Crossposted from DemocraticDiva.com
I got asked to be on KJZZ, the Phoenix area’s public radio station, on Wednesday morning to discuss the upcoming election season and how the two major parties would be targeting female voters. This is because the National Federation of Republican Women is in town for a conference this week.
I think I did okay and was glad for two things: That this wasn’t the typical situation where I’m on a panel with two Republican men (it was just me and Here and Now host Steve Goldstein chatting alone in the studio after he played a taped interview with a Republican strategist) and that I had anticipated that we would be discussing the contrast between Hillary Clinton and rising GOP primary candidate Carly Fiorina and prepared accordingly by reading up on both their campaigns.
One opportunity I felt I missed as I drove to the office after it was over (these epiphanies invariably occur to me at such times) was when Steve asked me about Fiorina being a possible Vice President pick, should she not win the nomination, and how she might be well-positioned to attack Clinton as a fellow woman in a way that a man could not. I responded that once the general election season was in full force, as it is when the VP is selected, that may not be the greatest time for Fiorina to be in attack mode. In retrospect, though, I should have pushed back on the idea that male candidates (or male political figures in general, or hell, men in general) are hesitant to attack women.
As far as the GOP Presidential slate goes, consider how frontrunner Donald Trump’s favorite pastime seems to be allowing whatever dickish thing he wants to utter about women fall out of his mouth. Has he paid a penalty for it? Nope. Consider the many gross things Mike Huckabee has said about various women (I don’t even have time to link all of them for you). I can go down the line with the rest of the male candidates in the GOP slate too, since all have made disturbing comments about, and expressed horrible positions on, women’s issues. And while I’m sure they appreciate Carly Fiorina tag-teaming with them, none of the male candidates have shown an iota of reticence about going after Hillary Clinton themselves because they are men and she is a woman.
It may be considered bad form for men to attack theoretical “women”, as such are often idealized as selfless, maternal martyrs immune to base desires for pleasure or any tendency toward personal ambition. What kind of jerk would impugn such heavenly creatures? Actual women, on the other hand, and that includes every single one of us, have the annoying tendency to be human and to not embody a cross between June Cleaver and Joan of Arc every second of our lives. This makes us fair game for not only any legitimate criticisms we may deserve (since we are human after all) but for all kinds of misogynistic bile as well. Especially when a woman is opposing a man in an election. It should be noted that Hillary Clinton was certainly not shown courtly politeness by men on either side of the aisle when she ran in 2008. I’d say the “men are afraid to attack women” myth ought to be put to rest.