Last week on Meet the Press Daily, MSNBC host Kasie Hunt stated that the way to avoid “worrying about character” in politics was to start electing women to those positions instead. Hunt made the comments during a discussing about presidential candidates.
“Can I just say, character-wise? Let’s elect a woman,” Hunt said. “This nonsense that’s been coming from our male politicians of all parties, like, I’m, no, I’m tired of it!”
“You don’t want to worry about character, elect a woman! Please!” she exclaimed. “Thank you.”
Chuck Todd seemed to agree with her, laughing and saying: “There it is. I’ve never understood why that in itself isn’t a reform message. You don’t see women governors getting into these scandals, you don’t see women . . . you know.”
“I’m sure I will be accused of being sexist in the opposite direction, but you know, the facts are what they are,” Hunt stated.
During the discussion, Hunt also praised presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren as being someone who “has been out-hustling, out-organizing, outdoing, basically out-working every other candidate in the field.”
Now, I could, of course, write a column making the point that Hunt was, in fact, “being sexist in the opposite direction.” To me, though, that just seems far too obvious. I mean, she was basically saying that, on the whole, women have better “character” than men do. A statement like that isn’t just ambiguously sexist, or sexism-tinged, it is quite clearly a perfect example of it.
What I do want to focus on, however, is how statements like these can actually hurt women more than they help them.
Let me explain. Hunt may have said it’s a fact that a woman in an elected position would not have “character” problems, but I’m betting that every woman in the world could provide more than a few examples that would refute this point. Although I have certainly had my problems with men (as anyone who’s been following me certainly knows — yikes!), I have also had problems with women. It’s true: I have been straight-up bullied by girls and women all throughout my life: In grade school, in high school, in college, and even in the workplace. (Oh, and I’m not too afraid of humiliating myself to admit that I watch enough true crime to know that women even kill people all the time.) To state that it is a “fact” that a woman in an elected position would certainly have no issues with “character” is quite easily proven false. We even saw this demonstrated with the political career of Hillary Clinton, which was undoubtedly shrouded in scandal and misbehavior.
Now, I think that there could be some truth to the assertion that women might not have the same kind of scandals as men. Specifically, I’d say that they’d be much less likely to get into sex scandals. But guess what? Sex scandals, as long as they involve consenting adults, are the kind of scandals I care about the least. In fact, I actually don’t care about them at all.
So how, exactly, does all of this hurt women? It’s simple: Sexism is absolutely real, the fact that there are certain issues you will have to face as a woman that you won’t have to face as a man is real — and these realities get buried when women, presumably in the name of feminism, make claims that are demonstrably false. In the same way that frivolous accusations of sexism minimize the gravity of real ones, false arguments for electing them also minimize the very real case for doing so.
I actually would really appreciate seeing more women in positions of power. There are many women out there who are brilliant and tough, who would excel in leadership positions, and I would like to see more of them there. The thing is, though, I would rather see people arguing for the importance of electing specific women based on things like their brilliance and strength — and not simply because of their gender, especially because that seems like a pretty good way to make some people tune out.