popular blog run by Charles Johnson, one of the founders and partners in Pajamas.

Some of those comments made free use of words like "whore" and other sexist epithets. "Are there any feminists around to see when it's happening and say a little something?" Althouse complained, pointing to what she felt was the generally overly male nature of the blogosphere.

A feminist blogger, Echidne of the Snakes, was rather bemused, saying:

Women like Althouse ... will not risk anything for feminism, it seems, even if they have been clear beneficiaries of it. But they still think that a feminist might be called to Aisle Eight whenever needed.

Echidne's post was picked up by the very popular liberal blogger Atrios, which opened a week of controversy as Althouse in turn tried to prove by quoting from commenters on Atrios's original post that his readers could be just as misogynistic as Johnson's. She took umbrage as well at the suggestion that, because of her phrasing, she wasn't a feminist, saying she was neither a feminist nor an anti-feminist

However, yet another liberal blogger, Thersites, found that many of the comments Althouse pointed to were posted by women and were ironic in nature and sometimes inside jokes between them.

Althouse never corrected the record, instead taking umbrage as well at the suggestion that, because of her phrasing, she wasn't a feminist, saying she was neither a feminist nor an anti-feminist, and said that Atrios and Echidne had misread her original post. The former responded by linking to a post by Roy Medroso suggesting that Althouse had a prior history of excoriating people for responding to what she actually said instead of what she meant.

Atrios also took Althouse to task for questioning his site's traffic numbers, pointing to the fact that his hit counts clearly distinguish between new visits and page reloads and that the comments section does not impact those numbers to the extent that Althouse was implying.

In a final post on the controversy, Thersites noted that Althouse had seemed contrite (Althouse has since deleted Thersite's post) in a way that suggested she knew she was advancing a bad-faith argument. Thersites linked to a post by one of Althouse's fans, Cathy Young, who didn't think that the original LGF thread was "egregiously sexist", and concluded that "even the wingnuts think Althouse attacked Atrios out of a sense that she was losing face in her LGF fight — and that she'd made a bit of a tactical error in calling for a 'feminist' to defend her. Consorting with the enemy, dontcha know?"

Throughout the whole controversy, Althouse never directly responded to Echidne's original observation that despite distancing herself from feminism she called on it in her distress, lending it credence in the eyes of many readers on both sides of the political spectrum.

She has claimed that her "Can I get a feminist?" was simply a joking allusion to the song "Can I Get a Witness?" that others failed to pick up.

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