Politics & Policy

Obama the Latest Person to Get Called Sexist for Literally No Reason

Is criticizing a woman always sexism?

President Obama is being slammed as “sexist” for the way he criticized Senator Elizabeth Warren’s comments about his trade agenda for reasons that are very clearly not sexist.

Here are the comments that started it all:

“The truth of the matter is that Elizabeth is, you know, a politician like everybody else,” the president said in an interview with Yahoo on Tuesday.

“And you know, she’s got a voice that she wants to get out there. And I understand that. And on most issues, she and I deeply agree. On this one, though, her arguments don’t stand the test of fact and scrutiny.”

This all-too-common knee-jerk reaction to cry “SEXIST!” any time a male criticizes a female is disturbing.

Now, there’s absolutely nothing in those comments that shows Obama has a sexist attitude towards Senator Warren — but that didn’t stop both Democratic senator Sherrod Brown and National Organization of Women president Terry O’Neill from making accusations anyway.

Senator Brown suggested to Politico that Obama may have been sexist in calling Senator Warren by her first name because “he might not have done that for a male senator, perhaps?”

Just one problem: Obama has definitely referred to male senators by their first names — and in fact has actually referred to Senator Brown himself as “Sherrod” in at least three speeches.

The only thing more ridiculous than Senator Brown saying that Obama’s comments may have been rooted in sexism was O’Neill saying that they definitely were:

“He did it in a sexist way,” O’Neill told The Hill, adding that the “clear subtext is that the little lady just doesn’t know what she’s talking about.”

(“Clear”? Really? It’s “clear”? How?)

#related#Now, both O’Neill and Senator Brown also said that Obama’s comments showed “disrespect” toward Senator Warren, and I wouldn’t necessarily argue with that. But “disrespect” is not the same as “sexism,” and the president has spoken about male politicians in the same way. Remember when Obama repeatedly laughed at Rand Paul — or, as he referred to him, “an interesting guy” — while talking about the Kentucky senator’s suggestion that the GOP reach out to minorities in inner cities?

This all-too-common knee-jerk reaction to cry “SEXIST!” any time a male criticizes a female is disturbing. If Hillary (wait — do I have to say “Hillary Clinton”?) is the nominee, opponents will need to be able to criticize her without worrying that people won’t understand it’s most often because she’s a candidate and not because she’s a woman.

That’s not to say that sexism doesn’t exist. Of course it does, and it’s definitely a problem — but this trend of haphazard, baseless accusations will only make it worse by discouraging people from taking the legitimate instances of it seriously.

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