Arianna Huffington as Prostitute: All the Gendered Words in One New Adweek Column


In media circles Michael Wolff is notorious for pissing people off, thereby winning the attention he covets. It’s sometimes masterful, in its way, but more often shameful. Today, Wolff relaunches the trade (don’t-call-it-a-trade) publication Adweek, which he’s merged with Brandweek and Mediaweek as editorial director. The new website, fresh for today, looks nice and reads easy (though it seems to have no “single page” option for multiple-page stories) but the only article generating any chatter so far this morning is a “Sex and the Media” column by Hephzibah Anderson, author of Chastened: The Unexpected Story of My Year Without Sex, about Arianna Huffington. It’s classic Wolff, which is to say, glib and if you allow it to be, offensive. Here are all of the words and phrases used to indicate that Arianna Huffington is a woman — more specifically, a “courtesan” — and not much more.

  • diva
  • sex symbol
  • Sex symbol
  • coiffed
  • girlish ruffles
  • racy black lace
  • pantsuits
  • yoga-toned
  • courtesan
  • allure
  • effusiveness
  • hot-to-trot
  • “gloriously seductive”*
  • “a regular cyberslut”*
  • coos
  • giggles
  • glam
  • token young thing
  • crush
  • courtesan
  • ingénue lover
  • adventuress
  • enchants
  • femininity
  • sex appeal
  • performances
  • sex
  • porn
  • sexy seduction
  • giddy
  • saucy
  • MILF
  • female perspective
  • feminist
  • hotness
  • sex appeal
  • courtesan
  • charms

Defending Arianna Huffington is never fun, but most of the criticism she’s received so far this year reeks of nothing more than sexism. Here’s a full paragraph, for some idea of context:

It might be part of the act, but her appeal seems studied. She uses innuendo like business buzzwords. Physically, she has a lingering clunkiness. And privately her conquests are a great love who refused to wed her and an ex-husband who turned out to be bisexual. All of which might well endear–even reassure–in the virginal world of new media.

Don’t read the rest.

*quoted from elsewhere

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 18, 2011


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