Monday, November 1, 2010

Time to stop branding every criticism of female politicians as 'sexism'

I have grown so weary of features writers moaning about sexism whenever a female candidate is attacked over any personal matter. An example: "Yesterday, Gawker published an anonymous hit-job describing a drunken sexual encounter with Christine O'Donnell, the Tea Party candidate from Delaware most famous for being anti-masturbation and not being a witch. . . . .  The particularly offensive moments of the Gawker piece were the parts in which it became clear the author thought not that O'Donnell had violated her own personal code of ethics but some standard of womanhood that he held." 

OK, so tell me, where was the outrage over Gawker's recent piece crucifying the presumptively innocent young son of a politician who once was accused -- not charged, not convicted -- of rape?  I mean, aside from this blog?  Where were the cries that the Gawker piece treated this young man unfairly, in a way it could never do to a similarly situated young female?  Hmm?

As for the assertion that Gawker was sexist for suggesting that O'Donnell had violated some standard of womanhood, can you say "Edmund Muskie"?  In 1972, Senator Muskie was the Democratic front runner for president until the Manchester Union-Leader attack his wife, Jane.  When Senator Muskie defended his wife in an emotional speech, he appeared to cry.  That was the end of his campaign, and his chance to ever be president.

Muskie, you see, had violated an almost universal standard of manhood. 

Where was the outrage over that?

Hell, a male candidate doesn't have to cry to be destroyed. All he needs to do is scream like a frat boy, the way Howard Dean did six years ago, and he's toast. 

Female candidates are not, of course, routinely attacked for avoiding military service, even lawfully, as male candidates are.  Not serving is considered a violation of some standard of manhood. 

Where is the outrage over that?

When Scott Brown ran for Senator in Massachusetts, his nude centerfold was a frequent topic of discussion.  Mr. Brown didn't have a hissy fit over it, and his supporters didn't overreact to it.  He played it just right, and he won the election (beating a feminist).

But where was the outrage over the constant discussion about his centerfold?

When Sarah Palin and other female candidates tell male politicians to "man up," where is the outrage over that?  Imagine if a male politician told a female candidate to "start acting like a lady."  Well, he'd better find a new line of work.

W.F. Price at The Spearhead has a piece about how congressional candidate Krystal Ball is very upset that she is being “smeared” for salacious photos showing her proudly handling a red appendage attached to her boyfriend’s nose.  Mr. Price, in his typically astute fashion, writes:

"You know, there’s a saying in China about what it means to be a politician: 'Politicians need thick face skin.' When men run for and hold office, they are regularly subjected to ridicule, smears, scrutiny and often even threats. Sometimes, they are tripped up by their behavior. Back in the 1980s Gary Hart was caught fooling around, and we all know about John Edwards and Mark Sanford.

"Krystal’s photos are no big deal — all they do is make her look immature and like a typical American college girl, i.e. proudly promiscuous. There’s really nothing shocking about them these days, but they do make it difficult to take the woman seriously. That’s really what Ms. Ball is upset about, but seriously, she’s a 28-year-old girl running for congress who happens to be named “Krystal Ball” — I don’t think the photos are her only problem in that regard."

When Hillary ran for president, I remember one famous incident of sexism -- two goofs heckling her about ironing their shirts.  Yet, the standard mantra is that Hillary was mercilessly subjected to sexism throughout the campaign.  It didn't happen.

We have seen one instance of sexism against a female politician recently: Joy (the feminist) Behar calling Sharron Angle a "bitch."  I won't defend that language.  Nor can I explain what makes women hate other women so much. But I'd love to hear feminists blame "patriarchy" for Joy Behar's outburst.

Here's the bottom line, ladies: you want to be equal?  I mean, really equal?  You all need to stop hiding behind imaginary sexism. 

You all need to stop kvetching about people who focus on Mrs. Obama's fashions when, in fact, Mrs. Obama wants people to focus on her fashions. 

You all need to understand that you're not empowered by pretending you're powerless.