Politics & Policy

In Search of a Likeable Uterus

Killer Mike in the spin room after the South Carolina debate, January 17, 2016. (Andrew Burton/Getty)

On Tuesday, Killer Mike, a rapper who loves Bernie Sanders, spoke to a crowd of 4,800 people at Morehouse College. His intent was to discuss our glorious future under democratic socialism. Along the way, however, he said something problematic: “A uterus doesn’t qualify you to be president.”

Fact check: This statement is true. It is obvious, logical, and should not even need to be stated aloud. Heck, I’ll even repeat it: A uterus does not qualify you to be president.

There are many people who are under the age of 35 who have uteruses, for instance. There are imprisoned felons who have uteruses. There are even people who are the leaders of other countries, like Angela Merkel, who have uteruses! None of these people, for better or worse, are qualified to be the president of the United States. (This is also the case, sadly, for Zombie Margaret Thatcher, who would otherwise have my vote.)

Yes, it’s quite a shame: In the end, a uterus will not take you to the Oval Office. It won’t even qualify you to serve as a reality-TV contestant, a celebrity chef, or a rapper. Even though it was quite obviously true, however, the rapper’s statement sparked a wave of outrage. “Killer Mike’s remarks set off a firestorm on Twitter,” the New York Times reported. NARAL, always in for a good bout of huffiness, called the comment “inappropriate and sexist.” The “controversy” was covered the Washington Post, Newsweek, and The Atlantic, all presumably with straight faces. Here’s The Atlantic, cutting to the chase:

The more interesting part of Killer Mike’s argument is the implied charge: By emphasizing the historic nature of her candidacy, are Clinton’s supporters asking social-justice causes besides sexism — racism, generational disadvantages, income inequality — to take a back seat? That’s a question about which reasonable progressives can, and do, disagree.

#share#Poor Killer Mike, caught in the social-justice crossfire, tried to defend himself via Twitter: He was taken out of context, he noted. He was merely quoting a friend. That friend was Jane Elliott, whom Killer Mike described as a “progressive activist woman,” which, in case you’re not aware, is code for “she can’t possibly say anything offensive, because she sides with us.”

#related#It is true that Killer Mike quoted Jane Elliott on that stage at Morehouse. Unfortunately for him, even in the proper “context,” it was pretty clear that he quoted her approvingly. This earned him a rather stern closing sentence from Vox: Reducing Clinton’s candidacy to “her reproductive organs,” Emily Crockett wrote, is “not just crude and demeaning, it also trivializes a serious and complicated fight for gender equality and representation.” This might come as news to Hillary Clinton, whose entire campaign revolves around occasionally reminding us that she’s a lady, because she doesn’t have much else going for her, but potato, potahto, right?

As for Killer Mike and Jane Elliott, never fear: I applaud you. You’re both right! “A uterus doesn’t qualify you to be president” might be one of the sanest remarks to surface on the campaign trail this year. Unfortunately, at least in certain circles, sanity’s not in high demand.

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