Dear fellow women of the world,
Please grow a pair of balls. Metaphorically speaking, of course.
Yes, I’m talking to you, my fellow females who have their panties in a bunch over Donald Trump’s treatment of Hillary Clinton during the first presidential debate Monday night. According to several news reports, you are “unnerved” that Trump dared to interrupt Clinton 51 times.
PBS NewsHour, the Boston Globe, Vox News, and several other outlets covered this theme, quoting women around the country in what sounds like a whiny therapy session. For many women, Donald’s boisterous intrusions bought back painful memories of being treated like a second-class citizen.
A women from Chicago tweeted: “Thoughts & prayers to every woman watching the #debates & getting painful flashbacks to dudes talking over them at work, school, home, etc.” A linguistics professor at Georgetown University raised the specter of post-traumatic stress disorder. “It’s frustrating in women’s lives,” she said. “And to see it up there in a dramatic way, it’s a little bit of PTSD. You’re seeing the things you suffered from. It brings it back.” Newsweek went so far as to label the debate “sexist” and “misogynist.”
As I read these quotes, I cringe, embarrassed for my sex. The problem with these stories is not that Trump interrupted Clinton 51 times versus her 17, but that these stories are even being written in the first place. The problem is not that men interrupt women (or other men), but that women think of themselves as victims when they get interrupted.
Here’s some unsolicited advice from someone who has spent 10-plus years as a female in the political business: If you want to be taken seriously, the best thing you can do is assert yourself, regardless of your gender. Don’t let anyone—whether it’s a woman, or man, or Donald Trump—bully you into silence. If you have something to say, open your mouth and say it.
Hillary Clinton decided to run for president—a path that is notorious for rough-and-tumble tactics. For better and for worse, no one is immune from being torn to shreds in the political arena. Just turn on the TV and watch any of the hundreds of political commercials on air, and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Politics is not for the thin-skinned or sensitive souls. If Clinton can’t stand the heat, she should get out of the proverbial kitchen.
Trump treated Hillary exactly the same way he treated Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz in the Republican primary. That is to say, terribly. But isn’t that what real feminism is—to be treated as an equal, not as a fragile sculpture in danger of falling apart?
If Trump had announced after the debate that he had gone easy on Hillary because she is a woman, wouldn’t that be more offensive? Is that the goal women should be aiming for?
I have spent my professional life in what some would call a boy’s club—the world of political campaigns. I have been part of campaigns in which I was the only female, and the best thing about the experience was that no one treated me any differently. The men cursed and drank and teased me as much as they teased each other. I didn’t throw a hissy fit when the guys made fun of my outfits or my lunch, or who knows what (there was certainly plenty to make fun of). I gave back as good as I got. No one went easy on me, and I certainly didn’t go easy on them.
So the next time someone interrupts you—whoever they are—don’t complain about it, and don’t tweet about. You aren’t doing women any favors. Just say what you want to say.