Credit where credit’s due.

Comedians in search of a laugh should really know better than to snicker about men having sex with teenage girls (or young women) less than half their age.

The sexualization of girls and women in the media is reaching new lows these days — it is exploitative and has a negative effect on how all women and girls are perceived and how they view themselves. Letterman also joked about what he called Palin’s “slutty flight attendant look” — yet another example of how the media love to focus on a woman politician’s appearance, especially as it relates to her sexual appeal to men. Someone of Letterman’s stature, who appears on what used to be known as “the Tiffany Network” (CBS), should be above wallowing in the juvenile, sexist mud that other comedians and broadcasters seem to prefer.

On that point, it’s important to note that when Chelsea Clinton was 13 years old she was the target of numerous insults based on her appearance. Rush Limbaugh even referred to her as the “White House dog.” NOW hopes that all the conservatives who are fired up about sexism in the media lately will join us in calling out sexism when it is directed at women who aren’t professed conservatives.

People on Twitter are grumbling about that last paragraph but (a) given how peeved the sisterhood will be that they’re defending Palin, surely you won’t begrudge NOW some sort of ass-covering knock on conservatives here, and (b) their point is, unfortunately, too often valid, as a scroll through righty blog comments about Michelle Obama or Hillary Clinton (at least before 2008) will attest. A compromise, then: The right will join in calling out sexism directed at liberal women when the left stops treating conservative women as “inauthentic” or traitors to their gender because they happen to be pro-life. Deal?

Meanwhile, Michael Steele hints at a boycott of Letterman’s show. Really? Even an awful joke is still a joke. I think the PR beating he’s taking is enough.

Update (Ed): Since NOW has been good enough to put principle above politics, then I can do the same by agreeing that conservative pundits should leave menstruation out of their criticisms of Sonia Sotomayor.  If we complain about the belittling and sexualizing of conservative women in politics, then G. Gordon Liddy should stick to the substantive issues in the Sotomayor nomination.  I hadn’t heard about that one until I clicked over to NOW’s site.