During the campaign between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, one of the most powerful ads for the latter candidate was a group of women looking straight into the camera repeating lines our now-president has uttered about women.
One of the “real quotes from Donald Trump” about women was the following: “That must be a pretty picture, you dropping to your knees.” The women in the ad look seriously at the camera and explain, “This is how Donald Trump talks about our mothers, our sisters, our daughters.”
As the mother of both a daughter and a son, hearing how Trump discussed women was a major deciding factor in why, despite identifying as a Republican before this election cycle, I ultimately could not see myself supporting my party’s candidate. It wasn’t that I believed Clinton was any better for women, but that I simply could not support any candidate who spoke of and behaved towards women in such a manner. I ultimately supported a third-party candidate who had no known history of assaulting women and bragging about it with Billy Bush and had not actively tried to destroy the credibility and reputations of the women her husband bedded while an elected official.
Many Democrats, explaining why they would not support a candidate like Trump, cited similar reasons, although they willfully forgot the Clintons’ checkered past in respect to women. The media were all too willing to play ball, declaring former President Bill Clinton’s actions old news while breathlessly covering decades-old statements of Trump’s.
Few should be surprised, then, that a Democratic congressman’s statements about White House advisor Kellyanne Conway elicited yawns at the annual Washington Press Foundation’s congressional dinner last week. Democrat Cedric Richmond of Louisiana joked on stage about the widely shared photo of Conway sitting on a couch in the Oval Office. “She really looked kind of familiar there in that position,” he said.
Ha! Get the joke? Conway, who wasn’t present or the individual being roasted, is so sexually promiscuous she often finds herself in compromising physical positions while providing gratification to members of the male sex. What, that’s not funny? Perhaps Conway’s husband or four kids saw the humor.
If Hillary Had Been the Target, Imagine the Response
Those attending the dinner didn’t get the joke either. A friend present told me, “It was a completely inappropriate comment that hardly anyone laughed at, including all the liberal journalists who were present. I would note that the event is a ‘roast’ of some sort, but there’s no question this joke went overboard, and there’s a complete double standard. The fact that the room was filled with hundreds of journalists and there have been all of three pieces written that I’ve seen on this is pretty ridiculous, as well.”
The few in the mainstream media who have covered the remarks have rightfully expressed how unacceptable they are in political discourse, with two notable exceptions. The Washington Post’s Amber Phillips for the Fix blog wrote, “Here we are several days later, still writing about that photo. Even worse: It’s to explain why you should never make a joke about a woman kneeling, something I had perhaps optimistically hoped to never have to write about in 2017 — or ever.”
Several days later the New York Times interviewed a number of feminist political operatives and academics, in addition to quoting a tweet by Chelsea Clinton, all deploring the double standard Conway has experienced and the treatment of women in politics in general. That’s how every mainstream outlet should have handled the incident, though few others thought it merited even a mention.
This election season was for many Republican women a gut-check about the degree our leaders, both political and spiritual, actually believe in the ideals we profess. In the era of Trump, liberals and feminists should be doing the same self-evaluation of their own camp.
This “on her knees” comment from a sitting Democratic lawmaker was largely ignored by the liberal media and those who consume it. This comment is just one of many recent incidents of sexism aimed in Conway’s direction, justified because she’s a traitor to her gender, as many feminists have claimed; a female Uncle Tom. Instead of being applauded for her groundbreaking work as a campaign manager on the biggest upset political campaign in American history, Conway is fodder for attacks on her looks and sexuality, often at the hands of individuals who claim to be feminists.
Our president may have a history of misogyny, but it’s becoming increasingly clear many of those in the resistance against him are merely fair-weather feminists: happy to wage or at best ignore attacks on women based on their sex because they think it’s fair to attack the president at any cost.